Tag Archives: spiritual growth

How to be Great!

‘At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”‘ [Matthew 18:1-6]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When I was younger, this text mystified me a bit. I mean, on the surface its meaning is obvious… innocence… simplicity… yadda yadda. But when you know children, I mean really get to KNOW children… they can be a real pain. Hence, my confusion.

I mean, frankly, while this seems like a lovely image… have you honestly ever met a “humble” child? Really? I haven’t. Children can be brutal. They clamor for status and primacy. Some of the cruelest people on the face of the earth I’ve ever known have been children.

So… what is Jesus saying here, really?

I’ve finally resolved that for myself, but if your ponderings lead you to a different place, that’s fine, too. Just thought I’d share this.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The disciples are in the time where Jesus is preparing them for His crucifixion. He has told them He is going to be killed, but that He will rise again three days later. He is extremely clear about who He is… Son of Man, Son of God. So, in the midst of sorting these confusing things out, they ask a question only someone in His unique position could answer…

“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Pretty big question. Pretty bold question. I suspect they were expecting a pretty big bold answer. What about you? If you had been standing there listening, or even if you had had the chance to ASK this question, what answer would you expect?

Something like, “He who does the will of the Father, He is the greatest…”

Or, “He who upholds the Kingdom in righteousness, He is the greatest…”

Or, “He who speaks the truth of God, He is the greatest…”

Right? I would. Or perhaps they were thinking of all the history… the patriarchs, the prophets, the judges, the kings, King David. Perhaps they expected Him to name one of those.

But no. As per usual for Him, He does something totally unexpected. He calls a little boy to Him from among the bystanders, and has him stand in front of the disciples like an artist’s model. He answers them in a very odd way. He does NOT tell them WHO is the greatest in the Kingdom. Instead (again consistent with how He usually does things), He tells them HOW to BECOME the greatest in the kingdom. (Perhaps that’s really what they wanted to know in the first place, bless their competitive little hearts.)

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.


I bet they didn’t see THAT coming! Remember, they’d just shortly before been at the Transfiguration. Peter, James, and John had seen Jesus, Moses, and Elijah appear before their very eyes, and take counsel with Jesus. Peter wanted to make a shrine on that mountaintop. So I am more than certain that when they inquired about heaven’s greatest soul, they weren’t expecting some little kid in the street!

So what was so special about kids? Or… what was so special about THIS little kid? What do kids have, that we don’t have? Why does Jesus use words like “converted” and “become like” as He points to this boy? How did this boy so dramatically “humble himself” that Jesus uses him as a model for the greatest in heaven?

Only in recent years have I figured it out. What do kids have, that we don’t? What did this little boy show, that we lose over time and must be transformed to recapture?


Children raised by loving healthy parents, learn “Trust” from the cradle. At least, trust of their parents. They learn to trust that they are provided for… mom and dad will make sure they have something to eat. They learn to trust that they are safe and protected… mom and dad will make sure others don’t hurt them, that they don’t get lost or injured. They learn to trust that they are valued, treasured, affirmed… they will carry on the family legacy, delighting the heart of their father, bringing joy to their mother.

As trust grows, obedience grows apace. When a child is secure that mom and dad seek only their good, their provision, safety, and security… parental directives are far more likely to be seen in that light. The child may wonder, or even ask, “Why?”. But the question is more likely to come even as the child is assenting and obeying, as opposed to the suspicious argument and immobility of the child who has learned NOT to trust.

Are there such children? Untrusting children? Those who have learned to be insecure, suspicious, perhaps rebellious and disobedient? Oh, yes. Both kinds of children surround us all the time. We adults, parents and others, can send a child down either of these two paths. Jesus tells us how in the lament that follows:

And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;  but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Jesus didn’t pose as His model just a “little boy”, but rather a “TRUSTING little boy”. Why do I say this? How do I know this? Because the text says Jesus “called a child to Himself and set him before them“. Let’s see… Jesus calls on a stranger boy in a crowd, as He talks Kingdom-of-God-stuff with His disciples… AND HE COMES!


Think that through a minute. So… imagine yer a kid in the street. Maybe you’re alone. Maybe you’re passing by with mom and dad. Maybe you’re standing there with them listening to this (now) notorious or famous Preacher-Guy everyone’s talking about… and He looks your way with a simple, “Please come here a moment…” What do YOU do?

Ever been called up onstage for a Magician… or a hypnotist? Ever been there when this happened to a friend? It’s SCARY! But this kid COMES!

Why? Because the kid trusts Him and obeys Him. OR… perhaps it’s more accurate to say… this kid obeys Him BECAUSE he has been taught to trust adults in the first place.

This boy obeys, yielding to Jesus’ invitation and will, TRUSTING that nothing bad will happen to Him because of that trust. Or, he may have trusted that his loved ones nearby would make sure nothing bad happened to him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gentle Reader, I believe we’ve lost that capacity. I think the disciples, like ‘most all adults, had lost that capacity. We have to weigh the alternatives, look at it from both sides, consider the pros and cons, and come to a reasoned decision about what to do.

Want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Want to attain greatness there?

Gotta find another way to live. Gotta rediscover “trust”. Gotta get “reborn”, and then “grow up all over again”, reestablishing the sort of trust for God that we once knew as little one’s with our loving parents. When we do, we discover that God will ALWAYS provide for us, ALWAYS keep us safe, and ALWAYS cling to us as the delight of His heart and apple of His eye.

When we honor that trust in one another, dealing uprightly, sacredly, honestly with one another… we fulfill the promise of His last words on this. Sometimes, our trust is abused and we are betrayed. Sometimes, even though we walk  in trust honoring Him, we will be hurt by others. It is not our role to protect from that, or avenge it. Our part is to forgive. But Jesus is unmistakably clear that when we honor our Kingdom citizenship, living in trust and transparency, the King Himself, Our Father, will deal with those who abuse our trust.

Jesus closes with His lament of such foolish people…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Good news? Bad news? Well, it is certainly unexpected news… do you aspire to greatness in the Kingdom? Then aspire to Trust and Reliance on the unknown will of God. Trust Him enough to obey. Treat others as equally sacred children. And as gradually our trust transforms us into yielding to Him (as we lose our self-protective fear), watch what happens!


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Because I say so…

244px-messier-42-10-12-2004-filtered-e1401834586474While working on some projects over the past few weeks, I was struck with an amazing realization…

Are you a parent? Were you a parent? Or… do you remember your own parents? Imagine, if you will…

  1. You tell your child to do something or other that they don’t particularly want to do.
  2. They (predictably) ask, in a whiny voice, “But… but… WHY?”
  3. And you say? (fill in the blank here) (Psst! Hint: Check the title of this post!)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Have you ever noticed how often God Almighty, when faced with parallel situations with His Old Testament children, identifies Himself thus…

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.”

Time and time again, He identifies Himself this way. And one day this realization just stopped me cold, as I thought… “Waitaminute! Why does God EXPLAIN Himself? Is He coddling His children? I mean, why doesn’t He say… ‘Because I am the Lord your God who could squish you like a bug?’ or “I am the Lord your God who created heaven, earth, and you?’ or even the tried-and-true…. “Because I say so!”?

It started me looking up one passage after another, and I saw this pattern repeated over and over. And this confused me. After all, if ANYONE has the right to pose an argument from authority without qualification, it must be Him, no? And yet, He doesn’t. In fact, He NEVER EVER does.

I was stunned.

We do it, we humans, all the time. Certainly with our children and subordinates. We claim our authority by position and rank, not by our actions and history. At least, not usually we don’t.

It all started me thinking… Why? Doubtless God is more emotionally secure than we are. We have greater need to massage our egos and pride, true enough. But still, does it make sense that we tend to point to ourselves when we assert authority, while God points to the children when He does?

So, I pondered, “Why?” Clearly, God gets it right more than I do. So, He has a method to why He asserts His authority in these terms rather than mine. As I pondered, I came to a conclusion.

I’d like to know what you think about what I thought… which was…

It seems that God defines “authority” in terms of His own commitment to the care and welfare of the other.

Perhaps that is a critical key. Perhaps “authority” only has true meaning in relationships of care, and it is directly related to the degree of commitment one has for the nurturance of the other. Like when God placed Adam into the garden to “protect and to serve” the plants, THUS exercising dominion. Is it possible that God always intended Adam’s “authority” and “dominion” to extend only to the limits of his caretaking?

Could God’s authority be infinite in that His caretaking is infinite? And the reverse? God’s caretaking is infinite in that His authority is infinite? Is the assertion and exercise of authority only godly and legitimate to the extent that we are committed to the well-being of the other? Is such assertion without commitment nothing more than the haughty posing of the self-righteous whitewashed tombs?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That’s where my ponders led me. What do you think?

Blessings and grace to thee, Gentle Reader! — The Little Monk


Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Gifts — Contagious

gift-boxesWhen they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them. It came about, when all who knew him previously saw that he prophesied now with the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”  [1 Samuel 10:10-11]

{Have a look at this chapter (1 Samuel 10), and see this story from verse 1 to verse 12.]

Don Merritt has just completed a terrific series of posts on “Spiritual Gifts”, and I recommend it to all of you Gentle Readers. [The series starts with the post of October 30, titled “Now What?“. Get the whole series in one bite by going to The Life Project and pulling the listing of keyword tag “spiritual gifts“. It is WELL worth the effort, trust me.].

I didn’t comment on his posts for a number of reasons, the foremost of which was that they were so well done there really wasn’t much I felt moved to add. His material was so comprehensive and well organized that I didn’t want to distract anyone (or him) by injecting my sort of “out of the box” commentary. But I did have a number of those thoughts go by, along with flashbacks of the ancient times when these emerged in my own walk.

Between that and some questions that have come up from time to time on the topics of Discernment and hearing the Holy Spirit, there are a few pebbles that I’ve wanted to toss into our pond of spiritual growth and exploration here as their own posts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The question is often asked… “How can I enhance my spiritual growth?”

The answer is often given… “Find and attend a church or place of worship that grows you, where the Holy Spirit seems to be present among the people.”

Such advice is often looked upon as being “marketing”, or “toeing the party line”. But it is far more than that. The other day, I mentioned that to “gather as church” is an effect, a fruit, of an intimate encounter with God… it is not generally a cause. “Piety”… a deep and sincere love for the Divine, on His own terms, not ours, can be nearly palpable, tangible, with certain places or people.

Have you ever walked into a church, or a chapel or old mission, or maybe a cloister… and just wanted to sit there and enjoy the experience? I don’t want to sound “flamingly mystical” or anything, but… I have become convinced over time that people of love, investing themselves into the Word(s) of God, with faith repetitively in a place… seem to leave a residue behind.

Which comes to my point… that “faith”, “love”, “encouragement”, and “giftedness”… all seem to have a major element of “contagion” to them. Investing time, care, focus and love into Truth of God seems to draw that truth forward into our immediate experience. More simply put, Love is a force that has real world effects when applied.

Back in the days when I was a young omniscient minister, I was part of a band of brethren that ministered according to our gifts in the community. I noticed at the time, the strange phenomenon that when I was “functioning in and with the group”, the strength of my gift was much greater, much more precise, much clearer, than when I was alone or working alone. Upon further reflection later in life, I realized that my own development of those gifts… even their emergence to identifiability… had occurred when I was both under the tutelage of a master spiritual director AND was comfortably nestled among a group of brethren determined to grow in our relationship with God, and serving the community.

When I did see this in my middle age, I was struck with that passage from 1 Samuel. I have observed this before, many times. When a collective of faithful (whether a church, a ministry, whatever) are determined, dedicated, and mutually accountable to grow in Christ… and when led by a teacher of wisdom and experience… then spiritual giftedness, grace, and growth of relationship with God… seem to “effervesce” or bubble up like popcorn bursting forth.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bottom Line: Grace, love, and emergence of spiritual gifts are “contagious”, and best nurtured in an environment that includes the energetic encouragement of fellow family members, with the guidance and care of an experienced master mentor.

What do ya’ll think? What have you seen, heard, experienced around any of this?
Grace to thee — The Little Monk


Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Falling into God

Having trouble viewing this message? Click here to view as a webpage.

To continue receiving messages from Richard Rohr and CAC, add and  to your address book or Safe Senders list.
You may opt out at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe link at the bottom of this message.

Reblogged from Fr. Richard Rohrer

Still Waters, Dock, and Lake (detail) by © Joelle Chase

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

The Second Half of Life

Falling into God

Friday, May 23, 2014

The second half of lifeis a certain kind of weight to carry because you now hold the pain of the larger world, but no other way of being makes sense or gives you the deep satisfaction your soul now demands and even enjoys. This new and deeper passion is what people mean when they say, “I must do this particular thing or my life will not make sense,” or, “It is no longer a choice.” Your life and your delivery system are now one, whereas before, your life and your occupation seemed like two different things.

Your concern is not so much to have what you love anymore, but to love what you have—right now. This is a monumental change from the first half of life, so much so that it is almost the litmus test of whether you are in the second half of life at all. Inner brightness, still holding life’s sadness and joy, is its own reward, its own satisfaction, and your best and truest gift to the world.

Such elders are the “grand” parents of the world. Children and other adults feel so safe and loved around them, and they themselves feel so needed and helpful to children, teens, and midlife adults. And they are! They are in their natural flow.

Strangely, all of life’s problems, dilemmas, and difficulties are now resolved not by negativity, attack, criticism, force, or logical resolution, but always by falling into a larger “brightness”—by falling into the good, the true, and the beautiful—by falling into God. All you have to do is meet one such shining person and you know that he or she is surely the goal of humanity and the delight of God.

Adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,
pp. 124-125

Gateway to Silence:
“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)


Tags: , ,

Journey – Settling In

Desert CaravanHere we find ourselves on this Journey to the Temple in Jerusalem. 39 more days we will travel together.

What your journey entails, Gentle Reader, is entirely between you and the Teacher.

I myself, have been trying to “listen” for what the Lord has in store in my own universe.

As best I’ve understood this trek, I am heading towards the Temple to give a gift… to offer “sacrifice”… as “gift”, not “payment”.

In the process of the journey, I discover that I have “overpacked”. (We’ve never done that before, have we?) Anyway, it seems that I have begun this journey carrying vastly more baggage than I “need”.

This trip is not meant to be “sad”, “burdensome”, “somber”, or “depressing” by any means. This should be, in fact, a time of rich fellowship and sharing with this company of travelers. We go to commemorate and celebrate “Life”! The Passover is celebration of Life, of Rescue, of both the power and determination of God to rescue His Own from bondage and abuse… and His resolve to do so by “any means necessary” AND avoid “friendly fire” in the process.

As to over packing, I will discover “excess baggage” along the way, and jettison that by the roadside. There are things in my packs, investments of heart as if treasure, that are meaningless. I will come to discover that, and cast them aside.

The first thing I’ve discovered on this journey is what “Gift” I shall offer. I know it’s at the bottom of one of these packs somewhere!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship [Romans 12:1]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There’s my gift and offering, Gentle Reader. This should be an interesting trip. For the moment, it seems, my gift is not yet ready to offer.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Culture Wars – Christus Victor

BlueRedPillOK, nothing like making the title of this post two “Hot Buttons” of religious/academic debate and dispute… right? Are you thinking you need to don “protective gear” for this one?

No, Gentle Reader. No such thing. We are not going to try to tiptoe through either minefield here today.

All I want to do here is bring up a little different perspective for looking at life as a Kingdom Dweller and Royal Child of God… (which you are), in light of the chaos that seems so often to surround us.

First, let’s go back a moment, to good old Sociology 101 and revisit what a “culture” is.

1 cul·ture

noun \ˈkəl-chər\
: the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time
: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.

: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

Thinking back to those boring social studies classes, “cultures are distinguished and generally defined in terms of their ‘norms’, ‘mores’, and ‘values’, both explicit and implicit.”  What does all this mean in everyday language? Our culture is our mutual expression of society and social (group) life, in a given time and place, among a given people.

That is, culture evolves and emerges from the way in which people live their everyday lives. It’s what so commonly called, “the way we do things around here.” When a newcomer (to town, to a school, to a company, or even a church) asks, “why do we do things THIS way?”, they are likely to hear the response, “because that’s how we ALWAYS do it.” This is an expression of culture. It should go without saying that this is a “symbiotic” relationship. That is, just as it is people who generate the patterns of culture, so too, culture helps form the patterns people’s interactions. Culture is the framework we erect around us, and people as a whole tend to operate within that framework.

Why so much emphasis and focus on this old, boring, freshman year “Humanities” course? Well, because somehow this has become a life-or-death cause célèbre among so many of my loving and beloved Christian brethren.

I have elements I would like to bring before you, then challenge you to take these to your own Prayer Garden, ponder your Rose and His petals, and then “whatever He tells you to do, do that.” K?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

19 The woman *said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” [John 4]

11 “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. 20 I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” [John 17]

29 His disciples *said, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. 30 Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” [John 16]

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” [1 John 5:1-5]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Granted, that’s a LOT of scripture, Gentle Reader. But be comforted, we are not going to analyze it. I have chronicled this to highlight a very specific element addressed both by Jesus and John.

  • What if, just as Jesus distinguished “different arenas” to the Woman at the Well for those who “worship here or there” (culture stuff) versus “those who worship God in spirit and truth” (REAL stuff)? What if Jesus was distinguishing “culture” (the stuff people do among themselves) as “OF the world”, from the spirit/truth reality of what Disciples are to do “IN the world”?
  • Please note the unequivocal statements of both Jesus and John, regarding the “outcome of conflict” between “social forms” and “spirit and truth”. That is: “Jesus HAS OVERCOME the world.” Period. Full Stop.

Well… well… then what does this MEAN? I mean, just look around! Clearly society and the world are in a mess! Clearly our culture is dissolute, driven by greed, fear, sensuality, violence, and anything BUT the “sacredness of others”!

I am not here today to “tell you” what all that means. I’m not really trying to “teach” here this day. But I just want to raise some questions in your mind, heart, and spirit to take to Him, to the Teacher, the Holy Spirit, and see if He has Rose petals for you, pearls of great price to place with your own Treasure in your heart.

What if…

  • What if “culture” were like a “stage setting”? A place, a context, in which we live out our lives and play our roles? That Shakespeare made a valuable observation saying, “All the world’s a stage…: [As You Like It, Act 2: Scene 7]?
  • What if, by the sovereignty and will of God, He could choose to place us, set us, into any “culture” of His choice, any time frame or era for us to be born in, among any people or nationality on Earth?
  • What if, when we enter into Him, into His Intimate and Immediate Presence, when He indwells us and we become One with and in Him and the Father… what if in that moment, He translates our dominion, making us no longer “OF the world”, but yet leaving us “IN the world”?
  • What if, neither Jesus nor John were lying, crazy, or “waxing poetic” with hyperbole, when they claimed that Jesus HAS OVERCOME the world? Simply, that “Jesus has won, and defeated the Enemy utterly”?
  • What if “my role”, “my script”, my “task in the Kingdom”, were to be salt and light, to love God with all I am and all I have, to love my neighbor as myself, and to carry Jesus within me (being a vessel for Him) into any and all spaces (dark or light) where broken children need to encounter Him?
  • What if that role never varied, no matter what “stage” I was set upon to perform, or what “props” surrounded me?

Do you see the questions in my mind?

What if, indeed, the Lord has “set us” into the stage and scene of His choice (in that He has all of time and space to choose from), and our “role” is always the same… to bring His Presence into our particular and specific “now”, whatever that happens to be?

What if He is the Grand Director and Producer? What if our job, as actor, is simply to perform? Where He has already fulfilled His own responsibilities to furnish and populate the stage?

What if I were an actor that reads a lot of different plays and I like some better than others, and then I’m hired to play a part in a particular production. When I get to my first performance, I “don’t like” my stage setting, so instead of playing my part, saying my lines, interacting with the other players… instead I start moving furniture around, removing and acquiring new props, and complaining about the stage set? Would I be doing what I was called to do?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I am constantly amazed at churchmen who decry our “culture”. The Early Church flourished as it did in a culture so horrible as nearly to defy imagining. Those were TERRIBLE TIMES. The Temple had their own police to collect their taxes. Slavery was not only tolerated as law of the land, but enforced by religious authority as well. Believers were arrested, beaten, imprisoned, tried, executed, and often tortured for the amusement of onlookers. Frankly, given a choice between being a Believer in 1st Century Rome or Jerusalem, and being a Believer in 21st Century Here… I’m grateful God placed me HERE. (Let’s not romanticize things, please.)

We are incredibly BLESSED to be here, now, if we choose to fulfill our roles. We have vastly more opportunity to do what the First Century Church did, holding all things in common, giving for the needs of others, feeding, clothing, visiting, praying, worshiping, sharing… you NAME it… and no one here will arrest or torture us for it (which is more than can be said of other parts of the world, even now).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So I ask…

IS there such a thing, as a MEANINGFUL “Culture War”? Or, are we looking at actors who have lost track of Reality… Who mistake “stage dressing” for the Reality into which Jesus has translated us? Should our task and focus be on changing the “set design”? Or on interacting with all the others on stage to communicate the Message with which we have been sent?

I ask, should ANY Christian, be FIGHTING a Culture War?

Hasn’t Jesus already WON that? Is Christ not the Victor?

Is our task rather, to rescue and heal the broken, battered, wounded, and orphaned CASUALTIES of such a war?

Are we, rather, just marching about the battlefield, killing off all the wounded?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The photo that opens this post is from the movie, The Matrix. It is the pivotal scene where Morpheus offers Neo a choice between taking the Blue Pill or the Red Pill. Take the Blue Pill, and stay in the illusion “OF the world” believing that the stage set is reality itself. Or, take the Red Pill and awaken forever, disconnected forevermore from the fantasy world of Matrix, and thus now able to enter into the Matrix at any point, to help bring freedom to others enslaved.. “IN the world”.

Mountain or Temple? Wrong question… a Matrix Question. Blue Pill.

Spirit and Truth? Right answer… Jesus Answer. Red Pill.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For a very long time, Gentle Reader, I have spent my life and career, like Morpheus, finding sleepers and offering them a choice between Blue Pill and Red Pill. For it is, indeed, a choice. To be so hypnotized, so distracted by the illusion, of the “stage set” that we invest our lives there, our hearts there, our treasure there, our personal sense of worth and identity, there. OR… in the alternative… we can “metanoia”… we can “beyond see”… see beyond the illusion and set dressing of this framework, this culture, this time and place, and find the God who seeks after US to worship Him in spirit and in truth… to invest ourselves THERE, in eternal life, as Jesus has brought it to us.

So there ya go, Gentle Reader. Up to you… *offers you a silver pillbox with two compartments. One is filled with red gel capsules, the other with blue.* Now, do what you will. Take a Blue, if that is more comfortable. In that you are here at all, you probably took a Red long ago. But now you have your very own supply. Feel free to join me in my quest… to find those who know… absolutely KNOW… there’s something MORE than the stage props. But who haven’t quite totally awakened, to get unhooked from the illusion of the Matrix yet.

Let us together carry on with Jesus’ commission and great joyful task… that we Set the Captives Free! Which pill have you chosen?

Grace to thee — Gentle Reader — The Little Monk


Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ultimate Mirroring

Ethiopian Mother and Child, © Niall Crotty, used with permission

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

The True Self

Ultimate Mirroring

Friday, February 21, 2014

What’s happening in prayer is that you’re presenting yourself for the ultimate gaze, the ultimate mirroring, the gaze of God. Little by little you become more naked before that perfectly accepting gaze. It’s like lovemaking. You slowly disrobe and become mirrored perfectly in the gaze of God. You gradually allow yourself to be seen, to be known in every nook and cranny; nothing hidden, nothing denied, nothing disguised. And the wonderful thing is, after a while you feel so safe and you know you don’t have to pretend anymore. You recognize your need for mercy, your own utter inadequacy and littleness, that the best things you’ve ever done have been done for mixed and false motives. And the worst things you have ever done were done because you were unconscious.

“Someone is giving their self to me! Someone is sustaining me,” you feel like shouting. Now this experience of being sustained, being given to without any just cause, knowing you didn’t earn it, causes the whole worthiness game to break apart. The True Self experiences reality as radical grace. Who is worthy? No one is worthy. The True Self knows this and lives quietly, calmly and contentedly inside of its radical unworthiness. You can do this because you ironically know that you are totally worthy; but it has nothing to do with you! Your worthiness is entirely given to you (Ephesians 1:3-4). All true holiness is a reflected glory.

Julian of Norwich and Thomas Merton both say that what is happening in prayer is that you are allowing God to recognize God’s self in you and that’s what God always loves and cannot not love. That is God’s new and everlasting covenant with humanity (Jeremiah 31:31f, 33:19-20), promised by the prophets and ritualized in the Eucharist. The human problem is solved from the beginning, and at its core.

Adapted from True Self/False Self (CD), disc 2

Gateway to Silence:
Becoming who I am


Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,

Love is Who You Are

Ethiopian Mother and Child, © Niall Crotty, used with permission

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

The True Self

Love Is Who You Are

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thomas Merton stated that the True Self should not be thought of as anything different than life itself—not just one’s little life, but also the Big Life. I’m not going to call the True Self life, nor being, because the deepest nature of this life and this being is love. Love is what you were made for, and love is who you are. When you live outside of love, you do not live within your true being. You do not live your true life, and you do not live with any high degree of consciousness. The Song of Songs states that love is stronger than death. “The flash of love is a flash of fire/A flame of Yahweh himself” (8:6). It’s a little experience of the one Big Flame, and we’re just a little tiny spark of this universal reality that is life itself, consciousness itself, being itself, love itself, God itself.

Let me define this one love as best I can.Love is known when we recognize our self in the other. We are then no longer other, and that’s the ecstasy of love. Then we’re all in this thing called life together. We have to start with little others—our partner, friend, lover, child, parent, dog or cat—to be ready for the great leap into the Great Other. This is a whole mirroring process, and God does it best of all by mirroring us perfectly and with total acceptance. In fact, that is what God alone can do.

Paul says it so well: “I shall know even as I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). In other words, you need to let yourself be known nakedly by God, no pretense, no dressing up. You are who you are who you are! No trying to make yourself something other than who you really are. All God can love is who you really are, because that’s the only you that really exists. All the rest is just in your head.


Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Love, Life, and Light – John’s Letters

Spine of a BibleThe letters of John, these incredible little documents, drafted towards the end of the First Century, as one who is probably the Last Living Disciple (in this body) nears the end of his life… as a very old man now, this Pastor of Pastors writes “love letters” to “his dear children”.

From what we consider to be the youngest of the Disciples walking with Jesus, the one most beloved of Him, to the eldest Disciple walking among us…

These letters have held a precious place in my heart all my life.

Don Merritt is currently going through reflections on 1 John right now in Life Reference, and I applaud that, I endorse that, I recommend you go be a part of that! I have preached and taught from these texts. And it’s all DIFFERENT! Gloriously DIFFERENT! We all, as God-led teachers, see a number of the same “landmarks”, a number of the same “highlights” and “critical pieces”. But at the very SAME TIME… we perceive those landmarks from our own locations, our own footings, our own “scenic overlooks”… so we see them, we flavor them, we color them DIFFERENTLY.

To many people “comparison shop” in the Kingdom of God. They “shop” churches. They “shop” religions. They “shop” preachers and teachers. They “weigh, measure, and find wanting” between one or another. In short… they JUDGE! And Jesus was very clear that this is out of order. Recently I have come to realize just how deep in my own nature is this “judging sin”… that the sin is not only in the “manner of measurement” that we use, but (like Sermon on the Mount) the sin starts long before that, in the “reaching out to place a specimen on the scale” in the first place. The sin is not so much in “how we answer the question of how to judge another”… as much as it is in “believing we have the right even to ask the question.” It is NOT a matter of “criteria”… the sin is in the act, the attitude, itself.

So I want to be very clear here. I am posting a “different take” on the Letters of John here, by a different preacher entirely. But I am NOT posting this, that you or anyone else, “compare and contrast” this teaching with anyone else’s. That would be VERY out of order for me. I am posting these only to “enrich” your experience of this magnificent text… to add another palette of color to the beauty of this masterpiece… and expand the spaces of your heart to admit even greater light, life, and love.

Please take your time and savor, rather than otherwise. I pray these bless you and yours as much as they have me and mine. Grace to thee — The Little Monk.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Faith Foundations – Jesus is God

Posted in Uncategorized on Jan 5th, 2012 Comments

One of the first great doctrinal understandings of the Christian church is the idea of a Trinitarian God. Minister of Music Greg Whaley begins the series of Faith Foundations by looking at 1 John 1:1-3 in the context of four Greek words: logos, zoe, phaneroo, and koinonia. The message reminds us that Jesus is God and any doctrinal attempt to separate the Trinity ends in a wrong understanding of the nature of God.  Our Trinitarian God is One, seeking us out in love and doing what only He can to save us.  Greg Whaley preached this message on Sunday morning, January 1, 2011 at First Baptist Church of Bogalusa, LA. This podcast is a ministry of First Baptist Church. Thank you for listening.

Listen Now

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What is the message that a fallen world needs to hear from Christ’s church?  Though we may tempted to preach from the context of our culture, the apostle John preaches from the message he has received from Jesus.  Pastor Adams takes us to the Epistle of 1 John and explores this message of the ancient apostle – “God is Light and in Him there is no darkness at all.”  Pastor Adams preached this message on Sunday morning, January 8, 2012 at First Baptist Church of Bogalusa, LA. This podcast is a ministry of First Baptist Church. Thank you for listening.

How can we, who are sinners, have any connection with this God who is Light and Life?  In this sermon from the Faith Foundations Series, Pastor Bob helps us to see how very far even the best of us are from God.  But far more than just getting us to feel bad about ourselves, the message of I John 1:8-10 exhorts us to confess our sins because Jesus is faithful and righteous to forgive us.  We are all sinners with a Savior!  This message was preached on Sunday morning, January 15, 2012 by Pastor Bob Adams.  This podcast is a ministry of First Baptist Church of Bogalusa, Louisiana.  Thank you for listening.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Faith Foundations – He Himself

Posted in Uncategorized on Jan 31st, 2012 Comments

Pastor Bob continues in the series of Faith Foundations with this sermon from I John 2:2.  Last week’s message dealt with Jesus as advocate with the Father.  Today, we look at Christ’s role as the propitiation for our sins.  Pastor Bob traces the true understanding of propitiation all the way back to the Old Testament and the Ark of the Covenant.  In this sermon, we learn that Christ, Himself is the covering for all of our sins, and not just ours, but that of the whole world.  This sermon was given by Pastor Bob Adams on Sunday, January 29.  This podcast is a ministry of First Baptist Church of Bogalusa, LA.  Thank you for listening.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Faith Foundations – Called to Love

Posted in Uncategorized on Feb 23rd, 2012 Comments

Pastor Bob teaches from I John 2:3-6 about what it means to know Jesus and to walk in His way.  Love is not something that we make ourselves to do.  Love is something we are called to live through the indwelling Presence of Christ Himself.  This sermon was given by Pastor Bob Adams on Sunday, February 5.  This podcast is a ministry of First Baptist Church of Bogalusa, LA.  Thank you for listening.

Listen Now

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Faith Foundations – Love is Light

Posted in Uncategorized on Feb 23rd, 2012 Comments

In the last of the series, “Faith Foundations,” Pastor Bob returns to I John to show us light and love exist in perfect harmony.   Drawing on four truths from the Scriptures, we learn that to have love is to have Light.   This sermon was given by Pastor Bob Adams on Sunday, February 12.  This podcast is a ministry of First Baptist Church of Bogalusa, LA.  Thank you for listening.


Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mobius Conversation: Increase Our Faith

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.

“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and [i]afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” [Luke 17]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Remember a “Mobius Strip” when you were a kid? Take a narrow strip of paper, take sticky tape and fasten it into a ring, make a bracelet out of it… or… take a pencil and make a line all the way around the OUTSIDE of the ring. The pencil line touches its beginning… there’s a line OUTSIDE, no line INSIDE, all is well. Now, start again… take a narrow strip of paper, twist it just ONCE putting a single twist in it, take sticky tape and fasten it into a ring, making a “twisty bracelet” out of it… or… take a pencil and do just what you did for the first bracelet. BUT this time it’s different. Again, your pencil will meet up with its starting point, but this time, the line will be BOTH INSIDE and OUTSIDE the bracelet! Ooooooo…. *insert awestruck sound of wonder here*. (Hey now! I was, and still am, easily amused. And I found this pretty cool! How could “inside” become “outside”, and vice versa? Huh? Huh?)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Anyway, it seems like Jesus sometimes engages in what I call “Mobius Conversations”. They start out simply enough. He’s telling a story or making an illustration, and you think you know where He’s headed, and you follow along just fine, step for step. But then you reach the end… and somehow you aren’t at all where you thought you’d wind up. He’s brought you somewhere quite different, sometimes to an uncomfortable place.

I think the most “classic example” of Jesus’ Mobius is the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-36). A lawyer, hoist on his own petard trying to get Jesus to blaspheme or commit heresy, finds himself (uncomfortably for him) in “one accord” with Jesus, and looking a bit the fool. So “seeking to justify himself”, he tries to trip Jesus up in a legal loophole of theological niceties and definitions! “Who is my neighbor?” (Lol, we never see anyone doing THAT these days, do we?) Anyway, Jesus starts His story off with everyone pointing their gaze and fingers at this unconscious guy in the road… (all’s well so far)… but then, at the end, it turns out that the critical question… who is the “neighbor”… has nothing to DO with the beat-up guy, but everything to do with how people TREATED him. BAM! (to borrow from Paulfg here a moment)... KAPOW! How did this happen? Lawyer loses again! And he doesn’t even see where the “twist” happened… it was all going so well! (Almost makes you feel sorry for theologians, doesn’t it?)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So what’s the deal with the Luke passage cited in the start of this? The disciples ask a straight up question… or, rather, they actually make a demand of Jesus. OK, correction… I was fooled by the exclamation point. *sigh* Again, like in the Lord’s Prayer with all those apparent “demands, or petitions”, this word “increase” here… “Increase our faith”… is in that same Greek form that covers so many things. So, it is both affirmation and prayer at the same time. It’s been happening, is happening, and will happen… they’re just expressing the desire, the thought, to Jesus.

Also, the word chosen is itself interesting. It’s not just “increase”, in the sense of “please add more beans to my jar”, or “fill this cup more full”. It’s the word “prosthetai” (no big Greek lesson here, promise)… but like our word “prosthetic” for artificial limbs… it carries a flavor more of “promote”, “reinforce”, “amplify”, “move forward”. It sort of savors of “direction” forward and progress, not simply “quantitative gain”. (OK, thus endeth the Greek stuff for today).

Now, look over the Luke 17 passage a moment, and notice that my Bible, probably like yours, separates verse 6 from verse 7 as different paragraphs. Jesus didn’t do this, nor did the Biblical writers. That’s “post-production editing”. But I’ve always READ this teaching with that “space” in it. And today, tonight, thanks to Paulfg and his work on “Angels seem to join in. Wow!”, I have seen this passage in an entirely new way, WITHOUT the skipped line.

Right up until the last verse of this passage, the whole story makes perfect sense as if Jesus speaks of mountains and sycamores as mere “servants”. It’s like He’s addressing the amazement of the crowds at all the “signs and wonders”, telling the Disciples, “When I do these things, I simply exercise My authority over them. Faith, for you, is the exercise of your authority in Me. You don’t ‘thank’ those who follow their orders, that is simply what they do.” And this “construction” of the passage seems to hold up perfectly well, right until we get to “and you, when you do all you are commanded…” Then suddenly that whole interpretation goes out of our heads, and we’re left with the “Whiner’s Warning”, of my youth. That this “slavery” relationship is the one we hold towards Christ, and we should never expect His thanks simply for being disciples.

That last verse seems to put the “Mobius Twist” in this passage, and it has thrown me for years! And I was wrong!

O my… so many mistakes of mine all in one place. Tonight, it seems like they all sorted themselves out. First of all, when as a child (physical or spiritual) I whined to the Lord about being “underappreciated”, He would bring me to this passage with a rather curt, “Get over it!” If you have experienced something like that… fine. This passage, once pondered, did INDEED help me “get over it”, and as I embraced my role as “doulos”, “servant”, “bond-slave”, I did indeed stop feeling bad and resentful when people treated me with less “respect” than I felt I deserved. (It takes very little effort for the Enemy to prick my pride, and send me spinning off into an ego-driven pity party. The Lord is more than welcome to “pop this bubble of foolishness” in whatever way He chooses, and sometimes that is quite direct.)

But tonight, I remembered that Scripture is made up of beautiful perfect gems, and read in more than one direction. The fact that we, as disciples, may not need “thanks”, doesn’t invalidate the rest of the passage regarding mountains and sycamores. It brought to mind another passage…

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.”But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 11 I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment. [Matthew 8]

And somehow, suddenly, it all fell into place for me. I can’t really explain it well… (I think my brain’s “explain muscles” must be sprained or something), but I totally GET IT! And I thank Paulfg for this…

It’s just ALL ONE THING!

Sycamores, mountains, us, disciples, the Centurion’s troops, the master’s servant… ALL ONE THING! Even Jesus HIMSELF! (cf. Philippians 2), Jesus who “humbled Himself becoming a servant”, who “became obedient even to the point of death, death on a cross.” ALL ONE THING!

Love, life, alive-ness, trust, faith, authority, power, miracle, obedience, humility, servanthood… ALL ONE THING!

Grace to thee!


Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: