Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Thinking back over the past year along with what seems to be an everyday occurrence, this thing of perception, how we see things as being, is in my humble opinion one of the most important things we will all have to face and process out if freedom is to ever become a reality in our lives so in turn we become agents of change instead of remaining agents of pain. Our lives are made up of choices...responses to what's happening around us or what we desire to happen. Most of what I see coming from people and the way I had lived most of my life, "reacting" turns out to be a better way to describe what makes up most of a persons life than does "responding".The ability to respond comes from a place of Emotions play as much a part in the lives of people learning to rest as they do in those who are still scrambling trying to control it all. But they look and feel drastically different. And they produce something drastically different also.It's impossible for me to name one thing I am most grateful for this past year/years. But learning to respond from a place of rest, due in part to learning to accept things for what they are instead of attempting to make things what I might think they should be, would make a good run for the top spot on my list. All of this becomes far more obvious to me in light of being the father of three teenage daughters. Teenage emotional responses to what is perceived as reality rarely matches up to what is actually happening or has happened already. It's no help at all when parents emotional responses run along the same rails of unreality. Believe me when I say, that is a train wreck I never want to repeat.It seems to me that most things...most difficulties we humans face stem from an inherent need to be in control. And much of that spreads out from a place inside us and manifests itself as attempts to make things be something they are not. It's a refusal to accept reality. The subsequent emotional responses end up causing us to violate everyone and even ourselves. And have you noticed yet how ineffective that approach is? We really can't make something out of nothing...well, except stronger illusions and bigger messes.


Young people are just so wonderful and funny. It's sad how the grace period for them to remain young and child-like gets assaulted so early in their lives, squeezing them into a mold so as to take their place in the machine.

This post was inspired by Ellie. It is her quote in the title. After the conversation that I describe below, those were her words to me. So here's the blog post Ellie.

Last night my 15 year old had a couple of her friends over and along with my 13 year old they built a make-shift tent in the living room. When I came into the room to find that it had been consumed by this creation I asked what they were doing. This response came from under the cover: "We made a tent" to which I responded, "Why?" Ellie's answer was perfect. "Because it has been so long since I had made one and I just wanted to." You gotta love it.

Here's something good for us parents to constantly remind our children of:

Baby slow down
The end is not as fun as the start
Please stay a child somewhere in your heart

And here is some good advice for us adults because us saying it isn't enough...they need to see us doing the same and from what I see today they are seeing too often the opposite. This is from Anne LaMott's book Plan B.

"My friend Mark, who works with church youth groups reminded me recently that Sam doesn't need me to correct his feelings. He needs me to listen, to be clear and fair and parental. But most of all he needs me to be alive in a way that makes him feel he will be able to bear adulthood, because he is terrified of death, and that includes growing up to be one of the stressed-out, grey-faced adults he sees rushing around him."

Monday, December 29, 2008


After Aida commented on the TAKE A DEEP BREATH post I decided to go ahead and add this story here on my blog. I had just made a post about it on The Shack and The God Journey forums.

Last night myself and my wife had the pleasure of providing a place for Eric and Tayna Rogers and their children to spend the night as they made their way back home to Atlanta from their time spent in Iowa for Christmas.

Tanya and I met on the forums many months ago and have been communicating through PMs, emails, text messages, and phone calls ever since. It was so much fun finally getting to sit in the same room with her and Eric and their beautiful children. The evening was so blessed with wonderful conversations about this most wonderful journey we all find ourselves on together as we learn to live inside the relationship with Father Son and Spirit. The very place we belong. It really was as if we had known each other forever.

That makes two weekends in a row that Julie and I have been able to sit with friends we have got to know through The God Journey and The Shack.
The Church that just happens organically around people being joined together through friendships is such a wonderful thing. When politics and power struggles and agendas are removed healthy relationships just begin to happen.
You might be asking: "Where's Julie?" She took the picture. Tanya and Eric have one with Julie in it so once I get a copy of it I will add it to these.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


They come from the wild. Let me introduce you to another gardener that has inspired me. Dan Hinkley is an explorer. He use to guide, and probably still does, plant exploration trips throughout wild places all over the world. I've always wanted to go on one of those trips.

You can watch some more short videos of Dan in China out in the wild.

Nature is a great garden design teacher.

Nova's First Flower

Thursday, December 25, 2008


I haven't even began reading it yet but just with a quick trip through the pages of pictures it has reached deep inside me to that creative space and stirred me. It's cold here in the Midwest this Christmas morning and the landscape stands stark and grey. It will be three months before the ground begins to thaw and the plant world begins to do what it does when the ground begins to warm. I just love that time of the year and it never ceases to leave me in awe.

The influence of Ken Druse is all over my garden...with the choice of many plants and within the design. That began many years ago through his book The Natural Shade Garden and then The Collector's Garden (Designing with Extraordinary Plants). I actually called him on the phone after reading that book and I left him a voice message. A few hours later, to my surprise, my phone rang and it was Ken returning my call. His generosity in helping me find a plant I had been introduced to in his book was my introduction into a community of wonderfully generous gardening people that would become a part of my life in the following years. One such person several years later would be my traveling companion and my guide during my trip to the Mt Hood area in Oregon where he lives and gardens. Don Howse gets a mention in this blog post. Another couple who are owners of a nursery northwest of Chicago introduced me to the world of rare and unusual conifers. Their influence is also undeniable. Through these connections and more I began to meet some wonderfully kind and creative people. Before I knew it I was being asked to come and speak at many of their garden clubs meetings and asked to consult and help others design or rework their gardens. My life has been blessed by all these people.

So, with this book in hand and the inspiration that fills it's pages I look forward to the days when old man winter begins to give up his grip on the land and sky and the temps begin to warm and the joyful sounds of approaching spring step forward once again to take their place in this wonderful cycle we call life.
If you have never gardened I encourage you all to give it some thought. It's one of those things we were created to do.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I wish I had a video of Over The Rhine's song Firefly to add here. I remember hearing Linford explain the concept behind the song as being this idea of learning something so deeply that the possibility of forgetting it becomes impossible. I like that and I'm feeling like I have begun to experience some awakenings that this very much applies to.

This past weekend with my girls and how I am learning to relate to them as a father and friend is just one such example. It was also a reminder of how things we have learned and how those things are still being worked into us is a process. Grace is the power that transforms us.

Here is something else that I have learned and this ended up being a big help over the weekend. And if this isn't grace I don't know what is. I felt like I had one of those moments this weekend similar to Peter when he made the promise to Jesus that he wouldn't deny him...only to find himself doing just that. I can relate to Peter when it comes to the moments when the rubber hits the road and we come face to face with two choices. To go with the new reality that has become so real or to slip back into a rut that had been formed in years past and feels familiar. Jesus' response to Peter should put us at ease in knowing that he has us covered and he is working in us to complete the restoration he has set in motion. "I know Kent...and I had already prayed for you so that you would be strengthened and in turn would be able to help encourage and strengthen others."

Here's what I am learning in all of this and many of the things I have faced over the past few years. To give people a break and to not be so hard on them for the messes they create. And to always remember to give myself a break also. I'm not the author of this nor will I be the finisher of it. But I certainly want to be a co-laborer with Father Son and Spirit in the process they have us all in. I'm counting on grace.....the way I am seeing it, there is no other way through.

"His gaze moved over the garden that surrounded them. "But it really is beautiful, and full of you, Sarayu. Even though it seems like lots of work still needs done, I feel strangely at home and comfortable here."The two looked at each other and grinned. Sarayu stepped toward him until she had invaded his personal space. "And well you should, Mackenzie, because this garden is your soul. This mess is you! Together, you and I, we have been working with a purpose in your heart. And it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process. To you it seems like a mess, but to me, I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and alive---a living fractal." The Shack

(The picture above was taken during a very messy time while we were in Disney 3 years ago this month)....I'm learning to see these girls and myself for who we are...beautiful, messy, living fractals in process

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


"Most emotions are responses to perception---what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too. So, check your perceptions, and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms---what you believe. Just because you believe something firmly doesn't make it true. Be willing to reexamine what you believe. The more you live in the truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly. But even then, you don't want to trust them more than me." The Shack

To continue a bit more thinking in regards to the past couple posts, this excerpt from a conversation from The Shack fully applies. In the midst of the chaos, this was at least one of the things I was able to talk with my oldest daughter about. Whether she could see it in the heat of the moment, which I'm sure she couldn't, hopefully it is one of those things that is sinking into her head and heart. It's become so much a part of my understanding and I live so aware of the reality it conveys. My daughters hear of this on a regular basis from me these days.

I've come to see clearly that most people are fighters when it comes to what they perceive to be true, whether it is or not. Even those that tend to avoid confrontation are still in a mode of protecting what they believe. Beliefs are things that demand protecting.

What a deep dark destructive hole it is that sucks us in when we allow our perceptions to blind us and embolden us and keep us from being able to look at the situation critically.

Monday, December 22, 2008


We headed out on Saturday last week for a wedding on Sunday. We stayed in Springfield Saturday and Sunday night and had the opportunity to spend some time with Rob and Robin Horton and Scott and Susan Griffith over dinner at the Horton's home. We had a wonderful time with them even though it was too short of a time. During dinner Scott told me that he thinks of me often due to his role as a father raising daughters that are younger than mine. He actually said he wonders quite often "What would Kent do in this situation?"....which I found very funny. I'm just winging it Scott.

This weekend wearing my hat as a father could be described as Beauty and The Beast. This weekend the same description works for my three daughters also. Let's just say that their behavior from Saturday evening through Sunday morning sent me into micro-managing mode, something I haven't done in quite awhile. Something I really never want to do again. I used to live there and I'm not going back. Scott, it wasn't pretty. But my oh my did I ever feel justified while in the midst of their ugly behavior with one another and a couple other people involved in the weekend. That is until I could see how my reactions to their behavior was cutting through them also and creating something I never want them to feel coming from me.

I have a lot to learn when it comes to helping them out of a cycle that is all too familiar due to the reality that they see it being employed by most people they come into contact with in this world. People hurting other people by just being mean. This weekend it just set me off because none of them would respond to my attempts to get them to down shift and change course. One was threatening to just shut down and refuse to be in the wedding which I knew would haunt her for the rest of her life because she has waited for this wedding to happen for many years. Other than reminding her of how much she would regret it at a later date all I could tell her was that it was her choice to make...I would not force her to do it.

And out of the chaos Sunday morning a few moments of grace emerged. A couple of the individuals involved decided to make a move towards others they had offended and hurt in an attempt to make it right. All I said to the one that had been threatening to be a hold out was this: "Now the ball is in your court. Will you accept their move and in turn make a move towards them?" Within minutes there were hugs of forgiveness being shared all around and laughter and joy replaced the screeching and ugliness that had consumed everyone beginning the night before.

How is it that we all have had these two drastically different experiences on countless occasions and we all hate how the one makes us feel and how it leaves others feeling and we all love how we and other are left feeling while experiencing the other and yet we so easily gravitate to the ugliness and often refuse to change course? That's what left me so pissed off during the chaos of the weekend. And yet I learned once again my anger is no help at all in helping others see a more better way.

The wedding was beautiful and all the girls looked beautiful and if grace had not won out in the end this hilarious fun memorable moment would have never happened.

Two of the three in the pink dresses are mine. Amie, my oldest, who was also in the wedding is standing in the back with a friend of hers. The bouquet goes right through Amie's hands and Ellie plows through to come away with the prize.

Scott, once again I came face to face with the reality that this is all about grace.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Too long of a story to tell but these songs just healed my heart tonight. Over The Rhine are the gift givers for me tonight.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


An email Paul Young received from someone who had read The Shack has continuously popped up in my mind over the past couple days while in the middle of conversations with a few of my clients. The conversations were full of emotion. One due to a new fresh discovery. She had read the book since I had seen her last month and she seemed to have been introduced to something she had never imagined before. She is from the Catholic tradition and she was full of questions and they all pointed to one thing...the possibility of intimate relationship with God. She was so moved by how Paul told this story and expressed it in such a way that made it so real.

Another conversation was with a long time client/friend who is walking through a new place with her children learning to live free of her former manifestation as the Tight Ass Church Lady. Grace is such a beautiful thing. I told her of the story where I heard another believer, who is seeing her relationships with her grown children being restored, describing her former self as the TACL. I felt safe saying that to her having been so open with her over the past 20 years, especially the past three. She watched me walk through the painful season with my oldest daughter and all that has happened since, and Father in all his wonder has used what I walked through to work a wonderful transformation in her that is reworking how she lives with her children...some who are out of the house and one whom is still at home. It's all so confounding how Father makes beauty out of ugly things .

The story that has kept popping up is of a man who had been estranged from his mom for 40 some years, who sent a message to her letting her know that he was on his way to see her and that he was bearing a gift. He rode his motorcycle from Atlanta Georgia all the way to Oregon to take a copy of The Shack to her. He left with her, as Paul tells the story, a much worn dog-eared copy of The Shack that was full of things he had written in it to Papa. In the email to Paul she told him the one thing that he had written that had meant the most to her was this: " There is healing in the giving and receiving of forgiveness." " So we did that and much much more."

You just never know what might happen when people begin to be set free and they begin to see all the damage that had been done to them by others who have treated them harshly by placing demanding expectation on them and how in turn they have unknowingly taken on the same pattern and have been passing the damage on to others they assumed they were helping.

"I suppose since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing and I know grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


"If, however, Christianity and the church are in fact reactionary and static, it is becasue they have lost the basic meaning of the Christian life, which is freedom. They have transformed revelation into a religion. Religion is indeed a conservative, retarding, and restrictive force. In this transformation, fellowship with Christ is lost, and with it the purity for which everything is pure and everything is possible. This is why it seems to me that the most urgent and decisive task for Christianity today, on the basis of fellowship with Christ, is to recover the full meaning of freedom." Jacques Ellul The Ethics Of Freedom

How in the world have we so lost the revelation of God through Jesus, that we have been liberated, and instead traded it for a belief that makes it all about a God that bosses us around and forces us to conform and if we don't he becomes the ultimate tormentor?

Freedom is of ultimate importance. If we can't find enough freedom to reconsider who God really is, and who we are in him, we will remain stuck in a restrictive retarding system of belief that is completely impotent in liberating anyone from anything.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Have you noticed yet, through your experience, that things seem to only happen in their time? I've become so aware of this reality and you's a really freeing thing. It really does open up a space to where embracing others and loving them becomes natural when before I was unable to do so and blind to that sad reality. Everything I did in relationship with others was about compulsion. It was about what I needed or wanted to get out of them. Even when it is something that might be good for the other or for ourselves, forcing it might not be the best way. But like everything else I'm learning there is no set pattern or formula to any of all comes down to responding to the invitations that we seem to only hear and understand when the time has come for us to be freed of one more thing we need freed from.

Love has to do with trust while compulsion has to do with fear.

I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Snow Angels: The Seattle Times calls Over the Rhine's Holiday CD, Snow Angels, "the best soundtrack since A Charlie Brown Christmas for feeling melancholy and lovesick in December." Order your copy, or any Over the Rhine CD here.
And you can listen to some of the songs here.

Little Town
(First verse: Traditional. Additional Words and Music: Detweiler)

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy dark and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

The lamplit streets of Bethlehem
We walk now through the night
There is no peace in Bethlehem
There is no peace in sight

The wounds of generations
Almost too deep to heal
Scar the timeworn miracle
And make it seem surreal

The baby in the manger
Grew to a man one day
And still we try to listen now
To what he has to say

Put up your swords forever
Forgive your enemies
Love your neighbor as yourself
Let your little children come to me

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Here is a link to listen to a conversation between Darin Hufford and Wayne Jacobsen


No wonder it's a difficult task to find people who are truly living free. Everything humans have created works against it and yet it creates such a powerful lie/illusion to substitute for real freedom. It still leaves me dumbfounded how what passes as the church today and is taught as the good news, which is suppose to be all about freedom, not only doesn't help people find this freedom it compounds the problem of being stuck.

Responsibility and expectations might sound like noble things but they actually turn out to be such enemies to the life of freedom. It becomes a bit tricky/confusing to separate ourselves from all the ways those two things have shaped us to think....especially while living in a culture that is so demanding...relationally and professionally.
On a relational note, it seems that myself and my wife while in a conversation last night might have had one of those moves into a deeper freedom with one another away from responsibility and expectations and how they were still adversely affecting us due to how our minds processed one another's behavior. While that was playing out my 18 year old was floundering in the mire of relational expectations with her boyfriend. Now that's painful to watch. But it has been helpful having been freed from so much of the responsibility and expectations trap and being able to accept that people are where they are and they are bringing all they have to bring. It has taken myself and my wife 21 years of living with one another to get where we are today....our daughter is not yet free and has a ways to go in this process.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


This is my friend Sarah Archer. She is a very talented singer/songwriter. She also just happens to be a co-worker I get to hang out with everyday at work.


And the YOU in the title is certainly Father Son and Spirit...but it is also my wife, my children and all of my friends and acquaintances and that includes all of you who might be reading this. Please enjoy this season and don't let the noise rob you all of the things that are important.

I've so had my fill of consumerism. This just happens to be another one of those things I am so grateful for the freedom I began to find back a few years ago. When the reality of something so much more wonderful sneaks up on you, the absurdity of the "covert curriculum" (as one controversial author describes it) begins to been seen as....well, absurd. I used to enjoy the clever creativity of commercials. I really don't anymore because all I see is how I had been manipulated all those years by it.

We have been set up and it's due to the fact that our economic system is dependant on us falling for the lie. We have to spend to feed the machine so as to keep it healthy. What's so sick about all of that is that the machine is actually feeding on us and in the process taking from us what we all really long for.

I feel freer today in regards to all of this but not yet free. I am free in the sense that it no longer controls me by manipulating me through my mind and senses. That really does feel wonderful. But there still is this thing called necessity that takes on a specific flavor that is determined by the reality that I am living in a consumerist version of the beast. But as I mentioned in the last post, there is a Wind that is never stagnant and that Wind is completely free and unaffected by the covert curriculum and moves by the direction of someone wholly Other.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


It's difficult for me to explain how religion makes me feel. Most of the time I don't want to even give it any power by allowing it to create in me a reaction. But sometimes it still does. I think what I mostly hate about it is how it had made me believe that I could see when I was still as blind as a bat. I found out that there is something worse than blindness....and that would be blindness along with a good dose of arrogance and feelings of superiority.

Yea, yea, I know, this post is suppose to be about the Bible. Well, as far as religion goes the Bible is at the center of the problem of undetected blindness when it supplants everything that matters...Father Son and Spirit and freedom. When we take the Bible and all it's "fixed" principles and we make the mistake in thinking following those principles and applying them to everything is what life in the Spirit is all about...we are in big trouble. And that is the worst stuck anyone will ever face. Rigamortis sets in and rigamortis is really bad.

The life in the Spirit (the very Spirit of God) is about a Wind....and there is nothing "fixed" or rigid about that at all.

"There is a Wind… that wraps itself around the edges of necessity, tugging and pulling until those boundaries become torn and begin to move to the motion of that which is not visible." Paul Young

Monday, December 08, 2008


Mark 4:19 (The Message)

"The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.

This parable has become one of the defining realities in my life and my family. Either way it speaks to a reality that is inescapable. We are either living free or we are not. It's so heartbreaking for me to see people so overwhelmed and so caged by it all when juxtaposed with the life of freedom available to us. It goes without saying that myself and my family move in and out of both realities from time to time. Well, my daughters have a ways to go when it comes to these matters. Papa is still working ever so gently on their messy soul just as he is all of us adults. I'm learning to stay tuned. This is a process that takes some time.

When one looks around and sees the beauty that life is...relationships and the created earth...and you realize most people live pacing the's a reminder to live awake and aware of the things humanity in it's mad dash has conjured up that end up just being distractions.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


...the right of national self-determination does not exist in the Bible. Before God nations have neither a right to exist nor a right to liberty. They have no assurance of perpetuity. On the contrary, the lesson of the Bible seems to be that nations are swept away like dead leaves and that occasionally, almost by accident, one might endure rather longer.
- Jacques Ellul, The Politics of God and the Politics of Man

After listening to The Drew Marshall Show yesterday and the conversation he had with Wayne Jacobsen, Paul Young, and Bruxy Cavey and after a little chat I had last night on Facebook with Bruxy I decided to revisit some content from Bruxy's book The End of Religion today. My day has been immersed in the podcasts he did awhile back going chapter by chapter through the book. I feel a little more of Jesus this evening and the difficulty of the things Jesus said and lived/lives. It was nothing new in regards to where Jesus has had me for the past few years, it's just really humbling in light of how far off the Church here in North America is with Jesus and his message.

When will the Church in this nation come to understand that earthly power not only doesn't look good on her it has left her bankrupt? There is something so life changing to be found in Jesus for those who empty their hands of power.

Here are some of my friends that have been a help to me along the way as Jesus was recapturing my imagination over the past few years. Repenting of the old operating paradigm and laying it down became vital so I could begin to see better the one he operates from.

Friday, December 05, 2008


As I make my way through this world I live in I am constantly struck by the scenes that play out before me in others lives and my own. Unfortunately, most of what I see is power plays. But it is in the rare moments that grace appears in the midst of this stark harsh demanding landscape that I am left in awe and changed a little more. I've seen enough to know the way forward. Love/Grace is God's power unto transformation.
I wrote what is above on a piece of paper this morning right after I arrived at work. It just happened to be what was on my mind. What follows happened towards the end of my day at work which I thought was pretty cool.
I was left in awe this morning as I watched one of my co-workers encouraging one of the younger co-workers in regards to her marriage. It was such wonderful advice and she was speaking to her from her own experience and transformation that has been happening in her life/marriage. As I was listening in she reminded me that it was around this time last year that I was the one encouraging her because she found herself discouraged and frustrated about her marriage. She said that last year she couldn't see how what I was saying would ever she is experiencing it and helping others with it.

You just never know where the ripples being created by the choices being made from your own freedom will end up tomorrow or next year.


Bono apologizing to Ali for missing a special date night by going too long in the studio.

I'm really looking forward to some new music from the boys.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Disabuse: To free from a falsehood or misconception

I think that term applies well to these two books and it is no surprise they both have created some discomfort for people. I actually can't imagine anyone raised in Christian circles not feeling a bit uncomfortable while reading either one of them. Many raised in religious environments might not even finish them if they ever began reading them in the first place. The dis/illusioning process can be very painful. We are faced with letting go of things we have become very attached to and have convinced our selves or been convinced by others are necessary for our journey.

There's nothing new in this post that hasn't been covered already many times on this blog. Maybe it is a reoccurring theme because I need the constant reminder of how easy it to fall back into the practice of judgement of people and circumstance...tree of the knowledge of good and evil stuff.

Yesterday was a bit of a disturbing day having been asked to mediate or at least listen to two people give their accounts of the state of their relationship. They had reached an impasse. Or at least one of them had. I wasn't surprised to find that the more religious one of the two had laid down rules and drawn a line in the sand that if the other crossed would be a deal breaker in the relationship. Rules and a line in the sand that he at least (while talking to me) had the courage to admit he crosses also. The troubling part was that he still seemed to have justifications for himself that he wasn't willing to allow her. The religious mind is so disastrous when it comes to leaves no room for love (1 Corinthians 13) because it is too busy administering/enforcing law (disproportionately)

While doing some gardening Sarayu asks Mack
"When something happens to you, how do you determine whether it is good or evil?

To which Mack answers

"Well, I haven't really thought about that. I guess I would say that something is good when I like it---when it makes me feel good and gives me a sense of security. Conversely, I'd call something evil that causes me pain or costs me something I want."

Sarayu then asks

"And how confident are you in your ability to discern what indeed is good for you, or what is evil?"

This is from Greg Boyd's book Myth Of A Christian Nation. This is from the chapter When Chief Sinners become Moral Guardians. Greg hits on something here that seems to be a standard practice among people shaped by religious ideologies. Christianity does not escape this. If the message of Jesus, the gospel, the good news, has mostly been reduced to an attempt at training people to do "good" and not to do "evil" by naming good and evil, have we not just continued what began with Adam and Eve? The focus is still on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the flesh instead of on the Spirit and we are living smack dab in the middle of the mess that has created.

"When people assume the position of moral guardians of the culture, they invite---they earn!---the charge of hypocrisy. For all judgement, save the judgement of the omniscient and holy God, involves hypocrisy. Whenever we "eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"---this is, whenever we find some element of worth, significance, and purpose in contrasting ourselves as "good" with the others we deem "evil"--we do so in a self-serving and selective manner. We always bend the tree, as it were, to our own advantage and, as a result, we do the exact opposite of what Jesus taught us to do. Instead of seeing our own sins as worse than others, we invariably set up a list of sins in which our sins are deemed minor while the other people's sins are deemed major. We may have dust particles in our eyes, we reason, but at least we don't have tree trunks like "those people." Unlike the tax collector who made no moral claims for himself, we thank the Lord we are not like other people just as the Pharisee did (Luke 18:9-14)."


Jesus' refusal to pick up worldly power when he had all the power of heaven and earth at his disposal remains one of the most profound truths for me today. The one who has been given all authority obviously sees and understands something humanity doesn't see and understand. The world only knows one way and that way has become one of the most blinding and destructive mistaken notions that has seeped in and poisoned the Church.

And it's true that he went away but that wasn't the end of his story and his time with us. He has opened up something so much better...what a mystery that one is.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


On this chilling snowing morning for some reason the garden is on my mind. My favorite garden writer and garden photographer has just released his newest book. His books are stunningly beautiful and inspiring. If I had to point to one person that has influenced my gardening and eye for garden design the most it would be Ken Druse. For all you Shack readers out there, when I first saw this video a few days ago it made me think of the garden chapter from the book.

You can read a description of Planthropology here and maybe get a sense of why I enjoy Ken Druse.


Saturday, November 29, 2008


I first read this almost three years ago and it has been a part of the changing of everything.

"I suppose since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing and I know grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside."

I am so overwhelmed with God's patience. I grew up hearing about his patience all my life but it always had a sick twist to it. He really was just holding back all the rage because of what Jesus had done and yet if I didn't measure up I was still going to have hell to pay. As I awakened to God's constant work taking place in me...loving he has been doing all along, a wonderful healing shift began to happen...I began seeing him for who he is...Father. And he is not abusive. As my perception of him began to change, the relationship began to change from a relationship that was causing hurt and damage, to a relationship that began to heal every part of my being. Yep, grace doesn't make sense to those who are still living within the perception that gets shaped into us by the quid pro quo universe we live in. But grace is still what it has always been.

So, if the false perceptions of God that have kept us from seeing him as the Father he truly is, and in turn, had kept that relationship from being the way he desires it to be...wonder how our false perceptions within our human relationships effect them? I lived 42 years oblivious even to that question. I was very aware of there being a problem...but I hadn't a clue as to why. It's why relationships are so hurtful and damaging. It keeps us from seeing the beauty of the person standing in front of us because we are left in all our fear and pain and it keeps grace from ever becoming a reality.

Well, Jesus did come to change the paradigm. He showed us Father...not a distant god that we were suppose to be working out some kind of a relationship with based in fear and unworthiness, a god who only wanted to be with us because he had to now in light of what his son had done. Religious training/shaping has kept this sick hurtful paradigm alive for too long and pawned it off on people as if it represents a healthy relationship. No wonder people shaped by religion are some of the most uncaring, unloving, demanding people in the world and no wonder relationships aren't any healthier among them then among people outside the influence of if being outside the influence of religion is even possible. The harsh example is everywhere.

So here we are in a world where we must relate to people. I think it is our choice as to how we proceed to do that and I also think we must take ownership of all that flows from us due to how we choose to proceed. If most hurts come from relationships and most of our healing will also come from relationships, what changes that?

It's the grace that makes no sense for those looking in from the outside, but once it is tasted in all it's glory as it flows from God the Father to us as individuals and that relationship becomes what he has always desired it to be...we become individuals that can't help but relate to the others around us in the same gracious loving way.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Life is just too funny. Thanksgiving Day over the past few years has just taken on a whole different meaning for all of us in the Burgess family. Today our 15 year old pulled one on us. She came into the living room just a little while ago with her guitar in hand and told her mom that she had a song she wanted to sing for her. Ellie broke down before any of the rest of us did when she began the second verse of the song but she pressed on like a pro while the rest of us took on the role of shedding the tears.

The background has to do with the pain of Ellie's 13th year. It was the year that we eventually decided to pull her out of the Christian school with five weeks left and bring her back home to finish school due to the pain she was living through having had her three best friends turn on her and begin to ignore and exclude her. I still remember several days when I pulled up to the school to pick her up and I knew the minute the car door closed she would breakdown in tears with the pain spilling out all over. She made it through that time and at 15 Ellie is a pretty strong young lady and still so full of compassion. Two of those three girls are again today her closest friends and it is so much fun to watch the three of them interact with each other.

So here's the song and the lyrics. She changed the verse about the brother to being about her sisters.


I'm five years old and it's getting cold
I've got my big coat on
I hear your laugh and look up smiling at you
I run and run
Past the pumpkin patch and the tractor rides
Look now the sky is gold
I hug your legs and fall asleep on the way home

I don't know why all the trees change in the fall
I know you're not scared of anything at all
Don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away
But I know I had the best day with you today

I'm thirteen now and don't know how my friends could be so mean
I come home crying and you hold me tight and grab the keys
And we drive and drive until we found a town far enough away
And we talk and window shop till I forget their names

I don't know who I'm gonna talk to now at school
But I know I'm laughing on the car ride home with you
Don't know how long it's gonna take to feel ok
But I know I had the best day with you today

I have an excellent father
His strength is making me stronger
God smiles on my two sisters
Inside and out they're better than I am

I grew up in a pretty house and i had space to run
And I had the best days with you

There is a video i found from back when i was three
You set up a paint set in the kitchen and you're talking to me
It's the age of princesses and pirate ships and the seven dwarfs
Daddy's smart and you're the prettiest lady in the whole wide world

Now I know why all the trees change in the fall
I know you were on my side even when I was wrong
And I love you for giving me your eyes
Staying back and watching me shine and I didn't know if you knew
So I'm taking this chance to say that I had the best day with you today
you can hear Ellie singing here


These words just happen to capture perfectly what I am feeling this morning...and it's the situation in which everyone finds themself. The 150 million dollar question is, will we live in the mess as people of grace knowing it's the only thing that can untangle the mess?

"The biblical God lets us make our own history, and goes with us on the more or less unheard-of adventures we concoct." --Jacques Ellul

He is faithful and will never leave us or forsake us. And humans through the exercise of their free will/choices...certainly concoct some adventures.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I made this suggestion to a friend a couple weeks ago in light of many of the news articles that were showing up on his blog before and after the recent presidential election.

take note of all the fearful future tripping being spread around by such articles and as we go through the next four or eight years it would be interesting to also take note of how many of them actually happen and how many of them don't. I agree that praying for our leaders is a wise thing to do....but I don't let such articles guide me.

I have thought about this many times since that day, as I have mentioned the same thing to others I have been in conversation with when I have heard them doing the same thing.....running with wild speculations and assumptions made by others that usually only produce imaginations of things they fear. This all strikes at the heart of whether we are interested in reality....or illusion that personally take on the weight of reality and mess with us in ways we can't even begin to imagine.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Well, consistency turns out to be one of those things that looks much differently based upon the paradigm one lives from. As a young parent I heard it over and over and over...."Being consistent with your discipline is the most important advice we can give you." This concept spreads out from parenting into all situations where people are attempting to manage other people's behaviors. Today looking back I can see clearly that most people are concerned with conformity and control instead of the other person's freedom.

If Law is the operating paradigm, consistency means applying the rules equally to everyone in every situation (even ourselves). Try as hard as one might try to do this...history and personal experience proves that it is just not going to happen. And even if the desired end product of uniformity was possible to boring and unlivable it would be.

If love and grace is the paradigm from which we live, consistency takes on such a different meaning/feeling altogether. All the models are useless. There is no pattern to follow and end product is no longer the focus. Turns out that the process is where life in all it's wonder and messiness and pain happens.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Sales are now nearing 5 million copies in North America alone...and still climbing and is in it's 26th week at #1 on The NYT Bestseller List.

"Most emotions are responses to perception---what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too. So, check your perceptions, and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms---what you believe. Just because you believe something firmly doesn't make it true. Be willing to reexamine what you believe. The more you live in the truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly. But even then, you don't want to trust them more than me."

Okay, this is my third attempt at a blog post today. I always know when I feel like posting here but today two have gone up only to be removed shortly after I posted them because it just didn't feel right. I've come to trust those nudges and always want to respond to them when I feel them.

I stumbled upon the youtube video of my friends, Paul, Wayne, and Brad talking about The Shack and while watching it the excerpt from The Shack I posted above came to mind. It actually sums up much better what I attempted to share earlier in the two posts I abandoned. Both those posts were about destructive false perceptions that have a way of keeping people stuck, yet blinded to that reality because of the use of the familiar justifications. People end up being hurt over and over because the cycle is left intact.

The familiar justifications keep people from being willing to reexamine what they believe and keeps the illusions alive because they take on the weight of being reality. When stuck in that place, forget about seeing clearly. I love how a line from the song in the last post describes it:

You’d think we were blind, the things we can see through

The things we look past when emboldened inside.

For the average individual to have the courage to reconsider everything they have grown up believing is certainly a difficult step. For the individual that has been shaped by religion to do so seems to be an even tougher proposition. Add to that religious paradigm a political paradigm and you have a real strong toxic cocktail of fear and dangerous extreme confidence to overcome.

I guess it all comes down to how well someone can work the illusion so as to keep it somewhat believable or when they begin to fall apart that Father Son and Spirit have become big enough and real enough to where abandoning the illusions/lies and the false perceptions along with the false security that are a part of them and stepping out into the unknown actually begins to make sense. That leap can be very scary but when you fall into the loving secure arms of Father you will be left wondering why you didn't do it a long time ago.

Wonderful healthy relationships await.

Friday, November 21, 2008


While in a conversation today I was trying to encourage a friend to not be so caught up in trying to work things out in such familiar ways. The familiar voices that run in our minds most of the time have been shaped by things and people who most of the time are thinking like humans think...not like God thinks. I told him that a few years ago I took my daughter on a trip in hopes of saving her life and getting her life back on a healthier track and it turned out to be a trip that saved my life...well, actually awakened me to life. I never saw coming what happened.

It was also interesting for that story to come up today just being 6 days out from the three year anniversary of coming face to face with the unexpected. I mentioned to him it was just a bit shocking to come to understand that I had been mistaken in thinking I had built a good life on the Rock when in actuality it was sitting on sinking/shifting sand. This isn't about building a life in order to find some security and squeezing everyone into it, hoping God blesses it. It really is about losing such a life that will never be secure and in the process of having the clutter cleared and seeing for the first time the Secure One.

Some music from around that time also came to mind yesterday that is such a fitting reminder. It's been wonderful listening.

Remember how we chased it like shadows
Life was the ocean; we wanted to swim
Looking back now, it’s just how the path goes
They tell you it’s over; you never begin

We don’t give ourselves time - the way that we used to
To watch it all happen, unfolding in sighs
You’d think we were blind, the things we can see through
The things we look past when emboldened inside

But it’s alright now, it’s alright
The ghosts of our glories are gray-bearded guides
The sound of our sorrows has stirred us inside
(But) I think maybe I’ve never felt more alive

I asked you just once if you thought we could be found
You never did tell me; but I think I know now
Whatever ship comes, by dark sea or gray cloud
As long as the well’s deep, we make it somehow


I don’t know how to make peace or find it
We’re most of us stories we’re scared to explain
But what if there’s sound, somewhere caught behind this
A song we can sing while we’re lying awake

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Here is a reality of Jesus (one of many) that just doesn't seem to jive with Christianity.

Why is it that the people that are used as examples in many of the parables Jesus told about the kingdom, not the ones who we would say lived moral lives and the ones he seemed to always be turning this around on were the so-called "moral" ones?

I am convinced that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been subverted and in it's place today we have the ideology of the religion of Christianity.

The quote that follows is from The Subversion Of Christianity by Jacques of his books I have yet to read.

Mike, if you are reading this post, I know you are reading this to share?

"Christianity claims not to be a religion that is superior to others, but to be an antireligion that refutes all the religions that link us with a divine universe. No doubt Christianity constantly becomes a religion…The Christian religion itself is constantly called into question by the absolute that is revealed in Jesus Christ."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


These are photos from a trip to Oregon a few years ago. I've posted them before but when I ran across this picture with Mt Hood wearing this cloud like a cap I just decided to pull them out again. Mountains and conifer forests and mysterious clouds just do something wonderful to me. While out there in the spring of 05 my last trip up the mountain began in dense cloud cover but as I rounded the last corner before reaching Timberline Lodge I drove through the cloud cover and Mt Hood appeared out of nowhere. I'll never forget it. It was just one of those special moments.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


"When stability (uniformity) is achieved, there is no more harmony." Jacques Ellul

During my first 15 years of parenting I was all about achieving stability. Well the 15th year blew those plans out of the water....thank God.

I'm no longer interested in the absence of conflict through some form of fear or punishment based behavior modification. I'm interested in harmony and that is a product of love...not law. People can learn to live with one another without killing each other but that doesn't mean they have learned how to love one another and it certainly doesn't mean they aren't violating one another in a number of different ways.

Honorable Relations is what I desire for my daughters and for myself with my daughters. Since the experience of my 15th year of parenting and the challenges to all my former paradigms, much has changed....drastically. Sometimes it still leaves my wife scratching her head. Sorry Julie. She really has been a pretty good sport through all of the changes since I injested that "red pill" that year :) hehe

So many wonderful world view changing things happened in my 16 year of being a parent and this little blog post by Tim Neufeld and the mention of Honorable Relations was one of them. It really did set in motion a brand new way of living with these three lovely ladies and then spread out into all my other relationships.

All you bloggers out there remember that. You never know what little post you make that might seem rather insignificant to you that just might be something that sets in motion some beautiful changes in someone elses life...and family.

Where Is The Love? by Tim Nuefeld.......I came to know Tim through our mutual appreciation and love for U2 and all they do.


How do begin this morning? And that is an honest question, I have no idea where this is going this morning.

Whether it be Over The Rhine's honest lyrics, Jacques Ellul's realist perspective of the world, The Matrix's social commentary, or The Shack's beautiful counter-cultural new revolution message which isn't really new at all...just covered up with a lot of religious crap, such perspectives always run up against the loop of excuses that leave people stuck in the "Yes Buts!" The Yes Buts will always leave the Truth that sets people free harder to find which will always leave the "adventure in missing the point" in place and people unaware that they are stuck in an adventure of missing the point.

The influences I mentioned above (and there are others also) have been a help in my life when it comes to exposing the things I had lived my entire life unaware of...the huge web of confusion and blindness...the matrix that had shaped my perception of things. They have helped in clearing the clutter by stripping away from me everything I had placed my hope and trust in, in a search for security and fulfillment. Talk about my former way of doing things and thinking being an adventure in missing the point.

Having everything stripped away is a very scary experience and more than likely the reason most people seem to continue to prop up the illusions. The illusions feed the loop of excuses and even make them seem to make sense, which keeps them alive and keeps people trapped and floundering.

In an article written about Ellul, his approach was described like this: "Ellul 'takes everything away' from us. He removes our commonplaces and securities, destroys our idols, crutches, and supports, ruthlessly strips away our justifications, and attacks our conformity to the world and lack of faith in Christ. Both through sociological criticism and through biblical exposition, he leaves us no way out, with the exits sealed off, with no hope." The article continues and concludes that it is this approach that more than likely isn't going to create many fans of Ellul which I think is a pretty sad but truthful observation. This is then offered as the purpose of Ellul's approach:
"But wait!" Professor Gill continues, "Ellul gives it all back with what can only be described as an inspiring vision of hope and freedom. … This approach exemplifies, on the level of contemporary Christian ethical discourse, the pattern of "leaving all", "hating all", and embarking on the path of radical discipleship to Jesus Christ that is repeatedly given in the Gospels."

For the freedom of Christ to make any sense, the "adventure in missing the point" has to be abandoned. But for that to become a possibility, God the Father must become "bigger" and "safer" in the minds and hearts of people than all the false comforts and securities that are created by all the illusions. There are many things standing in the way that blinds people to the transition that is necessary for freedom to become a reality and religion and religious thinking happens to be one of the things standing in the way. It perpetuates the loop of excuses and keeps the "adventure in missing the point" alive by keeping people from accepting things for what they really are.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


What a difference a day makes. Read yesterday's post for the contrast. I really am coming to a place of being able to embrace both as being a part of the process of redemption/transformation. I just enjoy the one still a bit more than the other. I had some wonderful conversations with a few of my clients this morning and then as I made my way home from work a song that carries deep wonderful meaning for myself came on....and everything....the heart break, the laughter, the joy and the tears and the scary scary beauty just all felt so right. I wish I could add the song here but it's not on youtube as of yet. So the lyrics will have to do.

Here It Is

I cried when I wrote this
I’ll always remember
The worst kind of lonely
Is alone in December

The act of forgiveness
Is always a mystery
The melting of ice
And the future of history

Some call it obsession
I call it commitment
I make my confession
I make it in public

I hope that it’s helpful
That others can use it
That it’s more than my ego
And my need to abuse it

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

The leaves on the oak tree
Hold on through the winter
They’re brown and their brittle
They clatter together
I can’t seem to let go
I’m so scared of losing
The deeper the love goes
The deeper the bruising

The trouble with talking
Is it makes you sound clever
The trouble with waiting
Is you’ll just wait forever

There’s a loop of excuses
That plays in your mind
And makes the truth
Even harder to find

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

When they blow Gabriel’s horn
Rip fiction from fact

Of love and redemption
The sound of warm laughter
Some true conversation
With a friend or my lover

Somewhere down the road
We’ll lift up our glass
And toast the moment
And moments past

The heartbreak and laughter
The joy and the tears
The scary scary beauty
Of what’s right here

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

Friday, November 14, 2008


Life sometimes is much stranger than fiction.

I've been in a funk since early this morning. A people funk. Something that really hasn't happened to me in awhile. The things that get thought up in the human mind and then accepted as reality makes living with one another a wild adventure/trip to say the least. Today I had become so sick of the fear filled future tripping of my fellow human beings and it took me most of the day to figure out that it was that which had me so agitated. Here's some weirdness....Cheap Trick, one of my favorite bands from the past helped me figure out why I was feeling like I was feeling. The video follows.

People will believe anything it seems and then they feel it's their job to run around (thinking they are helping) dumping at the feet of everyone they see, all the world's shit/lies/future imaginations they have picked up and are now carrying around and freaking out about. And I'm sorry for saying it, and this might be one of my faulty perceptions, but I think religion produces the worst offenders. I've said it before but I'll say it again.....religious training malforms people. I am so sick of hearing over and over and over from the conservative voices and those shaped by the conservative voices, that God's judgement is now on this nation because the population has elected the most godless man to ever be the president. To which I have to the conservatives that have gone before have been such wonderful representatives of godliness? Some good advice seems to be that we all might benefit from a long hard honest look at our own perceptions/paradigms...the ones that leave us in fear and leave us in a place of future tripping.....just making stuff up or just accepting what others are throwing out for public consumption and then running around acting like it's reality. The stuff that is being thrown around is at best speculation/imaginations/guesses and at worst, just out right PROPAGANDA designed to manipulate and control others in an attempt to achieve a desired goal.

Cheap Trick no longer shows up that often on my iPod, but today when I had a chance to slow down and take a deep breath and attempt to re-gain a place a peace for my mind and my spirit I ended up at youtube and for some reason I pulled up Cheap Trick's Dream Police. This song along with the song that immediately follows helped me find that place again by helping me recognise why I had become so agitated this morning. I's a weird thing sometimes what the Spirit uses to give us what we need to bring us back after having allowed something drag us away. But hey, I'll take it. And it feels like I'm over the funk.
The dream police mess with your head.........It's the way of the world.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Well, it seems the election again this time around has stirred the worst in many people. I long for us all to be free of these destructive human activities. I know I probably sound like a broken record...anyway, I can always benefit from the reminder myself.

I'm tired this evening so I'm going to let Paul, Jacques, and Richard say what's been on my heart in recent days as I have listened to countless conversation full of people making wild assumptions about other people they don't even know.

These guys do a much better job than I can at expressing it.

This first excerpt is from the chapter Here Come Da Judge from The Shack.

Sophia has just said to Mack...."You will be the Judge!"

The knot in his stomach returned as he realized what she had said. Finally, he dropped his eyes to the chair that stood waiting for him, "What? Me? I'd rather not," he paused, "I don't have any ability to judge."

"Oh, that is not true," returned the quick reply, tinged now with a hint of sarcasm. "You have already proven yourself very capable, even in our short time together. And besides, you have judged many thoughout your life. You have judged the actions and even the the motivations of others, as if you somehow knew what those were in truth. You have judged the color of skin and body language and body odor. You have judged history and relationships. You have even judged the value of a person's life by the quality of your concept of beauty. By all accounts, you are quite well practiced in the activity." Paul Young

"Freedom excludes suspicion. A choice must be made here with no compromise or half measures. If I think I am free in Christ, I can have no suspicion of others and must break with Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche. If there is freedom only in the reciprocity of love, I must lay down all weapons. This is the act of freedom. A choice has to be made. I can advance with all my equipment and analyze the other sociologically and psychologically. I can pin him down and dissect him like a butterfly. But if I do, I lose my own freedom and shut myself in the circle of his determinations. I can do this or I can advance in freedom. A choice which is both intellectual and vital must be made here." Jacques Ellul

This is from Hope Against Darkness by Richard Rohr.

"If you don't get forgiveness, you're missing the whole mystery. You are still living in a world of meritocracy, of quid-pro-quo thinking, a world of performance and behavior that earns an award. Forgiveness is the great thawing of all logic and reason and worthiness. It is the melting into the mystery of God as unearned love, unmerited grace, the humility and powerlessness of a Divine Lover. Forgiveness is the beginning, the middle and the end of the whole Gospel, as far as I can see.

Without radical and rule-breaking forgiveness-----received and given----there will be no reconstruction of anything. It alone breaks down our damnable world of trying to buy and sell grace. Grace is certainly the one gift that must always be free, perfectly free----to work. Without forgiveness there will be no future. We have hurt one another in too many historically documented and remembered ways. The only way out of the present justified hatreds of the world is grace."

For me this seems only possible when I know and live in the awareness of His never failing grace and love for me. When I understand that, there is no other way of living that makes sense.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Well, this morning's post was suppose to be the last of the garden posts for 08 but once I returned home from work I decided to put together some of the hi-lights from the garden through the season together in one last post. This was the first year I added the garden posts to my blog and I have to say I have rather enjoyed it and some of the life lesson I learned along the way. I hope others have enjoyed it also. Remember my mention awhile back of the snow storms that shut business down? This was one such storm and was it ever fun and relaxing.....I even enjoyed the shoveling that had to be done 4 times that day in hopes of staying ahead of it. Wonder when we will have our first one this winter season? I'm ready.