Saturday, May 31, 2008


As I was laying in bed last night I was thinking about my wife and three daughters and I remembered something I felt led to do a few years ago. Awhile back I started thinking about what I would want to say to these ladies if my time in this world was coming to an end or if I didn't get the chance to say good bye to each of them. The immediate thought was to make a record, to write something for them and save it, that might inspire and comfort them and strengthen their faith to keep their heads up and to not let anything keep them from living in the fullness that is theirs in Father, Son, and Spirit and to never let this world rob it from them.

Well, since that time, I had never actually sat down to get it done...or so I thought. Last night it dawned on me and I had never thought about it before, but I've been doing it on this blog all along and was totally unaware of it.

Julie, Amie, Ellie, and Samantha, you all have brought more joy to my life than I can express in words or actions. Don't let anything hold you down and remember no one can take the joy, the peace, the security, the hope, and the freedom that is yours and made possible because of the love of God towards each of you. It is such a wonderful pleasure for me to be able to share this life with you all. Every day is GIFT. And let's never forget these wise and beautiful words below from a friend. Don't let the fear this world uses, in an attempt to squeeze us into it's mold, keep us from thinking outside what this system is always telling us is important. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
These words below seem to be good challenging words of encouragement for us all and very profound words to always hold before us as a simple act of freedom to keep us awake and free of the damage caused by living narrow lives in fear.

"Although every human being is a universe within their very being...
some hardly dare explore outside the bare house they grew up in.
A few travel to the edge of their inner town,
fewer still to other cities.
But is rare to find one that has lifted
from the ground to set sail
for places undiscovered.
Fly high".....Ladies.

Friday, May 30, 2008


So my question is: "When did the subversion begin?

Here is an article with some of the things the critics of The Shack say and why they think it is spreading a subversive message. The Shack Opens Doors

I am very comfortable seeing the message as presented by the naysayers set along side the message presented in The Shack and The Jake Book and He Loves Me and the books of Baxter Kruger and Darin Hufford's The God's Honest Truth and Mike Yaconelli's Dangerous Wonder and Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz to mention a few.

Jacques Ellul's book titled The Subversion of Christianity points to the fact that much of what passes for Christianity is already the outcome of a tragic shift that happened a long time ago. So if those who are fighting to hang onto something that has already been subverted maybe what they see as the subversive message is just an awakening that is happening and a move back to a message that presents Father Son and Spirit more in line with who they really are?


With each and every passing day I continue to become more and more aware of the failure of law to bring about what people are hoping for it to bring about. And here is something we seem to be guaranteed if law is where we place our attention and effort....FRUSTRATION!!!!!!

Having been able to step outside this paradigm I used to live with, I'm just fascinated watching the people all around me and all I am seeing is that people are just pissed off and frustrated because no one is following the rules as they think they should be followed.

But how does one make the move away from living this way when they are caught up in attempting to make everything run the way they have been told it should run?

Just thinking out loud here during a short break from work. It's been an interesting morning to say the least. Off to work again...wonder what I will see next?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I began following this story even before it was published and today I'm still so in awe of the way God is using it in touching people's lives. I still remember a phone conversation with Wayne right after he had received it in an email and him saying something like this to me. I have just received a manuscript of a story written by a guy for his children and I have never read a book that better brings to life how God crawls into our pain with us to heal us.

I can attest to that myself and for a year now I have been immersed in conversations with people that have their own stories to tell. This book helped me see and understand that we all have stories to tell and many of them are about dificulties in our lives created by dissapointments and wrong thinking and some of them are created by brutally painful experiences. It is in the telling of our stories that things begin to open up for us. Bringing things out of the shadows/darkness and into the light is the beginning of healing.

Here is a mention I made somewhere else the other day in regards to what I have seen happen this past year.

tears of joy and hope.

What I am so loving about what is happening in so many people's lives through reading this book is that this story seems to be giving people the permission/courage to tell their painful stories. Humanity has carried around and is carrying around so much damage and pain that remains bottled up and the results are deeper damage and pain. God the Father has been loving us all along and yet religion has failed in so many way by not allowing us to see this which then keeps us from accepting it as the reality it is. The world operates through forced conformity to rules, all one has to do is look around. It's a tough environment on people and too often our family structures reflect this same tough environment. People grow up attaching their worthiness and acceptance to how well they perform because that is what they have been taught by their experiences in this broken world and often the families it shapes.

Our home in Father, Son and Spirit have nothing to do with this that we see in the surrounding broken world and it's religions and what they demand out of us.

We are loved and we are accepted and that is secure.

On Sunday June 1 The Shack will be #1 on The New York Times Best Seller List (check this out here) and all I can say is I am thrilled about the possibility of people stumbling into God the father and Jesus the son and the Spirit that is moving throughout the world to make them selves known for who they really are. This is just a continuation of a conversation that is happening all around the world and has been going on for a long long time...Who is this God really? That sounds like a great conversation to be a part of and The Shack is allowing people to ask some very important questions. Remove the paralyzing fear that has been deposited into people's minds by religion and you just might be surprised by unimaginable hope springing up all around. The Good News really is Good News.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I hope at the end of this it makes sense?

While talking to my wife this morning I said this to her. Can you believe we have made such a transition in our family over the past two years that we are basically living law free? She said something on the lines of...Yeah, I guess we are. I asked her if it feels pretty good and her answer was an immediate YES.

I want to share a part of our story that has gone through some big changes when it comes to this move from law to grace and on the way to harmony. Financially it feels like we are in a healthier place than ever...before kids and certainly since kids. And it's not because we are making more money. Two years ago I gave up the game of attempting to enforce a principled way of handling money on my family(worldly wisdom) that was creating much animosity between us all. I made some personal changes in how I lived with them once I felt it had been revealed to me that the way I was doing it was one of the most destructive forms of control within a family. For two years after that decision our finances spiraled out of control and we found ourselves in a tighter spot than ever and the boat was taking on water faster than I could bail it out. Believe it or not, during that time I began to feel more freedom and more peace within myself and with my family than I ever had before. The experience for everyone involved became a much better teacher then all of the years of my lecturing about financial responsibility had ever been. Everyone began to see that each person's choices affected the family as a whole either positively or in this particular situation negatively.

Two weeks ago I began to see (well, I had been seeing it for awhile) but finally accepted what I was seeing as the best option for our family and Julie agreed. We made a decision for our family based upon what was happening in the moment instead of being enslaved to something that has always been about something I have no control over...THE FUTURE. We were 11 years away from having our home paid for and I had let that goal become more important than being able to respond to what was happening today. The freedom that had begun to be a reality beginning two years ago with some radical changes in how I lived with money and my wife and daughters took another giant step forward two weeks ago. It feels like another chunk of the lie that is dumped upon us by the economic system has fallen away and my mind is a bit freer today. My family seems to feel the same.

Now some might say that going from 11 years to pay off our house to 30 is a step backwards. A lot of folks would see it that way...a few months ago I did also. Today I see this isn't about the money at all. It's about my family learning to understand that there is something at work in this world that desires to enslave them and then keep them enslaved. The economic system is a part of that and it happens through manipulation and then plays out through our choices. The past two years when seen through natural eyes looks like a mess caused by bad choices and it was. But something has been in the process of being learned and that didn't begin to happen until I removed the law and my attempts to enforce that law on the individuals that make up my family. What "good sound financial principles" could never accomplish began to be accomplished through each individual member of my family being given freedom to make the choices their desires were leading them to make. My love for them and the expression of that love is not attached to their choices anymore. When people are given their freedom to make their own choices while in an environment of grace and love, an amazing thing begins to happen. I will admit that it happens sooner with some than it does with others though, and it will more than likely be messy. What happens is the individual must learn to own the crap that is created by their choices. But when that happens freedom becomes a possibility when it never is in an environment of law. Someone submitting to law out of fear has nothing to do with freedom, that's control and they are drastically different. And in an atmosphere of law...forget about harmony and loving relationships. What it produces is at worst broken relationships and if not that, dysfunctional ones.

So today, for the first time in 21 years we have no debt except for our home and we still have a good amount of equity in it. And I have a family that is closer than ever and the relationships are healthier than ever and some wonderful lessons have been learned and it happened through personal discoveries not by someone sitting on the top demanding that everyone fall in line.

Order can be forced...harmony cannot be. Order pales in comparison to harmony. Thanks to the work of the Spirit over the past year and a good friend, the meaning of this Jacques Ellul quote has begun to make sense and something beautiful is happening.

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

Another change in course has taken place.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I had a client today tell me that while she was in a meeting the other day one of her male co-workers mentioned that he had been experiencing a renewal in his relationship with God and specifically his prayer life. It was a meeting with some co-workers from the Christian Academy she teaches at. When asked to explain he said he had just finished reading a book that was changing his life. He then told them it was a book called The Shack. My client then told him that her hairstylist was friends with the author and the two guys who started up a publishing company to publish it. I have got to know this client and her husband and two sons over the past 20 years and they have become more like family to me. She hadn't read the book yet but said it was next on her list. We had a wonderful conversation today about how grace is so easily spoken about but rarely a reality in how people treat others and speak of God the father.

We agreed that it's not the 10 Commandments that are missing from our schools and the public square...what's missing is the message and manifestation of the love and the grace of God.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Idea #21 (Not Too Late)

Watch it here (not a great video but it's the only one I know of) this is from the show I wanted to be at last Saturday night.

Till we lay these weapons at your feet, Lord
How long, how long
Till we call all hatred obsolete, Lord
How long, how long
Till we walk like lovers thru Bethlehem
How long, how long
Till the lion lies down with the lamb, Lord
How long, how long

Too late
I know it's not too late
To wrestle with this angel
Higher and higher
Don't let go
Higher and higher
Before we know
How does it end
How does it end
We're all riding on the last train
Trying to find our way home again

Till we wash the blood from the hands of our fathers
How long
We're all sisters and brothers, sons and daughters
How long, how long
Our eyes all shine in different colors we cry, Lord
How long
Our dreams our tears are all the same by and by, Lord
How long, how long

Too late
I know it's not too late
To climb up Jacob's ladder
Higher and higher
Don't let go
Higher and higher
Before we know
How does it end
How does it end
We're all riding on the last train
Trying to find our way home again

It's not too late

I've come to believe that conflict is the fruit of the tragic course humanity has been on since man and woman chose to not believe what God had said to them. It doesn't matter whether it is the conflict within our selves on one end (as I spoke of in the last post) or conflict with others and our circumstances on the other end. All conflict falls under the the same umbrella. And it is this conflict that is the manifestation of humanity scrambling in fear to survive. All the while Jesus and the Good News of the kingdom speaks to us about a way of transitioning from the false life of scramble to the real life of rest in Him. Will we lay down our weapons?

Under the Old Covenent the focus was on a nation and the surrounding nations. The kingdom of the world still lives that way. It's just the scramble they are caught up in. It seems to me a shift took place when Jesus came and this became about individuals...not nations. It's possible for us as individuals to find rest in the midst of a world that is scrambling, regardless as to whether anyone else around us finds that rest. Father's love for us is so profound and real and he was serious about liberating us and the liberation is complete. It's now about us living in that liberation and entering his rest. And who knows, as we are joined together with others that have responded to the invitation and are finding freedom from the scramble, maybe the conflict in the surrounding world will be effected? But whether that happens or not in the wider world, the conflict within us as individuals has been overcome and harmony has replaced it. When we realize that we really are free. It does take some time though.


Everything has it's time. Even so impatience, on we humans part, keeps us often in the mode of forcing things. I don't know if our attempts to force things keep them from happening or not, but I get the sense it can certainly slow things down and add a lot of very unpleasant extras that might not be necessary.

I could force these foxglove to bloom before their time by artificially changing the environment, but it would most certainly alter what they are suppose to be. Funky things would happen and the results wouldn't be as they are suppose to be. One possibility might be the stems would be weaker and in a severe storm like we had last night with high winds, torrential rain, and marble sized hail, these plants would be on the ground not having the strength to withstand the onslaught of nature's furry.

And just like plants, we find our selves in such harsh environments at times of which we have no control. Often I wonder if it's not made worse by the fact that we live much of the time in scramble mode attempting to make things happen "NOW" when "NOW" is not the right time? If we can rest assured that the Spirit never sleeps and never takes a holiday and is at work to accomplish that which we need to thrive, maybe being in a hurry isn't such a good idea....ya think?
Just about everyday this spring, in this garden, the Spirit has been speaking to me and showing me..."All is well, and if you run too fast you'll miss it." Running too fast doesn't change the space where all is well, it just places me in a different space and leaves me vulnerable to the harsh environment I must live everyday. In one of those spaces I find myself able to speak to the world (people) around me in a way that is helpful to it (them). In the other space, awhile back, I found out that I wasn't much help to anyone. I was caught up in the friggin storm trying to keep my head above the waves and attempting to keep the wind from breaking me or uprooting me.

If we can calm down long enough to allow the Spirit to do some uprooting and pruning away of the things that are hindering our growth, I think we would be very surprised. Things will happen in their time and that we can be assured of. For our Father who has began a good work in us will certainly see it through. He's not scrambling and he is not distracted and if the storm that is raging inside us can be calmed we might just find out that we are able to remain in that space where all is well, even if there is a storm swirling all around us.


Sunday, May 25, 2008


After reading Tina's comment in one of the posts below and listening to an interview today with Steve Stockman, I got to thinking about two books I read back in 06. WALK ON The spiritual journey of U2 by Steve and Hope Against Darkness by Richard Rohr. You would love the U2 book. It is these quotes below that came to mind and I knew I had blogged about them back while reading these books so I went searching for them. The first quote is from Stockman and the second one is from Rohr. This type of living is without pattern because it is not about law, it's about grace. It's possible to live under law and withdraw from the world (and often that is what is done) and that has a definite pattern to it. We can't possibly live the life of grace unless we are out there, on the flowing tide of life with people, and if we attempt to make that into a pattern we'll be frustrated rather quickly and we will give up, and more than likely pick up law again.

This is from WALK ON
"It was that very flowing tide where Jesus had commanded His disciples to live. Out there where the city gambles. Where no one believes. Out there among the thieves. In the face of abuse and mockery. Where love violently dies. Out there at their daily Calvary, to take up their crosses and follow. Not to holler but to follow. If only Jesus had said to Peter, "Pray this prayer and withdraw from the world and make sure you preach in every song." He didn't. He said, "Follow me into a daily dynamic of dilemma where they will misunderstand you and castigate you and call you all kinds of things. It'll be messy, and every decision will not always be on the white or black side of grey, but follow me. Get involved. Where I walked."

And from Hope Against Darkness
"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."


Yep, I spent the biggest part of my life misrepresenting Jesus which then means I had misrepresented God the father. No, I actually wasn't using that exact language that is in the title of this post (it's taken from the interviews listed below) but I had accepted the message and the Christian belief system that has been sending (I want to believe that it's unknowingly) that message to the world. So yes, what has been happening in me over the past 20 years has been me personally owning up to this reality and the part I had played in it. The past couple years have felt like a radical reworking and rebuilding that began to change the way I live. Much of this blog has been in a way about that process in me and the process of renewal. A stumbling towards renewal.

Here is an interview with Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, a book that I love, talking about this very thing. I was so amazed at how much of what he says about his change in direction, repenting of this misrepresentation, mirrored my experience. So here is Donald Miller being interviewed by Steve Brown.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I have just had a pretty cool moment this evening. Through a random link to a blog I had never been to, I found a link to an interview with Paul Young. It is Steve Brown from Key Life Ministries that is conducting the interview. I've got to know Paul pretty well over the past couple years. But the interview, that is well worth the time to listen to even though I have heard a lot of this story already, wasn't the thing that struck me this evening. It was Steve Brown. I haven't heard from Steve for probably 20 years and one of the last times I heard him on the radio was during the season I was feeling the leading of the Spirit to leave the traditional organized expression of Church that I had grown up with. I will avoid going into the long story about making the decision to leave, but what happened that day while driving in the car felt like another nudge from the Spirit.

Steve Brown said during that broadcast that he had become convinced that the best thing to do was to just close it all down. He was talking about the Sunday morning service. What he said was that it needed to be closed down for a year or longer and then to come back after a few years and whoever was still walking with God (without all the organized religious props) would be a good group of people to build a community with. Now what he was saying about coming back and starting it back up in a few years didn't resonate with me at all but the sense that something was wrong, terribly wrong did. Me and my wife went ahead and walked away from what we had always known. My wife is a preacher's kid and this was really difficult and scary for her. To see her today, 20 years later is pretty cool watching what God is doing in her life in setting her free. But that's not what this post is about.

We left, but I had no idea what Steve Brown had been doing in his life. I still don't in actuality but I love what this guy is talking about in this interview with Paul. Steve might still be leading an organized congregation and that is just fine with me, because it's not about the box. It's about freedom and part of that freedom is the freedom from religion and the way of thinking that goes along with it. Steve seems to be running full steam with that freedom in mind. It was just really fun for me 20 years later to hear him so excited about what is happening around a story that has been a great encouragement and challenge to me and a part of my healing and even more so hearing him talk about this dear brother Paul Young. It all feels so connected.


Why is it that within the realm of religious thinking people gravitate to and then fight to defend a belief system that leads them to believe that God is more interested in the enforcement of rules over, being for people and their redemption? Jesus being the exact representation of the Father certainly didn't follow that pattern. But then isn't that the point...there is no pattern.

There is a Father, Son, and Spirit that are working together within the uniqueness of each and every person, in each and every unique situation to do what they have set out to do. Find that which was lost and bring them back home. It's such a beautiful thing.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I've been listening to Over The Rhine for the past few days and I am so amazed at what seems to be a deep understanding of the process that comes through in their music. I want to share one such song and something that I believe has played a part in this being so with Linford and Karin. They seem to have broken free of some of the things that stand in the way and here is Linford in his own words, speaking of their Double CD Ohio, the CD from which the song below comes from.

"The records we ended up making document in part our attempts to unravel the tangle of religion we inherited. It’s unsettling when someone named Jesus keeps turning up in unexpected places on a double album, but we’re by no means the first songwriters to be Christ-haunted."

Nobody Number One

I’m afraid I’ve lost the piece of me

I need the most you see
This puzzle is really just about the need
To be somebody
I’m afraid I’m not all that you see
All along the coast of me
I’m camouflaged, a desert mirage
A nobody

But you came so close and I assumed
You were looking
For the piece of yourself that’s lost
It is the hiding place inside everybody
And though we love to numb the pain
We come to learn that it’s in vain
Pain is our mother
She makes us recognize each other

C’mon now child don’t cry
C’mon now child don’t cry
Let’s give it one more try
C’mon now child don’t cry

Sometimes I feel so all alone
Here in this city I call my home
They say, Hey, you’re one of us
Funny, I should feel so anonymous
But I’m drawn to you
And that still small voice is talking too
And that’s the voice that so seldom can get through

You can’t put no bandaid on this cancer
Like a twenty-dollar bill
For a topless dancer
You need questions
Forget about the answers
Do you really wanna die this way

That’s the trouble with you and me
We always hit the bottom ‘fore we get set free
I’m so far down
I’m beginning to breathe

C’mon now child don’t cry
C’mon now child don’t cry
Let’s give it one more try
C’mon now child don’t cry
Cuz we’re just too young to die

The line "You can't put no bandaid on this cancer" reminds me of the metaphor represented by the shack in The Shack book. Attempting to cover up the hurt and pain and disappointments and disillusionments that are a part of us, will never lead us to freedom. It just leaves us playing a game...a game that keeps us from entering into the transformed life with Father, Son and Spirit.

Over The Rhine records music outside the confines of the Contemporary Christian Music Industry which seems to be another reason for their musical freedom and creativity which allows for such honesty and makes the music so relevant to life. They took a trip back to their shack a few years ago. Here is an interview talking about some of that. All of this reminds me of what is about to become possible in the book publishing world that gives me reason to be excited. You can read about that here. Many artists are finding ways to express in very real ways, the things they are learning that have never been possible with such openness and honesty within the institutions governed by conformity.

When fear leads people to think that controlling what others can express or should express is a good idea, honesty is lost and we end up with bland conformist expression. In an attempt to "protect" the message, the message is lost. I love it that there have always been people that refuse to give up the freedom God gives (or if they realize it has been taken from them, have the courage to begin the journey to take it back) and in that freedom they learn to express the beautiful messy process of what transformation is all about. It is for freedom that he set us free.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


For sometime now I have been thinking about the difficulty that law creates in our lives. I accept that as part of the's what it was intended to do. That really is the foundational purpose of it and that process is to lead us to an understanding that we can't do it and we are in need of something else to happen. That something else has happened...Jesus came. What fascinates me though is that the majority of people shaped by Christianity that I run across seem to see it as something else. It ends up being what they set up in their lives (and want to set up in other peoples live) as the thing that guides them. It creates some rather interesting dynamics to say the least. Actually bizarre damaging dynamics. How is it missed that scripture tells us "Where the law increases sin abounds all the more" and then people attempt to use law to keep themselves and other people from sinning?

Another strange destructive dynamic, as if what I just described could get worse, is that this sets people up to elevate the enforcement of law over loving people and over the transforming power of grace. This dynamic has become even more problematic since grace entered the scene and it produces a different kind of Pharisees than even Jesus encountered. The state of the present visible "Church" (in recent history represented by the rise of the Religious Right...I can say this because I used to be one) might talk about grace but the message is just Law cloaked in the language of grace. The mixture is disastrous. The apostle Paul's admonition of the Galatians comes to mind. Why does it seem people are so prone to falling back into law? Or in some cases to have never left it behind in the first place? And it is always interesting how people are so much more interested in the enforcement of law when it is directed at other people, but if it happens to be them on the spot, grace is what they want for themselves.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Is the religion of Christianity really any different than the other world religions that Christianity is so quick to condemn as dead and destructive because they don't contain truth? I actually wonder if Christianity is even more problematic to people because it does contain more of the Truth than the others and yet often ends up being a wall that keeps many from the reality of the transformed life? It just seems to me that religion is religion and a religion that contains a lot of language about the Truth (or should I say the story of the One who is true) and yet is still an adventure in missing the point like religion has always been, might just be causing much confusion as to what the incarnation, the cross, resurrection and ascension was all about?

And it's possible that these thoughts might just be due to the fact that I have been suffering with extreme pain in my lower back now for 36 hours and on top of that, while at work today, heard countless stories of abusive controlling manipulative behavior coming from people who claim to be "defending" God's truth. Maybe?.......but I tend to lean to something more on the lines of this...."Houston, there seems to be a problem."

Monday, May 19, 2008


My morning plans have changed a bit today. I had planned on helping the husband of a client of mine get his garden ready for a tour it is to be a part of in a few weeks. It's a little wet here this morning so those plans have been moved now to Friday afternoon. And due to the reality that I am learning to let the day just be what the day wants to be, helps me to see things I couldn't see before.

I got to thinking about these pictures I took Yesterday in the garden and how this Spring has been like none I have ever seen in my 20 years of gardening. The environment in which my garden is growing has been so conducive to it thriving. First off, 10 years ago I put a lot of work into preparing the ground. I moved so much good rich loose garden soil in before anything was planted. Once I had it planted I have tended this garden with great care. It took me 7 years to get it to the "finished" stage it is in today. I loosely say finished because plants are alive and they change as they grow and sometimes they even die. Adjustments have to be made. Just like humans, plants are subjected to the same world of uncertainty as we are.

But another aspect of the environment they find themselves in has been a contributing factor also. The rain has been plentiful and consistant which has eliminated any stress on the plants and the cool temperatures have kept the colors intense and vibrant and has extended the average bloom time for all the flowering trees and perennials. To be alive and to be in a nurturing environment makes all the difference in the world .

It brings to mind the environment we were created to live in. The circle defined by a relationship with our Creator is the environment we belong in and will thrive in. Outside of that environment the colors will be flat and the fruit will fade fast. Many times fruit will not even be produced. All the energy is spent on the scramble to survive.

The two previous posts have been about two different approaches to life. One is the life outside the environment we belong in and it has to do with law and fear and all that flows from that. The other is a life within the environment we belong and it has to do with love and acceptance and deep affection and the wastefullness of grace. Law and fear do not exist within that environment. Some people might ask; "How do we get to the right environment?" I think we are already in it and yet we live as if we are not. We let the rules of the other environment dictate how we live. Most of the time we have embraced those rules thinking they fit because we have been told they are a part of environment we were created for. Because of my eyes being opened to this reality I no longer am left wondering why I had struggled all of my life trying to feel safe and secure and healthy and never feeling safe secure and healthy. I'm thrilled to say the ongoing transition is changing all of that, not only with just myself but I am watching it happen in others also.

Gardens are bursting into life everywhere.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Okay, I didn't wait till tomorrow like I first said.

I sat down to write the post below really with no intention of picking up Ellul's book Anarchy and Christianity but it happened anyway. I must admit though that much of my thinking since reading this book at this time last Spring has been influenced by Ellul. I use the word influenced specifically because these thoughts didn't begin in me through the reading of his work, it was there being stirred in me prior to ever even hearing of him. This little book helped me think about these things from a different perspective. All of his books have. He gave expression to things that had been inside me for a long time that had created many frustrations and contradictions in my life. Things that had been creating big problems for the "Christian World View" (as if there is such a thing) I had been shaped by.

I came to know of Ellul through a chain of events during the season my mind was going through the meat grinder. It seemed to be about a natural progression that was unfolding in my life emerging from the reality that I couldn't ignore the contradictions any longer. As I have mentioned before, it was about this nagging truth: "Kent you speak of a life you say is real and then you go on living as if you don't believe it." I was stuck inbetween two vastly different ways of approaching life and it wasn't working (because they don't mix) and I could no longer deny it. The chapter In The Belly Of The Beast from The Shack, gave me the push over the edge I was in need of...or did I choose to jump? Today, how it happened is really not important, I just knew my life as I had known it up to that point was coming to an end.

Here is something from the Introduction of Anarchy and Christianity that has been important for me to think about. What he describes here as a misunderstanding of Christianity is where I had lived and it is a part of what began to cause me great problems.

"What, then, am I trying to do? Simply to erase a great misunderstanding for which Christianity is to blame. There has developed in effect a kind of corpus which practically all Christian groups accept but which has nothing in common with the biblical message, whether in the Hebrew Bible that we call the Old Testament or the Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament. All the churches have scrupulously respected and often supported the state authorities. They have tolerated social injustices and the exploitation of some people by others, explaining that it is God's will that some should be masters and others servants, and that socioeconomic success is an outward sign of divine blessing. They have thus transformed the free and liberating Word into morality, the most astonishing thing being that there can be no Christian morality if we truly follow evangelical thinking. The fact is that it is much easier to judge faults according to an established morality than to view people as living wholes and to understand why they act as they do. Finally, all the churches have set up a clergy furnished with knowledge and power, though this is contrary to evangelical thinking, as was initially realized when the clergy were called ministers, ministerium being service and the minister a servant of others."


I know, living in a land where law has been elevated to a place of the Sacred, that sounds radical and I run the risk of being misunderstood...but hey, being misunderstood goes with the territory of the non-relational make-up of our present day existence. People in relationship with me know I am not talking about social anarchy shaped by violence. I'm not looking for a violent bloody revolution. Actually I beleive violence should have no place in my life. There have already been enough failed attempts to bring about peace through violence. I just see all of that as a part of the nightmare.
All of this is the outcome of law having taken on the nature of being sacred, and redemptive, which it is not. It stands in stark contrast to the wild freedom of God and his redemptive character manifested in Jesus. Part of the reason for law being put in place is to act as a speed bump to slow down the advancement of evil that manifests itself in people who don't know how to love. But for those who are being set free by the love of the Father being spread abroad in their hearts they will eventually run up against the reality that law stands in the way. It's antithetical to love. Not only does it stand in the way but it is the reason for much of the increase of sin (lawlessness) in the world. The apostle Paul said that pretty plainly.

Grace operates differently, by a law of it's own if you want to look at it that way. The law of love. There is nothing judicial about it. It is relational and it choose to prefer the "other" instead of demanding it's way through the enforcement of law. And my imagination has been captured by the sound of that, and due to that change in perspective I choose anarchy...manifested in the rich tradition of Jesus and those who have made a choice to follow him into a life of grace and opposed to law and the violence it spawns in an attempt to gain some form of control. It has always been a dead end road. The way of grace by it's nature ends up being the very opposite of the way in which the world system operates because the actions of self giving, of love, of sacrifice, of dying are the true 'violations' of this world system. That is what I mean when I say, I choose Anarchy. It's the way of redemption and reconciliation out of the nightmare.
And to avoid another possible misunderstanding I want to add this: This is acting out of freedom on my part, not out of duty. Here is how Ellul says it in the introduction to Anarchy and Christianity.
"I would also add that my objective cannot be that Christians should regard taking this position as a duty, for again, in spite of many centuries, the Christian faith does not bring us into a world of duty and obligation but into a life of freedom. I myself do not say this but Paul does in many places (e.g., 1 Corinthians).

Saturday, May 17, 2008


It's been awhile now since much of my thinking has under gone some radical changes. Freedom means something so drastically different to me these days. The only freedom that exists is found in one one act of choice. It's a move from the life of independence back to dependence on Father, Son, and Spirit. But this thing of choice creates a bit of difficulty for us all. It seems we end up dealing with a mixture created by the choices we make and also the choices of others. I've begun to see it as a dance, and we seem to be in a time here in 2008 where this dance seems very dysfunctional. I know I still experience it in my relationships even though they are getting better. The relationship in my life today that seems healthier than all the rest is my relationship with Father, Son and Spirit. And I think I have come to understand why. It's free of expectations...finally. I've come to understand that I am perfectly accepted in this circle. I am at home and everyday feeling safer and more secure. They demand nothing from me nor do I demand anything from them. I have within this relationship what I need and desire. To be loved and to love in return.

Now, onto the other relationships that surround me. Things get much more difficult. Now there is a change in thinking. This is difficult to explain but I used to feel safer with humanity than I did with God even though violence and uncertainty is a part of the dance humanity is caught up in. I at least had convinced myself that I could exercise some control over the world that surrounded me. Most of my choices during those years revolved around self-preservation.

But when it came to God there was this nagging sense inside me that I could not control him and yet unknowingly I tried to. Turns out that is what religion was about. A desperate attempt to control God. I'm not even going to go through the list of practices that were revealed to be control and manipulation because these things have to been seen for ourselves. Through this change I began to see they had never placed any demands on me and yet I had placed many on them. Now how twisted is that?

It also became clear to me that God was giving me the desires of my heart and this again brings me back to this thing of choice. My choices were being made based upon the things that filled my heart. And there was plenty of desires that had moved into that place that indicated a life of unhealthy independence (grabbing for things God had not given) instead of healthy dependence and in turn it had consumed my life. My mind and heart had been co-opted by a world view that had been shaped by the world and a religious system that is closely aligned with the world. As I began to become aware, painfully aware of this, the inevitable train wreck became obvious. To stay on that road of independence began to look rather ominous but it was the road I was familiar with. The choice of jumping from the train looked very scary. I was reminded of this today while listening to Baxter Kruger when he mentioned something on the lines of this. The only thing for us to do when we come to that place is to allow God to put our minds through the meat grinder. That's exactly what I did and it wasn't because I was so bright as to have figured that out on my own. It's because I had been hearing an invitation from the Spirit that had led me to believe there was something wonderful awaiting me if I would choose to walk out in faith and entrust my life back to them. To learn to move back into the place of dependence in Father, Son, and Spirit. Turns out the transition is scary but freedom is awaiting us in that place with them and there is nothing to fear. To remain in the other place keeps freedom just an unrealized hope. Freedom is spoken of but it's really not a reality. At least that is how it was for me.

Our lives and the lives of others are a collection of choices. Most people I have met and the way I used to live seems to indicate most people really don't want this responsibility of choice and yet they live in a way demanding so much from everyone around them. This is what I see today that makes our relationships with others so dysfunctional. It's still a part of most if not all of my relationships to some degree. It creates many adventures void of harmony. The one relationship that is free of expectations from both sides is my relationship with Father Son and Spirit and it feels really good. The hard work of learning a new dance with the others around me continues and yet I am hopeful due to the fact that the other relationship is going through a much needed transformation. A transformation away from fear to trust. Now to just see that happen with all my other relationships. Let us learn to give those around us a break and stop demanding so much out of each other because heaven knows we hate it when others are demanding things out of us. When that happens we might begin to see things fall into place and begin to taste the sweet fruit of harmony that our souls are longing for.


I ran across this today while messing around on youtube. This group of believers are using U2's music and message as a help in spiritual formation. All I know is the music and message of U2 from day one of them coming on the scene has played a roll (in many different ways) in my journey. Turns out the Pharisee in me got a kick in the rump by way of them also. One of my first posts on this blog emerged out of the influence that they have had on me. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here. It's always funny to me when I go back and read some of the first things I began writing here because it was such a new practice for myself. It's turned out to be a good exercise for me to do. I have learned much about myself through the process.

Bono...a conversation about Christianity (this is the correct video now, I had at first added the wrong link)

side note of fun information. As you will see at the end of this last video clip Pope John Paul was given Bono's sunglasses. From what I hear, Pope Benedict XVI has a signed copy of The Shack. Life sometimes is stranger than fiction.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


"In your short life, you’ve lived a thousand times
You stood so brave, they robbed you blind
The truth is, there’ll be harder times
It’s okay to say you’re fine
But I’ll be waiting back behind (and)
you can make your troubles mine..."

On my drive to work this morning I grabbed some music to listen to that I have not heard for a few months. These lyrics are from the first song on the CD and they turn out to be very appropriate for this day. My oldest daughter was on my mind this morning in light of her High school graduation goings-on tonight and tomorrow. In her short life to this point she has been robbed blind many times and I am certain she is not without blame when it comes to having caused pain in other people's lives also. Thinking about all of this from many different angles also made me think of the Ellul quote in the post from Yesterday. Pain is just a part of life and we find ourselves in all kinds of different situations as the result of choices we make and also the choices of others. This is a reality we can not change. But we can be freed from the game and when that happens we can be available for others who are still caught up in it and hopefully help heal pain and not create more.

A few years ago, being available had been severely diminished by the fact that I was exhausted, distracted, overwhelmed and often angry. I had either lost what it is all about or maybe this is closer to the truth...I had never really known what it was all about. I actually at that time was a part of the pain. These words of Ellul seem to describe what my daughter is caught up in, what we all are caught up in until we are liberated from it. This perpetuates the game of being robbed blind and participating in robbing others blind.

"Man does not envisage for a minute, first of all, that the evil deed is most often the result of the liberty that God allows to Man and of the independence and autonomy that man has seized over against God. Man is responsible for what is done (and he has wished it), but he protests against God for what is done. In short, he would demand that God mechanize him and take his liberty from him."

The words that I pulled from the Ellery song so capture my relationship and experience with my daughter today. I have begun to feel, over the past couple years, available...really available for her and her sisters when before I couldn't be. I was trapped in the same game that they were. It had led me to be pissed off, and while pissed off, we can't be available for anyone. I was pissed off because I was trapped and my actions were proof of it. I had been swallowed and consumed by law and the enforcement of law. Like I said, my problem wasn't that I had lost what it was about, I had never understood it before. Life, the life we were created for is about freedom, freedom from the game everyone finds themselves trapped in. Law and the enforcement of law is just a part of the game and it will never lead us to freedom. Grace will though. Grace is about people when law is about ideology, usually an ideology that has been massaged to support one's personal agenda. And it was in my season of pain and awakening that I came face to face with the fact that law had left no space for grace of my own, so I had no grace to give. I had really never been available for anyone. Not really. Coming face to face with this reality was a good thing. Painful yes, but this pain is the pain that leads to freedom and begins to change everything.

So with these changes, today I feel as if I can face the reality that my daughters will face hard/painful times because they are surrounded by people who are not free from the game and they themselves are not free from the game yet either. But I believe their situation is made a bit better because I'm being set free from the game and can say to them...

"The truth is, there’ll be harder times
It’s okay to say you’re fine
But always remember I’ll be waiting back behind (and)
you can make your troubles mine..."

and that just feels like a healthy way for myself to collaborate with Father, Son, and Spirit in a way that will help bring the painful game to a close in their lives and hopefully others.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


"Man is so much the prey of the powers, so closely associated with their work, enjoys himself so thoroughly to their profit, desires so much all that they offer, conceives his life to such a degree separated from God, that every approach of God, every positive work of God, appears to him as an unacceptable disturbance and finally an attack against him. When God comes to deliver him, he does not at all perceive his liberation; he protests against the breaking of those marvelous objects, which are his chains or the doors of his prison: the adored chains. This is clearly the situation of Man."

"And we must take account of the fact that every work of liberation (the process of freeing us) is in fact destructive of the evil environment. And that which assures his liberty is felt by Man as a frightful personal offense. "How can God who is good permit…?" In uttering this phrase so frequently, Man does not envisage for a minute, first of all, that the evil deed is most often the result of the liberty that God allows to Man and of the independence and autonomy that man has seized over against God. Man is responsible for what is done (and he has wished it), but he protests against God for what is done. In short, he would demand that God mechanize him and take his liberty from him."

"Next, that evil also takes place by the interplay of the spiritual powers who act in the world and in society. Finally, that which does ‘evil’ to him can very well be the act of God who liberates him. But this liberation causes suffering. I do not know anything better to compare this to than to an operation. The surgeon who takes out a cancer destroys the power of death to the profit of the living body. But he removes something of this body, which had become "flesh of his flesh’; he amputates something which had become the body itself. And the patient who does not know what has been done, from what he has been saved, could perfectly well interpret that as a frightful torture, as an illegitimate extraction, being aware only of the pain that remains after the operation is finished."


Today the sky is much different than it was Yesterday when the pictures in the post below were taken. It just seems to me that each and every moment in life involves change and yet so often it seems people see sameness. Often many settle in and hope for sameness. Freedom seems to be about learning to respond to whatever the moment brings. I think most people live as victims of change because they are actually attempting to control the uncontrollable. Hang onto things that are good and enjoyable and push away things that are difficult. It's an exercise that just wears us out and robs us of the wonder of embracing the life of change...the uniqueness of each and every moment. Nothing is ever the same and really why would we want it to be?

The wonder created by those who learn to live with expectancy, creates people who live with the ability to respond in ways that open up the possibility of hope and freedom to others. I'm not going back to that old more predictable (yet not) way of attempting to live that was really just an act of hanging on.
The God of Wonder is a God of change. Our Father loves us too much to allow us to stay the same. From glory to glory...from freedom unto more freedom.
Check this video out. But then let us never forget what this God of glory did. He came to our party. He bridged the gap that existed in our minds by coming close to us so we could see a Father instead of a scary God. And they chose to stay here with us. It's a mystery.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


This morning as I was getting ready for work I could hear the rumblings of an approaching storm. I hurried to get ready so I could get the dogs out before the rain began. Once back home and sitting at this computer reading, I glanced out the window and saw this most unusual sky. These clouds were clouds without rain and the sounds of the thunder gave it all the feel of a scene from a sci-fi movie.

This sky was here and gone in such a short span of time. Kinda of like many moments in life feel. I wonder if most folks even notice these types of things, that for me create such wonder? Or are most people just so caught up in trying to make it all work, or fit, or make sense? If that is the case for most people I pray for a change.
That the distractions and the busyness don't keep us from seeing what it's all about.
The skies are now pretty normal. Just a typical overcast sky and the rain is now coming down, watering the good earth once again. I'll go to work and if possible attempt to put a different spin on it all with the people that will be complaining that it's another sucky rainy day. Have a wonderful grace filled day everyone.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Many months ago my friend Rick sent me information about Baxter Kruger's book The Parable of The Dancing God and I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it. If I remember right it was shortly after The Shack came out and he thought I would like it. Today it all makes me think of the perfect timing of God. A few months ago Rick linked to a few audio messages of Baxter's on my friend Rob's site. Now those I immediately listened to and was just so blessed, challenged and they ended up being so confirming to the process that has been unfolding in my life in a tangible way over the past few years.

So many of the disorienting things that were so much a part of the season in my life beginning back in the Spring of 05 were just a part of the process Jesus was inviting me into with himself and the Father and the Spirit. 05 was about allowing all that I had believed in and had been working hard to hang onto to come crashing down around me. I remember so clearly the urge I was feeling to hang on to beliefs that I had grown up with and until Thanksgiving Day of that year I grasped onto what I had known as hard as I could and like sand it slipped through my fingers. Jesus is so gracious that way.

I stood alone with no support, isolated from everyone and everything I had been and believed up to that point. Well, I did have Wayne Jacobsen. Wayne actually was ready to make a last minute trip to St. Louis to be with me and my family during the most scary period of it all with our daughter. Her personal struggle that came into full view on Thanksgiving Day was the bookend to the death I had been dying that whole year. Turns out I ended up somehow with enough courage at the last minute to inform Wayne that his trip at that time was not necessary. He waited until April to come be with us and a few other people here in the area. It was around that time he sent me the manuscript of the book he and Brad were working on with Paul. Not only did the One I had felt inviting me into something so new and different come into clearer view, I really saw for the very first time in my life, God as Father and the ever tangible presence of the Spirit. Nothing since that time has remained the same.

So now enters Baxter Kruger. The Perichoresis 101 series that I linked to a few posts ago is so worth the time to listen. Today I listened to the podcast of his called Who is Jesus? To access it you have to become a member at Perichoresis. It is a free membership and it gives you access to some resources available on their site. This is what I have been awakening to over the past few years and have been sharing here on my blog. For some reason all I've felt like I've had to give was my story and it is what I will continue to do on this blog as long as it continues to feel like the thing to do. Some lyrics, from one of my favorite bands Over The Rhine, come to mind as a way to close this out that expresses a hope of mine.

These lyrics are from their song Here It Is.

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

WE ALL ARE INVITED INTO THIS MOST AWESOME COSMIC MYSTERY and it's not something to hoard away. It is to be shared.


The rain has stopped and the sun has come out. It's a beautiful morning. While sitting in the garden this morning in my "go-to" spot to read and think, my thoughts gravitated back to the difficulty created for relationships when we allow assumptions of the other to take over. These things we assume about the other create the starting point from which we then process what we think we see and hear coming from the other. Many things play into this and more often than not, even if some of what we are assuming is correct, all it takes is a little of it to be wrong for us to create in our minds a picture that is not consistent with what the other is seeing. This is why dialog is so important.
Communication is a difficult endeavor that we all participate in each and everyday. I have found out many things about myself over the past few years and one of those things was that I had lived much of my life in a place of letting my biases create many assumptions about people and circumstances that were just dead wrong.
In a conversation with a good friend one day something wonderful happened that set in motion some much needed change. At first I was so pained by what I saw that day but the immediate freedom I also experienced in that moment made that pain actually very easy to embrace. I saw that day how my "world view" had created many biases in my life and had led me to assume many things about everything. "If people could just see it as clearly as I see it, things would be so much better." That all sounds so pathetic to me today but that is what my life had become. It turns out much of this (and it was mostly affecting my immediate family...but the ugliness did extend out into the world around me) had been built into me through the idea that it was my job to convince everyone else to think and see things in the same way I was thinking and seeing things. That wonderful day when the curtain was pulled back in my mind so I could see this, allowed me to see how many times throughout my life my thinking had been proven to be so wrong about things I had been so convinced about concerning others and circumstances. Extreme confidence guided by our personal biases is a destructive force when it comes to relationships...those closest to us and then every other one beyond that. Nations even send their young off to war due to operating from these narrow biases and assumptions.
As I sat in the garden this morning looking out from the place I was occupying, the view in front of me created a certain perception of things. The first picture above is what I was seeing. I could describe it in detail. The second picture is from the reverse angle and even though all the same plants are contained within the picture, the view is much different. If someone had been occupying the other end of the garden and both of us were determined to convince the other that what we were seeing is the way it is, we would have a problem. Our viewpoints are different because the point from which we view it is different. This is why I have become more interested in people's stories than I am in the sharing of information and facts.
I love these two words: Didactic and Dialogical. A didactic approach seems to be how most people live. It certainly was the way I had lived most of my life. Religious training reinforced this way to a point that was nothing but dangerous and deepened my blindness and caused hurt in other people and myself. "The facts are the facts Jack." Turns out it wasn't a good and healthy way to live. Sometimes I had the facts wrong and sometime even when I had them right I used them in a wrong way. The dialogical approach is certainly messier and takes more effort but is producing relationships like I have never experienced. People are stories and we all are very unique. The things that happen in our lives shape us differently and cause us to process things differently. If we are not engaged in life with others in a dialogical manner we more than likely are engaged with others in a didactic manner. One leads to relationship and a journey of discovery together and the other leaves us in a place acting like a judge, attempting to correct others. Today I know I can slip out of the one at any given moment and be in the other before I am aware of it. But before that day of change I mentioned above, I lived permanently in one of these approaches to life and I couldn't even see the other. Hopefully through this change I will continue to become more and more of a safe place for the people around me and healthy relationships will continue to grow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


To meet Sue's request in her comment below I have come back and added a picture of what the dogs do on a day like today if they are not on a walk. Here's a link to another cute picture of Tucker.

Well this morning it was more like a dash. Weather fascinates me and this morning is just another one of those times. The winds are gusting to 50 mph and one moment it might be pouring rain and the next a light drizzle or nothing at all. I just love the tension of it all. Well, today that's made easier because there is nothing I absolutely have to do outside, except walk the two dogs which I just finished doing.

So that's the weather story this morning and since it was a bit of a tough outdoor situation that would keep me from sitting in a quiet spot in the garden doing some reading while drinking my morning latte, I decided to head to the salon and do the weekend cleaning because tomorrow morning when I normally do it might be a bit more conducive to being out in the garden. I took along my IPod and went back to listen to the first audio in the Perichoresis 101 series. I had already listened several times to the other three. What a blessed time it ended up being in the salon sweeping and mopping, thinking about our wonderful Father who lavishes his love and affection on us all without measure. It also sent me to thinking about the tension swirling around the book I often speak of here, The Shack. A tension manifested on two different fronts.
On one front, the tension is created in those who don't yet know of this God as describe in the story even though it runs identical to the story of the father in the parable Jesus tells about a wayward prodigal son, and yet these people have something stirring in them telling them it is true...even if they find it impossible to believe because of all the religious baggage that has led them to believe this God must be feared. And on the other hand the tension created in the people that find themselves somewhat pissed off and angry that this book is being embraced by so many people. These people that find it necessary to attack this book and it's message also remind me of the parable Jesus told about that wayward son because they are acting like the older brother who was so pissed off because his father, in a highly embarrassing moment, lavishly covered his "worthless" sinful brother with hugs and kisses and throws him a party. Kinda sounds like Papa from The Shack now doesn't it?

Either we come to understand God in the light of grace and forgiveness or the biblical story of the prodigal son (not to even mention the story of Mack's encounter with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu) just doesn't make sense or even worse, leaves us pissed off. As Jesus told the angry Pharisees that day, and the same holds true for us today...if we find ourselves in a place that looks like the older brother in the story, who's blood pressure and judgemental attitude is in hyper-drive, the people "out there" that we are shaking our finger at might just be closer to the Truth than we are.

Friday, May 09, 2008