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Monday, October 1st, 2012

This is the last post in this location. As if there is anyone left around to read it since this blog has been inactive for a long time.

The reason? 

The reboot that I mentioned a while ago is going to launch soon.

Beginning November 1, 2012, will be operational. It will be focused on how we can live more fully the life that God gives us. I’m getting excited as I prepare new content and take the best of this site and make it better.

So if you are reading this, head on over. If you go before November 1, you will see a construction page, but come back. I hope it will help you live the beyond 3 dimensional life that is ours.

Remember the location is


The Temptation of Whatever it Takes: Part 2

Monday, September 6th, 2010

In a previous post (quite a while ago, I’m sorry to say) I began reflecting on the three temptations of Christ as recorded in Matthew 4. I see the core issue we face is the temptation to do Whatever it Takes to bring us what we feel is missing in our lives. I also see the three temptations connecting with the three main energy centers of both the Enneagram and the writings of Thomas Keating.

I started with the hunger of Christ and the temptation to turn stones into bread as our fear of survival leading us to use whatever it takes to ensure our safety and security.

What about the next temptation?

Temptation 2: Caught by Angels

The scene is the top of the top of the Temple. The center of the life of the people, a place always occupied with people looking to affirm and celebrate the work of God. “Jump,” the Tempter says, “won’t those guardian angels prove your value to God by saving you before you hit the ground?”

In this case, the temptation is to do whatever it takes to receive the attention and esteem of others.

One of my oldest fears is the fear of being ignored or forgotten. I can’t even begin to count how many nightmares and small anxiety attacks involve this fear of being lost and passed by. Even though I am introverted by nature, I willingly step right into the middle of a crowd to demand attention, to preach, or at least to tell a bad joke, just so people will know I’m there. And the more I feel ignored, the sillier my actions become. Just ask my family.

“Look at me.”

From watching what is going on in society, I don’t think I am any different from pretty much everyone around me. We have this basic need for attention and affection; to know that people like us. It also goes deeper than that, if I am seen then I am real in some way and I am important somehow.

This importance we want to extend into the future also as a way to affirm our existence. Think of all the monuments created and monuments destroyed as various attempts to ensure that our names and memories continue to point to our existence, or to erase the future/present from our enemies.

“Look at me, I exist, I’m here.”

On the Enneagram, the Heart Center focuses on being seen as a success, as valued for the things we accomplish. The 3 Enneatype seeks success at any price, the 2 Enneatype is willing to give themselves away to be seen as loving and worthy of receiving love, and the 4 Enneatype demonstrates to the world how creative and wonderful they are. Keating talks about our basic need for affection and esteem.

We live in a society today that is very much prone to this temptation. We are in awe of the spectacular, with “reality” television and the growing sources of 24 hour news feeds (television and internet). And that doesn’t count how easy it is to set up a blog somewhere and write something expecting people to read it (and how we track our hits and our twitter followers and our Facebook friends almost religiously). Do I have status? Is it up (Alright!) or down (Woe is me!)? Do people know who I am? Do people talk about me? Our adulation of celebrities doesn’t even hide as we have so many different kinds of Idols in our world. And it doesn’t even matter how you get your 15 minutes of fame, the only bad press nowadays is no press.

“Look at me. Notice me. Know my name.”

That is the invitation of the Tempter to Jesus. Here is the place where any kind of miraculous stunt would be assured to be on everyone’s lips within days if not hours. And there would be no question about how spectacular this event would be. Jesus could just coast through the rest of his life and have all the adulation and esteem he would ever want. And his enemies would not be able to question the sign, it was in their own front yard.

Jesus’ response? “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matthew 4:7) Remember the basic fear behind this temptation? That one would be forgotten and in being forgotten be seen as not existing or not being valued. To me the response of Jesus is a challenge to the idea that we need to prove our worth. In our society we feel we have to do Whatever it Takes to prove ourselves worhty of attention and affirmation because of what we do and how spectacularly or perfectly we do it. If someone doesn’t see our caring or giving it doesn’t matter. We have to always be testing others to remember that we are real.

“We are created in and by love.”

In the Enneagram, the core of the Heart Center is the invitation to Hope. I see that hope being based on the grace of God already valuing us and continuing to create us in God’s Image. The image of God we are granted include the ability to be creators ourselves, with creativity and great compassion. The pathway away from the temptation is to accept with assurance that God, the Creator and Maker of all things embraces us in this wondrous way. We not only have a future, but we have a present. And that is one of the givens of Grace. No demonstration by God or ourselves can prove this promise. We return to faith. We are invited to trust in the unseen but very real hope we have in the living presence of God. That presence is the true source of the need to exist and be valued.

If only Rebooting was easy

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

One of those nice things about electronic tools is that they can be rebooted. having troubles with your smart phone? Pull the battery and let it reset and reboot itself. Getting stuck with Windows? (or even Linux) Reboot.Clear out the cache, start with new readings of the program instructions or the data.

Nine times out of Ten that gets your electronics back on track.

Too bad we can’t do that with life.

I know, there are people who try to write and encourage people to just restart their own inner programming to fix their own emotional and spiritual problems. I’ve read the articles, I looked at the books. I’ve even tried some of the ideas.

It isn’t really that easy.

Sure, I can reboot how I handle (mishandle) the tasks in my life and it works for a couple days maybe. Sure I can try the latest new idea and a new sense of freshness comes for a few days. I can have some mountain top experience that might lift my spirits for a couple weeks.

But I just need a new “fix” sooner or later. The deeper change doesn’t cover things up and each “fix” has less of an impact on my life. Really.

For the last few months I’ve been in really need of that magic fix. The depression has been especially deep. The sense of burnout has been deeper and more profound. The procrastination has been more debilitating than I ever remember. And none of the “fixes” have worked.

A couple months ago, someone came into my office holding some sizeable chunks of concrete. The steps leading into the church were falling apart. Our trustees started looking and talking about the issue. They explored all kinds of ways to patch what had broken and to put down some nice carpet to make it usable for a while.

But every scenario led them to know that in 2-3 years they would be doing it all over again and more of it.

So they decided to tear the steps out and put in something entirely new. Sure it was a major inconvenience and mess for a while. And there are still a couple things left to finish the project. Some people haven’t been too happy with both what they did and the cost of it. But they believed they did what needed to be done the long term.

I’m afraid that is what God is doing with me. Illusions stripped away and old dreams torn down. I have felt more lost in life than I ever have been. Yet, I am believing that this is what needs to be done.

I want to know what all this means in life and ministry and future and even writing (they are all valued pieces), but that knowledge is not coming. So I have to trust the deeper reboot in my life. A clearing the cache of what I thought my life would be and seeing how God starts it all back up again.

Instead of seconds, this looks like months.


So this is what blogging is

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

A Strange Dream

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

A short night last night … up late prepping for a funeral … up early to be ready for same.

I don’t often remember my dreams, but this one must have flashed across my dream screen just before my alarm went off.

I had just finished doing something at the church (that even is pre-dream-memory) and was leaving to head home when an older woman in the church stopped me outside the door.

In front of us was on old blue enamel electric stove. I knew it was old, but it looked in fairly good shape. As we stood there and looked at it, she asked me if I thought I could fix it. “Could you renew this old stove?”

I didn’t even think twice about it, and answered, “If we have the parts, no problem.” Then we walked away.

That’s it. That is the snippet I remember, and my instinct tells me it is significant. My reflection leads me to consider why I see myself to be here in this place in this time … to plug in the parts that will renew the congregation so it will can again be a church that “cooks” with the presence of God.

I am reaching the end of my first 15 months here … not even halfway through my first 1000 days, but I find myself going deeper and deeper into a journey of faith and spirituality and inviting the congregation to come along for the adventure God has for us. One thing that has been amazing and wonderful is how many people seem to be hungering for that journey. Older members and younger families are searching and asking questions and wondering themselves what God wants them to be doing with faith and life.

My Spiritual Direction training is definitely helpful in providing a groundwork for what I preach and teach. My lengthy foray into the Enneagram lately has also incredibly deepened and broadened my ministry far beyond my expectations.

So I do see myself here to help the process of renewal and there are many who are showing their readiness. I hope I also keep in perspective that I don’t create the renewal … God is the source … my part is to help find the places to plug in the gifts of renewal that God supplies. It is exciting to have even that part to play.

Sorry to be quiet

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Sorry, I’ve been so quiet lately. A few things have contributed to that:

  • On Epiphany, I was walking along a road in a local State Park to take some nice photos and almost missed the edge (or is it almost hit the road). Anyway, part of my foot was on the road and part was hovering an inch and half over air. Gravity and the air won. I twisted my ankle and ended up breaking it (a couple chips broke off the outside of my left ankle). That has slowed me down a bit physically and emotionally.
  • Related to that, I bought a new digital camera with Christmas money and have been exploring it’s use (you can follow the Flickr widget to the left to see what I’ve been doing with it) and that has taken some blog time.
  • The winter freeze blahs.
  • A major wrestling match with my Enneagram type. Now, that might not sound like much, but emotional resistance is emotional resistance, and I am resisting the type that my Spiritual Director thinks I am (and he is schooled in the Enneagram typology). My head agrees with him, but I don’t like it. (For those of you who know and care, I thought I was a 9 (Peacemaker) but the new direction is toward an 8 (The Challenger/Protector).
  • Nothing has captured my attention to write about. I think that is related to the blahs and the emotional resistance. I am hoping to be unblocked soon and am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. I know I have some things I want to write about (I just don’t know what they are at the moment).