The Meaninglessness of Modification

Stephen Oates, in his book on Martin Luther King, Jr., Let The Trumpet Sound, quotes King: For years... I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of the South, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you've got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values. I agree with this statement. I apply this same truth to the church. It isn't enough to tweak this or that part of the church, just like it isn't enough … [Read more...]

My Arctic Expedition

I'm feeling my mortality today. Lisa suggested I go for a walk on the river. I lit my pipe, and upon the frozen plain I set my faltering feet. While I walked I remembered being in training as a pastor. I spent time for a course visiting terminally ill patients in a hospital. By the end of it I was sure I had every insidious disease going and even went to see my doctor to find out what I was going to die from. It was all in my head. Being surrounded by illness, death and dying can have that … [Read more...]

Pastoral Approachability

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Again, We Must Say Goodbye

My God! Another friend of mine died last night. She was only in her early 50s. Survived by her husband and 4 young children. I was just talking with her on Friday. When I visited her, although she was experiencing discomfort, we were able to visit with each other. Then Saturday morning things took a turn. She slowly slipped into a coma. She was surrounded by family and friends all day yesterday. The room was packed. Finally, her immediate family were with her, playing guitar, singing songs and … [Read more...]

The Illusive Safety of Escape

R. Arthur Matthews in his book Born For Battle, writes a rather brutally true statement that I feel is profound. Not too many people are willing to go this far in wisdom: God can be reckless with the physical safety of his children because spiritual issues are more important than security and prosperity. And the spiritual issue about which God is concerned is loyalty, even to the bound of death. Why did God leave Watchman Nee imprisoned in China? We would have like to see him released and … [Read more...]

Loneliness and Never Alone

One of the faithful contributors to this blog in the form of comments, Chris Gill, wrote me a personal email yesterday in response to my post about Sarah and I gathering up her boyfriend's belongings last week. He's given me permission to post it here for the public. Thanks Chris! Here it is:Hi David, I just wanted to tell that I really like the painting in your post about Sarah and Nato. It reminds me of some of my favorite walks in the woods during my time as a survival instructor. It's … [Read more...]

From Contradiction to Radical Living

Donald Nicholl, in a marvelous essay in Grail Journal, "Holiness: A Call To Radical Living", writes: In fact, every call of the Holy Spirit begins with a revelation of the bankruptcy of one's present, habitual mode of life, its tendency towards the death of one's spirit. That moment of awakening inevitably has to be a moment of anguish, of agony, and of repentance, because it is only from the pain of awakening to the contradiction in one's life that the energy to change arises. The fine-art … [Read more...]

Life and Death in the Night Hours

I went to the hospital again today to visit another friend. I visited with her yesterday. We actually had a conversation. But overnight she took a sudden turn for the worse. Lisa and I were on our way to have breakfast together this morning when I received a call about her condition. We immediately turned around, I dropped Lisa off home and I rushed into the hospital. My good friend, her husband, was in the room with her. She was pretty much comotose. I couldn't believe it. I just sat with him … [Read more...]

The Biblical Method to Church Success

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Stop Pleasing Everybody!

Alexander Liberman in his book, The Artists In His Studio, wrote what I think is the most important line in the whole book: An artist, as Malraux said of Goya, 'discovers his genius the day he dares not to please'. I'm in perfect agreement with this. And it doesn't just apply to art, but to life, work, and for me, the spiritual life and ministry. I decided a while ago to not people-please. It's had disastrous results... my church split, I've been fired from a ministry, I've lost many friends, … [Read more...]