Archive for October, 2017


October 24, 2017 10 comments

I used to hunt all the time. I’ve never shot a four-footed critter, but mainly birds. Dove, pheasant, and ducks usually presented more than enough of a challenge to keep me interested. So when my buddy here in Colorado Springs invited me to go with him into the national forest for elk hunting, I thought it would be great to try something different for a change. I wasn’t disappointed.

To be clear, I wasn’t planning to hunt. The plan was to hang out in camp, read my books, enjoy the higher altitude and fresh mountain air, be in solitude, and experience some quiet. First of all, I did hang out in camp and enjoyed the air, but not by myself. There was no solitude or quiet (my guys constantly chattered like caffeine-induced chipmunks). I hiked 6 miles in a driving snowstorm the first day, and substantially more miles the next day. They carried guns; I did not. We saw elk but none they could shoot. My guys had bull-tags, and only cows graced us with their presence, so no meat.

Bears Ears Peaks

The scenery was breathtaking. The mountain we were on is called Bears Ears, named for its twin peaks that look like the top of a bear’s head, though you can only see that from a distance. Inside the forest, you primarily had two kinds of trees: pine and aspen. I know the forest was full of hunters, but I can’t imagine anyone left disappointed. The natural state of the forest is absolutely gorgeous. The aspen grove where we hunted still supported a few gold-colored leaves. From our vantage point, you could take in the massive aspen grove, the dark timber above the grove, and the distant snow-covered ranges that explode brightly under a darker blue canopy of mountain sky. It really was something to see. I loved it all!

Of all I just described, none of it touched the real show… the unexpected gift… the thing that actually brought me to tears. STARS! Oh my goodness! Each night that we camped, the sky was crystal clear (a freezing 15 degrees clear, but clear nonetheless). The closest town to where we were camping was 40 miles away on a dirt road, so there was no artificial light in the forest. Honestly, I couldn’t get over how dark it was.

They should have sent a poet. —Dr. Ellie Arroway

Living in Colorado Springs isn’t conducive to star gazing. There are almost a million people living here now, so we need blackout shades on our bedroom windows, even during the night. When I’m back home in Texas, I can be out in the country within minutes, but there’s usually a Gulf wind blowing a lot of hazy moisture in the atmosphere. It’s just different in the desert and Rocky Mountains.

After that first night, I couldn’t wait for the evening sky to reveal itself. It was that mesmerizing. So many stars! The thickness of stars is what was so unique. They’ve been there, but it’s like some one opened the screen door. The Milky Way looked like a long cloud of smoke across the sky. I’ve just never seen it like that. I genuinely teared up several times at the beauty of it. Jodi Foster’s character in Contact had it right: “They should have sent a poet.”

So, for four days I never took a book out of my backpack. I think having my head up, instead of down in a book, was the better outcome in this situation. Maybe engaging in all the chipmunk chatter was rightly warranted and proper human interaction. But listen, figure out how to go see stars again! It’s the ultimate painting of what’s bigger than us. They’re out there speaking to us about our paradigms and big opinions… reminding us that the universe doesn’t swirl around “me” and our little interests. I know there’s lots of talk these days about “grounding.” Go see some stars. You’ll get your grounding back on. I guarantee it.

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



Categories: Uncategorized

grounded beauty

October 3, 2017 6 comments

NOTE:  I wrote this blog Sunday morning, and Vegas happened later that same evening. I would never want to convey for a second that I am insensitive, unaware, oblivious, or numb to the obscene atrocities that happen in this country, or others.  Such a total disregard for human life is beyond reasonable logic or moral decency. I honestly believe that the following post is not a distraction to our travails, but rather a confirmation that we must continue to stand in love… even though hellish hate shows itself every day. This isn’t mere romantic idealism. Love is a spiritual force… the prime mover of God’s heart towards man. I’m convinced we just don’t know it or believe it as we should. Mercy Lord, mercy! —Mike

We who seek to grow spiritually are like children ushered off to school for their education and personal growth. God is the principal or headmaster, and the saints and mystics are the various teachers and coaches who will interact with us on a day-to-day basis. Our goal, therefore, is to learn: to learn the curriculum of a truly spiritual life . . . grounded in love, mercy, tenderness, compassion, forgiveness, hope, trust, simplicity, silence, peace, and joy. To embody union with God is to discover these beautiful characteristics emerging from within and slowly transfiguring us to remake us in the very image and likeness of God.”

—Carl McColman

Patti and I just returned from a ministry trip to North Carolina. I was invited to preach in a sweet church in Asheville, and spent the following four days teaching the foundations of the Enneagram to a small group of young adults who are living together in a communal discipleship program near Black Mountain. On top of that, we got to spend some quality time with long-time friends from Holland, reconnect with several young couples who are near and dear to our hearts, and meet several new friends. But mainly, we hung out in the gloriously messy swirl of a growing family of faith. It genuinely was a “lovely” time for us.

There is always plenty to self-critique after a trip like that. I used a month’s worth of words last week (lots and lots of words). Quite frankly, if they genuinely heard half of what I said, they’ll be processing for a while. It was a lot of data. So, I’m thinking back… processing… evaluating, but not about what was taught or preached about. That’s the stuff that is easy to adjust or correct. The most difficult thing to honestly critique would be…me.

If you agree to that premise, then feel free to make it…us.

The earlier highlighted quote by Carl McColman really rocked my devo time this morning. So much so, it stirred me from a three-month blogging sabbatical. The last sentence is what grabbed my attention:

To embody union with God is to discover these beautiful characteristics emerging from within and slowly transfiguring us to remake us in the very image and likeness of God.

 See, that statement right there is the heart’s desire, but it’s got to come from the real source that’s already deeply embedded inside a person. You can’t just download a beautiful emerging transfiguration for convenience. It can’t be patched in because you need to glow-in-the-dark for another gig. Real Spirit people know the difference. Any attempt at a shortcut sets off everyone’s bullshit alarm. Trust me on this.

I suspect that the information was good enough, and the “shtick” of delivery would be exhilarating for anyone who speaks in front of people, but what about the “Christ” effect inside the real curriculum of a truly spiritual life? To say it another way, beyond the data and transfer of information, did anyone remotely sense a voice or heart that was…


Rooted, anchored, planted deeply in love, mercy, tenderness, compassion, forgiveness, hope, trust, simplicity, silence, peace, and joy?

I don’t assume a positive default answer here, not for me anyway, but I really love the question. It’s one of those questions that should be printed out and taped to the mirror where we prepare ourselves for the day and end our nights. It might be something that we need to entertain more, rather than ever so often.

Even with all of the social and political agitation in our country right now, is there a way for us to respond passionately, conscientiously, forcefully, yet respectfully, while remaining grounded in these beautiful characteristics that mark our deep commitment to the core values that we esteem in the life of Jesus? A genuine response that still holds humanity in some kind of loving regard?

The hate circling around Jesus didn’t seem to displace him from his mission or internal depth. His counter-energy flowed constantly against control, small-mindedness, and the established norms of cultural and religious orthopraxy. Yet, Jesus was never offended enough by the chaos to do anything other than offer those beautiful characteristics… a truth even magnified during his march towards death.

How in the world did He do that? If I’m not mistaken, He was both God and man!

I do realize that I’m still in theological infancy, but the only thing I can attribute to Jesus’ unflinching beautiful characteristics was the grounded awareness of who He really was, and His grounded commitment to live the honest reflection of his Father’s love for all of mankind. Beyond that, it must be… has to be THE mystery of the ages… or something like that.

You probably don’t need to be reminded, but “Christ” is in the word “Christian.” If we’re going to wear the brand, the product should be an accurate representation of the name we bear. We are the product. What we do, and the spirit behind what we do, does matter.

How consistently do those beautiful characteristics reveal themselves through us? I do believe that the ability to “reveal” resides in all of us. We are capable. We have His DNA (He knew us before we got here). We just need to decide and offer our lives from the heart. Living that honestly reflects our gratefulness for WHO we belong to.

Look around. Now would be a good time for us to show some of that grounded beauty.

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



Categories: Uncategorized