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grounded beauty

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
  1. October 3, 2017 at 9:00 am

    This is so good Mike! Thank you!

    • October 3, 2017 at 9:26 am

      Thank you Bethany! Love you kid! xo

  2. Joseph Rodriguez
    October 3, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Welcome back.. I was challenged by your words Mike… The Vegas shooting clearly shows the depravity of man without Christ… The Gospel is the Hope for the world.. keep declaring what you have brother..!!!

    • October 3, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Thanks Joey. I agree with you bro, but I also realize that “we” who do know God, and for the most part attempt to live in relationship with Him, can do the most horrible things to each other. Our hands aren’t always clean either. I don’t know if this is as simple as “they” are they ones who fill this world with hate, injustice, and unwarranted pain. I’m not suggesting that’s what you’re implying, but just trying to make myself clear. Love you my brother!

  3. October 11, 2017 at 7:50 am

    Good to read you again, Mike. Good words, as always, and I’m quite confident your NC trip will produce lasting fruit. Hug Mrs Patti’s neck for me!

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