Thursday, April 30, 2009

Breakers: Chapter Six--Thanks for asking!

Here is chapter six. It was fun to create. I'm re-writing in this chapter, so it's pretty much new...except for Jon. He's been like this for years.

Please comment, check responses and if you are enjoying Breakers, why not tell some friends?


Grace and Peace to you.

Breakers, Monasticism, and a Coming Book Review.

This would have been a good week to be on vacation. My car refuses to drive off of our hill without stopping past the house next door...where my new grand daughter lives. (Yeah, there are a couple of other people there.)

My ministry has allowed me to care for many people,and study some interesting texts. I've looked in on the website for Formation House, and remembered a dream I've put on hold. I think I'll buy the book by one of the founders: Flirting with Monasticism. There is a part of me that is deeply drawn to the ancient rhythms of communal prayer and work.

I've been sent a book to review here: The Echo Within, by Robert Benson. Robert is one of my favorite writers, and I can't wait to get you this review. I can let you know this much: After the first fifty pages, I'm blown away. This is vintage Benson, but even more nurturing. Love it!

I've been able to take some late nights and early mornings and enter another chapter of Breakers. I look forward to sharing it with you very soon.

Peace to you. Thanks for your comments, shouts, check marks and for following along.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We may never pass this way again.

The miles went by far too quickly. My son took me by another route. I was taking him back to college, but I hadn't been this way for 25 years. He wanted me to see a windmill farm.

He slept as we drove through it. I marveled at the new look of the Indiana fields, and I stole glances at my son at rest. As we passed through a few towns that were new again to me, I heard myself whisper, "We may never pass this way again."

He woke long before our arrival at campus. Once there, he grabbed his book bag and headed to class. And then we had lunch together. He thanked me for the ride. He thanked me for the time. He thanked me for the lunch. But, wasn't I the thankful one?

Once home, I held my new grandchild. She lay against my chest and I embraced her for more than an hour. I kissed her, I stroked her head and face. I treasured her life--her very existence. She was the center of our room. She was the thought on our four adult minds--she, and the boy I'd left behind two hundred miles to the north. And I thought, "We will never pass this way again."

We hold our infants in trembling arms. We must hold our adult children in equal awe--no less dearly. We are grateful for what they have been. But it is this moment--the one that we breathe in and out just now--it is this moment we've been given to live and to love in. We will never pass this way again. How are you living your loves? How are you giving your life?

Treasure this day my friend. Treasure your loves and your living. For we will never pass this way again.

Grace and peace to you.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Baby in Our Hearts

Finally today, I had to step away. There's a garden just outside of the hospital where my baby's baby is. I walked to the end of its labyrinth path and found a bench in the to a gushing fountain spilling on stones. A flowering tree was just upwind, and it's fragrance, and the water sounds and the sun held me--as if I were the newborn.

Holding Elayna in our arms today we all searched for words to say. "Perfect," "beautiful," "treasure," were a few of the choices. But really there were no words. In our pictures none of us are speaking. We are embracing her in our arms--yet holding her closer than our embrace can accomplish. Ah, we hold her in our hearts.

God who speaks his love to us seems to have given-up on words long ago...Love embraces us, achingly pouring wonder into our souls. Singing birds, a smiling child, a splashing fountain, the warm sun, a dancing breeze or a fragrant blossom. You are loved, and there are simply no words!

Grace and peace to you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My daughter is having a baby

Couldn't sleep well last night. We've been so excited about this baby, but last night I thinking about my baby. Don't want her to go through the stuff. Can't we just pay an extra hundred bucks and go pick our grand-daughter up at the hospital's nursery? Weird thoughts throughout the night.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I prayed. Then I went back to concern. It of course is a very, very holy concern. I am a pastor after all.

Whoa, when they hooked her up and she started to feel the slightest tinge of a contraction, we all celebrated. But in the back of my mind I knew it had to get worse. Confirmed! Nurse says "My job is to get your contractions closer together and you less comfortable." Hey now, that's my daughter your talking about.

And she was the noble woman I anticipated as the pains became...well, pains. She is so beautiful laying there saying, "This is good, right?" Her way of kindly saying that pain equals progress. Crud. I hate pain.

When they broke her water, things were more intense. Then around 11:30 the anesthesiologist (yeah, I used spell-check) came in and put in the epidural. We had to leave for that.

So Shelly and I went to eat. I explained to her that our roles are reversed...Shelly's and mine. I could speak of nothing about the morning without feeling like a menopausal woman--weeping through smiles, and blubbering with every word I attempted about my brave daughter. Or about my future grand-daughter. Or, about the value menu at Wendy's.

Shelly, (nickname--"THE ROCK") reminded me that I am sensitive in a good way...blah, blah, blah. So I am. I feel manly, except when one of the beautiful women in my life is in the process of this most amazingly noble and beautiful miracle. Oooh, better go outside the room to sniff a few times.

Grace and peace to you, from a place of grace and wonder.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

About your feedback, spreading the word, and my current writing on BREAKERS.

I'm getting feedback from many of you about chapter 5. THANK YOU!! And let me remind you and request feedback of you once again. Why? It really helps me to measure response when it comes into this one place, it helps me develop content for the books and postings, and it helps toward the goal of developing a market for The Runaway Pastor.
--If you are not a "follower," please sign-in as one. This involves nothing but signing-in. Nothing new will happen, I'll just have a more complete list of the number of people who read occasionally. You can even do this with a fake name or moniker, or anonymously.
--Please leave comments if you are willing. Write down that password, or redo it and write the new one down. It just helps. Again, you can be an anonymous commenter as well!
--The very easiest way to comment is simply to click one of the three options at the bottom of each posting..."like it," "interesting," or "hmmm." Each time you read, just click there. I get several dozen visits each day, I'd love to know what you are thinking.
--One tool that can help you if you want is the RSS feed. Scary sounding to those of us who are not techno savvy! However, it is simple! It will let you know everytime there is a new post, or a new comment, or both. (You choose.) If you don't like it, you can nix it passwords for that feature. This helps us keep a communication flow going.

Now, about spreading the word. This entire blog experience has been fun and encouraging to me. Thanks to those of you who make your presence known. I follow the traffic here with my google analytics account. Fascinating. And the word is spreading about the books I'm posting here, as well as some of my regular posts. It is fun to see the total grow to nearly 40 states involved in reading as well as several countries at any given time. THANK YOU! Here is my request: If you have any friends that you think would enjoy, benefit or be encouraged by what you read here--please pass the word along. How?
--Post the link occasionally in your facebook, twitter, or myspace status--"I'm enjoying a book at"
--Or, just email a friend that address with the message, or blog it, or snail mail it, or whatever. Zee, who often comments here, has done several cool things at her blog -- (click and check it out...she's a great writer and English is her third language and she is less than half my age!!!!) and she has increased traffic from's how this internet thing goes and grows. You get the idea?
--All of these things help toward the eventual goal of getting my books in print.

So here is some stuff about BREAKERS.

I have changed so much in order to slow the "Jon" plot line, that the entire story is morphing. In my original manuscript, he had already really gotten rotten and the story was big-time different by now. So now I have red notes and arrows all over my old hard copy and every conversation and event in the book is effected. I love it this way, because I've known Cam and Kenna for about eight years, and they weren't developed enough in the original. Jamie commented (and others via facebook and email) that the fifth chapter left them hanging...and it did me too! I am excited to see how things unfold, but so far the sixth chapter is may favorite. Your comments to me along the way really do help in the development of the story.

Well, this is too long, so I'll cut it here. Peace to you, and feedback please! :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Breakers: Fifth Chapter! Link below.

Yesterday I was able to spend quite a bit of time writing, and today a friend and I proofed the next chapter of Breakers. So here it is.

As always, let me know of errors. This is fresh, so you will find them.

Hope you enjoy the fifth chapter, and if you haven't read Breakers yet, then all five chapters are here.

I like the way two world views are juxtaposed in the lead characters of the story. I'd love your comments.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Breakers sooner than I thought

I took much of the afternoon and some of this evening and worked on chapter five of Breakers. I will give it another look tomorrow, and if it seems ready, I'll post it up here by Tuesday. However, it could be tired eyes that are thinking it is almost there. Stay tuned, and thanks for your patience.

Regarding the grandchild. Nope. Nothing yet.

Peace to you.

Meandering thoughts, on Easter II

A quick rambling--

This morning's gospel reading is from John 20 and shows the disciples hiding togetherbehind closed doors, in fear, before Christ appears to them. Today I plan to teach about the hiding, the fear and the lack of deep-breathing in the room. Can't you feel the tension?

Thomas isn't there. Judas is obviously out. All of them have their varying desertions they wish they could hide from one another. But here they are, together. Agendas? Evidently they are heading back to the fishing boats, and their life-before-Jesus-status-quo. But, can you really hang-out with God for a few years and then return to the old normal?

The Acts 4 passage shows a communal experiment the disciples enjoyed in the early days of the church. The picture here is one of community. "No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had....There were no needy persons among them." By now their only agenda is Jesus' message--the one he gave them when he joined them behind closed doors. They aren't anywhere near their boats. How do they get here? How do they go from that room of shallow-breathing-fear, to this place of harmony?

Well, three hours from now I'll try to share some word of encouragement and power. Something about the shallow-breathing guys who refused to believe the women who had gone to the now empty tomb. A little about a couple of men who had seen Jesus on the road. And then Jesus shows up, and tells them to take a deep breath--of his Spirit--greeting them with "Peace be with you." Then he tells them he is sending them, and breathes on them and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. What? Why? Because if they forgive others their sins, those people will be forgiven. And if they don't, they won't. (Not much pressure there!)

But would we rather put the pressure on others. If you ___________ (fill in the blank), then God will forgive you." I fear this if/then thinking misses the point of God's breath in us. Is it possible the if hides a doubt on our part of their worthiness? Or a hurdle we hope might keep them from the club? Why not just a simple "You, my friend, are forgiven."? Jesus seems to cloak his followers with some pretty serious authority. Do we shirk it?

Will you take a deep breath of him, go in his peace, and offer forgiveness?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Waiting for a Grandchild, Breakers in the Waiting Room?

Wow. It's different, this time spent waiting. We have prepared ourselves for a grandchild--our first. But now that we think we are ready...we wait.

Her dresser is filled with baby girl stuff. Her first few hundred diapers are purchased. Her parents have moved next door to us, and have nearly completed a room addition. (Yesterday we waited by painting.)

Today I waited by taking my day off in the forest hiking. I walked for five hours and around fifteen miles up and down hills, waiting. I suppose that is better than pacing outside of a delivery room. When mountain bikers asked me about my hike, I spoke of my daughter and her new baby. When the guy at the park gate gave me a map, I told him too. When a fellow hiker tagged along for the last few miles; he got filled-in. (You know, lots of pink in the room, I've greased-up the rocking chairs, and I'll be sure and teach her to hike.... That kind of stuff.)

My facebook status is an update about our waiting. I'm on the road this Sunday afternoon until next Wednesday; unless the waiting is over, and then the people I'm "coaching" in Ohio will be put on hold, and I'll get on the road toward the place of ...waiting.

So, I guess I'm not producing much here. I'm doing my work week as much like usual as possible--while--we--wait.

I'm thinking I'll take Breakers and my laptop with me to the hospital. Who knows, maybe I'll be extra creative while waiting there. But here, in my usual writing place, all I can think of is waiting...

Peace to you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Discipline and Life

Having just finished the Christian Season of Lent, I'm reflecting on some of the comments I've heard regarding Lenten fasts and other chosen disciplines. Many protestants believe the fasts and disciplines should be left to Roman Catholic Christians, or Orthodox. I disagree. We have much we can learn from their traditions in this matter.

Why disciplines? This afternoon I went to the state park next to our home for a workout. I climbed down and then back up a set of 140 stairs, three times. Then I left and ran a mile or so and returned and climbed down and up the same stairs 7 more times. Why would I choose such a physical discipline? It hurts. It makes my lungs wheeze. It is hard.

There is a very specific reason I choose this discipline. Next month this time, I plan to be hiking in the mountains. I'll climb and descend thousands of feet daily. My discipline now is putting strength in my legs, and wind in my lungs. I'm preparing for a tougher hike next month. And we prepare with discipline.

I choose spiritual disciplines for the same reason. Make sense?

Peace to you.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

He Descended Into Hell--Say What??!!

The Apostle's Creed slips those words in so quickly, that we can easily skirt over them. Speaking of Jesus, after "He was crucified, dead and buried," we read, "He descended into Hell." What in the world?!

About five or six years ago I took a sojourn into studying Eastern Orthodoxy, and my life has been richer for the journey. I've enjoyed so much reading, The Orthodox Way, by Bishop Kallistos Ware, writers by Alexander Mann and other Eastern theologians. But nothing was more rich for me than moving beyond the shallow Christian history upon which much of my theology is based. It seemed that before studying at an orthodox bookstore and church, I had rarely learned from anyone that was born before the 1600's.

I want to share a portion of a homily (that's "sermon"--just in case you--never mind) that was given by St. John Chrysostom. This message was shared in an Easter (Pascha) service more than seventeen hundred years ago. Pay particular attention to his references (many!) to Christ's confrontation with hell. Notice the power of Christ's resurrection according to this saint of the church.

Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the demons are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Now take a deep breath and ask yourself: "Do I underrate the cataclysmic impact the resurrection has on evil? Do I worry to much about accomplishing something that Christ has already done?"

Well, the tomb is still dark and filled with death as I write this on Holy Saturday evening. What do you suppose the Mighty One has been up--oops--I mean down to?


I'll end this post with an orthodox prayer to the Holy Spirit. It is written here in old style language, but most of us can translate this fairly easily, I think.
Oh Heavenly King. Comforter. Spirit of Truth who art everywhere present, and fillest all things. Treasury of good things, and giver of life. Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity and save our souls, Oh, Good One.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Serpents or Doves? And Breakers Timing

I wanted to link my readers to a post I just read. Such screaming back and forth between emergent and post-modern and traditional and poser people. I like the angle another blogger gave to this. You may too: Check it out here.

Plus, I know it's been a week since I put another chapter up...but this is a special week, you know. I hope to get back on pace next week. Maybe. Probably. Early in the week.

Peace to you. (Unless you need to be serpentine.--If you don't get this, click the link above.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Great Thursday (Maundy Thursday)

For the next three days, we will submerge ourselves in an intentional downer. Just as we think a party is beginning, we hear this evening that the party is over. I pray for the ability to be stunned yet again by the message and desertion of the day. I want to be confused by the cryptic message of Christ--Let not your heart be troubled. Believe...I am going away... to prepare...

This evening we have a service of scripture reading and communion. In fact, beginning tonight, through tomorrow night and concluding Sunday AM, our congregation will read through the entirety of the passion texts for this year. Dark texts. Death texts.

Tomorrow we extinguish the "Christ candle" that has joined us for every gathering since lighting it on Christmas. We will snuff its flame, and walk it out of the room. And it will be the last flame to be extinguished as we recognize all of the failures, desertions and betrayals that light faced before losing life.

And on Sunday morning. We might as well not meet for church. Because God, as of tomorrow afternoon, will be neatly tucked into a hollow tomb.

Dark days indeed. Can you live your way through them? Or will you shop for bright clothing and feast foods, ignoring the death on our hands?

Don't go to Easter without living Great Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

BREAKERS Chapters ONE through FOUR

Thanks for the patience. Here is the fourth chapter of Breakers.

I've added a new feature to the site lately. You can mark your presence at the site without signing in by clicking on "like it," "needed that," or "hmmm." So when you stop by, click your thought. Of course you are always welcome to comment. And I love to see new "followers" registering.

Well, let me know what you think.

Peace to you.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Human Touch, and Hard to Reach Places

Have living and longing ever been aching neighbors in your soul? Life in a full-contact world with its disloyalties and treasons, its touching-caressing--intimate chasms--ahh, the people I meet often express in words--or without them--a deep and desperate longing to be known. To be touched in some invisible place where touch is life. And surely there is no physical way to reach so far as to touch a soul, unless it be with spirit?

Do you think the woman caught in adultery and brought to Jesus early in the morning--evidently after a night in adulterous passion--do you think she had any aching longings? Do you think the tryst had been planned for a week or so, that she had wept at the kitchen sink thinking of the damage her longing might cause? Was she aching when she rendezvoused for the illegitimate night, or when she was caught and dragged into public--her aches being shouted as accusations into the public gathering? (And what about the guy that evidently was escaping the mob? Where is he?)

I'm thinking of Eleanor Rigby again, but look at each face in the mob, look at the woman facing certain death by stoning. Look at the people watching, and those being handed stones and then look at the face of Jesus. In the midst of all the aching longing in that public courtyard, Jesus alone was ready to touch everyone present in a deep place where no one can reach with a hand, or scalpel. Maybe he was humming Eleanor Rigby?

He disbands the crowd with words that affirm their aching and their futile attempt at release. And then he looks to the woman...fresh from her treason. And instead of seeing the despicable disloyalty, he thinks of her aching longings. That her hopelessness last night had taken her at high risks to a secret place. She had ignored fears of being caught, or of sinning--in hopes of being known. She had thrown caution to the wind and run to the shelter of another soul, hoping to be touched deeply and lovingly. And perhaps she had felt that touch in the night, in his arms. But how quickly hope faded into disaster...until she was touched by Jesus.

Could her aching have been a desire to feel OK? A need to feel that all of her human failures were forgiven? Could she have wanted to know that someone somewhere looked at her and saw beauty, something worth the risk of possessing. Ah, look at all the lonely people.

When the crowd had left, Jesus asked, "Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?"

She answered, "No one, Lord."

Then Jesus spoke the words that reached deep inside of her, to her soul. And they weren't just words, they were healing vibrations--human/spiritual/psychological touch. (OK, divine as well, but I'm really into kenosis for all of you theologians--Phil 2:5-11, or C. Wesley--"He emptied himself of all but love..." But I digress.) He said, I don't condemn you either. Go and stop sinning." (This story is in the Christian New Testament, book of John chapter 8 and verses 2-11--you can find the verses by those tiny numbers before each sentence or so.)

I guess that is why my faith rests in Jesus. Not in a Jesus who says, "Go and stop sinning and then I won't condemn you and I'll think you're OK." But the one who says, "I don't condemn you, I love you. I see your beauty and dignity. Stop seeking life where it isn't."

I'm aching so deeply for a few people right now. And I'm praying for the way to speak peace to their aching longing and living.

Grace and peace to you. You are loved, just as you are, more than you can imagine.