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Book of the Month: Schola Caritatis: Learning the Rhythms of God's Amazing Love

  Starting a new feature for the next several months called Book of the Month.  I will present one of my books and tell you a little of the ...

Thursday, August 30, 2012


It seems like God is really good at uncovering things, in fact scripture tells us that nothing in all creation is hidden from His sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13).  The problem is that sometimes I have a hard time seeing the things that God sees in me.  I guess I've covered them over or buried them deep.  Or I am just too busy or preoccupied to pay attention.  Or possibly too scared.  Whatever the case, sometimes I don't realize that I've got stuff that needs to come out into the open.  Not His open mind you, but my open.  It's just like when God asks Adam and Eve, "Where are you?"  It wasn't for God's sake that He asked the question, it was obviously for Adam and Eve's sake.  They needed to know where they were, what had just occurred, and what the ramifications of that were, so God asks them a question...for their sakes, not His own.  And when He asks moments later, "What is this you have done?" He knows full well the answer to that incredibly sad question.  It was the woman and the man that needed to realize fully what had just happened; an awful realization that they would continue to make every minute of every day for the rest of their lives.
     I don't know about you, but God has a habit of asking me those questions as well.  As a matter of fact, just this morning, as I read the verses above from Hebrews 4, he did it once again.  This time the question was, "What is going on within you these days that needs to be uncovered or laid bare?"  At first I was unaware of anything that I could quickly put my finger on, but then as I sat with Him in silence I began to get a sense of one of the many things he might have been talking about.  It is as if the time and space and silence, and particularly the Spirit, began to help make me aware of things I had not noticed while skimming along the surface of life...or of Hebrews 4.  Suddenly we left the surface and dove deep into the dark depths of my heart and soul.  Or the dark depths of my heart and soul began to bubble to the surface, I'm not really sure which.  All I do know is that I began to see.  Stuff began to be uncovered, laid bare.  Stuff like deep insecurity, and fear, and longing.  Stuff that has an enormous affect on the way I live my life and the way I relate to those in my world, whether I notice it, or admit it, or not. 
     So there you have it.  And to be quite honest, I'm not 100% sure where to go with it from here, but I am sure that having it uncovered and laid bare is a significant part of the process of allowing God to take it and transform it.  I think I had hoped that the older I got the less stuff I would have to uncover, process, and deal with, but I haven't found that to be the case at all.  It just seems that the older I get, the more subtle the stuff is, and the harder it is to see and identify, but there still seems to be plenty of it.  And I guess the thing I'm most grateful for in the process is that God continues to show it to me.  He shows it to me because He cares.  He, more than anyone, wants so much more for me than I even want for myself.  He won't allow me to settle for less than the life and the transformation He has always dreamt of for me.  Thanks be to God!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


     In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another:

                         “Holy, holy , holy is the Lord Almighty;
                          the whole earth is full of his glory.”

     At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
      Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.
      Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?
     And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:1-8)

I saw the Lord.  What an incredible statement!  Doesn't it make something deep within you want to ask, "How?"  I mean, were you praying?  Or was it in a dream?  Were you somehow mysteriously lifted up into the heavenly realms?  Or were you just sitting in the temple minding your own business?  Were you looking for Him, waiting and hoping and longing for His appearing?  Or did it take you completely by surprise?  Were your eyes closed or open?  I mean, did you see Him with your physical eyes, or with the eyes of your heart?  Whatever the case, there was definitely no mistaking that it was Him.  There was none of that "Do you think that might have been God that I just saw...or heard?"  The way He revealed himself removed all doubt.  Don't we all long for that.  Don't we all long for God to come to us that way, to appear, to show up in our life, our world.  To show up in such a way that forms and shapes every second of every minute of the rest of our lives?
     The seraphs see Him too and call out to one another those extraordinary words: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth (not merely the temple) is full of His glory.  The very sound of their voices made the doorposts and threshold shake, and fill the temple with smoke.  If their voices are that powerful...what about His?
     And Isaiah's response is priceless.  Woe to me! I am ruined!  The sight of such holiness and such glory completely overwhelmed him.  He wasn't even worthy to utter the words the angels had just spoken of the Almighty.  For I am a man of unclean lips, and live among a people of unclean lips, and my very eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty. Once I laid eyes of You, once You revealed yourself to me, once You pulled back the curtain just enough to allow me to get even the smallest glimpse of You, it was simply too much for me.  I am undone!  I will never be the same.  
     But the story doesn't stop there...it just keeps getting better.  For one of the seraphs flies from the altar of sacrifice with a live coal and touches it to those unclean lips.  And the guilt is taken away, the sin is atoned for.  The Hebrew word for atone means to cover.  Guilt and sin has been covered, and Isaiah is completely cleansed, pure, white as snow.
     And then, after this incredible act of love and forgiveness and restoration...then, and only then, does God ask that wonderful question: "Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?"  To which the heart that has just been seized by the power of His great affection quickly and readily responds..."Here am I. Send me!"
     Maybe the pattern that is on display here is for me as well.  Maybe the seeing of God is where it all begins.  The seeing of His glory, the seeing of His holiness.  The seeing of my own woeful condition before Him.  The seeing that lets me recognize my own desperate need, as well as His exceedingly extravagant love.  The seeing that both captures my heart and completely transforms my life, in a way that makes me want to be the first one to raise my hand when the question comes, "Whom shall I send?" 
     Send me, O Lord, because O do I have a story to tell!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

risen wounds

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.  Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:19-22) 

With their doors locked
in fear,
Jesus comes. 
He enters into
their chaos and insecurity, 
and stands among them. 
He offers His peace,
then shows them His wounds. 
Wounds that only days ago
had been a means of death,
but now risen,
have become a source of life. 
And as they look
upon the risen wounds,
they are filled with joy. 
The joy of His presence
among them once again. 
The joy of the risen-ness
of His hands and side. 
The joy of the possiblitiy
that their wounds might someday
too be risen.
The hope of wholeness. 
The hope that real healing
is possible in Him. 
After all,
why on earth
would the Risen Savior
still bear His wounds,
unless it was meant to tell us something
of His power and His care,
of the mysterious possiblity
that He might transform our wounds
into sources of life for others.
And so He sends them out,
on the winds of His breath,
with a mission
to do the same;
to offer their wounds,
now risen,
as a source of life
and healing
and hope
to all in their path.   

Saturday, August 11, 2012

the theme continues

the theme continues...God does some of His very best work when we come to the end of ourselves.

You've been let down, it's true
Your pain is so easy to see
You're hunted by your history
and it feels like you've got no escape

Your life left you high and dry
You used to be sure of yourself
But then your whole world went to hell
and tomorrow looks just like today

So, you lie on your bed, you wont let the morning come in
And you hide in your room, feeding that fear and its killing you
don't you know that its killing me too,
cause your heart break is breaking you

I miss the life in your eyes
the home that I found in your arms
and now you don't know who you are
but I wont give up on you, no

You lie on your bed, you wont let the morning come in
And you hide in your room, feeding that fear and its killing you
don't you know that its killing me too,
cause your heart break is breaking you

and you lost your fire
and your flame's gone out
and your down on your knees
cause your life is not what you thought it would be

lift up your head
help is on the way
and it wont pass you by
you just gotta reach out your hand
lift up your eyes
love is on the way
and it wont pass you by
you just gotta reach out your hand

go on and lift up your head
because love is on its way
and it wont pass you by
you've just gotta reach out your hand

Saturday, August 4, 2012

unknowing (reprise)

I now realize, God, how much You have given me.  So much that was beautiful and so much that was hard to bear.  Yet whenever I showed myself ready to bear it, the hard was directly transformed into the beautiful.  And the beautiful was sometimes much harder to bear, so overpowering did it seem.  To think that one small human heart can experience so much, oh God, so much suffering and so much love, I am so grateful to You, God for having chosen my heart, in these times, to experience all the things it has experienced. (An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum)

In life one cannot awaken often enough the sense of a beginning within oneself.  There is so little external change needed for that since we actually transform the world from within our hearts.  If the heart longs for nothing but to be new and unlimited, the world is instantly the same as on the day of its creation and infinite. (The Poet's Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke)

How are we to avoid losing heart when we find ourselves facing "the hard" in our lives?  Hillesum and Rilke echo Jesus in their distinctive ways in calling us to awaken a sense of a new beginning within ourselves, to improvise a new way not defined by the limitations of our affliction.  "Love is a direction and not a state of being."
     We find our way through the crevasse of affliction, when we do, by opening ourselves to what we do not yet know.  On this way, we discover our capacity to begin anew, to be born afresh, to "make a beginning within ourselves" when facing "the hard" in our lives.  To go forward in this way amid the afflictions we face invites us, with Jesus, to imagine a new birth, to sense a new beginning, to improvise a new path--one as free as the wind from certainties and expectations.  As a way of love this calls us to a direction of the heart and not a destination, one which opens us to "a dazzling and dynamic alternative with which to start afresh" in our lives.  To live in this direction welcomes us in the way and the truth and the life of improvisation, an incarnating of love that calls us to live more fully into the present moment--come what may.  And, when we have lost our path in the wilderness, this is itself the way home. (from Love is a Direction by Mark S. Burrows and John H. Olson, Jr. in Weavings, Volume XXVII, Number 4, p. 14, 16-17)

As God so often does with me, once again He has shown himself as One who speaks in themes.  I read this article this morning and it fit right in with the many people, ways and places God has been speaking into my life lately, so I thought I would share.  I only get one periodical on a regular basis, which has been the case for many years.  And this one regular piece I get is Weavings .  It consistently provides my soul with fresh breath and life.  Maybe it will yous too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I was having lunch with a good friend the other day when he made a comment that struck a chord deep within me.  The gist of the comment involved a growing realization that in the past several months he had become more and more fragile within and had grown less and less sure of himself.  And as I heard him share this, a deep yes came up from the core of my being.  A yes that said, "Me too.  I know that place well."  A yes that recognized the beauty and the vulnerability of it.  A yes that recognized the possibility and fertility of it.  And a yes that recognized that while most of us would perceive such a place as a bad thing, it, in fact, is very, very good--maybe one of the best things as far as the life of God's Spirit within us is concerned.  Because this uncertainty and frailty and vulnerability creates some of the best possible soil for God to do his work.  It seems that the most transforming seasons of our lives occur in the times of most significant upheaval, struggle, brokenness and pain.  It is almost as if during these seasons something is opened up within us that was closed before.  We were far too sure of ourselves, and in order to create fruitful space to live and to grow, that surety had to be put to death.  Somehow our misguided sense of adequacy and certainty and confidence had to be destroyed in order to rip apart the old images, the false narratives, we once lived by in order to create space for God to come in and provide new (true) ones.  All too often we use what we think we know as a defense.  A defense from not knowing, which actually keeps us from really knowing (in the Genesis 4:1 Adam knew Eve sense)...the truth...which sets us free (John 8:31-32).  What we think we know can actually be an obstacle, because it can keep us from real knowing.  So in many ways, this sense of inadequacy, or uncertainty, or instability, or fragility is a gift because it opens up a place deep within us for God to enter in...and dwell.  And that opening up, and entering in, and dwelling (intimate knowing) is ultimately what we (and God) most deeply long for.

So step on in, O my soul, to the soil of uncertainty, because it is the most fertile soil for the work of God's Spirit that there is.