The Purpose of this Blog

purpose of this blog

123rf.com

Years ago I made a decision about my purpose on earth, and that has become the purpose of this blog. It is to guide and inspire those who willingly come seeking guidance from me, based on my life, experiences, and best understanding of both God and my fellow human beings. I don’t always live faithfully by that, but it’s my goal.

On this blog, I share my experiences and my worldview, mostly on topics involving personal growth (including both spirituality and psychology) developed from what I think is a quite special gift I have. That is the ability to remain open to ideas even when they bother me, and being genuinely willing to change my mind about something I deeply believe if the evidence is there. These qualities are rare, and are largely what create my unique platform, perspective, and voice.

This openness (which I have intentionally cultivated over many years) has allowed me to explore many things most people are too afraid to explore, and ask questions most people fear asking. This has helped to create in me, I am often told by others, a certain wisdom.

Continue Reading »

Four ways we miss love

do not miss - ways we miss love

image courtesy of 123rf.com

 

On February 10 I posted about how some people were not comfortable with how I speak of God, because my language isn’t traditional enough and doesn’t reflect enough orthodoxy. This morning I received a beautiful, if short-lived apology from one of those to whom I had been referring in that post. Only it went on. And on. It became at first philosophical, and then a bit forceful, and finally culminated in the following:

Actually you’re in the perfect place to think about such things Most of us are distracted much of the time from anything that Truly matters…Yes you are in the struggle of your life we all are in the midst of a great struggle.… You’re missing the purpose of your own. I recognize that you are probably dismissing me and any concern Or insight or truth I think I may have. You’re always online and Commenting and you are not able to do that much right now so I thought maybe you would be up for it Being a pastor and all I will promptly Remove you from my list of friends since There seems to be no point and I don’t want to be tempted to comment anymore in response to your postings.

This was promptly followed by:

101 other things I could do today and would like to do..just felt led by the holy spirit to take that time this morning. I can’t explain it…i’m not nutty..how about considering providential love!

I wanted to publish this to try to unpack all the things I am asked to accept here, and how it illustrates a vision of Christian spirituality that, though it purports to be loving, is in fact dramatically missing that most important ingredient.

Continue Reading »

Why are you on this planet?

pen, pocketwatch, mission statement

What is the purpose of your life?

Can you state clearly and concisely what your life is all about? I wrote my first life mission statement about twelve years ago, but significantly revised it today.

 

MY LIFE MISSION

  • The purpose of my life is to love my family, friends, students, clients, parishioners, and readers, by educating, inspiring, and guiding them.
  • The primary roles of my life are husband/father, leader, teacher, counselor, and writer.
  • My life’s objective is to invest in others so that they soar higher than they otherwise could. I will devote myself to building strong individuals, strong marriages, strong churches, and strong leaders.
  • My four joys are quietness, coffee, music, and books. I will continually seek these out for renewal and rest.
  • I will value myself, prioritizing my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health first, so that I have something to give others.
  • I will be known as a person who grants grace to all and leaves the life of every person I meet better than when I found it. I will be a servant to all. This is how people will see God in my life.
  • My legacy will be integrity, wisdom, gentleness, faithfulness, and love.

What would you say is the mission of your life? Have you written a life mission statement and if not, could you find something like this helpful? Why or why not?

Children

It is said that to have a child is to have your heart walking around outside your body. Think of that imagery.  So dangerous, so fragile.  Our physical heart is behind a rib CAGE for a reason — it is precious.  But we can’t keep our children in cages. All we can do is hope we have gotten them healthy enough to make it out there.

I think my hearts are growing up healthy.  They brought home fantastic report cards and gave me the best Father’s Day I’ve ever had this week.  They each bought (or made) me a card and then wrote down what it means to them to have me as their dad.  I thank God for them and am so proud of them.  Oftentimes when I tell them, “I love you,” they respond, “Love you more.”  Yeah, right…  One day they’ll have kids of their own and they’ll understand.

But let’s not rush things.  The sweetness is now, when they get up in the morning and their hair is a mess and their cheeks are so flushed, and when I hug them they are still warm from their blankets.  They’re always beautiful, but I often think that no matter how long they stand in front of the mirror, they can’t improve on how beautiful they already are when they first wake up.  I have always known that is one of the things I will miss most when they are gone.  Right behind that is how I will miss the smell of my bathroom after three girls have used it to get ready for school — makeup and perfume and girl soap and lavender shaving cream and lotion and warm curling irons.  It serves every day as a reminder of how much they have brought into my life — their sweetness, and joy, and enthusiasm.

And the lessons they teach!  When my oldest, Brittany — now 17 — was very small, I was leaving for my annual one-week getaway with a friend of mine.  Brittany pleaded with me, “Daddy, why do you have to go?”  I said, “Daddy doesn’t want to leave you, but going away on this trip every year helps me come back and be a better daddy.”  Her reply almost did me in.

“I’ll help you be a better daddy.”

I comprehended the deeper and unintended meaning immediately.  “You certainly will, sweetheart,” I said, as I hugged her and headed out the door, squeezing away tears.  She and her sisters have been teaching me to be a better daddy for 17 years now.

It is said that to have a child is to have your heart walking around outside your body.  I have three hearts outside my body.  My hearts are at band camp today.  They are a gift.

No Svengalis Please

DSC_2668 Dallas Willard has said that anyone who stands up and speaks for 45 minutes is bound to be badly mistaken about some things.  That’s a perspective I always try to keep in mind and that I hope my readers and students keep in mind as well.

To be a pastor is to presume to teach others and to teach others is to have to communicate a certain level of confidence about what one teaches.  This can come across as a sense that the teacher believes he/she knows everything, or has it all together.  Not the case!  This blog, over the past few months, has begun to pick up some steam and I think this is a good time to go on record as saying I’m not interested in being anyone’s Svengali.  Though I enjoy theological topics and write frequently on them, I am not a theologian.  (Okay, I am an armchair theologian.)  I never went to seminary and do not have formal theological training, other than the theology classes I took for ordination.  Having said that, here’s why I presume to teach, and why I write this blog.

Seminary isn’t everything.  Have you ever had contact with a pastor who seemed to know a lot about God but didn’t project any real understanding of people?  At its core, effective spiritual work with people is about bridging a gap between people and God, and this requires understanding of both.  In fact I am convinced we cannot understand God if we do not understand people, and we cannot understand people if we do not understand God (insofar as that is possible).  In fact I believe true understanding only happens where God and people converge.  My formal training is in counseling.  I believe I understand people pretty well, not just because I have degrees and a couple licenses on my wall, but because of 15 years of work with people as a pastor, teacher, administrator, counselor, leader, and communicator, in clinical, religious, and university settings.

In addition to this, I am a voracious reader.  Most of what I know was not learned in graduate school but from the school of life, and from books.  Many dismiss those of us who can’t get our noses out of books, claiming it’s impractical.  In some ways it is.  (You definitely don’t want me to work on your leaky faucet, or landscape your yard.)  But let’s face it, we bookish types are usually the ones people come to see when their real, everyday lives aren’t going very well.  But we are not consulted simply because we have read a lot of books, which leads to my next point.

Reading books and acquiring information can actually be dangerous.

Continue Reading »