Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The freedom of letting go.

Have you ever noticed yourself clinging so tightly to one the thing that you are most afraid of losing that you end up killing it. Maybe it’s your dignity, your job, a dream, a relationship, etc. Perhaps even a calling. It is so interesting that when we are so afraid to lose something we hold on so tight, we do lose it.

The cross inverts this fear. Jesus did not consider equality with God something to grasp, though in his very nature He is God (Phil 2). He was even willing to let go of his eternal position, and in the end it was still his. He experiences the freedom of trust in the father, and the resurrection, life itself, is now his. We are offered this same freedom.

Let go, experience the freedom, and fall into God’s arms. It's not easy, but it is freeing.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Grace, Generosity, and Fellowship - reflections from the Spiritual Formation Forum


The other side of brokenness and pain is Grace. The night always turns to morning. The darkness is never permanent, the light shines through. The crucifixion precedes the resurrection, and the message of Christ, is "arise".

My entries have been of a somber note from the weekend, but know that the brokenness and the pain is not all there is. However, it is only in the darkness of our soul that we can understand and know grace. To not enter the darkness is to cheapen grace and the work of the cross.

But grace oh sweet grace. To know that after we have embraced our sinfulness, we can hear the words “you’re forgiven.” To hear from the eternal father, “I love you”, to hear from the creator of our souls, “you are my child, arise and be alive, go and sin no longer.” This is not only a command to not sin, but to know that we are no longer regarded as sinners. We are to embrace this new standing of God, and live without sin. If we do not mourn our sin, we will never turn from it. Hence we cheapen grace. And why cheapen something so beautiful and so powerful.

The message of grace is not only, be saved from the pits of hell, but the message of life. We settle for so little, we reduce our faith to propositional statements and warm fuzzies, when what God is offering the world in the cross and the resurrection is life, and life to the fullest. This is not a fullness of health and wealth, of self-fulfillment, but the fullness of peace in our souls, in our world, and mostly peace with God.

Life is only found in God. Can you imagine what it is like to have faith in God so that we are free from our insecurities, from our pettiness, even from our sins? This is what we are offered. If we are willing to let go of holding onto ourselves, then we can embrace God, then Jesus becomes our life, and that is life to the fullest.

So, let me ask. Why are you running? Why are you clinging to your life? He offers us so much, and we settle for so little. Grace tells us that is will be ok. Grace gives meaning to our existence, to our joys, and even to our suffering. Pain is redemptive with grace.

Why are you running? Stop holding on, stop clinging, and surrender to God. Acknowledge your brokenness, and embrace the grace. Acknowledge the darkness, and trust that the light is coming.


I have never experience so much generosity in my life. My friends provided a hotel room for me. My father provided a flight. The only time I paid for a meal this past week was when I was by myself (which was rare). I cannot believe all of your generosity and your kindness to me. Thank you for showing me the love of God.


Every group I spoke with this week opened there arms wide to me. This includes my peeps from Milwaukee, people from Trinity, and my new friends from Indiana. Thank you for your genuine concern for my well-being. Thank you for showing me love and grace. Thank you for your on-going prayers. The best part of these conferences tend to be the conversations you have in free time. Once I again I have found this to be true. Thank you to all for embracing me as a brother in the family of God.

Friday, May 19, 2006

brokenness - pain

Brokenness – This weekend has really challenged me in the areas of my life that I do not enjoy entering into, but that I need to enter into. It is really hard to quite our lives, it is hard for me to quite myself, to be attentive to God. When I approach God in prayer, by which I mean experience his holiness, it does produce a feeling of woe is me. I am aware of the sin in my life, that I have not right to approach God. To share in Paul’s words from Romans 7, I do what I do not want to do, and I don’t do what I do want to do. The nature of sin, it’s treacherous, it’s vile, and it’s destructive. So, most days I choose to ignore it. When I choose to ignore it, I miss the heart of God. We are all people desiring more, but why do we refuse to allow ourselves to be broken before God, so that he might give us life, and give it to the fullest.

Pain – If I had to sum up the forum in one word it would be pain. I am aware of the pain in my own life, my struggle with insecurity, a fear of abandonment, and also general self-assessment of inadequacy. Yet this leads to brokenness.

I feel the pain in my family, and I hope and I pray that they might experience the grace and the hope that comes from God the father.

The hardest thing for me when I move to practicing the presence of God in my life is the pain I sense all around me. I have come close to nervous breakdowns walking into crowds of people, because I sense their inner turmoil. As some have shared their stories with me this week, I found myself fighting tears. I can sense God’s love for the world, so much so that it pains him to see the mess that we are all in. Will we move into the hard path of brokenness, which yields repentance, which brings grace, which gives life.

C.S. Lewis, said that pain is God’s megaphone to the world. If you are experiencing pain, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual – turn to God. The cross is evidence that one He cares, and two that pain serves a purpose, a redemptive purpose in our lives. Pain can put us in touch with God. He mourns with you, he cares for you.

“The Christian life is not one of ascent in knowledge, but descent into death, but this death brings life” – Dave Johnson

“Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”. – Matt 10:38-39

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Facing the Mess

Half a day at the spiritual formation forum and God has already begun to dig deep into the mess that is my soul. Sitting in the sessions today I began to get that old nagging feeling I often have in class, well that I have in almost every possible social setting. It is that desire to impress the others around me. It is that desire to contribute so profoundly to the dialogue that I present myself as somehow being acceptable among them, if not even slightly above them. So, I am left with dilemma that we are all faced with daily, minute by minute: do I face my inner struggle or do I ignore it?

Our main session dealt with the heart of this very issue. Our intentions, our motives are rarely if ever pure, and we should not be content with that. The heart of spiritual formation is engaging this battle, the battle within us between spirit and flesh. Christianity then is more than having orthodox beliefs, and more than Christ-like behavior. Christianity is about entering into the dynamic father-son-spirit relationship and being transformed into the wholeness of the image of Christ.

This is where we fail, where I fail. We refuse to enter into the mess of our own souls, the mess of being a family, of being a community, and we can never experience the brokenness before God. If we cannot be broken before God, then we cannot truly be repentant, and then we are never truly transformed into his image.

Engage the battle. Will you, will I engage the battle that rages within us at the deepest levels. Engage our fears, our insecurities, and our deepest darkest desires that threaten our very wholeness. In God, there is not to be any of these. God is wholly other-centered, but we are always self-centered (to some degree). These are the two realities: God’s other centeredness, our self-centeredness – that is the root of sin. The incarnation then is the in-breaking of God’s reality into our own, not to condemn our reality, but restore it, redeem it, and make it whole again. This is our job as a church: to proclaim these two realities, and tell over and over again the story of the in-breaking - to live embracing our brokenness and accepting God’s mercy.

Will you join me in this journey? Will you no longer avoid the mess in your life, and the mess in mine, and the mess in others, lest we reduce our spirituality to emotional feel good consumerism? Will you embrace the brokenness, and wait then on the Spirit of God to shape and model you into the image of Christ? Will you trust God in a radical way you have never before?

“That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” - 2 Cor. 12:10

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


What would we do without our imagination? As I was praying the other day, I was reflecting on God, and how I picture him, and it dawned on me that it would be impossible for me to even comprehend God without my imagination. I would be dependent upon only that which I could take in with my senses, I would only have ‘reason’ one might say.

I can hear the voice of the atheist already, see God is only a figment of our imaginations. To some degree God is a member of our imagination. It is in my imagination that I can picture, him, that I can even begin to comprehend him, but let us not mistake that for being only a product of our imagination. Rather it is our imagination that informs us.

What would we do without imagination? We would be trapped within our senses. Our reality could only be defined by that which we see and hear. There would be no hope without imagination. No one would even be able to dream of a better tomorrow. No one could hope for a better world, a better life. What would we do without imagination?

This is why I think it is vital we encourage imagination in ourselves, and even more in our children. Encourage them in their creative work, and in their “overworked” imagination. The imagination is such an important part of the image of God we have been endowed with. Look around creation and see the imprint of God’s creative work. We too have been charged with the enterprise of creativity, and developing God’s creation into what we call culture. And now the church too has been asked to declare to a dying world, a better world. Imagine the hope we have in the Kingdom of God. Imagine a world where justice is truly the rule of law, where peace rules within us and between us, where mercy abounds, and where love has now end. Imagine a world where people dwell in the face of God.

What would we do without imagination?

I’m off to the Spiritual Formation Forum. If you are in LA, shoot me an e-mail.

I am really excited to sit down and dialogue about how we as churches can better foster an environment for forming our spirits. Please pray for us this week. I hear there are over 900 participants this year.

Honestly, these conferences can drive me crazy with all the one-up-menship, but I have hope that his will be one about connecting, and building the body of Christ. I have some great roommates to hang out with this week. Please keep us all in your prayers. I am sure I will have some posts in reference to the conference.