Tag Archives: forgiveness

Please Forgive Him!

Five for Five by Brendan C. under Creative Commons License 2.0; Source:

Five for Five by Brendan C. under Creative Commons License 2.0; Source

“How could he DO that! It’s not fair! It’s not right! This just hurts too much! How can he say he loves me, when this has hurt so much?!”

Have you ever felt this way, Gentle Reader?

We look at these words and we see a hurting heart. Hearts break when we feel betrayed, when we expect to be treated one way, when we expect one thing to happen, and something entirely different… hurtful… painful… traumatic… happens instead.

Looking at this so far, we think of the times people, loved ones, friends, family, lovers, have disappointed us. Trauma… whether physical, mental, or emotional… can rupture relationships. Love is impaired in a ruptured relationship. When trust is undermined, there may still be love, but the flow… the expression… the freedom of that love is slowed. Sometimes, it can even feel like everything about the relationship has just… stopped.

A short while ago I posted In Love We Trust discussing some parallels of intimacy between our human relationships and the incredible Divine relationship. In that post we touched on forgiveness for just a moment, how we cannot completely trust those we do not completely forgive, and we cannot completely love those we do not completely trust.

So, for just one moment, let’s discuss the question of completely forgiving the Divine.


“How could I?”             “How dare I?”             “How can you even think such a thing?”

Yet I can, I dare, I think… because I am REAL and these are real feelings in a real relationship. Our relationship with the Divine can be as real and immediate, as deep and as passionate, as any relationship we’ve ever known… perhaps even more so. King David, a man after God’s own heart, poured his passions out in song and poetry to the Divine that man has yet to equal. The Psalms sing of jubilation, lament, fear, worship, exultation, remorse, and every other emotion imaginable between a child and their Divine Parent.

God delights in transparency. God HONORS transparency. Anything less than transparent honesty is DIShonesty… and that NEVER belongs in this relationship. Dishonesty undermines trust. David did not always like the way God managed affairs, and expressed his feelings and concerns openly before Him. Yet, David always acknowledged God’s RIGHT to manage affairs in His own way, for God is/was God, and David is/was His servant and son. David chose to trust, even when he did not like or understand God’s will.

Jesus did the same. And so we, too, are challenged in the present day.


Rather than go through a lot of Scriptural examples, I just point to the Psalms, or the Garden of Gethsemane for the biblical supporting texts, and pose a few simple ideas and questions for your consideration.


Idea One: Countless wonderful Christians that I know, have gotten stuck in a rut, stopping their forward progress and growth in the intimate knowing of God, the drawing closer of relationship with Him. They get “so far, and no further”, because they suffer some terrible trauma in life, they come to realize the utter sovereignty of God, and they simply CANNOT bring themselves to forgive Him for their pain.

Idea Two: They cannot forgive Him, because they dare not admit (even to themselves), that they hold Him in offense. They are too programmed, too domesticated, too Christianly-trained to admit that they are angry with God (regardless of how reasonable it seems to be angry with Him)… and therefore they do not know that it is right to, or the manner in which, to approach Him and resolve the conflict in their spirit.

Idea Three: To deny one’s sincere feelings, reasonable or not, reverent or not, “acceptable” or not… with regard to one’s transparent sincere and intimate relationship with God, is to introduce a subtle “falseness”, a “lie”, between the self and God. This lie is progressive and toxic, ultimately makiing distance between the heart and God, and can stop our growth in Him.

Idea Four: True intimacy, love, and trust requires transparency. Honestly to share with the Divine that the heart feels wounded and wronged, is NOT the same thing as accusing the Divine of having wounded and wronged the heart. One can state “what is”, without assigning blame or passing judgment.

Idea Five: “Forgiveness” has nothing to do with assigning blame or passing judgment. It is a decision of the will to release offense and bitterness, restoring trust to the prior state, making way for the further growth of love.

Idea Six: The two areas where we are the most likely to “blame God” or “hold offense”, are the two areas we acknowledge as least in “our own control”, and most “totally in His”. Those are the areas of “birth”, and “death”. If there is ANYPLACE we acknowledge the pure sovereignty of God, it is in the matter of the family, culture, lifestyle into which we were born (well beyond our control)… and all matters of the death of those we love (also beyond our control).

“Well, all well and good, Little Monk, but what are you saying here? What do we DO about this, to get past this roadblock and grow in intimacy?”

Well, three things, Gentle Reader. Call them a “Prayer Experiment” if you like…

  • Think of all of your life as you grew up… all the suffering you knew… all the things you wish had been different… all that you endured before you reached adulthood and your decisions became your own responsibility… and forgive God for all of that. You are who you are right now, you have and use the gifts you have, you know what you know and you’ve come to THIS place with the Divine… as a result of every single thing you’ve lived through up to now. The painful moments of your childhood, the fears, the disappointments, the injuries, the betrayals, the wounds… all play a part in the redemptive and transformative work God has done in you, making you capable of ministering to and healing others.

Ask yourself: “If God could remove any of the hurts and wounds you knew as a child… but in so doing, you would lose some of your compassion and ability to heal and comfort others now… would you have Him remove them? Or would you prefer to stay as you are, and leave your past as it was?”

If you would stay as you are, then THANK HIM for your past, and embrace it. ALL of it. Because it is ALL part of His gift in making the you that you are now.

  • In trials of great grief, in grave illness or injury, or death of a loved one, know that the sadness and tears we experience are the very PRESENCE of the Comforter. That He is with us, He enfolds us, He feels all that we feel of our sadness and loss. But know also, that He sees what we cannot. He sees our beloved’s glorious resurrection in Him, He knows and feels their joy as well. We can trust Him in all of that. We can express our displeasure at the loss of relationship here and now, yes. But in trusting Him, in forgiving Him for “taking them”, we can come to know His peace and even (in time) the joy of knowing their ongoing life in Him. We need not understand it, comprehend it, or deny the real pain we feel. We can trust Him by choice, and over time, watch our hope in Him become concrete reality in our lives and hearts.

Ask yourself: “If God Alone knows the perfect time, the perfect moment, in the complex weave of all of Reality, for a soul, a beloved child of His, to leave the body and return to Him… If He Alone knows and controls the moment for the shell of this life to burst forth into the fullness of the life He has for us in Him… would we really want to change that timing, even from the mist of our own pain of loss? Can we trust Him who gives breath to our bodies, to know precisely the right moment to give wings to our spirit beyond this?”

If so, then even embracing our own pain of loss, we can forgive Him for the death of those we love. We can embrace the truth, the faith, the hope that here and now we dwell in the midst of death, being overtaken by Life. And even bereft and sad as we are, we can trust and forgive Him for granting those we love the freedom of the fullness of His Life. AND, we can know that He embraces US, fully, in our sadness… as we recover and move on from this temporary period of loss, until we are reunited with those we love.

  • In ALL the traumas and tragedies that we meet in our lives and our days, illness, financial reversals, tribulations, challenges of loved ones, divorce, whatever we encounter… when circumstances are beyond our control, it is natural to look towards the Divine with a heartfelt lament of… “Why, O Lord?” or “How long, O Lord?” There is nothing wrong with voicing such lament… that is being honest with Him, with ourselves, with life.

But the challenge becomes, “What if He declines to answer? What if He answers, but we cannot comprehend or hear His words or His heart? Can we accept the fact that GOD IS ALWAYS AND ONLY GOOD? That He weaves the tapestry of life ALWAYS to redemption and transformation from defeat to triumph?”

Can we… Will we… CHOOSE to TRUST Him, to embrace, to thank, to praise… simply for Who He is, not just what He does, or how we feel, or what we expect to get out of it?

Here is the challenge, Gentle Reader. The challenge is to “Forgive God”… openly, freely, rapidly. Here is where trust lies. Here is where intimacy and love lie.

It is not easy. It is, in fact, exceedingly hard. Perhaps the hardest thing we are ever called upon to do.

But it is simple. It is a choice, a decision, not to take offense into account. Not to DENY the sense of “offense”, but simply refuse to take it into account in the relationship.

Nothing I know, so consistently derails the spiritual growth of generous, loving, good-hearted Christian brethren. Try this… be transparent and honest, with self and with Him. Forgive Him for hurts (past, present, future), whether the sense of offense is “reasonable” or not. Do not be dissuaded by religiosity or pompous reverence. A child doesn’t have to be “reasonable” or “right” to express respectful displeasure at the decision of a loving parent. They just have to be truthful.

And then, embrace all of it… the was, the is, and the shall be… as though all of it were blessing.

(Because, Gentle Reader… all of it IS. One way or another, all of life is grace.)


Posted by on September 13, 2015 in Quiet Time, Reverse Polarity, Sermon Seeds


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In Love We Trust…

ring-for-wedding“I still LOVE him/her, but I just can’t TRUST her/him anymore…”

So often I have heard these words. So many tears, so many hearts broken when trust and love become sundered from one another.

Why is there such anguish? Why is there such pain?

Because this is impossible. Because people cannot do what cannot be done. We cannot love what we do not trust. We cannot trust what we do not love.

When we try, we cram the heart and soul into a contorted dimension, a false condition, a form of self-denial, that does not fit and never can. Like trying to wend our way through the stairways of an Escher Drawing, we pass through some mobius portal of feelings that leave us turned inside out, vulnerable, and exposed.

When we first begin to fall in love… that’s SO scary.

Why? Why is that so fearful?

Because we risk. We risk such anguish, such disappointment.

What if we finally acknowledge that we have “fallen in love”, that our hearts are now in the hands of another… and they do not feel the same way?

Who will be the first to say, “I love you?”

Who can’t recall the incredible gush of relief when we find the beloved DOES love us back?

That is a tremendous moment in life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

But then… what about the NEXT layer of trust? The NEXT risk taken? Not just to risk trust to the “unknown”… but to trust in the “committed unknown”?

It is one thing to trust to love when there is not yet a commitment, but there is another whole layer, a whole dimension, of trusting to love when there is commitment, a covenant to faithfulness, that involves what we cannot see.

Here is where many relationships stumble… “I just worry all the time, Dr. Monk. What is he/she doing when I’m not there? Sometimes I call and there is no answer.” or “He/she calls or texts me 20 times a day, wondering where I am, who I am with, what I am doing… It’s driving me crazy!”

There is no “trust” here. There is the ongoing need for “control” here. There is only the “safety of being in charge” or of “ownership” here… Not “love”.

How do we “trust” to what we cannot “see” or “control”? How do we grow to love that much?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And then… there’s the last layer… the final layer that sunders us from all that “makes sense”, all that is “rational”, all that is “clearly apparent”.

How do we “trust” in the face of apparent and obvious “betrayal”?

It is one thing to trust to the unknown without commitment. It is another thing to trust to the unknown WITH commitment. But it’s a clearly different thing indeed to CHOOSE to trust, in the face of an apparent KNOWN of untruth, infidelity, in a covenant relationship of commitment.

To be frank, most people consider this simply impossible. So many, particularly Christians, will say they “forgive”, but cannot “forget” and therefore cannot ever restore “trust”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So… “What’s going on here today, Little Monk?” you may ask. “Have we dropped through some warp from The Postmodern Mystic to an episode of Dr. Phil?”


This post follows up from the Sizzling Bacon, and addresses the question… “How?” A few weeks ago I was intrigued by  “A Challenge”, written by Don Merritt,  wherein a listener came up to him after he had delivered a truth-filled sermon and asked, “Why don’t we believe you?” This addresses that question as well. Last, but not least, this post addresses a discussion I had with Susan Irene Fox one evening (about Don’s question), where I proposed that the answer was that “we refuse to surrender control… we are selfish”, and she disagreed, believing that, “people are simply fearful, they’re afraid.” (OK, so now you know, Susan is a kinder, more charitable, person than I…)

That conversation, those questions, kept mulling in my brain as I could sense truth in all of that, but could not put my finger on it…

Then, along with “Can You Hear the Bacon Sizzle?“, Jesus highlighted the piece I was missing… the issue is “Trust”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Few of us have trouble relating to love, trust, romance, in the terms that open this post. But now, for Christians, the transition to our relationship of intimacy with God can be a bit more tricky. But think about it, Jesus has “wedded” us, we are at a Marriage Feast, we are His Bride (NOT just “corporately” as part of some anonymous “herd” or “flock”… but individually as well). To attain eternal life is to KNOW the Father, and the Son, with the intimacy of a spouse…

What is the “limit”… the “constraining factor”… the “conditional boundary” of our “Intimacy” with God?

Our decision to limit our Trust of Him.

“But I DON’T ‘limit my trust’ of Him!” one would protest! “I trust Him UTTERLY!”

I can say that. I can truthfully say I have done so always. BUT, at the same time, I have NOT.

I can only “trust” to the extent that I see the challenge to trust, acknowledge that, and make a conscious choice to do so. (And most of the time, reacting to situations moment-by-moment as I do, no such thing happens).

So let’s take our romantic illustration above, and apply it to our intimacy with God for a moment…

Trust to the Unknown without Commitment: “Who will be first to say ‘I love you’?” The risk of that, the daring to the unknown of that. Consider…

18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. [Matthew 4]

I propose that we see “trust to the unknown yet uncommitted” here. Bold trust. Daring trust. Yet, all unknown as yet. So much of relationship to be discovered, uncovered, committed to.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Time goes on, commitment grows (both directions in relationship), fealty is exchanged. There is now the “expectation” of fidelity. We see that in human romance. But how do we remain assured and at peace with what we CANNOT see, what we DO NOT understand? We see the Gospel of John highlight such a moment when Jesus speaks of eating His flesh, and so many disciples fall away. Their orthodoxy… their religion… all those rules about blood, and flesh, and what is holy and unclean… They can no longer trust Jesus. Jesus is speaking of unclean things, of abomination, of cannibalism. They can no longer walk with Him. He has ventured into the unknown, the untrustworthy. And yet… yet there are the few, there is Peter in their midst…

66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” [John 6]

They trust in the midst of the unknown. They CHOOSE to trust, they DECIDE to trust. They could have walked away, but they did not. They simply loved Jesus too much for that. They loved Him beyond their ability to understand or know… this is Trust.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

But… But… What about the third case? What about “betrayal”? Jesus never “betrayed” them, did He? Well, no. He did not. He never did, He kept His word(s) always… BUT… it certainly did not SEEM that way to them, did it? The “facts” of the matter, the “evidence”, the “appearance”… certainly lined up a convincing case that He had abandoned them, leaving them to their fate at the hands of the Pharisees, did it not?

I mean, think this through. Palm Sunday, triumphal entry into Jerusalem… “Hail! Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”

What a high!

Then, to the Temple… driving out the money changers and animal sellers!

O My!

Then this week of controversy in Jerusalem. What confusion did they know? Prophecies and rumors of assassination plots against Him. The acclaim of the people. People giving livestock, goods, meeting rooms “because the Master has need” of them. Then… that mysterious Last Supper Passover meal… then the Garden… all His promises… “I will never leave you for forsake you… I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may be… I lay down My life, no one takes it from Me…”

Confusingly, He tells them outright that He is going to die, but that because of that they will live. That they are His, in His hand, and they need not fear. That they will be scattered, but… He challenges them… TRUST Him!

And then… He dies!

This.. this… Messiah. This Son of God. This Resurrector of the Dead. This Healer of the Sick… Caster out of demons… Feeder of the Thousands!!! Dead! And they… were… left… alone! And scared. (Now, lest we cover this over with a “gentle Sunday-School haze” of… “well, yeah… they were alone, but, after all, they KNEW better… they KNEW He’d be back… and there was nothing to be anxious about…”)

19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.” [John 20]

These people were clustered together behind locked doors, locked in by fear. John speaks of fear of the Sanhedrin, but can we even imagine the other fears that flowed through their hearts in those days? A bit further in that passage, John tells us that they came to believe only when He showed them the wounds in His hands and feet!

They knew doubt. They doubted the reports of the women from the tomb. They doubted their own eyes until they saw His wounds. Thomas doubted even THEIR report, until he plunged his own digits into Christ’s side.

So… if even THEY doubted, what made them so special to Jesus? What sets them apart, has always set them apart, as disciples then Apostles? What are we, here and now, to see and realize from their ever-so-human frailty and relationship with Him?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Disciples did not know, they did not understand, they did not feel “confident” or “holy” of “faith-y”. None of that! They were scared, and lonely, and felt betrayed. But still, they did not CHOOSE to QUIT!

They remained. They remained in relationship with (as they thought at the time) a Dead Christ… buried and stolen. They CHOSE to TRUST, even in the face of evidence contrary to all they thought possible. They chose to remain, and to continue to love Him, continue to fellowship together, continue to encourage (literally) one another… even if He had lied to them, and had now abandoned them as orphans.

(Please understand… I know full well He HAD not…. that He ALWAYS keeps His word, and NEVER abandons us!) But realize, the Disciples had no EVIDENCE that attested to that as they huddled behind those locked doors, and frankly… you and I go through many days in our lives, where we can seem just as alone as they thought they were.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And look what happened…

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. [John 20]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do I “trust” God? Do you? Yes, assuredly we do. And, to the extent that we trust Him, we love Him and experience His love for us.

But true though that is, I can testify to the fact that over time my “trust” has grown! Not because I ever intend to withhold trust from Him, but simply because until challenged by fear, I am not aware that there is greater trust to be had. Does that make sense?

I have discovered that my best “response” to fear… any fear… all fear… big, little, petty, grand… is “Trust”. He is there (here), He is perfect, He is powerful beyond any measure of adequacy, and He is dedicated wholly and totally to my good! I can trust to that, whether I understand it or not.

But it is only when that trust is tested…. only when circumstances seem to belie the safety of my trust… that my love and trust can grow.

It is only when I “seem” to be betrayed, wounded, lied to… when the “evidence around me” would indicate that I CANNOT trust someone… that I can freely CHOOSE to trust them, and the love of God (Father, Son, Spirit) fully flow through me. THAT is freedom! That is grace!

And, by the way, THAT is how God loves US in the first place… regardless of how much we betray Him, wound Him, or lie to Him… or even, to ourselves.

Amazing… grace…

Love = Trust = Love = Him


Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Quiet Time, Reverse Polarity, Sermon Seeds


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Gallifreyan Prayer

tardisOK, this may be a confession… but I love “Dr. Who”, don’t you? It’s one of those wonderful areas of overlap that both my daughter and I are “fans” of this decades-long running series of stories.

Of course, we’ll not discuss the fact that MY iconic Dr. Who is Tom Baker, and HERS is David Tennant, but… well… we’ll just move on.

But whether we’re speaking of H.G. Wells or Dr. Who, I think people are fascinated by the topic of “Time”, and have a quiet, but deep desire to somehow “manage” time.

One of the most tremendous “powers” of human consciousness is that we are not bound by time or space. We can visualize, imagine, conceive, and discuss… ideas, even realities, that transcend time and space. For example, I can imagine and discuss ideas about Australia. I’ve never been there, I’ve never held anything in my hands from there. I have had friends from there that I’ve met, known, loved… but, for me, “Australia” is a matter of “faith”, not “experience”.

I have no problem at all with that. My beloved puppy, however… brilliant as I find him to be… cannot share that experience. He cannot imagine or conceptualize “Australia”, or “Victorian times”, or “Jesus’ Triumphal Entry”. Even if he were THERE, he couldn’t conceptualize it, as distinct from the here and now.

This freedom, this transcendence over time and space… this is a “human” thing. This is a spiritual faculty, a part of our Image-of-God-ness.

And yet, we are fascinated by our mental freedom over time, and most of us hold a quiet fascination, perhaps even a yearning, to be able to “act” in time… to change things in other times, whether past or future.

Well, what if we could!? What if we can!?

What if we can transcend time through prayer, just as we realize we can transcend space? I mean, clearly, when you pray for the recovery of Aunt Tillie in Australia in her recuperation from gall bladder surgery… you are using prayer to transcend “space”. You are applying your life, dedicating and donating your own breaths and heartbeats, directing these moments of your life to God in the interests and intercession for Aunt Tillie. You open a “window to grace” where she is, by spending some of your own precious and limited life for her where you are.

So… what if we could do the same thing with time? What if we could engage in Gallifreyan Prayer, transcending time?

For instance, let’s suppose someone has stolen something from me. The Lord says I am supposed to forgive that. But, suppose I have trouble with that? Suppose every time I think about that stolen item I become angry. Suppose every time I think about that person (assuming I know who stole the item), I become angry and feel no love for him/her at all? Worse, suppose I sense my own desire to hurt them? I am not a person who wins such will-contests, such moral arm-wrestling matches with myself, easily.

Several years ago God taught me this cool thing… that I have the power to “redefine the stolen item, as a gift… not a stolen object”. That then, I can redefine the “theft” into a “person collecting a gift to them from me”. Now, is THAT person still accountable before God for the theft? That is between them and Him… above my pay grade. But as to myself, I no longer have to struggle with my mixed feelings about the person. After all, it’s hard to give a gift to someone you don’t love, offense is no longer an issue, and forgiveness is no longer the struggle that it was.

See? When we begin to pray across time, much of 1 Corinthians 13 becomes vastly easier.

Anyway, I just wanted to commend this possibility to you… Try Gallifreyan Prayer, transcending time, particularly regarding issues of “offense” and “forgiveness”.

Grace to thee — The Little Monk

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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds


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Light Bulbs and the Scrupulous Christian

Flight 401While we’re on the subject of aviation…

Here’s a story that I just find amazing. Tragic, and I tell it with tremendous reverence and respect, for many lost their lives here… and improvements in safety resulted to benefit all of us, but it is nonetheless amazing.

On December 29, 1972 or thereabouts… a light bulb… a little green light no bigger than you would use for your Christmas tree, blew out.

That light bulb was intended as a safety device, indicating when the landing gear nosewheel  of Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, on final approach from New York into Miami International Airport, was properly deployed and locked into place. Because it did not light, the captain (pilot) and crew did not take the risk of landing, but decided to change the bulb instead, as they also tried physically to see if the nosewheel was down or not.

That decision was not the problem. That wasn’t a bad decision at all. The problem was… this light bulb… changing this light bulb… became the overwhelming focus of all attention by the flight crew in these critical minutes as they bypassed the airport, and the bulb refused to seat properly into the switch. Perhaps that should have absorbed ONE person, the co-pilot actually attempting the installation. But it captured the focus of him, the pilot, and the engineer as well.

So, when a control yoke was accidentally bumped, and the autopilot’s command to maintain a 2000 foot altitude got switched off, and the control yoke slipped into a slightly downward position slowly decreasiing their altitude… no one noticed. The light bulb still hadn’t clicked into place, and it was too dark to see the nosewheel directly. Foot by foot, they inched towards the ground until proximity alarms notified them that they were about to hit the swamps of the Florida Everglades below them. They were unable to recover in time. While 75 souls survived, 101 did not.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A little while ago I wrote of “Aglets”, of the enemy’s strategy of trying to “throw us off our game” in seeking and following the life and path that the Lord lights up to walk with(in) us. Temptation, sin, in the enemy’s arsenal, has a two-wave payoff for him. This is especially true for a Christian who may be unclear about what his agenda (and God’s agenda) truly is.

Without getting bogged down in a lot of hassle and detail here, I’m just going to say a thing, and if it rings true for you and your Spirit affirms it, that’s fine. If not, cast it aside.

But, for myself, God’s agenda is to love us, and embrace us in such a relationship of intimacy that we respond with reflection of His love back to Him, and we refract His love outwards towards others. We focus on the joy of intimate relationship with Him… Jesus in us, we in Him, together we in the Father, Holy Spirit indwelling… such that His will becomes our own. In and as that happens, our gaze upon others becomes the communion of mutual sacredness, as we grow to love others as He loves us.

The unique feature to such a worldview is, our gaze is always focused on Him, or on others. We know and we rest in our reliance on His provision for us. As we become filled with life, and learn truly to live, our words and acts become His, and those of the Father. We learn to love with His heart.

Right… so… the enemy’s agenda? To take all that… NOT.

Just that simple. The enemy is not nearly so concerned with “getting us to do BAD things”… as it is simply to focus on ourselves, love ourselves, please ourselves, pay attention to ourselves… and become so myopic as to shadow and darkness we never think of looking towards Love Himself, or refracting any outwards at all.

God wants us loving outwards. The enemy wants us desiring inwards. It’s about that simple.

So… it really doesn’t matter much to him if he gets somebody to commit murder, cheat on their wife, or swipe a server’s tips from a cafe table… as long as temptation can get someone to think about pleasing themselves alone, treating God like an absentee landlord, and treating other people as objects for their gratification. Another way to put it, his agenda is to entice us to violate our own conscience, without a lot of regard for the content of the violation.

He gets a “boomerang” effect, a “double tap” out of this if… first, he can entice someone do harm to themselves or another, and second, if he can get them to feel hopelessly ashamed, guilty, and defensive about it. Then he can not only leverage people against loving relationships through successful temptation to the FIRST sin, but that secondary rebound effect can alienate caring relationships even further.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So what has this got to do with Flight 401?

Bottom line, the light bulb was important, yes. That blown out bulb was a bad thing, the light not coming on rightly prevented a whole planeload of passengers from arriving in Miami’s terminal on time because the landing had to be bypassed. Right. But the light bulb was being dealt with, could have safely been dealt with as a matter of due course in operating the craft safely.

THAT is where this went so wrong. The bulb didn’t just become a part of operating the craft safely. Somehow the bulb became the overarching task and mission of the entire flight crew, RATHER than continuing to operate the craft safely. This single wrong element, this bulb, became sufficient distraction to draw everyone’s gaze from the real task at hand, and tragedy resulted.

All too often, conscientious Christians and others of good will and conscience, do something wrong, offend someone, fail to meet their own (or others’) standards of acceptable conduct… and get utterly hung up there. They can become obsessively fixated in guilt over what they’ve done. They may become hypervigilant against ever experiencing similar feelings again. They can become so concerned about ever committing “sin” that they avoid engaging any one or any thing in any situation where they do not feel they have absolute control.

Ironically… the fault of “scruple”, the misplaced FEAR of potential sin, can be as strong a deterrant to actually living and doing in the will of God, as wanton recklessness itself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So what am I saying? That we should never examine ourselves or our conscience? That we should just live a wild laissez-faire lifestyle of license without conscience or accountability? That, as some people argue about those who focus primarily on the grace and love of God, since we are “covered by the Blood” anyway, we should just go do anything we feel like at any time, because after all, what the heck?

Um, no… none of that. But scruple doesn’t assure any greater union with the will of God than does license. Rather than constant anxiety and fear of offending God through our frailty, I find three stratagems far more effective.

First, trust to the relationship between the self and God. Our loving King Father is not going to let us get far beyond our legitimate boundaries without calling loudly to us. The conscience is quite a reliable interface between us and Our Father and Lord.

Second, when our will conflicts with Our Loving King Father, yield to Him. “Obedience is better than sacrifice”, and He means this. For one thing, um… He’s God, and in a battle of wills or anything else, He’s gonna win, as long as we don’t leave the arena. For the other thing, He’s a loving Father and perfectly willing to deal with us in whatever way we demand, whether as prodigal returning to celebration, or defiant brat hauled home by the collar. (I’ve been both… trust me on this.)

Third, deal with past sins the same way He does… forget them. Time absorbs into Him like water into blotting paper. It dries, and it’s gone. He embraces us, as we are, as we’ve been, as we will be.. utterly and totally. We may disappoint ourselves from time to time, but we NEVER.. EVER… disappoint Him. We can’t, we simply cannot surprise Him, and you have to be surprised to be disappointed. Did we stumble and fall? OK. Did He help us stand back up, brush us off, and help us process the experience? OK. Then, are we ready to walk on and carry on with our task in/with Him? Good! Let’s go!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I refuse to get distracted by burnt out bulbs. I refuse to add icing and give a secondary payoff to the enemy when I’m careless or willful enough to stumble into one of his snares. THAT is not where grace is, where light is, or where I want to invest my limited time, breaths, and heartbeats.

I’d rather hold our wondrous Lord King Love Father’s hand, and truck on down the road.

How about you?


Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


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Tripping over Aglets

screwtape 1Don Merritt made a fabulous comment on the preceding post that made me roar with laughter… certainly not at DON… but at myself, and frequent memories of the dilemma he poses here.

His comment brought to mind this passage from The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis (and if you’ve not enjoyed this work, you’ve missed a wondrous joy in this Kingdom!)

MY DEAR WORMWOOD, The most alarming thing in your last account of the patient is that he is making none of those confident resolutions which marked his original conversion. No more lavish promises of perpetual virtue, I gather; not even the expectation of an endowment of “grace” for life, but only a hope for the daily and hourly pittance to meet the daily and hourly temptation! This is very bad.I see only one thing to do at the moment. Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, “By jove! I’m being humble”, and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don’t try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humour and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed. (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Chapter XIV)

For the Christian (Believer, Disciple, Minister… anyone) who is determined to grow in grace and truth in Christ, one of the most frustrating and ironic features of this life is the apparent inevitable aftertaste of pride in moments of grace.

Here is Don’s comment, that dropped the pebble for these ripples…

  1. I’ve tried that challenge in the past, and when I did, I had a new appreciation for old Ben Franklin, for when I began to succeed, I discovered that pride got the better of me. Yet, a challenge is a challenge; let’s see if I can keep my tongue under control and my pride under control at the same time… but must I try this all on my own? Can I get His help on this one?

I laughed because I live in that same mantrap. I seek to yield to the transformation, the regeneration, from old to new man in Christ. In those moments where I manage not to sabotage the effort, and the Lord actually gets to let Jesus be Jesus in me, the enemy can hold up a mirror to my face in a heartbeat and go, “Lookie Lookie here! Behold your Self and glory in your nanosecond of selflessness!”

Ugh! And I feel as defeated as ever. The second thought comes hard on the heels of the first… “Well, if that’s what it’s always going to be, this endless cycle of futile irony, why even bother to try?”

And that’s when the Lord cuts in with His accustomed clarity to say, “Because the mirror wasn’t yours, and that’s not what it’s about anyway. I’m not ‘keeping score’.”

Lewis says it so much better than I can, I’m not sure how I dare comment on it, but my heart’s response to Don’s comment (from my own ironic reflections) were three fold:

  1. God truly isn’t keeping score on “seconds selfless”, “seconds prideful”. Rather, there is simply LIFE in the time we fill from Life Himself, rather than focused on ourselves. Self-feeding is like trying to fill a bucket by siphon from the same bucket… eventually it all just dries up. The very SEEKING to be pleasing to Him, to transform, to perform in accordance as His child, heir, ambassador, prince… the HEART of that desire, is itself the source of His pleasure. He’s not nearly so concerned with how “well we perform” in such things, as He is that we simply truly and sincerely desire to perform so in the first place, and commit our steps in that performance (faith through committed action, not just lip service).
  2. God and grace are contagious and radioactive. The more often, the more deeply, the more reflexively we walk in grace (the more we let Him be Him IN us, not just WITH us), the more of Him we transform into. Therefore, each and every occasion of grace we “commit” (even if followed by a pride backlash), bears fruit of transformation in us (even if only for seconds at a time).
  3. (And this one was/is just sheer joy at the humor of Jesus). The enemy will play his games, but we ourselves have to decide whether to let him win at them! The Lord showed me this little ploy… this Lewis/Merritt/me ironic backlash strategy as being the enemy losing his unending battle to focus us on ourselves rather than light, and responding afterwards with a “sour grapes” tactic of “tying our shoelaces together” to trip us up as we walk on. The Lord seemed to say, “You just ignore that, laugh at the trip, and carry on as if irritated by gnats or a mosquito.” Every time we do this, when we refuse to give the enemy the further and secondary payoff of our failing to thank God for the ORIGINAL moment of grace, and acknowledge the joy and wonder of being His… when we focus on our shadows instead of our Light… the enemy feels like he regains some territory. IF, on the other hand, we walk on through the shoelaces, stumble or not, retie them (Grab those aglets!) setting things straight again… then as this happens time after time:
    1. Our legs grow in strength and resistance to tripping, and
    2. The enemy’s “ties” become weaker and weaker. Eventually, the things that readily tripped us up, tempted us to pride and self-adoration, become commonplace non-issues. The tripwires become as spiderweb and gossamer.

Now, this is not to say we ever get where we are “trip proof” and “sin free”. I sure haven’t, and I’ve not met any but One who ever has. But I can say, I DO know, the tolerances get smaller and smaller. The issues more sensitive and the conscience much more responsive to grace.

Given time and practice, we can come to wound one another vastly less, and flow grace forth vastly more. The enemy still plays his games and we still get to grow and strengthen, but the “playing fields” get much much smaller, and more private. The relationship with God gets stronger and stronger, and more intimate.

Anyway, bottom line… Keep on keeping on, retying our shoes as often as necessary, and laugh at the prank intended as a disastrous distractor. Jesus always knew the trip was there, and He steadies our elbows every time, when we let Him.

Grace and joy to all! The Little Monk

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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


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Gone Fishin’

Sunrise CrossPowerful things are happening among the Disciples in the days immediately following the Crucifixion. Powerful lessons are laid down for us here.

This morning, my heart is a bit heavy, and it brought these texts to mind. I thought I would share with you.

Let me open with Paul. He had written a letter to the Church at Corinth because they were misbehaving. They’d formed factions, were squabbling about foolish things, had mistaken “liberty” in Christ for “license” (and those are not the same). All in all, they were acting a bit like kids act when their parents and elders are away from home. So Paul wrote this letter, a bit harsh, calling them to order. They responded, and drew themselves back up, taking the correction with grace and sorting themselves out. In this passage below from a later letter to them, Paul addresses his regret and mixed feelings about having to correct them, and expresses an absolutely critical teaching about “sorrow” that I’ve found invaluable across decades of counseling…

For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. [2 Corinthians 7:8-10]

There’s the critical teaching: For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I had a phone call last night asking for my prayers for an 8th grade child who has decided to do a research report term paper on “Suicide”. When their teacher asked why this topic, the answer was… This child’s 25 year old cousin, married, with a spouse and three children (a 5 year old, and twin 2 year olds), had committed suicide yesterday. The student didn’t understand… hence, the research topic.

Suicide? Bible? These days? Yes.

Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor. Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. [Matthew 27:1-8]

I know I’ve posted on this before, but I am irresistibly drawn to these passages as I pray for this child, her family, and the family of this sad young man. I have no idea what was happening in his life, his mind or heart, or his family. But one thing I know, as someone who works a great deal with suicide, is that in the moments that he made his fatal decision… that young man was filled with a sorrow that leads to death, and he could see no hope of recovery. HOW he came to that moment, I do not know. THAT he came to it, I am certain. As did Judas.

Judas betrayed Jesus. He felt conviction on that. He felt remorse. He tried to undo it, to make up for it, to put things back the way they were. He tried to renounce his act, give back the money, and restore his heart. But he failed. He focused on all that he did wrong, and ultimately executed himself for it.

Let us contrast that with another betrayal of Jesus at that same time. Let’s look instead at Peter.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, *said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed. [John 18:25-27]

And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. [Matthew 26:75]

Bitter tears, conviction, remorse. Look familiar? Denied his Lord and best friend… cursing even. How deep was his sorrow in such moments? Who can imagine it?

But Judas experienced “sorrow of the world”? How do we know that, why can we say that? By its fruit. His sorrow led not to salvation and rescue, but to death.

“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Peter, on the other hand, returned to his brothers after the Crucifixion, he ran to the tomb at the report of the women, he was with the brethren that evening when Jesus appeared. He did not abandon his life and duties, focusing myopically on his own failings and flaws. Did he know sorrow and remorse? Scripture does not say specifically, but I have no reason not to think he did.

But he and Jesus do not directly speak to one another again until they have breakfast on the seashore. I started to try to “cut and paste” through the story to put it here, and just could not bring myself to do it. The tale is a united whole, and to try to edit it just seemed “wrong” somehow.

Please look at this beautiful report… and feel how remarkable the transitions, hopes, sorrows, sadness, exuberance, joy, all of that… that Peter’s heart goes through in just this very short time.

John 21

We start with: Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter *said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They *said to him, ‘We will also come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

Does it make you smile a bit, too? There they are… confused… alone… frightened… grief-stricken… totally unsure of what to do or what’s coming next. Finally, Peter stands up, likely with an air of “I-have-had-enough-of-this”… and says, “I’m going fishing.” (Perhaps he intended to be alone, reflect and rest, relax a bit with some private time.) He didn’t tell anyone to come with him. Didn’t invite them. But there we go, they stand up and say, “we’re coming along”.

The passage continues with incredible tenderness between them and the Lord. Please look it over yourselves… too rich to comment on here.

But it’s the ending, with Peter, that I want to highlight.

Look at this amazing thing… After throwing himself into the water with impatience to get to Jesus, look at what Peter DOESN’T SAY!

Peter doesn’t say:

  • Lord, you were right, I was wrong
  • Thank You for praying for me
  • I was afraid, and didn’t know what I was doing
  • I’m so ashamed
  • He doesn’t even say “I’m sorry!”

Isn’t that AMAZING? And Jesus has NO PROBLEM with that! The Lord doesn’t berate him, accuse him, or rebuke him in any way. Instead, as Jesus so often does, He simply “cuts to the heart of the matter”. Peter denied their relationship three times. Jesus asks Peter to affirm their relationship three times. And it hurts… Peter is hurt by the third time Jesus asks if he loves Him. But Peter bears with the pain, answers each time, and receives the instructions that have now rippled outwards from that moment into the heart of every shepherd on earth.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So what is the point of this post?

I am praying for the loved ones of a 25 year old husband and father who lost all hope, could not see how to make things right, and ended his own life.

Judas came to that same moment in his life, by betraying Jesus.

Peter also betrayed Jesus, may have felt as bad about it as Judas (or maybe worse), but he did NOT come to that place of hopeless despair.

What was the difference between them? That’s a question worthy of much study and I encourage you to ponder it. There are lots and lots of answers, and I’ll not catalog them here.

But here’s the critical piece I want to light up here:

We all do regrettable things. But the sorrow of the world focuses our gaze on ourselves… our own failings… what we did wrong… how we can make it right… what WE have to do about it. This was Judas’ approach.

The sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation… to rescue. Peter did not just focus on himself. He got with the Disciples, he shared their amazement at the tomb and in the closed room. When he decided to go fishing, and they invited themselves along, he did not deny them. When John told him Jesus was standing on the shore, he did not hide in the back of the boat. Peter embraced his own failings, got about his task of leading the Disciples, and embraced them. Peter regained his hope, trusted Jesus even having denied Him, and received full forgiveness, absolution, and restoration, without any confession or apology.

Could it be that God is not nearly so interested in our examens, confessions, penance, breast-beating, pleas and cries of remorse… as He is with simply restoring our love and trust in relationship? Could it be that He would dearly love our focusing vastly less on our sins, sinfulness, and failings, and vastly more on His love, kindness, mercy and embrace of us?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I wonder if that 25 year old husband and father knew this? I hope more learn it.



Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


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I Can’t Blame the Cat!

“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison”. [Matthew 5:23-25]

OK, so… “Imagine… if you will...”    * insert best Rod Serling voice imitation here *

Let’s say you are an Elder of a “Liturgical Persuasion”, and this Little Monk comes to your monastery cell, taps gently on the door, and says… “Um, Senior Brother… got a spare moment for a Confession?” And, smiling, you come out, put a bookmark at the page you’d been reading of a really EXCELLENT mystery… and together we head to the Confessional. Or, depending on generation, we head for a quiet private spot in the Garden. (Both are fine…)

And my first words after the preliminaries are… “It’s not my FAULT! I just followed the CAT! Honest!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OK, so what in the WORLD am I babbling about, this time? Lol. Well, I have a confession to make, and it’s as well to make it here, to you, as anyone else. You are, after all, Holy and Royal Priest… as endowed as any brother or sister of Kingdom. And you may have guessed that in sharing an idea of spirit, especially of prayer, I’m much more dedicated to “laboratory” than to “lecture” format. The most convenient lab specimen I know… considering confidentiality and everything… is myself as guinea pig, so here we are.

Well, a few nights ago, I “blew it”. I “sinned”. (Lol, nothing unexpected there, but this makes a decent illustration for today.) You may recall, the standard to which I am held regarding sin is quite simple (as I can’t handle a lot of rules or complicated stuff). So, what did I do? I “treated something or someone God loves (thus holds in existence), as less than sacred.” I desecrated someone, treating them as less than sacred.

The Crime: No big deal… (well, it was “murder” actually, but we’ll get to that.). Group of guests in my living room, as we play a paper-and-pencil role playing game. (I am a player, not a game master.) We are facing a challenge, discussing our options, and one of our company proposes a thoroughly destructive, but simple solution, that would have devastating impact on the environment and innocent bystanders. I oppose this plan, simply, logically, and succinctly. Nothing complex about the response. First speaker nods, says, “OK”, and we all go back to pondering a workable solution. (So far so good.)

But, THEN, that first guy (we’ll call him “First Guy” for convenience)…. that First Guy comes back, and restates HIS ORIGINAL PROPOSAL… like he hadn’t even HEARD me! How DARE he! (see the little “pride worm” there? I didn’t.) And in a flash, in less than a breath… I turn to him. (like, *slowly I turned… step by step… inch by inch*…)

I say, “Which word was too long?” And the entire room is suddenly filled with the slightly smothered sound of a bunch of guys trying to suppress a laugh they know would be rude. While *I* just sit there with a gobsmacked, wide-eyed look of… “Are you KIDDING me? Really? REALLY?”

God is so GOOD! Gentle Reader. Even when I SO don’t deserve it. Like a flash, one of my young ministry friends, sitting alongside me, gently and discretely tapped my arm to break my “adrenalin moment”, and took over the conversation with SUCH grace… “First Guy, we’re saying that might not be our best plan because these things would happen, and then…, and then…, and that might not be good for us. OK?” as he explains the situation with better detail and clarity. And the evening moved on smoothly. But…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Outcome:I knew the rebuke of the Spirit from that on a few issues. One, it’s perfectly ok that my mind chases cats, and sometimes moves with a speed or in an unexpected direction. Everyone in the room had followed my reasoning, except First Guy. THAT was not out of order. That, is life. Where I moved out of order, was my sarcastic remark. He was asking a legitimate question, posing a legitimate thought. Rather than receiving that and responding, my words “ridiculed” him, implied that he was “a fool”. The Lord is extremely straight up on such things… that… is out of order…. that’s sin… and, in His Book… that’s the same as murder. [cf Matthew 5:22]

My words “devalued” my friend… took life FROM him… rather than giving life TO him. I am unreservedly grateful that my apprentice stepped in as he did, and moved the words along rapidly, so that First Guy never embraced my insult. He never took it in to himself, and was never harmed by it.

Needless to say, as soon as these realizations HIT my arrogant little heart, I apologized to First Guy, and to the room for my carelessness and lack of manners.

I love Mark Lowery’s disclosure on such moments… about “sassing his mother” and “backtalk in general”… that… “Something BRILLIANT would always pop into my mind, and be out my mouth, before I stop it!” I share that feeling so easily!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So here we are, in our little “sacred space” as you hear this confession, and you agree with the Spirit, that my words and heart were out of order. Just to see my “defensiveness” blurt out! “But it’s not my FAULT! I was just chasing a suddenly jumping cat! And it was out my mouth before I could stop it!”

And as the Lord shakes His head calmly, with the comment, “No excuse, there…”

I find myself whining, “These cats… that YOU GAVE ME!” and I try to blame HIM, for my behavior, since He made me as I am!

+ Ever been there? Ever done that? It’s my most convenient excuse and whine. *

Then the Lord echoed this in my mind:

Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” [Genesis 3:9-12]

See it? See it? “Not MY fault, Lord! YOU gave me the woman! YOUR FAULT” Of course, it didn’t fly. Not for him, not for the woman when she tried to blame it on the Serpent. And not… for ME. My cats are a part of my life. I am big enough, old enough, and well-enough trained to refrain from jumping after them, or allowing my words to flow in a harmful way. It was not my “cat”, but my “pride” that poked my words from a wrong heart. The sooner I saw that, the wiser and more loving I would be.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Together, you and I laugh at how silly such defensiveness is. We share that the Spirit doesn’t correct us, isn’t correcting us, to make us feel bad, or punish us. That my “fault”, my “failure”, my “sin”, isn’t so much an “affront at Holy God” as it is, and was, a “moment of missed sharing, missed love, missed relationship.” I could have drawn my friend “closer” to me in friendship that evening, rather than letting pride try to puff me up at his expense.

As it turned out, reconciling things and humbling myself to him, that closeness came anyway, and it edified our relationship. But I could have done the same thing without the embarrassment, if I’d gone with God’s “Plan A” direction at the fork of my temptation, rather than yielding to my own “Plan B” path of sarcasm, repentance, reconciliation! But it all ends up in the same place, because that’s how Grace works in This Family.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So I thank you for your time and kind attention Elder brother monk. I appreciate you. Speaking with you, I see that such sarcasm, even leaping after a darting kitten, offends Love and devalues a sacred heart. That’s not why I am here. It is not how He, or you, or most any of Our Family treat me, nor how I want to be treated. I shall deal more gently with my brethren in future.

Thank you for your support. Pray for me always. We’re all in this together, and I too struggle not to make childish mistakes! Grace to thee!


Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


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The Most Amazing Gift – Part Two

Deep in the darkness of early morning, long before my alarm went off, The Lord called my name and woke me. This was unusual in these days. Sometimes, in certain seasons, He teaches this way frequently, but on this occasion it had been quite a while. I was awake, but could sense the darkness about me, yet there was clarity. The Lord had called my name and said, “Wake up, now.”

I lay still in my bed and He spoke again, “Open your eyes…”

So I did… I think…

For when I seemingly opened my eyes I did not see my bedroom, my covers, the darkness that I knew surrounded me. I was… in Jesus. HIS eyes opened with my own. Now, this has happened to me on rare occasions before, but always at such moments, we were in MY body, in THIS world. It was Him in me, as we walked the earth. THIS time however, was entirely different… I was in HIS body, in HIS world, in HIS earthly time. Very strange.

Even stranger the grace He granted, I was IN HIM, and we were hanging on the Cross. Gradually but rapidly, He seemed to meld me entirely into Him, as not only did we look up at our surroundings, but I came to feel through His senses entirely. I assure you, Gentle Reader, never before have I had such a prayer experience… and you are welcome to accept or reject this testimony as you feel led. I simply recount it to you.

We looked up, raised our head, and I could see and hear the multitudes of the crowd jeering, cursing, blaspheming Him. I could feel the pain, the dripping of blood from head, hands, back. Face and eyes were swollen from blows. Mouth was dry from dehydration and the intensifying struggle simply to breathe. Not gonna get real graphic here with descriptions, but trust me… the experience was thoroughly so. But fairly soon, all the sensations seemed to blur into awareness of just what I could see and hear, and the struggle to breathe.

Each breath was a massive effort, demanding chest, shoulders, head and arms. But His gaze never wavered as He simply watched the crowds mobbing a short distance away. But what He FELT for them… THAT was the amazing part. He simply, totally, and completely… LOVED THEM. Ears could hear the jeers and insults, eyes could see the spitting, the screaming, the garbage flung at Him… yes. But all HE saw was “His children”. All He felt was grief at their actions, and the unspeakable yearning of His heart to gather them together in His arms, love them, and protect them.

It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever felt… the profound depths of that LOVE. It just seemed to grow. So hard to describe, Gentle Reader… By any chance, are you a parent or a grandparent? Do you know that feeling when sometimes you look at your child or grandchildren and you just LOVE them SO MUCH? Like you wish you could just scoop them up in your arms, like when they were really little, and just hug them hugely? Remember that feeling that seemed to touch you once in a while looking at them, where the love in your chest was just so pointed it almost hurt? That’s what this was like.

And watch this… it GREW… it just grew in waves, moment by moment. I’ve never felt the like, except in grief. I’ve sometimes known loss so deep that grief could come unexpectedly, and wash over me and through me like the waves of an incoming tide. But here, this was happening with love and tenderness and compassion itself! And His tears flowed over them, this totally notwithstanding that His beloveds were ranting out there cursing, screaming and reviling.

It made no sense… none at all.

But here is the most incredible part… as this all unfolded on Calvary… in the darkness of my room. This love just kept growing and growing as all the pain just faded into a dull background against the sharp relief of struggling for each rasping, rattling breath. The seconds just seemed to tick away into eternity, as I had to focus just on breathing, ever more shallowly, then the climax…

One deep breath, as His eyes filled with tears and He looked up into the dark sky towards the Father He could no longer feel, but yet believed by faith alone was there and present. He took that struggling breath, held those reviling crowds tenderly in His heart as He lifted them towards the Father and His love, and rasped out… “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

And, deep within ourselves, we knew somehow, beyond any doubt… the Father heard His prayer… He received it… and… the Father… GRANTED… it.

Then, it was finished. With that forgiveness, it was all finished. And there was the blessed peace and oblivion of death. There was no more pain, and all was still.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And that was it, I “awoke” so to speak, face covered with tears as yet I wept. All physical pain was gone, but the heart… no. That heart remained, the love remained, the tremendous sense of desire to gather one’s chicks up beneath one’s wings, to protect, to nurture, to cover. It’s very hard to say what was the most intense residuum here. The relief at being able to breathe? Yes. The intensity of the entire event itself? Yes. The sheer wonder at Jesus’ willingness (and capacity) to share such a moment, such an insight, with someone as totally unprepared, ill equipped, as I? Yes. All of that.

But as I lay there, utterly at a loss… as I just yet wept with the overpowering intensity of His Presence in these moments…

I gasped, “Lord… thank you… but… what WAS that? What is going on?”

Ever so gently, ever so tenderly, He said, “You needed to see that. You needed to be there. You needed that for tonight…” (an unexpectedly tough and hurtful meeting I was going to take part in). I was utterly astonished, had forgotten the meeting was THIS day, and wasn’t thinking much about it at all.

He went on, “You will hear things that will hurt. You will be confused, and people will attack one another, shouting and reviling. This would have caused you great pain. But NOW, you must see and understand. People’s words, their taunts, their names, their accusations… can only hurt you if you let them enter into you. They can only pierce you if you regard them and allow them into your heart. You must not do that. You must not embrace those words.

“Little One, you have now seen My children as I see them. You have felt My heart for them and towards them. No matter what they scream, or spit, or throw… I tenderly love, I forgive, and I seek to shelter them in My arms and heart.

“Having seen what I Myself mean by ‘forgive’… having seen how I Myself deal with ‘offense’… what can YOU POSSIBLY see, or hear, or read, that can cause you offense? Never again, will you ever look upon anyone, doing anything, but with this love and compassion. And never again, will you respond to anything at all but with forgiveness, grace, and blessing.

“If an accusation is true and of light, you bring it to Me and through repentance and contrition you are renewed, transformed, blessed and you grow. If an accusation is false and of darkness or shadow, you bring it to Me and I reveal it to be nothing but falsehood, illusion of the enemy, and it cannot touch you or your heart. Never again, are you to subject yourself to the pain of an illusion…

“Never again, take ‘offense’ at anything at all… No more shadow pain. Ever.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gentle Reader, I cannot explain this so I’ll not try… but so it has been. Not only did The Lord equip to pass through a difficult meeting and a tumultuous time, but later of course I saw how this applied to so many things.

And, wonder of wonders, no more pain, ache, or grief at the accusations of friends! It has been utterly amazing! I didn’t even see the application when it first happened, as the business at hand was intense and absorbing.

But from that time to this, NOTHING has “offended me”, and I kid thee not when I say, I had no idea how offended I WOULD get, DID get, until I stopped doing it. So much pain, grief, ache, just totally gone!


Here’s this incredible, amazing gift… it took all of 10 minutes. I want to pass it along to you! Consider this a “prayer experiment”… Please, try this.

(1) Pick a quiet place and time, where you’ll not be disturbed for 20 minutes or so…
(2) Review (mentally or reading over), those last moments of Jesus on Golgotha…
(3) Apply your “sacred imagination” to the moment and scene: hear the shouts, envision the action…
(4) Ask The Lord for His grace, to bring you for the moment to the fullness of His promise, that He be in you, as you in Him… and rest in Him…
(5) Stay still for 10 minutes, remaining utterly focused on Him, allowing Him to draw you to seeing His children as He sees them, and allowing you to feel the passion of His forgiveness and loving heart for them…

Just stay there, resting in that, letting Him soak you and your heart in that… for 10 whole minutes. Reflect on what He subjected Himself to, only to forgive them and love them. Then ask yourself what you, or I, or any of us… can POSSIBLY endure to even come CLOSE to that!

After these 10 minutes, as you recover, ask yourself… if THAT’s how the Christ in you forgives…. if THAT’s how the Holy Spirit indwelling your heart loves and embraces those who accuse and revile… can any of us possibly do otherwise?

That’s what God asked me. “If THAT’s how I love and forgive… can you ever again be ‘offended’ by anything at all that anyone does or says to or of you?”


“No, Lord. All good here, Thanks.”

Can’t tell you the impact those 10 minutes have had on my life since. Just wanted to pass the Gift along to you, Gentle Reader!

Grace to you!

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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


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What if God Really Loves Us?

14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One evening, teaching a class on Forgiveness, I upset one or two people as we took a moment to focus rather intently on these verses. Now, please understand, this is a room full of mature disciples, not new believers, and frankly it wasn’t even they who got upset, but some other “teachers”.

I just shared with the class some of the thinking that had come from my preparation and prayer in the morning, across that dining table, quietly sorting out the upcoming day over coffee with the Lord of Hosts (who is kind enough to come start the day over coffee with this simple servant each morning.)

He knew I was getting this lesson ready, Forgiveness/Unforgiveness, and I’d been drawn to the parable of the Unforgiving Debtor (Matthew 18: 21-35) and this passage from Sermon on the Mount. Frankly these passages seemed a bit “harsh”. Not typical fare for our strong but gentle Savior, but highlighted in some of His most important teachings, the Sermon on the Mount, and again limned as one of His “Kingdom of God” frames.

So He had me bring these passages to this class of predominantly mature disciples. The week before, we had discussed “Forgiveness as Gift”, that to forgive one’s offender is a freely given grace gift of the mind, will, spirit, and heart. All too often we mistake that, thinking of forgiveness as a “transaction”, a “deal” conditioned by the response or future actions of the other. We have this natural flesh tendency to say to ourselves, “Well, I forgive so-and-so to the extent that…” fill in the blank… “they are sorry for what they did”… or, “they stop doing that”… or, “they mend their ways”… or whatever is the condition we set.

We often take such a wrong, flesh attitude, and “ice it over” with something that seems holy, scriptural, and right. We arrogate to ourselves the role of conscience and judge, saying we forgive as God forgives… forgiving what the person repents, but we continue to hold against them whatever is out of order in their hearts, lives, or their relationship with us. Such a view seems very “Christian”. It all sounds very “scriptural” and true, good, and right. In the absence of Jesus’ clear teachings, we could probably talk ourselves into this without sin. Inconveniently, for such pharisaical argument, we have Jesus’ clear and unambiguous teaching on all of this. Such reasoning is trash.

According to Jesus, both at Sermon on the Mount, and as He describes and proclaims the Kingdom of Heaven, the instruction is that we are to forgive simply and without condition because the Father forgives us in this way. Period, full stop, no comma… no further clause… no further condition or modification. In fact, Jesus goes so far as to say that if we do not do this, if we fail to forgive in this way, if we hold “unforgiveness” in our hearts… the Father does not forgive us. That the Father forgives us only insofar as we forgive others.

Now… there’s a reason this Blog is subtitled “Metaphysics for the Thinking Person”. God has graced us with reason, and generally education, and He operates the universe with reason and logic to a large extent. Paul shows the godliness of reason and logic throughout his epistles, as Jesus often does as well in His teachings. There is no innate value or spiritual merit to ignoring the blatantly obvious.

So here is where, teaching this class, I dared a “bold stroke”, to invite participants a bit deeper with God, and upset one or two pharisees. *sigh*

I said, “Is there an apparent logical problem with Jesus’ instruction there on forgiveness? I mean, does it not seem as if He says we are to forgive unconditionally… but that the Father forgives ‘if and only if’? Does it seem like He is saying there’s a ‘double standard’? I’m not saying that wouldn’t be OK… that God sees and acts in ways beyond us. But here we are in a context where He has said over and over again that we are to feel, think, see, behave as the Father does, and yet it seems like He’s saying not to here? What’s more… doesn’t this make the Father look rather ‘petty’?”

I pointed out the ironic fact that we often “judge” the Father in human terms in our hearts and at the back of our minds, but then we get “disciplined” (often actually “punished”) as children for asking questions around that… so we learn not to ask, not to wonder, not to ponder… and thus, not to come to “know” God. If we “dare to David”, and truly disclose our hearts, our concerns, our ponders, our fears, our questions, even our doubts… all too often “grownups or teachers” in our surroundings “punish us” for irreverence or blasphemy or heresy. They do as they always did, “keeping open hearted, open minded, children away from Jesus”, bounding intimacy and seeking from God.

What if we go ahead and dare to ask the question, “Is Jesus saying the Father has a double-standard? Is He saying that He does NOT mean we are to forgive as the Father forgives? But that the Father forgives ‘conditionally’, yet commands that WE forgive ‘unconditionally’? Is THAT what the Lord is really saying here?” Because that is what we often “really think”, though few of us dare to articulate the question consciously. We just “believe it” subconsciously, ironically realizing the view is hypocritical, so refusing honestly to attribute it to God… so this attitude just “paralyzes our hearts” regarding forgiveness, and we simply stay “stuck” here, unable to flow the grace of God’s forgiveness through us to others.

THERE’s the reason such “pious hypocrisy” is so pernicious. There is the Enemy’s payoff in tempting us to adopt such a false but righteous and holy-looking a view. When we accept as a given, that our God is petty, uses a double-standard, and stands on a throne of Holy Hypocrisy, we are no longer gazing upon the Father. We have deviated and had our gaze drawn towards something else, some one else, and that lifeless false god has no grace to give, no life to give. Forgiveness, true forgiveness, is humanly impossible. Like Love itself, it is a grace that flows FROM the Father… THROUGH us to others. We cannot “manufacture” any grace, not love, forgiveness, truth, beauty… any of it. We can only allow it to flow into and through us to others.

So, let us dare for a moment reverently to consider what we know to be true, what we see throughout scripture, what we hear over and over from Jesus, and see articulated clearly by the Apostle John, that “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all…” (1 John 1:5b) Let us assume that the Father is neither petty, small minded, double minded, and is not commanding this to us for some sort of “report card test challenge”. Let us suppose that there is a necessary, sensible, logical, mechanical reason for this command.

Well, that would mean that there is some necessary mechanical reason for our need to forgive others in order to receive the Father’s forgiveness. Hmmm… While God is “beyond all human reasoning” in His nature, He is fully aware that when He teaches like this He is certainly dealing with reasoning humans… so let us look at the “reasonable”.

I challenged the class… “What if… What if, God saw our hearts as ‘containers’? As ‘Holy Temple Containers’, that could receive grace and graces from Him, and could choose whether to pass those along to others? What if… we HAVE to forgive others, simply to ‘make room’ in our hearts to receive forgiveness from Him? What if… holding Unforgiveness in our hearts, refusing grace and forgiveness to another, simply ‘cuts us off’ from being able to receive the awareness, the completeness, the fullness, of forgiveness from God? What if… we could only see and experience forgiveness from God to the extent that we are willing to extend that to another?”

Wouldn’t this make sense of the Father as Jesus reveals Him, and these verses of command? No hypocrisy, no double mindedness, no dual standard… just simple revelation of the nature of God and man… we cannot receive what we are not willing to give… because we clutter our hearts with darkness rather than allowing them to be filled with light!

Some eyes lit up. Some people got it. Some got the point, and caught a glimpse of the Father’s heart. God does NOT “draw lines in the sand, daring us to cross over, or heed them as challenges to our obedience”. God put up “guard rails around harmful and deadly pits” to protect us from deep shadows and dark chasms. How refreshing would it be if His children, whom He so loves, were to ever walk just ONE DAY in the assurance and belief that the Father is and desires only good, and is not working from some “egotistical agenda” of challenge?

Ah well… some people got it. Lots of people didn’t. And a couple people got very upset with me for “shaking their ‘God is an Arbitrary Tyrant'” boxes… but oh, well… such is my life and calling.

God loves them all, and so do I…

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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Quiet Time, Uncategorized


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