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.