Tuesday, November 24, 2009


"Silence and solitude is fasting from people and noise for a prescribed time to connect with God and replenish the soul. The opposite of solitude is isolation, where someone is burned out and goes into survival mode by disappearing. Solitude is godly, isolation is deadly, and if we don’t enjoy the former we’ll wind up pursuing the latter." Mark Driscoll

I am guilty of isolation.

As a matter of fact, in the last few weeks I've been feeling overwhelmingly alone. And I know it's because of self imposed isolation.

So what's the difference between solitude and isolation?

Solitude seeks healing

Isolation seeks escape

Solitude welcomes

Isolation rejects

Solitude listens

Isolation ignores

Solitude submits

Isolation rebels

Solitudes refreshes

Isolation drains

Solitude focuses on the future

Isolation is consumed with the past

Solitude is godly

Isolation is deadly

Times of solitude are vital. They keep us connected to God. They strengthen us to connect with others. They refresh our souls.

One of the greatest strategies of war is divide and conquer. Even in the animal kingdom the one who is isolated from the herd is the one attacked by the hungry predator. It's the same with us. When we allow ourselves to live in isolation we become easy prey. We are easily discouraged, easily offended, easily wounded, easily picked off.

Connection is hard. Community is hard. But isolation is deadly.

Isolation...it's not worth the risk.

Monday, November 23, 2009


So I’ve been thinking a lot about my last post. I haven’t really had anything else to ponder at 2 in the morning. I’ve been asking God for answers. I’m hoping for a letter to arrive in the mail.

Actually, maybe it did. But it wasn’t in the mail, it was in this book that sits on my desk. Today I cracked the pages and found myself caught up in a story about a man who loved a woman who was unfaithful to him. His name was Hosea, he took as his wife Gomer, the prostitute.

We normally don’t consider prostitutes to be suitable mates for a Prophet of God. It’s slightly unorthodox. But Hosea took his wife out of obedience to God. You see, God wanted to prove a point. He wanted us to know that He loves the prostitute. Loves her enough to purchase her. Loves her enough to marry her, bring her into his home, allow her to eat at his table.

The book of Hosea continues to describe the unfaithfulness of Israel, His bride. She has betrayed Him, been unfaithful to Him. And He is crying out to her, “return to Me”.

I can’t let you go.
I can’t give you up.
How could I possible destroy you?
I just can’t do it.
My feelings for you
are much too strong.
I won’t lose my temper
And destroy you again
I am the Holy God—
Not merely some human
And I won’t stay angry.
I, the Lord, will roar like a lion,
And my children will return,
trembling from the west,
They will come back,
fluttering like birds from Egypt
or like doves from Assyria.
Then I will bring them
back to their homes.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
Hosea 11:8-11

My heart breaks as I read His words. I’m overwhelmed by His love for me, for us, His bride. His beloved prostitute.

The truth is, I have been unfaithful. I have betrayed Him. I have loved others beside Him. I have followed my own agenda, sought my own way, ignored His voice. And yet… and still… Still He loves me.

Am I still disillusioned by the church? Yes. Am I still hurting? Yes. But something has changed. I asked Him to show me what to do. His answer… Love the Bride.

“But God”, I argued, “the Bride is so unlovable.”
“More unlovable than a prostitute?” He asked.

We love because He first loved us. Without His love, it is impossible to love others. And so, today I am reminded of His love. His love for me. And because of His love for me, I can love His Bride.

Return! Come back
to the Lord, your God.
You have rejected me,
But my anger is gone;
I will heal you and love you
without limit.
I will be like the dew—
then you will blossom like lilies
and have roots like a tree.
your branches will spread
with the beauty
of an olive tree
and with the aroma
of Lebanon Forest.
You will rest in my shade
And your grain will grow.
You will blossom
Like a vineyard
And be famous as the wine
from Lebanon.
I will heal you and love you
without limit.
Hosea 14

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Confession...

I have to warn you... this is probably going to get ugly. In fact, if you are reading this a miracle has occurred. Because, you see, there are these thoughts in my head. Thoughts that I have absolutely no desire to share with anyone, and no plans to post. But thoughts that must leave my mind and be birthed in written form. Because until they are birthed they will continue to whisper to me in the middle of the night. And I’d reeeeallly like to sleep again. So here they are, the ugly thoughts…

I didn’t grow up in church. Unless you count Christmas and Easter. I don’t. I was 15 when I started “attending” church, as opposed to “visiting” church. Something happened. I fell in love.

With Jesus, you’re guessing. And you’re right. I feel head over heels, passionately, deeply in love with Jesus. But I also fell in love with the Church.

You see, when I started attending church my life was a mess. My parents had just divorced. My life was turned upside down. I was lost, and broken. And then I found this place where I was loved, and celebrated, and taught, and mentored, and accepted. It was… I can’t even find the word. It was LIFE. It was HOME.

To me loving Jesus and being a part of the Church went hand in hand. They were two sides of the same record. I was blessed to be a part of the Body. And I was honored to be of use to the Body.

I remember getting up at 6:00 on Sunday mornings to drive through the poorest neighborhoods filling up every car we could find with kids whose moms & dads were still sleeping off the activities of the night before. I remember standing under bridges eating lunch with the homeless who lived there, visiting hospitals to pray and hug and wait together with faces familiar to me.

Then there were hours spent around alters praying with friends, confessing sin and struggles to one another, words of encouragement shared, the joining of hands and hearts, the breaking of bread.

I. Loved. Church.

Church was a joy. But what was once a joy has become an obligation.

Jason Grey wrote in his new song “For the First Time Again”:

I’m jaded
From all that I have seen
I’m bitter
But I don’t want to be

Today, that is my reality. I’m jaded. I’m bitter. And I feel obligated.

Obligated to attend church. Expected to be at church. Compelled to serve in church. I feel as though, because I call myself a Christian, I am duty-bound to spend my Sunday mornings and evenings gathered with other Christians. And to be honest, I can’t find the purpose in it all.

I realize how cynical I sound. Believe me, I hate feeling like this. But this is my reality.

The questions are driving me crazy. Has the church lost its way? Or have I? Have I become too critical of the church? Are things really good, but I can’t see it because I am blinded by my bitterness? Is the problem really between me and the church or me and Jesus? Am I the problem? Are my expectations too high?

I just have this nagging thought that it isn’t supposed to be like this. That there’s more.

This morning I read an excerpt from Mark Batterson’s soon to be released book Primal. He writes: “The Holy Spirit reminded me of the raw spiritual intensity I once had. He revealed how calloused my heart had become. And I realized that I had somehow lost my soul while serving God. And it wrecked me. I realize that in many ways I had become a paid professional Christian.”

I have somehow lost my soul while serving God.

I have become a paid professional Christian.

What do you do with that? I have lost my soul, my joy, my wonder. It has been taken from me. By politics in the church, abuse of spiritual authority, gossip, backbiting, neglect. It has been swallowed up by cliques, social clubs, and status. By perverted teaching and false gospels. By scandals. By lies. By loneliness.

I still believe in the church. I still believe in the office of the pastor. In the call of God. But I hurt. And I’m afraid. I’m afraid of being hurt again. Afraid of trusting again.

And, ultimately, I think that is what this is about. This exercise in expressing these thoughts. It’s about forgiving. About letting go of the past. About learning to trust again. It’s about choosing to believe that while the church is a real, actual mess, it is still the tool of choice in God’s hand for reaching the world. It’s about choosing to believe that regardless of how stained and wrinkled the church has become, it is still His Bride. And I still believe He loves His Bride.

The Jason Gray song I quoted earlier… the next line of the song is: “I’m believing, won’t You help my unbelief”.

I am believing. I choose to believe there is hope. Hope for me. Hope for the Church. Hope for joy to return. But, God… won’t You please help my unbelief. Because my unbelief is big. Big enough that I feel as though I am drowning in it.
What was once a joy has become an obligation.
It's time for joy again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Goodbye friend...

My heart hurts today. A dear friend, and wonderful man took his final ride to be with his God. I know that death comes to all of us, but I'm surprised it came to him. He was invincible.

I wonder where they will have the memorial service. I don't think there's a church in NWA big enough to hold every life he touched. And what a legacy he leaves.

He could make you laugh with the best of them. But when your world was falling apart, he would walk with you through the pain.

He was a great man. I am fortunate to have known him.

Right after I received the news I read this... It has brought me comfort. I pray that if you are walking through a season of pain that it will also comfort you.

"Both pain and pleasure are meant to point us to the same reality; namely, that Jesus Christ is infinitely beautiful and so much more than enough for our every need. Living for Him, even suffering for Him, is worth every moment of affliction! Why? Because Jesus shows you such beauty in pain, because He is there and He is carrying us through." Joe Eaton

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Alive Again

The first line of Matt Maher’s new song says “I woke up in darkness”. The first three words are my reality today. I woke up. The funny thing is… I didn’t know I was asleep.

Maybe it was a defense mechanism. Whatever the cause, I was sleeping. I had withdrawn from the world of sunshine to a place of darkness, a place of stillness, a place of quiet solitude.

Circumstances and situations piled on me suffocating me from the reality of life. Depression, sadness, anger and frustration blanketed me from the world of the living. In quietness I existed. Living, but not alive.

That’s when it happened. He called to me. I was lost so deep in my slumber that I didn’t hear His voice at first. Then He shouted. And the deafness that had overtaken me was broken. Light penetrated through the despair, and for the first time in a long time I breathed.

There is nothing so sweet as waking up, as breathing in and breathing out, as being alive, of being loved.

You can listen to Matt Maher's new song here.

I woke up in darkness surrounded by silence
Oh where, where have I gone?
I woke to reality losing its grip on me
Oh where, where have I gone?

‘Cause I can see the light before I see the sunrise

You called and You shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again

You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again

Late have I loved You
You waited for me
I searched for You
What took me so long?

I was looking outside
As if love would ever want to hide
I’m finding I was wrong

‘Cause I could feel the wind before it hits my skin

You called and you shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again

You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again, I’m alive again

‘Cause I want You, yes, I want You, I need You
And I’ll do whatever I have to just to get through
‘Cause I love You, yeah, I love You

You called and You shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again

You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again