Archive for March, 2013

recognizing grace

March 29, 2013 2 comments

chocobunnyHave you had a chance to bite into Brennan Manning’s  All Is Grace:  A Ragamuffin’s Memoir?  If not, do yourself a favor and make that happen as soon as possible!

BUT, I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you that it’s a tough read.  Legalistic people who care more about how things look are going to struggle with this VERY REAL story.  It’s not for the religious faint of heart.  It’s messy and somehow I think this might possibly be what Paul was suggesting when he wrote:

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”  1 Corinthians 1:26-31, The Message.

I truly hope and pray that you’re curious enough to check it out.  I loved every minute of that read!

If there is anything that we need to tap into during this Easter Weekend, it should be the majestic marvel of what we too flippantly handle and proclaim as GRACE.  The expanse and depth of grace is much too vast to even try to explain or define.  Yeah, we like our acronyms but they’re sometimes just too trivial to carry the rich message of such a universally proportioned truth.

I wonder if we really see what is in front of us every single day?  Do we recognize the grace that engulfs us?  Are we remotely grateful… at all?  Is that the banner that hangs over our life?



A few mornings ago I read a few lines that really stirred me.  I’m submitting these words because I think there is supreme value in gratitude for the grace we live in.  It’s a game changer about how we present ourselves, how we respond to challenges, how we relate to people who can be ugly to us, or how we see a  world that seems to be flipped upside down from some of our most sacred values.

Instead of another chocolate bunny, I give you this:

When Job’s life is about to be taken away from him, he can say one of two things.  He can curse God, as he does for a moment, and say, God, why not fifty-one years?  Or he can surrender to love and grace and say, God, why fifty years?  Why did I deserve anything?  When we take on that attitude, we’ve made a decision for grace.

“Naked I came into the world, and naked I will leave” (Job 1:21).  What do I have, brothers and sisters, that has not been given to me?  All is grace.  All is given.  Who gave me this hand?  Who wiggles these fingers?  Who created this eye that I cannot explain or understand? 

I cannot even make this hair grow.  It is all gift.  From beginning to end, everything is grace, everything is given.  There is nothing we deserve.

We have no real rights.  There is nothing we have to have.  When you lose your friend, your lover, your life-giver, you can curse God and say, Why was he taken?  Why was she taken?  Or you can say, Why was she given at all? 

You can say, Why is that love gone?  Or you can say, Why did I deserve a moment of love?  Why did I deserve a second of this life? 

God is creator and I am creature.  God created me out of nothing and some years back I did not exist at all.

“Yahweh gives and Yahweh takes away.  Blessed be the name of Yahweh” (Job 1:21)

Richard Rohr, O. F. M. from Days of Renewal

Jesus said, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”  John 11:27, NASB.

He Is Risen!  Hallelujah!  ALL is GRACE!


Categories: Uncategorized

why is it necessary?

March 15, 2013 4 comments

It’s a fair question.  “I mean, Mike, there are hundreds and thousands of needs around us, right here.  I don’t have to get on a plane and fly abroad to find ministry.”

I totally agree!  BUT, if you’ve never gone to a foreign land for a missions endeavor or spiritual pilgrimage…


Notice that I didn’t use the words: thrill, excitement or stimulation.  I’m not talking about a zip-line adventure in the Amazon.  Yeah, your 3-day all-inclusive in Cancun doesn’t count either.   There is nothing wrong with any of that, but that’s not what I’m referring to here.

I’m talking about mud huts, sewage in the streets, trash heaps that are home to hundreds, homes where unwanted babies live, children selling their bodies for pocket change, more beggars than you can count, and the emptiness in eyes that are absolutely without natural or spiritual hope.  It will chill you to the bone.  Yeah, you need to see it, smell it, cry over it… maybe even be a little undone about it.

You’ll find out some things about yourself.   But, probably not what you’d expect.

I’ve been going at it a really long time.  I have “some” experience.  I personally think it would do you a world of good.

I love the story you’re about to read.  A good story helps grow your appetite and gets the juices flowing.  This is why I believe it is necessary for you to go… at least once.

If you need direction, motivation or insight… let’s have a conversation.  I have some thoughts.


*   *    *    *    *

Blessed Mother TeresaAmericans come at life expecting everything to work.  It always has.  I was born with silver spoons in my mouth.  I had a strong family and was loved from the beginning.  My parents paved a path for me.  Do you realize what a head start that is?  It’s wonderful.

But there’s a dark side:  People from privileged backgrounds expect that path always to be paved; they expect everything to work out.  When it doesn’t, they’re not only disappointed, they feel wronged.  They think, How dare reality not work out for me!  Why should I have to suffer?  How dare the air conditioner not work!

That explains the morose, quasi-depressed state of so many affluent countries and peoples.  When you go to poor countries, these peoples who don’t have anything and for whom everything is going wrong from morning until night (and if you’ve been there you know I’m not making this up) tend to be much happier than we are!

And our tendency is to look and say that they shouldn’t be happy, they have no reason to be happy.  They don’t seem to have an agenda.

I remember visiting the Home for the Destitute and Dying in Jamaica.  People lay in rags, with the smell and the lack of food and the sores.  I thought, How could anybody live this way?

From my world, it was like hell.

And yet I came as a priest to talk and pray with people.  I’d stop and say, “Well, how are you?”  They’d say, “Oh, fine.”  And I’d want to say, “Fine?  You’re not doing fine.  You’re doing terribly!  How can you say you’re doing fine?”

Can I do anything for you?”  I’d ask.

One woman replied, “Oh, just recite a psalm with me, Father, just recite a psalm.”  And here the big Scripture man couldn’t think of a psalm.

This humble lady picked out my obvious embarrassment.  Here I am, the great priest, coming to help her, and I can’t even remember a psalm by heart.  She sees it on my face and starts singing Psalms 23.

Just join in with me, Father.  You just come along.

There is a profound message here for our affluent culture.  I knew I had met “the first in the Kingdom of God.”

Richard Rohr O. F. M. from Letting Go:  A Spirituality of Subtraction

Categories: Uncategorized

very different journeys

March 4, 2013 2 comments

2 pathsThe picture looks harmless enough.  Though this view comes from one particular origin, it looks like we have options about how we travel and which paths we choose.  Thus, one forest with multiple trails.

I love the thoughts you are about to read from Richard Rohr.  I used to live in an ultra-conservative spiritual environment.  I know the pressure of having to get it right, be right, say it right and demand right from everyone around you. 

Every direction you took, every path you chose, was littered with signs of “warning” about the dangers of being outside good doctrinal thought.  My quandary has always been centered around the question of who is it that ultimately gets to decide what is good or bad doctrine? 

For the most part, we’re all using the same Bible to formulate our stance and forts.  In case you haven’t noticed, opinions (which we have lots and lots of these) and even “convictions” (which is the stuff we’d be willing to die for) about what is right and what is wrong are as numerous as the stars in the heavens.  Everyone can’t be right and everyone can’t be wrong. 

Oh wait, you’re right and everyone else is wrong?  Ohhhh… got it.  Perfect.

Fearful living is a miserable way to live.  I’m convinced the Friar is right.  If playing it safe is the goal then stop exploring and just be content with what you know already.  Personally, I’m bent that way by training and by rhythm.  So I have to push myself to read, think and experience life outside of my comfy box.

If I only choose the “right” path ever time, then the path on the left never gets explored.  What if there is a cave to explore over there…  a waterfall I’ve never seen…  a crystalline aqua-blue pool that demands a skinny dip…  a challenging terrain that begs to be climbed above the tree line? 

Don’t you want to check that out– at least once?  Fear says “hell no!”  (Give me a break… I’m NOT talking morality here!  I’m referring to thought, expansion of understanding and spiritual experience.)

Nothing wrong with the “right” path (I spent quite a bit of time and energy writing RAW TALKS WITH WISDOM, hoping to influence our love affair with the right paths of Lady Wisdom’s sound counsel).  But, I also don’t want to be confined to only one side of God’s forest.

Oh yeah… one more thing.  FORGET hanging out with the Holy Spirit if all you want is “right”, “safe” and “comfortable”.  It ain’t gonna happen!  HE ain’t scared (especially of you being scared).  Cheers mates!  -MDP-

We prostituted Christianity when we told our people they had to “save their souls.”  That attitude often affirmed the ego “spiritually,” which is very dangerous and deceptive.  We called it the journey into holiness, but it was often disguised and denied self-interest.

Saving one’s soul and falling in love with God are two very different journeys.  Because we told our people to save their souls, they got into spiritual consumerism, gathering sacraments, holy works, and ascetical practices–all affirming the false self.  Now we’ve got these big Christian egos walking around, who are very self-protective, satisfied and conservative in the wrong way.  Conversion is not on their agenda.  Every preacher or teacher knows what I’m talking about. 

An unhealthy conservatism is incapable of exodus, of risk, of passion, and, therefore, perhaps incapable of the living God.

Richard Rohr, O. F. M.  from Letting Go:  A Spirituality of Subtraction

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