Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Deep in the Root

I was out picking up some breakfast items Sunday and heard a story on how use of a mortar and pestle in the kitchen is a sign of an engaged cook.  There were several statements by the commenting cooks that I reflected upon after hearing them.  I'm always looking for positive things to share with you and these comments resonated with me as I thought about how we can apply them to our spiritual life as Jesus Followers. 

"This day and age — not to get on a soapbox — we're sort of disengaged in a lot of different ways." 

Duh...ya think? Wow...applying this statement to our spiritual lives; our daily lives really hits the mark doesn't it? 
      "...They believe in the result of it. They believe in the way, the process — something that is deep in the root." 

I believe that in order to get deep in the root of our spirituality; belief in the result of it, we must be committed like the cook in the kitchen using the mortar and pestle.  

In my work as a leader in men's ministry I've seen how believing in the results is important.  I encountered men from all across the country attending recent men's events who are active, committed Jesus-followers that are about getting deep in the root.  I've seen them exhibit this through their work and fellowship as brothers.  They believe in the way, the process.

     "It's really about being really engaged in the process as it's happening."

This was the statement that encouraged me to write today.  It 'engaged' me and made me think about my process and the importance of reflection on that process as it's happening.  Many times during our devotional time, prayer time, meditation, or quiet moments of contemplation it's easy for us to get distracted and get off track becoming 'disengaged'.

We have a mortar and pestle in our kitchen, but use it sparingly.  In the future I will work to really engage this tool in the process of my meal preparation. 

I feel confident that on that night when Jesus dined with his closet friends, speaking to them of the those things getting ready to transpire, that a mortar and pestle was part of the preparation for the meal; perhaps even near or on the table there.  Most likely used for the grinding of the grains for the bread.  

Do you think those present were engaged during those all important moments of instruction, explanation and reflection? 
I will recommit during the approaching Christmas season to getting deep in the root of my daily spiritual life process and disengage from all the 'noise' around me.  

So now it's your turn to offer up your thoughts.  Below are some questions I'd like for you to reflect upon.  Also, share your meal ideas or experiences with a mortar and pestle.  Come on folks don't be shy.

-In what ways do you find yourself disengaged?

-What daily process do you have that you are committed to that gets you deep in the root?

-When it comes to your spiritual life are you really engaged in the process as it's happening?


Here the link to the interesting story about getting back to the basics of food.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

God Speed Johnny!

Busy, busy, busy! Yep…that’s life for a father of an 8 month and 2 year old boys.  I love it!

I’ve been intending to write, but there’s been so much happening lately in addition to the growing boys. 

However, after last night I thought it was time to write and give thanks…it is Thanksgiving week after all.

On Saturday, a dear friend, Johnny Johnston (88) passed away.  Sadly, I only learned that he was in the hospital within a couple of days of his passing and that his condition was such that visitation was not possible.  So…last night was his final viewing.  I knew that I had to go and pay my respects to the kind soul of this gentleman.

I entered the funeral home looking for familiar faces; spoke to his widow briefly and then stood over Johnny to say goodbye. I was immediately drawn to 2 items there in the casket with him.  The first thing I noticed was the bright and shiny Disciples Men pin affixed to his suit jacket lapel and secondly, hanging about his neck was a cross.  Not just any cross, a special gift that was given to him.  I have the same cross as it was given to me for the very same remembrance.  Both Johnny and I were members of the 12 Disciples in our church’s production of The Living Last Supper.  Johnny portrayed, ‘Thaddeus’ and I, ‘Thomas’.  The production ran for about 5 years in the mid 2000’s.   At the conclusion of the production each cast member was given this special hand crafted metal cross as a keepsake of the experience.

A warm glow came over me as I stood there smiling at the sight of both of these items knowing that they would be buried with him.

That cross was indeed a special connection we shared, but we also shared fellowship as Disciples and Jesus Followers off stage.  Johnny was a devoted attendee of the Disciples Men book study group that I had the honor to be a part of.  As I stood there, I recalled giving Johnny the lapel pin and I remember how honored and appreciative he was that I had given it to him; no ceremony.  I had an extra one and I told him that he deserved it for his steadfast commitment to the church and the men’s group. 

We learned so very much in that small group setting.  5 to 8 men met every Monday night for a time of fellowship; discussion of spirituality and perhaps do a book study.  Johnny was the eldest in the group.  Many times this small framed man would sit quietly through an entire evening’s reflection and discussion.  Then other times he would become a giant of wisdom in the room, recanting in his soft gravelly voice some special encounter or treasured personal story.  On more than one occasion Johnny shared his questions and views on what happens at death.  The topic of the ‘golden rule’ came up often with Johnny present.  We talked about how ‘burning bushes’ are all around us and we asked how we’re to know how to recognize them.  We asked what would clue us in to someone in real need or someone only looking for some change to collect for that next ‘40’ at the convenience store.  Johnny would remark by asking how could we ever know whether someone would use a gift of compassion for good or for bad.  He believed it's not our place to worry about that.  The importance for him was the act itself because that’s what he felt Christ had taught him.  

One special moment that sticks out for me that I can recall in group with Johnny present is when we discussed where we went to be close to God.   Johnny talked about how growing up he would walk through the woods to a small stream and once there listen for God’s voice in the quiet rippling of the water.  There was no doubt that all of us learned something whenever he would speak.  I think he enjoyed the fact that it was a relatively small group and that it was a genuine safe place for us all to share our inner most thoughts on spirituality.  What happened in men’s group stayed in the men’s group.  So, yes, seeing the Disciples Men pin I’d given him was truly heartwarming and very meaningful for me.

God speed Johnny!  Peace be with you my friend.

He told us, ‘Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.’”-Line of Thaddeus from ‘The Living Last Supper’ drama (Matthew 10:16)

God thank you during this Thanksgiving season for the spirit of Johnny Johnston and for the wisdom, compassion and friendship he shared with us.  Amen.


Sunday, November 4, 2012


Most of this post is inspired by a comment I made on Derek Maul's blog, "The Life-Charged Life" entry of Oct 31st, "The Last Post You Need to Read About This Election".

I hope readers will take time to pray about their decision making process before acting on their civic duty on Tuesday.  My thought is that regardless of which candidate(s) you support, the most important part of being an American is to make your voice heard through voting.  It is our opportunity to weigh in; to support individuals who have decided to submit themselves and their families to public scrutiny through public service as well as, initiatives and causes in the public sphere. 

Politics...it's a dirty, slimy, backstabbing exercise in character assassination.  

Whoever escapes the vitriolic rhetoric and becomes the last candidate standing, emerges as the office holder accountable to the entire electorate.  Sometimes it's with a mandate, sometimes it's not.  Since 2000 the nation has become split between the so-called 'red' states and 'blue' states as a result of not only Bush v. Gore decision, but because of a whole myriad of other issues and topics.  All too often people now wear their politics on their sleeve and I'm not talking about the generic candidate sign in your yard or bumper sticker on your car.  

Sadly, the one important topic that has been thrown under the bus that should trump all of the ideological extremes and philosophies is that of the dire need for cooperation and compromise through respectful civil discourse.  Until politicians and the general public alike recognize that we can't have one party rule exclusively without the other and that compromise is not a dirty word we cannot move forward.  Compromise has been and must continue to be an essential part of this nation’s history; toward getting things accomplished, but without it we will continue to wallow in the endless bickering of gridlock that leads us nowhere. 

So...support your candidate because you truly want that cooperation; support your candidate because, although you perhaps don't agree fundamentally with the other candidate's philosophy, you don't harbor ill will or disrespect toward him or her.  Remember, these individuals, more often than not, are willingly submitting themselves to the most rigorous, most intrusive review of themselves, their families, close friends, old flames, and general acquaintances they will ever undergo.  And...perhaps this is precisely why there are few willing to take the plunge into public service...it's too invasive, too intrusive, too disrespectful, the media too relentless and the public too hungry for emergence of any skeleton lurking in any closet they can find in order to scandalize, derail and destroy a human being. So I'll say it again...

Politics...it's a dirty, slimy backstabbing exercise in character assassination.  

Tuesday, vote because your proud to be able to and vote because so very many have sacrificed in so very many ways for your right to do so. 

Government(s) can indeed be a bad thing, but government too can be a very good thing as recently been exemplified as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  Let's all try and remember that.

Today a political commentator made a prediction that the losing side, whichever it is, will not accept the outcome; will not accept the legitimacy of the winner and thus lead to more entrenchment and disfunction. 

Let's all exercise our civic responsibility and be respectful of whatever the outcome(s) may be and honestly, and truthfully commit to working together to move forward, but to also quell those elements who will put political expediency and authoritarianism before the common good.  

As you make your decision remember to discern the words from the ‘sermon on the mount’.  Hear them in your ear….those words from undoubtedly the most authentic, most accurate stump speech in all of history. 

“Then – and from the depths of all I have ever tried to tell this world – check out what Jesus (my son) said; it’s a no-brainer. In fact, Jesus may possibly have addressed a couple of these issues in a little thing we like to call, THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT!!!" – God