Every day we need rest, sometimes we need deep rest.

We need a kind of deep, abyssopelagic, bottom dwelling rest when we have become cumulatively tired, when we have pushed for too long, too hard, too fast.

So how do we get that; how do we rest in such a way that we shape within ourselves a rubust recovery?

To do this we must detach, detrailer and deplane We must unhook, unsnap and unfasten. We must quit.

We must quit work, we must quit doing any work and we must quit planning more work in the car while driving home.

We must quit communicating. Yes, we must stop talking with others for a time, so that we can listen to ourselves and God. We must stop  making phone calls, texting, emailing and connecting on social media.

Why? Because deep healing is a solitary thing; it is hermetic, reflective, a kind of mental chewing of the cud, a kind of quiet licking of wounds, a kind of contemplative, ruminative self-mending — in silence.

Silence is salutary. Long silence is curative. Deep silence raises the dead.

To go deep, and recover, to be raised again, we must also do some psychological quitting. We must quit thinking anxiously about our problems, about other people’s problems and about the problem of problems.  We must take  responsibility for being present-in-the-moment of the adequate now, for once, and we would do well, for a few moments at least, to stop acting like we run the world.

This must get so very specific, this kind of honest, congruent, salvific resting. This means taking breaks from things we do habitually.

For instance, we must stop running to the store for the next new thing, the next trendy trinket, fancy food stuff or busy buy fix. We must stop shopping online for our next piece of clothing, the next piece of jewlry, the next nick-nap, knock-knob. We must stop acting as if consuming is the essence of living, stop believing the fallacy that we will be satisfied by the very next bright and colorful fetish we acquire.

Here is the deal, the thing we so often miss. It is not all up to us. So much comes to us, is provided, is taken care of already, at the right time, running together, running over the edge of the cup.

What should we do?

Bask, sun, luxuriate in time, soak, receive.

And most specifcally, to make it clear.

Take naps — like our cats.

Read stuff — slowly.

Eat healthy, yum food.

Look at the bright sky — or at sparkling water.


to music,

to the beating of our hearts,

to our own breathing,

to the love stiring inside of us,

to hope,

to peacefulness,

and to God.





It has been an avalanche — of generosity.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

Yesterday the stucco went on the wall, beautifully textured over the pilasters and cap. Yum brown and perfect! The contractor discounted the price by $1,200.

Today the decorative lighting goes up. A friend paid for it all, and for the night-time flood lighting too, $3,200.

In a week or so our concrete contractor will be back to connect the underground drains to the street. He gave us a $5,000 when he built the wall and laid the base material for the walks.

A month ago the stone pavers went in. Now the large stage and walkways are gorgeous in warm browns and dark charcoal greys. The discount — it was close to $10,000.

Last night we hooked up the irrigation valves to the sprinkler system. A beautiful, green carpet of tall fescue will go in Saturday. The labor for the irrigation and sod installation — free.

It’s been like that at The REFINERY.

We set out three years ago — a relatively small church — to create an interior courtyard on our site, a sacred space for outdoor worship, for weddings, for picnics, for parties, for children, for everyone, for our community.

A few months from now we will dedicate this space with a huge celebration. It will need to go on for a week. There are that many people to thank!

The architectural plan — donated. The landscape plan — donated. All the funds spent — they were freely given over several year by many people, in huge and unexpected amounts, and in small regular amounts, a $20 gift here, $10,000 there, $9 here, $1,200, $50, $1, $18,000  — it poured in, it ran over the edge of the cup, it is still coming in, we are almost there, amazing!

What do we make of this?

Several things come to mind.

Despite all the difficulty of life, vision remains — art also, and beauty and hope. And we see that resources follow vision and are multiplied by generosity which is inspired by a new thing made lovely. Gorgeous dreams inspire people, and above all there is God — and he is good.

More could be said.

What seems appropriate is simply, “Thank you!”

I spent much of my week shoveling dirt. It was mundane. It was also exhausting.

And it was spiritual.

There is a bias among some of the faithful that temple building doesn’t rank very high on the spirituality index. Prayer, study, mediation, teaching, bringing healing, worshipping  — these are often ranked higher that moving dirt.

But this is not so. Working is akin to praying, they both have a deep intrinsic spiritual value.

God’s people need a place, they always have  — a sanctuary, a shelter, a bit of ground reserved for quietness, a garden corner of beauty, a sacred space to come before God to connect, learn and worship.

This week, at the church site we are renewing, we will be spreading wood chips, moving top soil, gluing sprinkler system pipe, planting flowers. This is a sign. It is a sign of our spiritual health.

A bit worn out from all this, this morning I read Haggai.

Here is what God told his people in ancent times about temple remodeling projects.

Here’s what I want you to do:

Climb into the hills and cut some timber.

Bring it down and rebuild the Temple.

Do it just for me. Honor me.”

Haggai 1:8

When we rebuild temples, we are doing what the kind of thing that God likes, particularly when we do it to honor him.  Rebuilding is within the divine mandate to honor and care for God by honoring and caring for the earth. Earth matters. Dirt matters. Places matter. A solid place that has been given by God matters, and this much is true: A people in tune with God will restore and beautify the holy places God gives them.

Yes, get to work! For I am with you.’ God told his people in Haggai’s day! ‘Put into action the word I covenanted with you when you left Egypt. I’m living and breathing among you right now. Don’t be timid. Don’t hold back.’

Haggai 2:5

Years ago I had a dream that I had left my beautiful home in my master-planned community and bought an old, large, broken down house. In the dream I just kept thinking, why did I do this? I don’t want to fix up this huge, old, trashed home.

Then one day my dream came true. I was called to be the pastor of a fairly large church facility that had been neglected for years. When I took the job, I didn’t think much about the site, just the people, their need for me, my need to care for them, God’s invite.

Then one day, after being there a short while and seeing the needs of the site up close, I was suddenly struck  that my old nightmare had come true. I was reponsible for a large, ruined house.

Then God spoke to me, as he did to Haggai, “Get to work! For I am with you.”

His voice worked on me. I began to burn inside for the temple of God to be honored.

And so we have gotten to work. We put in new lights, bought new porch canopies, refinished old oak floors, refinihed the seating, remodeled the stage and we painted and we painted — everything! And there is more. We are just finishing a three year project, a new interior coutyard with a beautiful enclosing stucco wall, a large stage, pavered walkways, gardened edges, and both decorative and ambient lighting. It is about to be gorgeous!

And to celebrate all this newness we have renamed the place, We are now The REFINERY, because this is what we are. We are now a place where old things become new, and where good things become better.

And for me, has it been a bad dream? It has not. It has been a good dream, a beautiful dream, because when God tell us to renew something, then we ourselves are renewed in the process of doing that.

This is what God himself said to his people in Haggai’s day.

Think ahead from when the Temple rebuilding was launched. Has anything in your fields—vine, fig tree, pomegranate, olive tree—failed to flourish? From now on you can count on a blessing.’”

Haggai 2:19

Cool! Whe we rebuild according to God’s command, God rebuilds us.  Earth care, temple care, site care — God is all over it, and he rewards and takes care of those who do it.

Shoveling dirt — it’s spiritual.

I turn the heat down, just a smidge, to avoid any crispy from forming along the edges.

I add another 15 seconds to the microwave so that the syrup will be hot on the plate.

Another 20 seconds more for the wafffle in the toaster.

Add the salt and pepper to the eggs, at the last moment throw in just enough crumbled bacon in to taste, not enough for a heart attack.

Put the pieces together — crispy waffle, hot buttery syrup, perfectly soft eggs and bacon.

I move to the couch, my dark red plate in hand, find a comfy corner, put a couch pillow on my lap, put the plate on the pillow, eight inches from my mouth, my fresh, cold drink one foot away.

I’m ready.

I cut the waffle, stir it in the syrup, put a piece of egg and bacon on top, put it in my mouth. Ahhhh, the mix! The crunchy, soft, savory, salty, sweet combination — perfect!

Good arises out of good.

Good things come from good processes.

Good processes take planned steps, take time — require waiting, require patience, create anticipation, create beauty, create good reality.

This week, friends and I will muck about in the church garden. We will be pulling out old plants, laying down new irrigation pipe, putting in new water valves, spreading wood chips, planting flowers.

Steps, pieces, processes — these are to be enjoyed, savored and loved. To take the time, to put something together carefully, to prepare assiduously, to grace reality with order, to sit back, to settle in, to take the first bite, to see, taste, smell, feel and hear beauty — this is what the good life is all about.

This morning I make my coffee dark and strong. I am instantly rewarded with the rich taste in my mouth, quickly followed by that fun, playful, convivial caffeine kick.

I sit on the couch. My very soft cat comes and sits beside me. I put my fingers in her fluffy fur. She purrs: I purr.

I pray, “God, encourage me, help me, bring good to me and my people.” God answers me, “I am.

Built into the universe is an incredibly rich, instrinsic, automatic perpetuation of what is good. Yesterday I dug in the yard at the church, preparing the soil for the beautiful flowers that will bloom yellow and purple there soon. I prepare for the good; I will see the good.

Built into every good action is an equal and positive reaction. I cleaned the carpet at home this week. I sit this morning and look at the smooth, unstained surface. I feel satisfied. I find in simple things one of the grand universal laws of auto-causal, socio-geograhical, physio-spiritual psychodynamics.

Seek good; find good. Do good; think good. Be good; feel good. Good follows hard on the heels of every good.

I make my daughter’s dinner. She comes to help. We sit and eat together. We play a game of Yahtzee. The dice click. We laugh at what comes up. I roll two Yahtzees. We relax into what we have made — love, fun, safety, human warmth, family.

Just as in every act of evil there is harm to the doer, in every act of goodness there is an immediate reward for the actor.

Tonight I will have people over to my house for dinner. As I give them care, I will immediately experience their love, friendship and warmth. Especially if I think of them, and not my house, of them and not myself, of them and not my worries — good will come to me and to them.

To experience good, we must do good, to revel in good, we must place the good in front of us — we must bathe in it, soak in it, relax into it, let it relax into us.

I sit writing. I breathe deeply. In these confessions of the truth there is good. I sit quietly. Good falls on me like rain. I am watered — at rest.

The rewards of goodness  — they’re everywhere!

Sometime I look at how much violence, abuse and evil there is in the world and I wonder, where is God? Abuse, rape, violence, hate —  how can he see it up close and not do something about it?

But perhaps God is doing something about it, in this way.

Built into the very structure of reality are consequences, the rewards and punishments intrinsic in actions.

The violent shoot and stab their own hearts with their violence as soon as they hit, pull the trigger or wield the knife. When they harm and kill, they kill mercy, compassion and love within themselves.  Every act of violence harms the perpetrator.

I can myself remember getting so angry, inappropriately, that I could literally feel it harming myself. All actions elicit immediate, attendant reactions and results.

The rapist in raping rapes his own soul. He immediately violates his own bondaries and harms his own capacity for respect, for gentleness and for love. Yes, he damages another, horribly, but in raping he annihilates himself.

The evil instantly become the evil they do, and this is the most horrible of punishments. To become the thing that harms, wounds and destroys — this is what it truly means to destroy oneself.

The greedy beome greedy and lose the real purpose and value of things. The sexually immoral become jaded and lose the real joy and meaning of sex. The dominating become dominant and are cut off from love and friendship and respect — ironically often the very things they crave.

Jesus said it best. We reap what we sow — and this is more quickly than we know. Indeed, the seeds of what we sow sprout instantly in our hearts.

The truth is that God is not absent, indifferent, inactive or uncaring. God is just and right and good. He has built justice into the very DNA of our existance.

I cleaned the carpet yesteday at home, on my knees scrubbing it by hand. Then using hot water and carpet cleaner in my carpet machine, I scrubbed it more.

This morning, I sit on the couch and look at it — beautiful.

I glance across the room at the overhead light in the kitchen. I replaced it a few months ago. It involved taking out the old lights and the wooden framing around them, rewiring the electrical wires and installing a new electrical box, re-drywalling the recessed ceiling, texturing it, painting it, picking out another light and installing it. It was a mess for awhile; now it looks great.

I walked outside this morning before sunrise. Venus and Jupiter sat beside each other in the southwestern sky. They have been in motion this month, dancing, moving in and out with each other — gorgeous. I can tell God put some time in on his lights.

Every creation, by us or by God, involves a process. Genesis tells us that first there was the chaos, then there was order. The universe, the stars, the planets, in God’s hands took shape, established their places and began to dance. It happened over time. God must have thought, as he worked, they are really going to like this. We do!

Every new thing takes imagination and planning, every old thing renewed takes steps, every making-the-world-a-little-more-attractive takes labor and love.

We work, we lay our work aside, we rest, we work again. The first stages of a project put us on our knees. The final stages have us looking up. We scrub, or we tear something up — it isn’t pretty. The water I poured from the carpet cleaner yesterday was grey and gritty. The kitchen ceiling had holes in it before it was smooth again.

I’ve noticed lately that things have to get ugly, before they get beautiful. I am relandscaping the lawns at the church. What a mess! Dead grass, piles of dirt, weed mat flapping in the wind, not yet covered by the soon-coming wood chips — it looks horrible.

And yet, there is coming, a day when I will step back, and with great pleasure, look it over, finished and flowering and beautiful.

I think about it, the way we get from here to there, from nothing to something, from old to new, from good to better, and I understand how to live wisely.

Iimagine the good future; get on your knees —  scrub, wire and work your way there.

I looked at the steps above and below me. All the available space was covered — with people.

The concrete steps were literally paved with seated people — something like you might see at the Spanish steps in Rome, but different —  people with dirt on their arms and water bottles beside them, people smiling and laughing.

And moreover and thusly, they were eating pizza, set out in boxes, stacked in the center of the steps.

It was a volunteer earth care team, and we sitting on the church entry steps, after work, on a mid-week evening. We had just been digging grass out of the yard, building a decorative retaining wall and constructing a pretty, curving, decomposed granite pathway.


Earth care, water saving and beauty — and community. The new plants that will be planted at the church will use less water, flower more, inspire us and the people who walk or drive by.

And that’s the thing, the people. On the steps that evening — laughing about goofy horror movies we have seen, woofing down tasty pizza, taking a break from work — we were a collection, a collaboration, a unit, an entity, a team, a people, a family. This is good church.

This is in fact, the highest social good, our best moment.  When we refuse to stay home, when we defeat isolationism, when we come out, when we team up to care for the earth and each other, when we have social discourse, when we become a pod, a murmuration,  a collaborative — this is deep, satisfiying good-good.

Want to live well? Want to please God?

Want the best experiences life can offer?

Find people, do earth care work with them, get pizza, put the pizza in the center of the group, eat, hobnob, laugh and then look around at the beauty you are celebrating.

This is your earth; this is your human family.

All Solomon’s work was carried out, from the day the foundation of the temple of the LORD was laid until its completion. So the temple of the LORD was finished.

2 Chronicles 8:16

One of the privileges I have had over the last few years is to restore and build  the REFINERY Church in Chula Vista, California. It’s been a lot of team work, a lot of stress and a lot of fun. It has also provided me some interesting emotions.

I think that I have a  sense of what Solomon must have felt when he built the temple. My team and I are building the temple, and we are building a courtyard not so different in size from what Solomon and the Jewish people constructed.

Our stone layers recently finished putting down  pavers in the walkways in our new courtyard. For an outstanding price, given because this is a church, they laid down stone pavers and stone walls with stone caps in lovely earth tones of dark brown and charcoal gray.  It’s gorgeous work, fitting for a king. We paid about $13,000. The work is worth more like $18,000, but the contractor donated to the project. Afterall, it was for God. When I stand back and look at it, I feel satisfied.

At the front ot the courtyard are two beautiful iron gates, each worth over $4000. We paid $1250 for each. The metal worker made them far beyond our expectations and beyond his too. As he began the work, using some light iron pieces, he felt that God said to him, “This isn’t good enough. For my house the metal should be the best.”

And so he put asside the iron, and selected the best he had, and built out of that. Our God is a God who calls us to art and beauty and when we create he comes along side of us and inspires greatness. I stand back and look at the gates in our church courtyard. I am very pleasantly surprised.

A friend who sells electrical lighting came by to see our work in the courtyard recently. He was thrilled, so much so that the said he wanted to help light the courtyard. He asked us to pick out the decorative lighting we wanted. We have expensive tastes. It cost almost $1,000. He picked out the LED floodlights to light it at night. He selected the best for the applicaton, then he had all the lights installed. The bill for everything came to $3,200. He paid it. I feel grateful.

Satisfied, suprised, grateful — these are temple building emotions. Solomon must have felt them. I do. So also the builders who contributed to the poject. They are good feelings.

If you want to feel these things too, then I suggest that you go build something for God.

It’s complicated; it’s not.

These days a lot of us live complicated lives; we put a lot on the to-do plate.

Currently at the nonprofit I lead I am overseeing a fund drive for the construction of a courtyard, leading a water saving measure that taps into a California State trust fund, managing an electricity-saving project that exchanges the fluorescent at our site for LED lighting. In addition, our nonprofit recently rolled out a name change, managing all the politics, costs and relational subtleties that required.

Besides that there is my speaking schedule, my meeting schedule, the overseeing of staff and the overseeing of myself. In addition there is the good, the relational, the everyday personal, the loving of my sweet wife, the relating to my adorable daughters, the cats, the bills, the vacuuming and the toilets — they need to be cleaned.

How to stay sane? That is the question, especially smack in the middle of the visionary-mundane, the unfinished, uncertain and unexpected.

A couple of ideas come to mind.

Compartmentalize the projects. Work on something, then leave it, completely — out of sight out of mind — and don’t let it eat at you until you block out a time to work on it again.

Create processes and timelines that are realistic. Decide: these are the steps we must take, these are the processes we will use, this is a realistic time frame in which to accomplish this objective — then add three months to that.

Ask for help. To live a complicated life, to be a high-energy person, to be a high-output person — this requires comrades, friends, teams, a group of leaders and collaboration. Nothing great ever gets accomplished alone.

These approaches aren’t clean, perfect, categorical solutions to the challenges of a complicated life.

Of course we can’t forget that snarly problem and of course the solution will come to us in the shower. Of course we won’t anticipate all the obstacles. and of course our timeline and processes will need revisions. And of course we will sometime do something we should have asked someone else to do.

But to live well while accomplishing a lot, to keep from dying of stress in a high-stress lifestyle, do these things: Create boundaries, lay plans, don’t go it alone.

It’s not that complicated.