Wednesday, December 4, 2013

No Want

Christmas time always had a different feel from the rest of the year growing up – we definitely did more together as a family, there were longer conversations, my dad worked a bit less and my two older brothers and my younger sister and I spent hours playing hockey in the basement or 2 on 2 football in the back yard. Cares that quietly burdened my heart through the year were pushed into the corners during those times.

I was 16, both brothers were away at college and had some other plans that were going to limit their time at home during Christmas, the house felt too quiet and the cares and pains felt heavier. It seemed nothing was happening in preparation for Christmas so I told my mom I was going to take care of everything. I purchased a tree, put it up with its decorations, hung fresh wreaths inside and outside and covered our many pine trees along the driveway with lights and strings of popcorn and cranberries. I was desperate to make a time of "feeling good" happen – to meet my needs and what I thought my family needed. But – as we all know – those moments pass and we are left once again to face our days.

The song we sang in church the other day by Audrey Assad really took hold of me…

From the love of my own comforts
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me, O God

Every statement rang true for me - as they always have. I can work so very hard to meet or resolve those things in my own way and through my own striving but the fears and needs remain and holding them is unsatisfying and crippling.

And I shall not want, no I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want!

The chorus isn’t something “to do” but rather a declaration of what is true. As a child of God, as one who can say that Jesus is Immanuel – God is with me - it is a chorus to sing over and over and over – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want! Though the struggles or pain or temptations or fears may often still whisper to me, there is peace and rest with the One who always cares for my soul.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


It seems that no two days are alike lately - each day seems to be a cafeteria of unrelated happenings served up in one big pile on my plate.... doesn't sound too appetizing. Even with a few desserts mixed in it still feels like days without purpose.  Of course there is work each day at the church, yet often "interrupted" by things that can seem to drain more life than give it, I have been sick on and off for the last two weeks, lost my voice, sleep eludes me, the starter on my Jeep keeps playing games with me, too much driving, I had to cancel the church BBQ for tomorrow because of rain - in Tucson??? The one delight was having the Cats upset Oregon today!! Are days filled with the miscellaneous what this life is about? Where are the great things?!

As I reflect on this - in between sneezing and blowing my nose - I realize that Jesus' days were not much different. Pressed in by people, no time to eat, trouble all around, complaints and demands, dusty roads, meals at odd times - days filled with the demanding and mundane..... Yet - Jesus embraces each one as a gift, each moment as it is - filled with the works of God - yes, He had some momentous moments but a lot of the miscellaneous as well.

So on this day Lord - give me eyes to see Your presence in every normal and even frustrating moment and give me a heart that is filled with gratitude that I walk through each of these with You!

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I am in my 3rd full day of my annual hermitage in the Sonoran Desert. Woke up just before the sun came up highlighting the beautiful hills. Had a small cup of coffee as I sang a hymn, read the Gospel of Mark and then enjoyed a chapter of a compelling book by N.T. Wright. What a great way to start ... apart from the world, alive to Christ with my mind on Him. I decided to take a short walk in the cool of the morning  and then - unknowingly - started humming a song ... I suddenly stopped and realized what I was humming. It was the theme song from Laverne & Shirley!!

Where did that come from and to have it intrude upon this place! Then, as it so often happens, I tried to get it out of my mind and it just kept coming back. Yes - we are new creatures in Christ but our minds have a ways to go to being fully transformed.

Last year when I was here in the desert the Lord asked me "what do you want me to do for you?" Down at the deepest level I wanted to know His presence. This week He has been asking me "What do you want Me to do IN you?" Two answers have been settling on me. 1) To bring upon me a regular, ongoing poverty of spirit. I can't produce this and so I look to Him to do it. 2) The other answer has been for Him to produce in me the "mind of Christ." To be able to see the world as He does, to see Him as He really is, to see myself as He sees me... It will take His transformation to accomplish this especially seeing that on such a perfect morning my mind goes to Laverne & Shirley.

Of course there are things I do that can hinder that renewal of mind and there are things we can do to encourage it and open the door to the Holy Spirit's renewing work. "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee." Is. 26:13 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind...." Ultimately- as I look to Him - it is the work of the Holy Spirit to create and produce the "mind of Christ."

I Cor. 2 is an encouragement. Who can understand or know the mind of God? It is the Holy Spirit, and because He dwells in me I too can have the mind of Christ. "but we have the mind of Christ."
I Cor. 2:16 There it is, by virtue of the indwelling Holy Spirit the mind of Christ is in me!

So Lord, let Your thoughts and heart and words explode forth in my mind that it may be filled with You today.

May the mind of Christ me Savior
Live in me from day to day
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say

"And let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus ...." Phil. 2:5

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I have had the chance to spend some time with family in Michigan this week and we spent a good part of our time gathered on the shores of Lake Michigan. My niece has a 1 year old little girl named Harper who loves being at the beach but has no love for sand. She is happy on the towel or sitting on the paddleboard but refuses to put her hands or feet in the sand. At one point she was sitting on the paddleboard but slipped backwards till she was sitting on the dreaded sand. Her feet were still up on the board and she had her hands up as high as she could and had a horror stricken look on her face. She kept trying to get up on the board but there was no way without putting either her hands or feet into the sand. She was going to have to go somewhere she desperately wanted to avoid - the sand - in order to get somewhere she desperately wanted to be - back on the board. She wouldn't do it and her cries eventually convinced mom to rescue her from her plight.

I thought of the disciple Peter as he was on the beach with Jesus after the resurrection.(John 21) He was struggling with the future, his failures, his own shame and in that difficult place Jesus kept trying to call him into a more difficult place - a place of confession and dependence and service and the unknown- he didn't want to go there! Jesus kept calling and in the end we see Peter following Jesus.

Peter on the beach, little Harper in the sand - it is picture of me. My own shortcomings, habits, patterns, failures - or just life - lands me in a hard place- a place I don't want to be and the Spirit comes along and says that the way out is down further into difficulty - the step to freedom first requires going to a more difficult spot - and I don't want to do that! Then - sometimes because of trust and sometimes because I have no choice - I go there - fearful - and my hands and feet get "covered in sand" and I look and find Jesus there - waiting, ready to heal, ready to restore, full of life - completely present in that place I did not want to go. Like Peter on the beach - a breakfast and a Savior is waiting with love and life!

I have found that in times of trouble God sometimes just picks me up and rescues me from it all - much like Harper's mom did - but sometimes the rescue is a step further - as Cameron's song - "a step into fear" ... but Jesus always meets us there and that place actually becomes a place of peace.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


 Father's Day is coming soon and I have been wanting to write something particularly about the importance of teaching and modeling the primacy of "being" prior to "doing" as I am often prone to pushing for right behavior over and above identity in Christ. To that end I am directing you to a really good blog post that I read this morning; it is by Kevin East. His blog is called "Following to Lead" You can read his latest post at:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I don't actually get down on my knees to pray very often. I remember as a kid kneeling by my bed - the last thing I would do before resting in the Lord. It was a good habit - long abandoned. I recall at a service one summer at Maranatha Bible Conference, the teacher had everyone kneel ... there were old wooden benches and bark for the flooring - I spent most of the prayer moments trying to rearrange the bark.

Getting on my knees means I really need help - John 15:5 says "apart from me you can do nothing."
I am always in desperate need of help yet I will usually only get to my knees when all else fails or when our worship leader instructs us to get on our knees as Cameron did this past weekend! The song we sang by Seryn goes like this...

On my knees, I can see, where my heart needs to be
When this life, gets to me, I'll be found, on my knees

Truth is, when life gets to me I first ignore it, pretend all is well. When that fails to sustain I then jump in on my own and try to wrestle it into submission - I usually get beat up in the process. Eventually I begin to wilt and then - ever so slowly - start dropping to my knees - one at a time of course - there in that moment I do begin to see my heart and where it needs to be - it is desperate, hurting, needy - it is also held, embraced, loved by the Father and made alive in Christ. In those good moments that I come to so haltingly - I don't necessarily see how to manage life - but I do see a great God, a companion, a healer - and on my knees I do find rest.

For a great reflection on our kneeling experience this past weekend I would recommend Kirsten Phillips blog and her post "undignified" - see it here:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Last week we finished our look at John the baptist and glossed over the statement in Luke 7:24 ff...
"Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John:"What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?"

The implied answer was of course - No! The one who came in the spirit and power of Elijah seemed to be anything but a reed shaken by the wind. Even in his times of questions and doubts, Jesus commended him for his steadfastness of work and mission. John had a confidence and conviction about who he was, who Jesus was and clarity about his own calling and mission. This gave him a foundation that enabled him to move through his day and step aside when it was time.

I am not like that! On the outside I can appear confident and focused and at ease with all that comes along... but inside I am often uncertain, confused and way too often just responding to the needs and demands of any given moment. Jesus never seemed pressed by the moment, he was not ruled by the urgent or distracted away from His primary callings. When I am tossed and shaken like a reed, my days become unsatisfying and I trade the Lord's call and work for something else altogether.

So - what is the solution - I am not altogether sure but i seem to always be taken back to the need for regular Sabbath days and moments - stopping when all is pushing and then yielding. Everything in me screams not to do that but when I do - the screaming quiets down, the striving ends, and the way gets clear again.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


This past weekend we continued our journey meeting people along the path with Jesus from the book of Luke. Our last individual was Pilate and we paid attention to him as a man that was trying to keep control, attempting to manage his own life, a man desperately trying to make life work. In truth he was a man out of control and his life was racing ahead with out steering and without brakes -the crash at the end was inevitable. His life ended in obscurity and apparent suicide.

As we always do in our teaching, we then turned the mirror on ourselves - I am much like Pilate, trying to manage, control and make life work in my own strength and on my own terms - a life heading for a crash .... and then there is Jesus - at peace, calling me to let it go into His hands and to relinquish control to Him alone. In that letting go of my grip and placing it in His hands -Life is found.

As I have continued to contemplate the message, the question comes: "how can I recognize when I am not leaving it with Him?"  In truth, I can be thoroughly convinced that the way I am moving through my day is correct and necessary - I, more often than not, don't even notice the problem and the degree to which I am managing on my own and gripping onto control. So... what can we do in order to gain better insight?

1) Friendship. Having at least one really good friend, someone who can see your life objectively and who can gracefully yet directly speak into it. Men, in particular, suffer a great lack of friendships and thus miss out on a God designed means of input and shaping in their lives. For a good blog on this issue go to:

2) Worship. Genuine personal and corporate worship is nearly impossible when I am hanging onto my life too tightly. Worship reorients us correctly to God, so I have found it difficult but fruitful to pause after times of worship and consider whether I was really worshiping or just mouthing the words. If I really enter worship - I will see the disorder in my life and find the Lord ready to reshape my days.

3) Sabbath. Sabbath patterns are designed by God to remind us of our need - to remind us of the fact that life doesn't work unless the Lord is in control. Stopping, yielding, resting, celebrating - these are gifts that shape us and bring life into life.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


So it snowed today in Tucson. The Accenture Golf Match was postponed. Facebook lit up with pictures of every one's backyard. families were sledding down the hills at Lakeside Park by my house. My Jeep - open because it was 74 degrees the day before and also because - well this is S. Arizona - is now full of snow. My kids went down to the park and built a snowman. I remember making snowmen in Chicago and they would still be standing tall 2 months later. I expect the little snowman in our park has a very short life - perhaps a couple hours before Tucson returns to its usual warm and sunny self and our snowman is only a memory.

How quickly our routines and lives are shaken up a bit (the snow surprise was fun) and how quickly - like snow in Tucson - it will all be forgotten.

I have been thinking about contentment. I can be so deeply discontent and anxious - thoughts of the Lord are driven to the periphery of my mind and heart... then He steps in - as He always does - and accomplishes something wondrous and affirming and needful in my life - I shout out His praise, I give thanks - I "feel" content again .... then a week later or perhaps just a day - my memories of His provision and love and surprise - melt away and my discontent returns. Psalm 62:1 says "My soul waits in silence for God only..." God only ... that is enough! I can do without provision but I can't do without Him - and He is enough. Thomas Watson said, "It is not trouble that troubles, but discontent. It is not the water outside the ship, but the water which gets within the leak which drowns it. It is not outward affliction that can make the life of a Christian sad; a contented mind would sail above these waters."  Contentment lies in Christ alone and He is always there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

love speaks

We have been considering in our service the great wonder of what Tozer calls "God's speaking voice." Through general and special revelation our Creator is always speaking - sometimes shouting, often whispering, but always speaking. His revelation is an overflow from His heart for us. 

The past few days I have been freshly aware that His choice to speak to me - to reveal Himself - is an act of love. Even when I am closed, distant, shielding and inattentive, he speaks words of spirit and life - and it just keeps coming. I need to be filled with that kind of love - closing off to others and God, keeping apart ... at a "safe" distance ... in doing so I fail to enjoy fully the love of God and others and I fail to give the love of God. May the cry of our heart be to be filled with that kind of love so that that as He speaks and reveals and demonstrates His unwavering love - we might do the same.

Here are two hymns that have really spoken to me...

O love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
may richer, fuller be.  (G. Mattheson)

I love Thee so I know not how
My transports to control;
Thy love is like a burning fire
Within my very soul

Burn, burn, O love, within my heart,
Burn fiercely night and day,
Till all the dross of earthly loves
I burned, and burned away. (F. Faber)