“What misses the heart falls under the feet”*

reflection-embracing moments of personal reflection

It’s amazing what taking time to relax can do. Today was my day off, time to just relax with nothing pressing to do save to make a couple of Indian curry dishes for dinner, which wasn’t a difficulty at all, in fact, I enjoyed doing it. The rest of the day I just involved myself with minimal activities.

What such a day does is that it refreshes me; it renews my channels of inspiration. I begin to feel and imagine myself as if I were a tide channel that while it has long since rushed up onto the land at some point and has been making feverish headway and forging a path,  it now ebbs back out to join the vastness of the ocean body and so finds replenishing.

I can get so used to just being constantly busy that while I don’t notice it at as it’s happening, pretty soon I get so keyed up and on edge, so to speak, that I don’t realize that I’ve become strained and that my channels of inspiration that sustain me have stopped flowing, instead I’m running on adrenalin and necessity. Indeed, to stop and actually do nothing seems so out of the norm, so out of character, that I feel as if I’m committing a sin to simply stop, relax, enjoy, and do nothing. No wonder the Lord commanded the seventh day of rest. We all need it and shouldn’t feel bad about taking it. In fact, we should feel something missing when we don’t take our rest times.


As I was praying this morning I began thinking along the lines of the following: It’s a conundrum really. I’ve never thought of it in these terms before, and that is that the average man wishes to be and pride’s himself in being a ‘whole’ man, meaning self-sufficient in all things. In fact, he views a man surrendered to God as being weak, only ‘half’ a man. But in reality, the one without God is the one who is only half a man and only becomes the whole complete man or person God intended for him to be when he is united to his Maker in whom we ‘live and move and have our being.’


A morning prayer: I pray for your empowerment today on all I need to do, say, and think.


I keep coming back to this oft realization that there is nothing great about myself; any greatness in me is of and only the Lord. I don’t say this in a self-condemning way as if the thought would consume me but realizing that without the Lord, my nature is pretty horrible.

I see others, who although I would not consider them to be great individuals, nevertheless seem to possess a sort of basic agreeable nature and I marvel. Not so with me. Without the Lord, I am and would be impossible and even with him, I’m often impossible both to myself and others. But at least the realization keeps me from ever getting a big head—I hope!


It’s so easy to approach the day, to approach life itself, with the mindset of, ‘there’s always so much to do”. Such thinking tends to overwhelm itself. Perhaps it would serve us better if we were to turn that around and exclaim, “There is always such much to be”. This second attitude sets us free to embrace what is before us and to aspire to what we are truly becoming and what is best in life, rather than being overwhelmed by it.

*George Macdonald, What’s Mine’s Mine

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The reality of unreality

Fancies of the heart become our castles in the airreality

 People’s lives take on many forms, depending on what a person has either embraced or been born into. Hence you find people with relatively contented, comfortable lives on one end of the spectrum and those who struggle, are discontented, or live in want on the other, and all the variants in between.

Every one of us experiences and lives a certain reality, and if you extrapolate this on a world level, there are all kinds of coexistent realities. Some have an assumed reality, some have a pretended reality, some have a subjective reality; many simply deny reality for an accepted substitute that looks like the real thing; few, relatively speaking, experience what they would consider genuine life-giving reality. The question we need to ask ourselves is ‘Is ours reality or only our version of reality?” for the two are not necessarily synonymous.

But I’m not so much talking about the physical aspects of our lives; meaning the quantity (wealth, education, social status, etc) but more the spiritual aspects, the quality; our state of heart, mind, spirit and being. For we must remember that our circumstance are not our life; our life is what we do in, with, and of those circumstances.

With most people there is a certain amount of, if not a predominance of, unreality to their lives that is in fact usurping all hope and chance of accepting what actually is. There is this reality of unreality that exists but it need not. It is a state that we choose to accept most often because we are confused or mistaken in some manner.

The Bible simply declares the totality of reality; what was, what is, and what is to come. And we find through its message that reality is in fact a living Being, God the Creator, who has called all into existence. And not only that but He has revealed how to choose reality, the life He has both created and given

Most people are familiar with the beginning of reality as God describes it:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

But very early on in that story we find a crisis of reality occurs that distorts life as God originally intended from that point on. This is revealed in the following passage;

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth… God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:1,5)

Now, imagination by definition is the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses. God simply says it is a part of His divine nature that He has imparted to us to help us picture and perceive both His unseen Being as well as the unseen aspects of His creation. And it is precisely in the imagination that this crisis of reality originally occurred and continues to occur to the present day.

Imagination, as a gift, was never intended as a means to distort, pervert, deny, or usurp reality. And, yet, we very often fancy* things in heart and mind which we then proceed  to erect what amount to castles-in-the-air based on those fancies and then wonder why there’s no substance, no abiding reality to our lives. We are caught up in the reality of our own unreality, this great usurper from which we need deliverance.

*Fancy when used as an intransitive verb suggests an imagining often unrestrained by reality but spurred more by desires.

 “Imagination is a poor root, but a worthy blossom, and in a [gentle, compassionate] nature its flowers cannot fail to be lovely. For no outcome of a man’s nature is so like himself as his imaginations, except it be his fancies, indeed. Perhaps his imaginations show what he is meant to be, his fancies what he is making of himself.”—George MacDonald; Sir Gibbie


Spiritual growth: the conundrum

I actually wrote the following earlier in the year but felt with the actual release of my book,  The Wayfaring Stranger-A Layman’s Journeys in Spiritual Growth, that this would be a good time to publish this.


selfI’ve just finished submitting my manuscript for The Wayfaring Stranger to Xulon Publishing. The book is subtitled, ‘A Layman’s Journeys in Spiritual Growth’.  I feel compelled to share the following, lest any should get the wrong impression, because, you see, the thing about spiritual growth is that it’s a really quite a conundrum. And even when you’ve sorted it out intellectually, being able to actually wrap your head around the concept, there remains the even more challenging task of coming to terms with the spiritual implications.

Spiritual growth is by no means a process that boosts your ego or gives you a big head; in fact, just the opposite is true. To grow spiritually, you have to die to self. You have to die to grow. Bury yourself in Christ.

In this sense, there’s nothing really glorious about it, meaning that it’s not a matter of self progression or self worthiness, or self aggrandizement in any way, shape or form. It is a matter of Christ’s life taking root and growing within.

The best description I’ve found to illustrate this growth is a two-line stanza poem the Lord gave me concerning it:

Wow, wow wow!
Ow, ow, ow!

The first line describes the wonder enjoyed, the second line describes the dying suffered.

Nature itself is replete with many examples of such ‘dying’. Jesus gave a prime one when he taught:

“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abides alone, but if it dies it brings forth much fruit.”

Or, as PT Forsythe so wisely noted:

“What we have to realize is a spiritual world not simply in man but in which man is, a world that has to temper him and master him, that has to prevent him from taking his needs, passions and energies for charter or standard, a world that has to stand over him, test him, sift him, lift him, and end by setting him on a totally different base from the egotism in which he began… It does not simply envelop us, it acts on us, and we react on it; and in that reaction we find ourselves, and we grow into spiritual persons with which we never set out. It does not swathe us and erase us, it besets us, it applies itself to us. It does not simply stand at the door, or pass and suck us into its wake; it knocks, enters, finds, and saves us — all in the way of creating our moral personality and giving us to ourselves by rescuing us from ourselves. It is an active not a static world. It moves, it works, it creates.”


The Book–was I reading too much into this situation? –I certainly came away with something to think about

I saw this book lying in a box amongst other disheveled boxes of books, themselves lying on the entrance sidewalk at a church rummage sale near home. I remember that it had this deep emerald green dust-cover with only the title written across its front: Isaiah 35 Explained .

It was a hardcover book, quite thick, with age-colored pages and so of a former generation or two. I noticed it as I quickly walked through the sale area. The venue itself was sadly rather dumpy and unattractive, as though those hosting it were either in too much of a hurry to arrange things nicely, didn’t care all that much how things looked, or perhaps lacked the personnel to properly conduct the event, and I found nothing at all that I would even remotely interested me, and so I passed in and out rather quickly. But I did, oddly notice this one book as if it spoke to me; as when in reading something jumps off the page at you and strikes you in a certain manner. That’s how it happened with this book.

The more I think of it the book seemed such a relic from time past: In its day perhaps a cutting-edge volume but in the present moment and setting it seemed to almost betray itself.  I winced as I read the title as it signified an approach to the Bible, which, while it was undoubtedly not the author’s intention, today represents such an uninspiring approach to scripture, as though truth is something historically explained, cataloged, archived, gotten to the end, by simply finding the proper explanation.

The book sat there in a sort of silent beckoning as if to say ‘just read me and you too can catalog things, come to the end of the meaning, and add it to your historical collection of truths known and understood; conquered even.’ Come, absorb my dead letter (rather than living spirit). I wondered how the author had fared with this sort of approach. Maybe in past times it may have been effective; I don’t know, but certainly not in the present.

Let me just say that there is no authentic, classical, accepted way to understand scripture, as though truth were some kind of closed system that can be gotten to the end of in some authoritative manner. Instead, we each have to let scripture speak to us in the present, in the here and now; to let it be a living entity. That’s the only way we can really understand and benefit from scripture.

We don’t need to even have a deep understanding of scripture to begin to benefit from it. In fact, we will never sound its depth because it’s unending and unfathomable. But we can let it impart understanding of ourselves and our world and those around us. We can grow in its knowledge and wisdom even and benefit from its enlightening but we can never know all of it that there is to know as if it was some kind of finality. It’s just not that kind of book. It beckons more as being only the opening chapters of an unending story, worlds without end; inviting and answering, rather than answered and finished.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that life and scripture are both so wondrous and mysterious that I  want what I consider to be true, what I believe, to be something I continually experience and grow in, not something that is explained away to me.

‘PS: In all fairness to the book mentioned in this article, this is not a critique of it or it’s contents in any way. For all I know, it may be a wonderful volume in its time. In this instance I’m writing of, it more became the focal point, the catalyst for an argument or viewpoint other than itself.

Life’s true heroes–Are you a winner or a loser?

heroes-5I see as life’s heroes; and how many multitudes of unseen there must be, those who quietly endure through life, ‘bearing all things’ without a lot of squeak and squawk, making  of ruckus, or drawing attention to themselves. I don’t mean to endure in a stoic sense or manner, as stoicism is really a carnal, natural response to difficulty, however refined in nature and elevated in spirit it may seem. A lot of people go through life with their ‘head bloody, but unbowed’. I don’t mean that kind of approach. But by ‘endure’ I mean to imply the most positive connotations of the word: those who last, bear, tolerate, suffer; those who do so without bitterness, resentfulness, seething anger, or in self-pitying woundedness.

It really is our lot in life as humans to at least suffer somewhat at some time or other; that’s just how it works. But how you bear it, in what spirit, attitude of heart, and frame of mind, makes all the difference in the world, and in my opinion constitutes the difference between a winner and a loser. Jesus Himself said, “he that endures to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 10:22

I must confess that this verse has largely been a bit of a puzzle to me; I don’t purport to ever understand it in its entirety, but it does point to endurance as being a vital component in our spiritual makeup, which obviously also has some sort of blessing attached to its presence. If anything, it means to me that just the fact that we are willing to endure something and see it out until the end, results in our deliverance, our salvation, so to speak, out of or through or because of that situation. In enduring, we haven’t lost that vital part of ourselves that endures, that makes us who we are, and in that sense we are saved.

God seems to have set some things up so that whether you consider yourself a believer or not, if you follow his general guidelines and spiritual laws on some point, they hold true for all. If you fulfill one of His spiritual laws, you are automatically commended for it, period. Just like a certain amount of suffering is inevitable due to the nature of life, fixed commendations are attached to being in sync with his spiritual laws.

Again, I’m not trying to push a doctrine here by any means, if anything I’m seeking to understand the subject a little more clearly. But have you ever considered that the right attitudes you put forth, that you offer up or back in life, constitute a form of prayer, just as much and as certainly as any words or formal prayer you might utter? And, I think they are just as pleasing, maybe even more so. If we’re to ‘go into our closet and pray in secret’ and are told that God ‘sees in secret’, don’t you think He can just as easily behold, see, commend, and hold dear our unspoken hearts and attitudes and they may be just as precious to Him? I believe it’s so. What I know of God’s nature tells me it’s so. How about you? Are you winning or losing?

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Spiritual relationship–why should it seem so incredible?

relationshipI’ve been thinking lately, of just how does one go about communicating to a largely disbelieving and skeptical world one’s relationship with Christ, which, as Christians, is our utmost way of knowledge; that is–our personal relationship with him. And I think I have a little insight into doing just that. I think I would ask any questioner when seeking to understand the reality of Christian experience, to think about their own experiences of personal friendship, on all of what passes as or in friendship, all that is felt and experienced, which by nature are real, tangible, and yet mostly indefinable things.

You can communicate the reality and nature of your friendship to someone else, describe it even, explain aspects of it, but in the end, because it’s a metaphysical* experience between two persons, that person being told of the relationship has to experience a similar relationship for his or her self, and even then it will be a unique experience between that person and the one newly known to him or her. He or she may relate to your communicating of your particular friendship by using his or her own experiences as a gauge, but until he or she actually takes the step of making contact, of developing a relationship, of making friendship, he or she will never actually know.

It’s really the same with knowing Christ. And so when thought of in this way, it isn’t all that strange, or it shouldn’t be all that strange that this same dynamic plays out or exists on a spiritual level when dealing with relationship between a human being and God.

In such a relationship, there is the reality once again of  metaphysical experience and union, with all the inherent wonders, intricacies and intimacy involved, just as occurs between two humans. Now, others may or may not be aware of such relationship, nevertheless, even if they don’t, it doesn’t take away from or negate it.

I stop and challenge you right now as reader, before continuing with this article, to think about just one of your closest friendships or perhaps, love affairs. Think for a bit of the various qualities that make it a friendship or love affair? What are the things that pass between you as friends/lovers that you both value and cherish and that in turn continues to enliven and perpetuate that relationship? Are they things mostly known by others or rather just between the two of you?  And if others do or do not know, understand or approve of the realities, the intimacies, the benefits of that friendship, does it really alter, affect or detract from the quality, depth and reality of that relationship? I think you will readily see that it does not. And so why should it not be so with spiritual relationship between a human being and God?

I think by attempting this little exercise it may help you to realize the possibility and reality of experience that may lay outside what can be tangibly or intellectually grasped. And, again, this buttresses with what is known of Christ; that He is a person, a personality and as such we can relate to him. As believers, we do not relate to a theory, precept or concept of God. That is impossible. We may hold such things, but we do not hold relationship with them.

As has been succinctly said: ‘Christianity isn’t’ knowing ‘about’ God, it’s knowing God’.’ And we can do so in a rather down-to-earth, easily-relatable manner, just as we would carry on any other relationship, only this one puts us in relationship with what is and who is divine. Indeed, if scripture is about anything, it is about relationship, relationship with others AND God.

* of or relating to things that are thought to exist but that cannot be seen.


Mother’s Day, love’s pleasing & true riches

mothers day 3Making sure to have a Mother’s Day card with enclosed gift coupon waiting on the kitchen table as my dear wife started her day; our small gathering of loved ones sharing a special Thai lunch together; spending time with a dear elderly convalescing neighbor who has no immediate family and reading my stories to her upon request; taking my pent-up standard poodle for her customary, much anticipated afternoon walk so that she could expend some of that energy; a telephone call to my mom 1500 mile away: These seemed to be enough, those things that met the day’s needs.

This was a day I’d describe as my simply seeking in love, to meet the needs of those around me rather than trying to please myself, and in helping to meet those needs, finding wholeness and a pleasing fullness to my day. I’m learning that one’s day doesn’t have to consist of big, important events and accomplishments to be pleasing to God or worthy of our esteem, in fact, just the opposite may be true.

In fact, while I was walking my poodle and listening simultaneously to the Audible of Pilgrim’s Progress, at one point in the dialogue the scripture is shared:

That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate— 1 Timothy 6:18

reset buttonThe phrase in that scripture ‘rich in good works’ resonated with me and I mused upon it as I walked. How true, I thought. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mindset, worry-set, of measuring one’s worth in life; which is established one day at a time, by the magnitude of both accomplishment and prosperity. But this simple phrase amounted to, if you will, a little reset-of-thought-button that refocused my attention on that which is of true value. We are to be ‘rich in good works’. How wealthy are we? Well, I guess, as wealthy as we really wish to be.