A man climbed a hill

8 05 2017

There was a man who climbed a hill.

hill pic

As he walked he pondered the section of the trail, and the season of his life. The terrain was windswept. Only the most scrappy bushes still clung by their stubborn roots, blown sideways away from the Pacific.

Patches of dandelions gripped the ground, their yellow flowers offering unexpected beauty in this stark place.

Below, waves crashed against rocks which stood as dutiful sentinels, metaphors of stability in troubled times.


As he walked, the man concluded that he may not be able to understand why his path to the hill had brought so much pain.

What mattered now was to search out whatever meaning could be taken for the journey ahead.

from the hill

Hi knew that this was a time for roots to cling to the soil.










Sabbath is God’s, “You’ve done enough”

14 11 2016

The reason God gave His people the sabbath was not to add a legalistic requirement but to let us feel His approval. That is why, in our need for approval through performance, we need to recover and practice the sabbath-principle.

Sabbath let’s me hear God approvingly announce “enough.” He smiles on the work I have done and tells me it is sufficient, and that He will make up the lack. Sabbath changes the responsibility from “mine” to “ours”. Practicing sabbath changes my schedule from work-dominant to balanced trusting. It acknowledges that God cares about my time and what I do with it. He cares that I am productive but guards me against idolizing what I do.

My first thought was that sabbath is a way I invite God into my life, but on further reflection I see it as a way God invites me into His life. As God balances productivity and contentment, I am welcomed into the same balance and experience more of God’s way of living.

How do we share in God’s way of doing work and sabbath? How do I stop short of completely defining what I will do, leaving space for God to move in and share the work with me? How do we share the steering wheel with God?

I don’t have answers for you, but here is how I relate to this. One thing I can do is to stop manipulating my opportunities. Instead, I can watch for what God brings and flow with that. I can nurture the relationships God brings my way. These may not be the ones I would have sought. They may not seem strategic, but they are God-sent.

I can also watch for, and honor the giftings and passions of the people God brings. These people may take us in directions we did not foresee, but again they are ways God can invite us into His life.

A third way is to acknowledge my inability and dependency to accomplish the work myself. This makes room for God. I can do this with joy, not with guilt or frustration, for it means the work is a partnership with God. (The feeding of the 5,000 exemplifies this: “You feed the people.” “Well, what do you have?”  “Ok, I’ll work with that — have the people sit down.”)

I don’t think there is any part of my work that is exactly what I want it to be. Could that be a gracious working of God in showing me how we can share the load? My perpetual feeling of inadequacy is God’s invitation to sabbath and His assurance, “I like what you’ve done. It’s enough. Now rest.”

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Lyn’s birthday gift

28 07 2016

Here is my sketch of our recent vacation. This was at Heyburn State Park, in Idaho, where Lyn and I had been with the kids in previous years.

campsite sketchDo you see that little Weber grill in the foreground? Let me show you what we made on that!    Paella! and it was fantastic!

paellaNotice the date on my sketch (above, lower right). 7/6/16.  That is Lyn’s birthday, and her dad was having surgery that day. So it was an emotional day anyhow, and we were praying throughout the day. I’m not easily moved to tears — although more so since Lyn died — but I couldn’t hold back my emotions when leafing through the sketchbook I saw this last page — a complete surprise:

Lyn's gift“Before Thy throne we daily meet,
As joint petitioners to Thee;
In spirit each the other greet,
And shall again each other see.”

Discovering this quote on her birthday was a priceless gift!

With all the heartache of losing her, I still believe God is good. Things don’t have to make sense to me. I trust that God knows what He is doing, and I will some day understand.

Would you do me a BIG favor? If you don’t mind, leave me a comment, even a simple “thanks.” (or, “take some art classes!”)

Till next time,

Comfort in my hurt

18 06 2016

When I listen to my soul and let it speak for itself,

I realize I have been wounded.


My confidence in myself has sustained injury.

A bruise remains.

Then I hear in my mind a melody from my boyhood,

often sung, seldom pondered,

but now of comfort.

So I nudge near to the one in the song —

the one with the wounded, bleeding side,

where my wound is in excellent company.

Barren and buried, and God was unhurried

21 02 2016

2015-09-24 08.46.50You will often find that you are at one of the trail markers in several ways at the same time. (I know that isn’t good news, but you will get through). Let me illustrate this by adding another tomb-like scenario that was transpiring during those nine years in college and seminary.

My wife, Lyn, and I were newly married and had moved to another city to attend seminary. After a year of marriage, she had not conceived and it was becoming a concern to us. Our infertility, and the frustration that come with it, was exacerbated as several couples whom we had gotten to know started getting pregnant. When we would get an invitation to yet another baby shower, our hearts would feel the stab of disappointment.

For seven long years we lived with this daily longing. Our marriage was strained by the unrelenting sadness. We withdrew from some social activities because inevitably something was said, or a question was asked, that hurt our feelings. We got medical help, but still no pregnancy. My wife was positive that over the years she had experienced multiple conceptions but lost every one of them. Why was God not answering our prayer? People who don’t care about God at all seemed to be having more kids than they can handle. What did God have against us? As much as we sought to keep faith, we moved deeper into a spiritual desert.

After four years we initiated an adoption process. By this time I had graduated from seminary and was seeking a church to serve as their pastor. Since no opportunities were opening up to us, we finally decided to move back to our home state of California and wait there for God to act. Just at that time, an adoption agency called to ask if we would like to adopt a young boy that had emotional problems, but to do so we would have to stay in Dallas. We were torn. Why had God allowed our frustration to deepen into a crisis decision? We were confused, broke, and lonely – the only couple in our circle of friends that didn’t have kids yet. We were barren and buried. Why did the Author of time seem unable to hurry up?

What words or phrases describe what you have experienced through waiting?