ME-ness

January 10, 2017 Leave a comment

A decade ago, I was confronted with Richard Rohr’s teaching of what it takes to maintain a healthy psyche for a genuine spirituality. I had just turned 50 years old, and it appeared I was ready to courageously face the truth: my over-empowered ego needed some fine tuning. Much like you, I really did want to exhibit some of the essence of Jesus through my life. Church had pretty much been the only venue where I had allowed myself to channel those energies. I was thankful for what I had learned and experienced, but I was looking for something more.

To be completely honest, I’ve never really gotten over Rohr’s suggestion that real maturity hinges on principals of self-denial. To even consider for a moment that life is not about “me” is a punch to the proverbial nose.

We say we want to be like Jesus, but do we really?

I think about this all the time: “LIFE (living) IS NOT ABOUT ME.” Really? It’s the ultimate throw down for followers of Jesus. There are days when I feel like I’ve got this. I think, “It’s under control.” But there are other times when it seems like I can’t let go of what I insist I must have to be content. Entitlement and unmanageable expectations sing their siren song, and once again I march to the doom of my own values and holistic aspirations. You feelin’ that? You get my vibe?

Even when we think we’re living up to “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME,” how much control have we demanded to protect our environments? Who gets to enter our bubbles? What trials and hardships (that includes people problems) never gain access to our emotional ecosystems because we won’t allow the intrusion to what we can’t control or manage? See? “ME” is not a minor obstacle. It’s a mountain.

I am a Jesus follower, so I greatly respect how He rolled with life-skills over and above any other kind of systematic dogma. When considering His brand of “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME,” I’m overcome with the simple truth of what is most obvious:

Jesus gave his life away.

narc-kiss

But it was so much more than that. It was how He gave his life away. It was in the midst of what seemed to be a hate-filled world and a religiously sterile culture, that He loved every single person without variance. He still does. He loves betrayers, reprobates, liars, thieves, and cheaters. He loved first and He loves last. Jesus pretty much laid down the only true essence of love.

You didn’t have to be a winner to be “in” with Him. That’s pretty dang amazing if you ask me. It’s actually powerful enough to set people free without our adding any of our religious trinkets or dualistic nonsense to the equation. If His love is anything less than unconditional, we are so hosed! That is definitely a defining element of how He was able to live life so devoid of selfish ambition or over-protective self-entitlement. Jesus proved to us that His life was not about Him. No question about that!

But what might not be so obvious is that Jesus also seemed to be okay with both giving His life away AND a grace-filled allowance that gave permission to others to literally take what they needed from Him. If you want to find out how you’re doing with the whole “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME” thing, just notice your response when some “thing” is taken from you. Respect, dignity, wealth, opportunity, peace, freedom, glory, rest, relationships, and/or whatever you value most, are all things that most of us would gladly sacrifice for those we love and care for. But our “ME-ness” usually fights to the death at the thought of having those things taken from us by force.

If “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME,” we probably need to confront how many choices are in effect around us that won’t allow me to be disturbed by “takers” at any level. There is no shortage of “takers”, but not all takers are malicious or evil. Jesus has allowed us all to take what He sacrificially gave, but He was also good with the needy and burdened to call upon Him for their personal comfort and satisfaction. I write this with a knot in my stomach because I like to be in control of where and how I give my time, energy, and juice. I love serving as much as the next person, but there is usually some level of resentment when I’m not prepared to be called upon (without an exit nearby) to meet their needs. I’m more than burdened concerning that truth about myself.

The whole “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME” mantra is very appealing, but it takes a different kind of heart and rhythm to genuinely live it out. I mentioned a mountain earlier. Our “ME-ness” is a HUGE mountain, and to move that mountain is going to require chipping away at it every single day. I would think we’d do better with asking ourselves honest questions about how we’re managing our lives instead of just broadcasting our intentions. Simple questions might be the most effective probe of how healthy we truly are. Here’s a few questions I’m considering for myself:

* How available am I to my immediate family (presence, influence, hope, and help)?

* How available am I to my real friends (presence, influence, hope, and help)?

* Am I willing to sit on my dreams in order to be the support I need to be to the people (particularly my parents or siblings) who genuinely need my help?

* How honest am I with myself about my attitudes and patience when facing others burdens?

* Can I give my life away without complaint and grumbling?

* Am I still fighting for a self-induced ascent, or embracing my natural descent?

* Am I the embodiment of love, or is it an idea only?

* Can I see (hear, value, respect, and honor) what doesn’t look or think like me?

* What position is “ME” in my decision-making processes?

I’m particularly relieved that my grade for these things isn’t being displayed here. But I sincerely believe that “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME” is the right path and attitude to living life well and free. We are called to a higher purpose. We’ve just got to get out of the way.

Have a Happy New Year!!!

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

 Mike

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TIL DEATH DO US PART Book Trailer Video is LIVE!

January 6, 2017 2 comments

If you love this video… Please share it with your friends and neighbors!  We so appreciate the help!

Mike and Patti

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spit

November 15, 2016 1 comment

I put this up again mainly because I can’t stop watching it. We think our little pile defines humanness. We must expand our hearts and vision for the common union that already exists.

Jesus said, “But remember the root command: love one another.” John 15:17, MSG

Strong’s Concordance tells us that the word “love” is  ἀγαπάω pronounced ag-ap-ah´-o;  to love (in a social or moral sense). The words were intended for more than the few that heard them. He always meant more than we’ve ever understood.

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

Mike

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loving kindness

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

I remember when political advertisements on television used to focus on a candidate’s own positive agenda. My, oh my! How did we get to where we are? We used to just sling mud. Now it’s pure pig dung. Absolutely childish and totally disgusting. What a mess!

Enough with this nonsense.

My dad had a mantra for life: BE KIND. He harped constantly his gospel, “We can disagree, but for heaven’s sake, be kind and respectful.” The older I’ve gotten, the wiser my dad has become.

kindnessI noticed something last week that pretty much proved my dad’s banner. I’m working a gig right now that has me on the phone most of the day. I’m not fond of the phone, but I’m interested in helping people with something that is important to most of us. I talk to a lot of voicemails. What I say isn’t really that important, but how I speak to the intended client is vital. The job I do can’t really be done honestly if money is the only motivation. In fact, it’s the wrong business if a person is doing it solely for the cash. Equity and integrity are out the window if money is the only motivation. That makes the business about me. That’s bad voodoo.

Money is a great dividend. But, do you want a doctor operating on you because he or she gets paid good money to do it, or because that doctor feels called to use his or her God-given gift to help people?

Honestly, I can’t say that I love my job right now. But there are rays of light that ground me to the fact that people deserve respect and honesty. People notice the difference between “being sold something” and “being taken care of.” People do respond positively to kindness and genuine concern. That is something we should care about.

I play a game with myself before I put on the headset every day. My goal is to talk to people like they are distant cousins. Friends. Yes, even family. Believe it or not, sometimes they call me back to ask questions or dialogue about their situations.

I asked two different men why they called me back. Both replied, “You left a kind and respectful voicemail.” Sadly, that must not be the norm. Another woman told me, “You sound trustworthy. I need to talk to someone I can trust.” She doesn’t know me from a dried bagel, but something hit her heart.

This isn’t about me. Those of you who know me know I’m not all that. This is about our way with humanity. The moment we allow our visions and affections for entitlement to carve our paths, we’ve lost sight of what’s important.

“For heaven’s sake” might be a bit over-reaching. How about “for the sake of others,” or “for our own sakes” instead? Why not show the people we interact with some kindness and respect? Remember, we’re all dirt, we’re all cut from the same cloth, and God loves us all. Shouldn’t that be enough to exhibit some loving kindness?

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

Mike

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big sissy

October 25, 2016 10 comments

I cry a lot these days. Not for any of the usual reasons we cry. Like you, I know pain and loss. I’ve had my share of betrayal and disappointment, and I’m pretty sure there are those who have known me who have also felt betrayed by me at one time or another. I have frustrations and limitations with many things that are beyond my control. I’ve got plenty of reasons to cry. But these recent tears come from a different place—for a different reason.

“WE ARE EARTH THAT HAS COME TO CONSCIOUSNESS.” —ROHR

I recently read a line in one of Rohr’s writings that stopped me in my tracks. I literally had to think about it for a day before writing it in my journal. The context aligned with what I consider to be my life message: descent is the true path to significance. It’s a message I care about. I believe it and I’ve done my best to embrace it, but it’s not a fan favorite in our present-day culture.

Rohr writes,

The word “human” comes from the Latin “humus,” which means earth. Being human means acknowledging that we’re made from the earth and will return to the earth. For a few years we dance around on the stage of life and have the chance to reflect a little bit of God’s glory.

That’s enough to fill up our journals with rivers of thought and prophetic expansion. Who does this not pertain to? As unique and gifted as we all are, we come from the same source. Or am I missing something here? How can we harbor such indifference and self-inflicted blindness towards those who, at the core, reflect our own nuclear commonness? And then we dehumanize and stiff-arm based on our opinions and differences. Our affection for tribal exclusivity and exceptionalism has done nothing to nurture our embrace of basic global commonness.

Rohr finishes his thought:

We are earth that has come to consciousness. If we discover this power in ourselves and know that we are God’s creatures, that we come from God and return to God, that’s enough. As a human, I’m just a tiny moment of consciousness, a small part of creation, a particle that reflects only a fragment of God’s glory. And yet that’s enough.

Mic-drop.

So, about the tears… here comes a confession. Ms. Patti has got me hooked into some of her stupid T.V. shows. I only watch because of DVR. We can binge AND skip the commercials. I had to put my foot down about Dancing with the Stars, but I did the last season of American Idol and an entire season of The Voice. She also got me hooked into America’s Got Talent. Currently, we’re in another season of The Voice. I laugh a lot at the antics of Adam and Blake, but I might cry more than laugh. Yeah I know, WTH?

Honestly, the whole image and performance thing wears me out with these shows. I know they’re feeding the beastly appetites of young and immature vanity, and I get it. There is a sad shallowness in our addictions to this kind of glamour. But, it’s so grafted into the code of it all, I just don’t know how that course could ever be corrected. Maybe, just get old? Yeah, that will fix you. Get old.

The tears come once I’m able to push past all the facades of projected image for effect. When the beautiful and heart-altering sounds that formulate voice and song come out of another person, it produces tears of wonder and amazement that God shows himself through simple humus and dirt. It blows my mind. I simply can’t contain the tears.

There were a couple of children that blew the competition away in this last edition of America’s Got Talent. They had miraculous singing voices. OMG! I cried like the big sissy that I am. Those voices in children? Incredible.

I think what I’m getting at here has to do with our continually defaulting to a consistent truth that people are pretty dang amazing. I must say that right now, you can turn on the TV, listen for a few minutes to the talking heads as they analyze our world, and wonder, “Where is the goodness?” I get it. But there is goodness, and it is all around us. God is sifting through all kinds of humus and dirt right now… everyday… everywhere! Miraculous gifts of beauty and creativity are exploding all over the planet. Everyone from poets to chemists is doing his or her thing to contribute and enlighten us all.  Don’t only be guided by hopelessness or lack of vision. God shows himself all the time.

There is more to the dirt than dirt. Look, listen, touch, taste, and see. It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes. I speak from experience.

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

Mike

Prepare yourself to hear a child CRUSH IT!  OMG!

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simplicity

October 11, 2016 4 comments

My brothers, my sisters, God has called me to walk in the way of humility, and showed me the way of simplicity. . . . The Lord has shown me that he wants me to be a new kind of fool in the world, and God does not want to lead us by any other knowledge than that.  —Francis of Assisi

Franciscan prophecy is at its core “soft prophecy”—which is often the hardest of all! Rather than criticize and shame the evils of his time, St. Francis simply lived differently and let his lifestyle be his sermon. This way of life is counter to the ways of the world, a kind of “holy foolishness” that doesn’t make logical sense to our consumer, quid-pro-quo economy

When you agree to live simply, you put yourself outside of others’ ability to buy you off, reward you falsely, or control you by money, status, salary, punishment, and loss or gain. This is the most radical level of freedom, but, of course, it is not easy to come by. Francis and Clare had little to lose, no desire for gain, no loans or debts to pay off, and no luxuries that they needed or wanted. Most of us can only envy them.

 When you agree to live simply, you do not consider the immigrant, the refugee, the homeless person, or the foreigner as a threat to you or as competition with you. You have chosen their marginal state for yourself—freely and consciously becoming “visitors and pilgrims” in this world, as Francis puts it (quoting 1 Peter 2:11). A simple lifestyle is quite simply an act of solidarity with the way most people have lived since the beginnings of humanity. It is thus restorative justice instead of the very limited notion of retributive justice.

 When you voluntarily agree to live simply, you do not need to get into the frenzy of work for the sake of salary or the ability to buy non-essentials or raise your social standing. You enjoy the freedom of not climbing. You might climb for others, but not only for yourself. —Richard Rohr O.F.M.

SELF-GOVERNANCE FOR SIMPLICITY

 

Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status or prestige.

Learn the difference between a real need and an addiction. Then find support and accountability to regain “sobriety,” freedom from addiction.

Develop a habit of giving things away.

Avoid unnecessary and short-lived technological gadgets that promise to “save time.”

Enjoy things without owning them. For example, take advantage of public libraries and parks.

Nurture awe and appreciation for nature. Spend more time outdoors!

Get out—and stay out—of debt.

Use plain, honest speech. Say what you mean and keep your commitments.

Reject anything that oppresses others. For example, buy Fair Trade products

Seek God’s kingdom of love and justice foremost. If anything distracts you from that purpose, let it go.

—Richard J. Foster,“The Discipline of Simplicity,” The Celebration of Discipline (Harper & Row: 1978), 78-83

simplicity

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cosmic dance

October 4, 2016 4 comments

circle-dance

 

Love is just like prayer; it is not so much an action that we do, but a dialogue that already flows through us. We don’t decide to “be loving”; rather, to love is to allow our deepest and truest nature to show itself. The “Father” doesn’t decide to love the “Son.” Fatherhood is the flow from Father to Son, one hundred percent. The Son does not choose now and then to release some love to the Father, or to the Spirit. Love is the full modus operandi between all three of them! (Remember these classic names are just placeholders. You can replace them with any form of endearment that works for you, but make sure something works!)

The love in you—which is the Spirit in you—always somehow says yes (2 Corinthians 1:19-20). Love is not something you do; love is Someone you are. It is your True Self. Love is where you came from and love is where you’re going. It’s not something you can attain. It’s not something you can work up to, as much as something you allow yourself to fall into! It is the living presence of God within you, often called the Holy Spirit, or what some theologians name uncreated grace.

You can’t manufacture this by any right conduct. You can’t make God love you one ounce more than God already loves you right now. You can go to church every day for the rest of your life, but God isn’t going to love you any more than God already loves you right now.

You cannot make God love you any less, either—not an ounce less. You could do the most terrible thing and God wouldn’t love you any less. (You would probably love yourself much less, however.)

You cannot change the Divine mind about you! The flow is constant and total toward your life. God is for you!

You can’t diminish God’s love for you. What you can do, however, is learn how to believe it, receive it, trust it, allow it, and celebrate it, accepting Trinity’s whirling invitation to join in the cosmic dance.  —Richard Rohr O.F.M.

The evidence that these truths have touched us deeply has more to do with how we treat people (regardless of our circumstances) rather than our genre of religious branding.

“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

That’s our center.  That is what helps people connect the dots concerning who we really are.  Anything less brings only confusion, wounding, and a stiff arm. Consider His love. Ultimately, that is what defines us.

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

Mike

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