Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Last night.

The hugs and good-byes came finally at about 10pm...long-term friends departing after a time together that for all was a special gift. We had not been with them for years, and had not really stayed in touch too well, but they had called and said they would put us into their trip south. Could we share a meal?

We did...in fact two meals. And our time together was one of deep inner streams of life and love...with many moments of watery eyes and life-giving thoughts.

Times like this are special. Friends are a God-designed gift,adding dimensions to life that are irreplaceable.

So this morning, I reflect on some components that were in place yesterday, that opened wide doors for a wonderful time. Perhaps at this season you can plan for a time with some you are close to (or want to be close to) that might turn into one of the best moments of the season.

Component 1 - Time.
It is hard to build anything of quality on the fly. Friendship takes time, wonderful, generous chunks of time. Yesterday turned into 8 hours...not by plan, but because all were flexible about when it would end...and it just didn't seem to come to an end till then. 2 hours might have worked. But 30-60 minutes probably would not have. Quality interaction takes time.

Component 2 - Environment.
We met in our home, a quiet place of focus and privacy. A place where no one could invade in any way. Where we could all hear well...and linger as long as the Lord gave us leave. We sat in various places in the house, but always in a way that included everyone...close, often circled.

Component 3 - Questions.
We all had moments of asking and answering questions...but not a rote thing, a Spirit-led thing: how is your health? tell me how the children are really doing. are you doing ok with life-purpose? and how are you doing financially? What is God saying to you now? These questions elicited very thoughtful open-hearted responses, and replies with wisdom from those who listened.

Component 4 - Food.
We were scheduled to eat a great meal at the start - thanks Jackie!! - but our time lingered on to the point where we scrambled and ate again (thanks Jackie!!). In this we walked in the steps of our Lord, who ate with people all the time, and who instited a "meal" to be had with frequency as we gather. Eating brings us to one level, slows us down, and brings a delight to all. Eating is just plain neat!

Component 5 - Renewal.
As we talked, many spiritually enriching themes developed. At one point we put on a CD that got us powerfully into the presence of God, and the testimonies of others and their music swept us rather deeply into His presence. (First Love - available at ExplorationFilms.com - worth the investment!)

Component 6 - Prayer.
Before our time ended we prayed for one another in the context of what we now understood better about one another.

My hope, in writing this piece this morning, is that you might find ways in these days to welcome the friendship that sustains and enriches life.

Blessed by friends...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

SL Thanksgiving

In these days of giving thanks, I want to thank God for the privilege of teaching SL (Spirit Life) at Restoration Church. Over four weeks, we took 75-90 minutes each week to open up concepts from the book and go live with applications.

The class ended today, but will go on in my heart for a long time.

In specific, I want thank God for the following:

1. For people who, at the end of the class, came up and with tears in their eyes expressed their gratefulness for the sessions...often with a strong embrace.

2. For Debbie who prepared a video presentation linking the Hallelujah chorus with Hubbel deep space shots. After we saw this, many of us wanted just to sit in silence for a long time...it was moving to the core.

3. For the streams of questions today that were among the most pentrating that I have ever tried to field...and the nodds that followed as lights turned on with discovery.

4. For the eagerness each week and the sense of strategic development that was taking place.

5. For one third of the class that responded last week to the opportunity to receive ministry that they might recieve more of the Holy Spirit.

6. For the wonderful brother that paid enough so that everyone who could not really afford a book, could simply take one.

7. For Jesus, Who through His ministry, death, resurrection and the sending of His Spirit, opened up for all of us the most exciting vistas of life ever imagined.

Can you tell I am truly grateful?!


Thursday, November 25, 2010


Not a cloud in the sky...blazing sunshine...crisp morning air. Fat newspaper on the driveway...sleepy neighborhood.
Aromas of a feast beginning to permeate the air. Telephone connections warming up. Lots of greetings on fb.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've thought of making a long list of things I am thankful for but know I would fall far short of completion. I sense there are so many things in my life that I take for granted, but are truly incredible blessings from God...like safety, law and order, health, freedom. Remove just one of these things and this would become instead, a very challenging day.

In all our giving of thanks may we be truly deeply humble...for so many today are in fear (Korea) or under great constraints (China) living in plastic huts (Haiti). Big picture in the paper today of people getting boxes of food given in our city so they can have a celebrative time today. Horrific statistical reports of crime rampant in this community.

So, I will not make a list, but I will be deeply thankful...and recon that somehow the grace of God has intervened in my life. His kindness is unfathomable. And I will continue a process begun very early of expressing my thankfulness to HIM for His kindnesses.

Early this morning little sounds from the other side of the house...my best friend up and at it in the still shaddowyness of early morning. Mixing this, pouring that, prepping for the wonderful meal we will share.

Jackie is incredible...a tireless champion for family and a partner extraordinaire...if you know what I mean! I salute her and realize that among the very best things God has ever brought into my life, she ranks at the top. The amount of positive change, focus and energy she has brought is unmeasureable. Oh, and did I mention laughter?!

So, today, may we give thanks, genuinely, humbly and with focus...before, during, after the big meal...why not be a leader and help those around you take up the focus of affirmation and thanksgiving to God for His great grace. Have a time when you give people the chance to simply say.."Thanks."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jesus' less quoted words.

Struck today by these words of our Lord from Luke's gospel (chapter 11-12):

"Woe to you" - many times

"Woe to you lawyers" - 2 times

"You are full of greed and wickedness."

"You fools"

I love the gentle words of Jesus.
These words, however, are also His.

The fact that He frequently spoke both kinds, authenticates all his words to be that of truthfulness.

He is not to be seen as a benevolent mystic...but one who can hug as well as pierce with His words. He is the truth.

He who only speaks one or the other has either gone soft mentally, or become caustic emotionally.

We need the balance of truth and love, grace and consequences, friend and fool.

Help us Lord, to recieve the truth, all of it
....and to be passionate and authentic enough to speak the truth to others.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kids talk

This morning, with the house filling up with guests, I took a turn downstairs in the play area with several grandkids.

Lots of energy, and some competition, squeels and showing off.

I finally perched in one of two bean bags and just watched.

With that Ella, at almost three, did the same.

"Gramps, what are you doing?" she asked.

"Hatching beans" I replied.

"Me too" she said, flashing her big smile at me.

"How are yours coming?" I asked.

But it was too late...her attention was on something else and she was up and running to another part of the play area.

"Gramps - watch!" she called out.

And when my attention towards her was certain, it was like the starting gun.

She took off in a ten yard sprint to the wall...giggling as she went, and looking to see that I was still focused.

I was.

Children the world over are pretty similar - spontaneous, inventive, needing love and attention, playful, boundless in bounding.

Was this a little of what Jesus had in mind when he said - "become as a child,
and you will see the Kingdom of God...the presence and activity of God" (see Luke 18:15-17)

Well, I'd better go...you see there is this neat pony waiting patiently in our basement play area and I've already been instructed on how to ride.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Upside Down

Reading in Luke today (chapter 8 ff) and noted the radical senses - the upside down directions - of Jesus' teachings.

Culture says: Your neighbor is one who lives close, acts like you.
Jesus says: Your neighbor is one you help when you see their need. (10:25-37)

Culture says: Guests coming? Go to great lengths to prepare.
Jesus says: Don't fuss and fume, simplicity. "Only one thing is necessary." (10:42)

Culture says: Your family heritage makes you great. (11:27)
Jesus says: Blessed are those who hear the word of God and do it.

Culture says: There's lots to be worried about out there...prepare, prepare.
Jesus says: You are valuable to the Father...don't worry. (12:29)

Culture says: The greatest among you is the one just voted into office.
Jesus says: The greatest among you is the least. (9:46-48)

Religious culture says: Do your thing, and frown on others.
Jesus says: Accept others, "the one who is not against you is for you." (9:49-50)

Jesus, your truth is what sets us free. Our culture works in the now, but brings with it all the ego stuff and frenzy stuff, and in eternity, loss, great loss. Would you help us to keep moving in the direction of YOU?..even if at times it feels very upside down? Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010


The weather is changing...the trip down the driveway each morning for the paper is getting a bit quicker all the time, the bathrobe tassel tied tighter...the hold-your-breath-while-you-do-this reflex less optional...and the get-dressed-before-you-do- this moments are coming soon. It is all about the seasons...and winter is on its way. Pike's Peak is looking a bit more ashen each day.

I find it fascinating to reflect on this, the way God made things.

Seasons to mark the years...light and dark to mark the days...young and old to mark life. The Master stroke of a Genius bent on keeping us from boredom. Everything - seems to be in seasons...except for God who "changes not."

Seasons come and go. Some cycle around and around, and some cycle forward only.

Seasons do not last forever...no worry, your favorite will return.

Seasons have advantages and disadvantages, all of them. Youth: energy but inexperience. And the opposite way down line, in the greying years.

Seasons provide for options that are unique, if taken advantage of.

So, the worst thing I could do about a season is resist it, complain about it - stand on my driveway and curse the cold.

No, better by far to move a little faster, embrace the change, and make the best of it... oh, and put on warmer clothes. Millions will skate and ski and make snowmen, and drink hot chocolate.

So, no scrooges here. Let's celebrate and thank God for His incredible design and sovreign purposes in our lives.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Following - Jesus' style

Reading this morning in Mark 1 and drawn to a paragraph (:16-20) where Jesus is innitiating discipleship among the first of the twelve.

Immediately struck by thinking about how he discipled and how I/we have done so.

1. He went to where they were living/working - alongside the Sea, at the docks, and as they were working among family and friends, mid-day. I/we tend to mostly invite people to a gathering place, with big numbers, safe controls. And I even hear of some who have given up visiting people in their homes etc. entirely and seemingly retreating to a safe and predictable non-relational professionalism where the real-person indexes are hidden under many layers. (Is it ok to be this direct?)

2. He spoke to them and called them in their language, using terms clear to them - fishing for people. Fishing terms were rather gauche in that day...this was not just cultural sensitivity, but social inclusivism, a priority of speaking clearly to all people. (Consider for instance his language among temple people.) He talked in their language. Often I/we have tended to obscure the clear "follows" with elevated, mysterious words.

3. He asked for immediate and costly commitment - "follow me," ie get up now and let's go together - and "immediately" becomes the modus operandi twice - leaving the closest people behind. (It has often cost people relationships with nuclear family to be followers. It did on day one, in this text.) We tend to play down the costs (by demurring the discussion or underlining the "later" factors like heaven) and delay the responses that will produce life and leadership growth. Remember too, that this "follow me" invitation occurred when Jesus was not famous, or followed by anyone else. He was fresh from commissioning and that is all. There was no followership of a great and rising star at hand, just a woodworker who knew his real identity and purpose and would dare to speak from that platform, calling for commitment. He was exercising faith in this...great faith.

4. He told them why he was asking them to "follow" - setting the vision of people clearly before them: you will "fish for" and catch people. I note too that He had just spent forty days alone, in prayer and dependence on the Father, making sure His life merited any followership...that his words would be backed with integrity and Presence. It is a very serious thing to call people to follow. We often are fuzzy and soft in this department (in fact almost at times operating in reverse - letting their sensitivities "call" us) and demurring about/ or neglecting our own personal examples. Let us get bold, my friend, bold....like Jesus.

5. He took responsibility for what their development would lead to - "I will make you become." I will be involved all the way with you. You will turn from a static citizen to a becomer. I will partner with you. I guarantee that you will be effective, changed, pleasing to God, difference maker. He started with a small number of hand-picked followers. The numbers would come until whole communities were clamoring after Him...but it was anchored in the few that learned from day one the dynamics of real followership.

Lots to think about here...and pray about...and figure out for today.

Sure it is "only one paragraph." But it IS one paragraph.

Sure it is "Jesus"...but He is the benchmark we are to follow. (I Corinthians 11:1)

Just think: these approaches led to the development of world-changing leaders in just a few years.



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tongue control

Working on an article in these days about Godly patterns of speech and was led to review all of the book of Proverbs on its wisdom in this area.

A vast number of references to the subject.

From that research comes these interesting verses, with a focus that caught my attention.

10:19 - When words are many, sin is not absent.

11:13 - A gossip betrays a confidence but a trusted man keeps a secret

12:18 - reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of a wise man brings healing

13:3 - He who guards his lips guards his life -
he who speaks rashly will come to ruin

16:9 - He who covers over an offense promotes love,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

16:14 - Starting a quarrel is like breaking a dam;
so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out

17:28 - Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent (why am I smiling?)

20:19 - Avoid a man who talks too much

25:15 - A gentle tongue can break a bone.
In cultural context it means, persistence in gentleness can break down the hardest of objects, the nastiest of spirits, the most rigid of defenses.

Well, that is a partial listing of what I found. I note that I need to keep learning to weigh what I say before I speak. Too often I have spoken much to fill the air with myself...striving for affirmation or control.

Let's work on this: NOT responding with our ideas quickly, but asking a question or just listening. Often when I have done this I have discovered an early response would have been one that led in the wrong direction.

May we be wise today...


Friday, November 5, 2010


An account of God's people in a steep learning curve is found in I Samuel 4-7. If the Lord sparks it in you, get a Bible and read those chapters along with these brief remarks.

As I did so this morning (thanks to Jackie's prompt) I was struck by the contemporary voice in these chapters.

Simply -

#1 - the Israelites go to battle, pull in the ark of God to seal what they hope will be a victory - Presumption: the presence of the ark will force God to act on our behalf. Wrong. The ark is lost to the Philistines. And key leaders begin to die for their part in it all.

#2 - The Philistines take it home - thinking it will be a "blessing" and guarantee of success. Presumption: the presence of this object will gain us favor. Wrong. They are struck with tumors, panic and more. Their chief god oject keeps doing obeisance to the ark...and the cry of a whole city begins to go up to heaven.

#3 - Get rid of the ark becomes their intense focus...and so it is returned to Israel with offerings (golden mice and tumors!! - extemely costly and in focus gifts)

#4 - Their presumption (and ours too) ..do the right things and all will quickly be restored. Wrong. For twenty years "the house of Israel lamented after the Lord."

Before this episode resolves, there is an intense crying out to the Lord that must occur, a thundering from heaven from a God who is not captured or manipulated by our golden objects. What he is responsive to is the integrity of our hearts, our humility, our prostration before him...our total submission to him. He looks always on the heart.

Oh, and the two milking cows, yoked together and sent on a fifteen mile journey the dstiny of which the people will accept as God's work? Is this not one of the most extremely non-presumptive, hands-off moments in history? (Jackie: "milking cows?!")

Lots to think about in these chapters. May God give us heart-shaped altars...and remove presumption further from us today.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I had an early meeting today with a friend in a coffee shop. Great talk, great mutual encouragement. Time flying by.

As this time ended, we were rising to depart our separate ways, and I noticed, a few tables away, a man with Bible opened. Sitting by himself.

Quickly into my mind came this prompt...say "Hello." And after a bit of resistance, I stepped towards the table and as I did, this intro came to my mind: "Understandest thou what thou readest?" An ancient translation of Acts 8:30. The ancient words I understood immediately to be a way to include a modicum of humor, friendliness...and engagement.

After a bit of a suprised look, a smile broke across his face and he replied..."I sure hope so."

With that we began a conversation that was mutually uplifting...great similarities and interesting differences.
Both pastors
Both teachers
Both Kingdom of God questers
Both with challenging journies.
Both with a current same good friend!
Both writers and recent publishers.
Both disciplers in similar directions.
Both risk-takers and open-hearted.
Family situations.
Spiritual roots.
Current challenges.

It was a great conversation out of which we exchanged ideas, and contact info...and perhaps started a friendship.

Did we meet by chance?

Don't think so.
What I really believe is that the Spirit of God has all kinds of agendas for us that are useful in His hands and make our journeys so much more lively and exciting.

"Chance" encounters...it's part of Kingdom life...where it seems more and more that a lot less stuff "just happens."

On the journey, with you...