Posts Tagged ‘thrive’


I’ve seen it in the rainforest north of Juneau, where the fluffy moss puffs up like thick cat fur on the rotting logs, growing toward the sun, and I’ve seen it in Sequoia where the dark, thick redwoods just keep flinging their massive trunks upward. I love how the great ancient forests all leap upwards.

A raft of our greatest artists noted this — Van Gogh, Burchfield, Carr, Chagall.

In my office, a Van Gogh — one of his Olive trees — churns, surges and tendrils up above my desk. Likewise, the Northern symbolist Charles Burchfield paid attention to such movement with his cathedral forests, where all the branches and leaves coil and curl skyward in church-window like arches — the energy of up, the vibrating sky, as in  September Wind and Rain. Chagall took this tack too, and his donkeys, his angels, his lovers all leave the ground to float and drift in the sky, or wherever, as in Over the Town or I and The Village

Emily Carr, the Canadian arboreal savant saw it too. I like how with Emily her sacred trees are all rushing upward, for instance her Among the Firs and Sombreness Sunlight.

Carr respects the trees; her’s twirl and whorl and shout and shoot to the sky. She graces them with dark rich blues and greens — yellows and oranges and whites peaking through them — black trunk and limb pushing heavenward through fire.

I love how Emily’s paint, her broad brush strokes move up, the sweeping branches, the upsweeping skies, except for this — those gorgeous lateral slashes of paint and wind rushing through her trees. Burchfield did this too in Oncoming Spring.

This is the motion of life. Life is heliotropic — with the occasional slash —  it is ascendant, for me it is praise.

It’s interesting what we make of the living creatures that inhabit the planet with us, the finches, alligator lizards, the daddy longlegs, pandas, whales, each other. As I sit in my condo on San Juan Island on a rainy day, here in the great American Northwest, I find myself looking at jumping Orcas on a colored whale watching tour brochure.

What? This is what it has come to for us and the whale, chasing them around in motor boats?

Consider the great Megaptera — the hump backed whales of the oceans with their forty ton bodies and fifteen foot wing-fins, those lumpy, bumpy, barnacled behemoths who swim through the sea filtering their food and who occasionally hurtle themselves from the waters in great, beautiful bulking arcs.

They are great ones; they are the mighty ones among us.

But instead of honoring the whale’s place, we have instead spotted, hunted, chased, killed, captured, specced and displayed them so that we can gawk over them, put them in marine parks, post them on Facebook and brag back home. Yesterday at the Whale Museum I saw a harpoon tip. It had the distinct look look of the history of cruelty to me.

Even today, we think of whales as being among a kind of ecotouristic cast of natural entertainers — something like Yosemite park deer, Yellowstone buffalo or San Diego zoo elephants. To us the whales are a vacation business, a natural road show, at best a science project. To many of us they have become merely logo, post card, poster or cute emoji on our phones.

But the whales are much more than that. Whales are not nature’s burlesque show for vacationers, the world’s lab experiment for scientists. The Megaptera are our mysticetes — the great ones who live by filtering the small ones. They are the gentle kings of the sea, wave-masters of wide waters, a society, fellow creature, communicants, like us — just different. They breathe air through lungs, are warm-blooded, give birth to young who drink milk, they have hair, they communicate with each other.

Consider the Odontoceti, the gorgeous black and white whales with shiny skin. They are best known to us for their infamous teeth and for stories of their killing prowess. We think of what we have seen of them on YouTube videos, killing their trainers, hunting down Tiger sharks or dragging flopping sea lions off the beach.

But perhaps here too we mistake them. Whales don’t have egos, hatreds or evil intentions. They never kill themselves, or wage massive wars — none of the animals do — like we do. They mainly seek food and shelter and companionship.

I want a different relationship with the creatures than perhaps I’ve had. I want to better preserve their dignity, to not harass them, to enjoy them, to nurture them. Yes, there is a food chain; and yes, there is sometimes the need for protection from each other, but yes there is yet the potential for more respect.

The other day one of the therapists in my office asked me to remove a daddy longlegs from the corner. A widespread myth holds that daddy longlegs, also known as granddaddy longlegs or harvestmen, are the most venomous spiders in the world. It has been rumored that we are only safe from their bite because their fangs are too small and weak to break through our skin. Both these things have been proven to be false.

As for the grandaddy we found in our office, I carefully caught it in a paper cup and released it unharmed into our flower garden. For just a moment, I was the great bulking, powerful creature being gentle with the small, fragile vulnerable creature. I liked myself like that, on common ground with the spider, not caught in fear and myth, inhabiting the same planet, crossing paths, both hoping for safety, in contact for a moment, not harming each other, then going our separate ways.

I love it when they cut, stab, drill and peer into me with their cruel machines. I literally exult. I consider myself among the most privileged persons on the planet. Later I remember their tortures with the greatest fondnesses.

She pulls my mouth open with her fingers, slides the needle into my jaw gently and says, “Relax.” Then she starts humming in the way that I like.

He takes the top of my head with both his hands, firmly rotates it, and then with his right hand he cuts me. “Excellent,” he says. I agree, as I always do regarding his work. It’s why I keep coming back.

“Put you hands here,” she says, “side-by-side on the machine. Then place your eye against the rubber until you see the bright green circle.”

I love them. I love their machines. Each instrument does for me what I can’t do for myself. Each one achieves a goal, and yet it is not consumed in the process. Each one — masterfully manipulated — and I am better. Dig, scrape, lift, hammer, screw, compute — good, better, best me and you

Instrument, utensil, implement, machine, device, and apparatus — tools and the people who skillfully manipulate them — these greatly improve our lives.

We who are resourced, we who have multiple, modern armamentariums at our disposal, we who can hire dentists, surgeons, hair stylists, mechanics and  optometrists, we live so well, better than any ancient royalty.

Healthy care, beauty care, eye care, car care, soul care  — if you have it, suffer it gladly, you proviledged elite, you resourced rich, you spoiled pampered. Complain not that you have to go to the doctor or dentist; that’s unenlightened. It’s ungrateful.

For every time they stick a needle or drill or scrapple into you, for every time you get your hair cut, for every pedicure and pill and partial panacea that blesses you — be thankful.

What is the kindest thing you have ever seen?

One of the kindest act I ever experienced involved diapers. My wife and I used to take turns changing them. Then one day she did two poopy diapers in a row. So kind!

Another time, I backed our beautiful Lexus SUV into a telephone pole. She only said one thing: “That’s why we have insurance.” It was one of the best silent kindness I have ever experienced.

Last Friday, I was kind to her. We had a guest over for dinner. I came home from work late. That way I didn’t get in her way while she made dinner. I think of myself as growing in kindness.

In politics these days, in the Presidential race, there isn’t much kindness. Instead there is a lot of harshness, name calling, bullying, attacking and shaming.

This is quite unfortunate, because now ridiculing others is thought to be a sign of strength. It’s a bad model for all of us. True strength does not lie in the preschool behavior of name calling.

Authentic power reveals itself with a gentler demeanor.One of the most reliable indicators of healthy, mature leadership is the quiet but famous behavior, kindness.

Our God — the strongest being in the Universe — is fundamentally kind. Some folks mistakenly see God as harsh, judgmental, even cruel. But that is wrong. God is not mean. God is fundamentally and intrinsically kind.

Psalm 145:17-18

The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

Kindness, in the Bible, is a word that is not well distinguished from similar words and this has perhaps led to its neglect. For instance, Psalm 63, pairs kindness with love, as in God’s “lovingkindness.”

In fact, the word kindness overlaps in meaning with many other words, like goodness, mercy, love, grace, favor, compassion and gentleness and so translators often use these words somewhat interchangeably.

But it would be helpful to us, to clarify the meaning of kindness, to distill its essence, to win back its place, because it is a concept — or rather a behavior — that mature, powerful people practice with great specificity.

In Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” kindness is defined as follows: It is “helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped”.

This ancient meaning is in alignment with the NT meaning of kindness which perhaps has one of its richest connotations in the NT word chrestotes, kindness that has a usefulness to it.

Once when my wife and I were vacationing in England, in the Cotswolds, we walked through cow pastures and past sheep and stone walls up to the tiny town of Clapton on the Hill. Our plan was to take the bus back to meet a friend in Burton on the Water.

But when we got to Clapton, a sign said the bus only came through town like once a week.

So we started walking back, when a nice BMW or Audi came by, and stopped and a elderly couple asked, “Do you want a ride?”

We did and so we hopped in with muddy feet saying, “Thank you, thank you but we are so sorry to muddy your beautiful car.”

They shot right back. “Oh, don’t worry. It’s a rental.” It was kind anyway. For all they knew, we were dope smoking serial killers from California.

Kindness is a specific altruistic action, a powerful usefulness, (a ride in the rain), not simply politeness, nice talk or warm, fuzzy sentiments.

Studies show that kind behaviors, helping others, brings better health, better relationships, longer life and even more success in workplaces.

Kindness is powerful. Kindness rescues people, it causes openness, improvement, growth because it gives safe space for change. Think of the power of kindness in everyday life.

A police officer in Florida buys groceries for a poor woman’s caught shoplifting.

A church in Dallas finds foster homes for stray dogs in winter.

People in Chicago raise money for a car for a man who is walking to work.

A restaurant in Chula Vista, Panera Bread, opens its doors to feed homeless people on Thanksgiving Day. The REFINERY Church provides the food.


And there are greater than these.

Through kindness thousands of Jews were saved from the Holocaust. Through kindness Mother Teresa set up homes for the dying. And through kindness Bill and Linda Gates are giving away billions of dollars to stop disease.

Kindness is powerful. It is a catalyst for change. It saves lives. The Bible tells us that God’s kindness is like that. Romans 2:4. God’s kindness is meant to lead [us] to repentance.

In his kindness, God holds back judgment, gives us time, to give us a chance to repent, to get right. God’s Kindness makes space for us to change.

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that kindness is one of the “most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse”.

Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford is a much-loved First Lady for her honesty, her kindness and her care for others. In 1974, Mrs. Ford discovered she had breast cancer. As a result, she had a radical mastectomy. She went public with this, (not common) and within days, 10,000 letters, 500 telephone calls, 200 telegrams and tons of floral arrangements poured into the White House and her suite at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

How kind!

Betty’s openness about her cancer showed care for others and that is what made others care for her.

In the months that followed Betty’s revelation about her cancer, tens of thousands of American women, inspired by her forthrightness and courage, crowded into doctors’ offices and clinics for breast-cancer examinations.

Kindness embraced difficulty … and changed what was acceptable in society.

Later in life, because of loneliness and stress Betty Ford ended up suffering from alcoholism and a pill addiction, but again she had the courage to face her problem, and recover, and in 1982, she helped found the Betty Ford Center, based on AA, and it became one of the best-known rehab programs in the nation.

Kindness is kind, even to it’s own mistakes, and in that way can lead to healing to ourselves and those around us.

What do we do with all this?

It’s simple. Be kind.


One of our church families is buying new flooring for one of our most used rooms. It’s $1800. How kind!

Another of our church members, a doctor, recently on his time off, came to the church and put new glazing in the windows of our classroom building. How humble — and kind.

One of our worship leaders, shows up at special surfer day in La Jolla each summer to help disabled adults try their hand as surfing.

How kind!

Micah 6:8. He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?


“Three things in human life are important,” said novelist Henry James. “The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

“In the front room her chair is now by the door,”  said Marilyn. “That big wood piece is at an angle in the corner. It is so much better!”

I looked down at the pictures of Elizabeth’s apartment that Marilyn was flipping through on her phone.

“In her bedroom, her dresser tops are all clear. You’ll love it. Here I can show you the picture.”

And there it was, a shot of the dresser, the one with the heart-shaped cut-outs in each drawer — the hearts that work as pulls — the dresser we had just recently bought for Elizabeth at a thrift store, the one Tasia had picked it out with a, “This one is Elizabeth! She’ll love the hearts.”

There it was now, as a small bright image on a glossy phone screen — the salient, physical, incontrovertible evidence of a stunningly gorgeous, transformative act of pure love — a perfectly arranged dresser top, a warm glowing lamp, a picture of Elizabeth and her mom and a perfectly placed nick-knack.

“Maria did that! She got it,” enthused Marilyn, gushing about the professional cleaner she had hired. “She understood what we were tying to do with Elizabeth, and she is teaching her how to do this herself.”

We both gawked. We dallied in time, we astonishicated. We dawdled, we puddled, we shamelessly muckified through the splashy shallows of the pervasively miraculous.

Elizabeth’s mom had died just a few years back, when Elizabeth was fifty. Then Elizabeth was alone, truly alone in an apartment that she and her mom had lived in for 30 years. There she was, for the first time in her life, left with all her mom’s stuff, left with piles of pack-ratted junk, left with a broken heart and a profound level of inexperience due to her own significant disabilities, her mom’s life-long, over-protective love and now her own, new grieving, depressive, suicidal outlook.

Elizabeth’s mom had been her everything — friend, confidant, protector and now she was gone. And what was left — the old medicine bottles, the faded bills, the cheap jewelry, the out-of fashion clothes, the dusty piles of junk on the dressers, the soft, sifting scent of memory, the scree at the bottom of the familial slope, the Sisyphean skein and the suffocating sadness of silence.

But now, now, now — totally different. Doctors had been consulted, brothers connected, counselor’s hired and friends found. People had been brought into play by the REFINERY Church — the church that found and was found by Elizabeth — and this found-community literally saved her life.

Medications, therapy sessions, Bible studies, lunches with friends, support groups, pastors, an adopted kitten, and finally, the professional cleaning and reordering of her apartment by her adoring church buddy Marilyn and one of her compadres, Brenda. By this and more, Elizabeth had been transformed.

Marilyn told us recently. “It’s like she is growing up” — in her fifties — “for the first time! She is finally becoming mature, a single woman who for the first time in her life, can actually care for herself.”

“Look at her kitchen,” said Marilyn pointing again at the screen again. The counters shone, they glowed — renewed, restored.

They look a like a lot like Elizabeth.

Gillian hit the ball with her father’s arms wrapped around her. Then she ran with his legs. Then she bounced in his arms, and then she ambulated according to his eyes.

It was all done with help, but when Gilly arrived at first base she smiled and laughed with her own face. For the moment she was the star of the REFINERY Church’s picnic baseball game. She had slugged a rubber ball with a rubber princess Anna and Elsa bat, she was on first base and she was absolutely delighted with it all.

I have noticed lately — by means of a couple of small observations of miniature people — that one of the best things we can do in life is to help a child get to first base.

Last week I walked into the REFINERY Church courtyard to find a bunch of gorgeous little children kicking balls, blowing bubbles, and running after each other. Their teenage moms and dads were their with them. I strolled on into the adjacent gallery, a large oak-floored room with pictures of beautiful orange, red and blue Mediterranean scenes. There I found more children and more parents, all around some tables doing crafts together. They were more stunningly gorgeous than the pictures.

What was it? It was the Incredible Families program from the San Diego County Department of Mental Health offering young parents who had lost their children an opportunity to reunite with them through supervised visitation, shared meals and prescribed parenting classes. If the parents follow the program, they get their kids back!

I was looking at nothing less than the restoration of the American family in a safe, sacred space. And I knew this counted. If you get somone back to first base, after they have lost first base, then they have more of a chance of getting to second base — and back home.

This matters. When we help a child, we save the future. When we help a parent we save a child.

Nothing much beats this — loving children, protecting children, empowering children, empowering their parents.

Love a child, save a child; create opportunity for others to love a child, save the world.

Let me blow your mind, and then I’ll you why it matters.

Psalm 145:3, “There are no boundaries to (God’s) greatness.”

God is limitless, no boundaries.

God is … infinite …

We see the infinity of God in three ways in scripture.

God is timeless. God has no beginning, no end.

2 Peter 3:8, “A single day is like a thousand years with the Lord. “

Secondly, God is everywhere present (we say he is imminent), or present in every point of space with His being, and yet God is also transcendent, not limited to any one space.

Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”


Last Friday morning at 2 am my alarm went off.

I woke up and thought: My phone has taken over my life. I got up and drove out past Pine Valley on the 8. Just past El Cajon, still mostly asleep, sipping espresso, about 2:30 am, I realized why I was on the freeway when everybody else was sleeping.

I wanted to see the Perseid meteor shower. I did — 75 fiery lines in the night sky in about an hour.,Universal gravitation tugged the remains of comet Swift-Tuttle into my world. Looking up, I was so taken with the Milky Way arm — 100 billion solar masses. So vast, but God there, in me too, and in an infinite number of other places too.

I apprehended the hem of the physics of eternity.

God is infinite in time and space, and God has no boundary on his understanding

Psalm 147:5, “His understanding has no limit.”

God is limitless, unbounded, unlimited, unrestricted, without end regarding time, space and knowledge.

Matthew 19:26, with him “all things are possible.”

Let’s try to get a grip on this.

God’s Infinity, the concept of infinity, is not just a very, very big number – it’s a lot stranger than that.

Consider big numbers. A Googol is a very big number, a 1 followed by one hundred zeros :


To be happy imagine a googol of bowls of ice cream.

Then there is the Googolplex — ten, raised to the power of a googol.

Carl Sagan calculated that a Googolplex is bigger than the number of elementary particles in the known Universe so we can’t even write down that number because there is not enough matter in the universe to form all the zeros.

And yet a googolplex is nothing compared to infinity.

If something is infinite, it is endlessly bigger or smaller. Infinity is different than size. With infinity there is no finite counterpart in our numbering system to talk about it.

It is like seeing something you can’t see. Infinity is like caterpillars turning into butterflies. It happens when you aren’t looking.

Sometimes people (including me) say infinity “goes on and on” which sounds like it is growing somehow. But infinity does not do anything.

It already all is.

Consider the infinity symbol, the figure eight on its side. Like the symbol, infinity has no beginning, no end.

Consider fractals.

A fractal is a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. It is also known as expanding symmetry or evolving symmetry.

An example of this is the Menger Sponge. The box pattern repeats — infinitely.

The Koch snowflake is another fractal. Here the progression of open triangles at the perimeter diverges to infinity. The infinitely expanding snowflake is a reality that we cannot measure or count but we can imagine.

Do scientists apply infinity, or just discuss it? Some apply it.

The most popular explanation of our Universe is inflation, where the universe creates an infinite volume by stretching space indefinitely.

And some scientists theorize that perhaps black holes have infinite density.

Infinity is practical.

It is applicable to pragmatic theology too.

Consider with me how the concepts of infinity and God intersect.

God’s infinity, his limitlessness, is at the core of his very nature and one of the principal things that makes him different from us. It fact, it seems logical that God be infinite or he would have come from another source, had a beginning, and therefore not be God. If not infinite he would have an end and therefore not be God. His being infinite is that which ever makes him God.

Infinity draws the line between man and God. God is infinite, we are not.

And there are other ways infinity helps us understand and apply theology.

First, realize that infinity can make you happy! Immeasurably happy. Literally!

Infinity allows for the possibility of deep, lasting happiness because in infinity, happiness can go on and on, or better yet, always be.

You can expect not to be bored in eternity. Heaven will  not be boring harp music around the throne because there will be an infinite number of things to discover, sing, paint, invent, explore, see! Infinity will maintain excitement. If infinity goes in both directions, smaller and larger, and it will, then there will be infinite detail awaiting our research.

In contrast, the finite world we live in is full of ends, limits.  Ends cause feelings of loss.

My mom has dementia. I am losing her a bit everyday. Ends separate.

But infinity has no ends, and it contains the possibility for deep joy and ultimate recovery because the good will never end and what is sick and hurt will be swallowed up by it. Harm will not last! But the good, being infinite, will be ever-increasing and end all finite endings.

infinity will make us happy!

The second thing infinity does for us is that it helps us better understand and cope with the problem of evil and suffering.

How could God allow suffering? He only allows it temporarily. Evil is finite. Good will last forever; evil will end. God allowed evil within the finite universe.

Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Half the country’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes.

We known God hates this. He will not allow it to go on forever. We shouldn’t either, but do everything we can to help.

Taking in refugees, feeding refugees, stopping such things is God work.

The Top 4 Christian humanitarian organizations fighting poverty, slavery and world hunger are as follows:

Compassion International
Food For the Hungry
World Vision
Samaritan’s Purse

These organizations do great things to alleviate suffering.  Yes, God will himself ultimately set all things right so we should also get busy helping right now. You can give to these partners who are in the trenches working with God.

Let’s make this very personal.

Has someone hurt you? Your hurt is not infinite. Forgive them, as Christ commanded, and open an eternity of forgiveness. The hurt will pass, and the pain will pass, the forgiveness will remain.

What if the person who hurt you is a Christian? And they go to heaven? And you have an Eternity with them? Yikes! Part of the good news is that the  infinity of forgiveness will make it okay, and the infinity of space will allow you to live an infinite distance from them and yet remain in heaven!

Our sense of evil and suffering here seems long and horrible but within infinity God simply views it differently, as having already done what it needs to do to perfect and transform us.

He sees the beginning, middle and end of evil and suffering all in one glance and sees that it has no ultimate power over him or us.

In other words as said earlier, the infinite good, already all is and swallows up all evil.

Lastly, infinity has a soteriological component.

Infinity can save you.

John 3:16 For God so loved … he sent … his infinite son into our finite world.

The incarnate Son of God and his reconciling work is a bridge that God has established which enables the finite creature and the infinite God to have personal relationship. God, or part of God, for a short time, exchanged his divinity, or his infinity, for our humanity, so that we might one day exchange our finiteness for his infinity.

God has chosen to inhabit the finite universe, in Christ, therefore, we are saved from oblivion, through the expanding, fractal-like symmetry of God’s love … forever.

Zeno, the Greek, was born circa 490 BC. He was a philosopher, and he imagined some paradoxes of infinity, one being the paradox of the infinite path.

The paradox of the path is that by ever subdividing the distance left along the path, we never get to the end.  One-half, one-quarter, one-eighth, one-sixteenth left to get to the end of the path, etc … forever?

No. Not on life’s spiritual path, here we are not stuck with infinite divisability. Christ gets us unstuck from never getting there. All infinite subsets of difficulty exist within the infinite set of God’s salvation in Christ. We get to eternity through him.

Ultimate infinity is part of what God has saved us for, and living within the infinite salvific love of God we keep advancing along life’s path, we step over sin’s subset thresholds and in Christ become larger than life, universally infinite in motion, love and freedom. We get on down the road.

Infinity is real. God put the awareness of it within. The Bible tells us this.

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecc. 3:1.

God put eternity or infinity in our hearts. He put the idea of the reality of infinity within.

Recently, I weighed myself. I had been avoiding this, avoiding seeing myself heading toward infinity. Why? Getting larger can make you feel smaller.

But if I am infinitely valuable to God … and myself … then I have the power to change, to fight. So I redownloaded MyFitness Pal, and I am counting calories again. I am an infinitely empowered person in Christ!

You Christians are now in Christ  — whatever your issues — forever,  and thus infinitly. In Christ, you are infinite, and thus infinitely valuable.

God put infinity right here — feel it! — in your hearts, a sense of the possibility of it. This is empowering. Join him in it! Do stuff! Get spiritually better. You are headed that way. Even after you have gotten physically worse, and die, you are headed for better!

God made us to last and to grasp this is to have hope for something so much better than we now know. This matters because we matter — to God.  Something that is and will be ours forever has already been placed like a gift within us.

It is infinity.

When the bike flipped, I was in mid-air for some time, which did no damage to me, but when I hit the ground – that’s when I lost some skin.

I inspected myself recently but could find not dermabrasions, cuts, scabs or scars from my boyhood bike accident years ago on that rocky, dirt road.

I healed up nicely, which we do — often. We heal. This is part of life, this is one of the commonplaces of life and at the same time one of the miracles of life. Life is injury, disease, damage and it is often dramatic self-healing.

I attempted to think about this recently from God’s perspective. When he designed the creation, living things, God apparently designed in healing knowing that he had allowed the possibility of harm.

I don’t think this is all a post-fall thing either. I think that healing power is a part of God’s intrinsic nature and that he is by definition restorative and redemptive, the great Physician, and always was.

When God made life, he allowed for harm and death, for clearly the fossil record shows that harm, sickness and death preceded humans. Let’s not deny what is right in front of us. Organisms lived and died before human kind came on the scene. You have to put your head in the chronological sand not to see that. The science on this is solid. Consider the Cambrian explosion, and its demise. The fall brought spiritual death to the world; physical death preceded it.

And when God made us, and gave the risky gift of free will, he knew,  (because he always knows)  that harm and death — social, physical, spiritual, psychological harm and death  — would be part of the lives he made and so he designed in a healing power, built it into living things, and I imagine took significant delight in it. He must have said even in the beginning, “It is good that I have made creatures that can heal.”

Christian theologians have focused a lot on the negative consequences of the fall. But redemption, restoration and self-healing were built into nature before the fall and remained after the fall. God left us the power to heal. Healing is an intrinsic part of living.

It is one of the great miracles of creation that living creatures self-heal. Yes, we get sick, yes we are harmed, yes we suffer, yes we die, but before we do, we heal many times.

Think about this. God is by nature, healing. Made in his image, you are by nature very resilent. You can go through brutal things, physical, emotional, psychological harm, and recover. God has built into you a remarkable power to recover.

Take heart! Revel in this — by the grace of God, you have power to recover from many harms.

I know.

I have.

You too!


God is a fabulous interior designer.

His color palate beauties the red dragonfly, decorates the yellow lantana, covers the blue sky and decks out your lovely freckled, tanish cheeks.

His scale is grand, yet intimate — the sun, a perfectly fine-tuned distance for life to thrive; the stars  beyond our grasp yet in our sight; your fingers, just the right length to hold in mine.

God sets the gold standard for art.

His rhythms are found in a billion blades of green grass, a billion blue waves on the shore, a thousand glowing, self-organizing sand dunes, the even measure of your ever-present breath.

His transitions — take sea, shore, sand and rocky cliff —  the sky! Your toes, you ankles, your knees and curving, lovely hips.

He is the master of the focal point — bright white moon, gold sun on clouds, tip of sugar pine, your gorgeous green eyes.

His balance is perfect, whorl of red rose, the even length of your tapered, tanned legs, the sparkling river, the white rapids, the black round-rocked shore.

He is great at line and form — the jut of your cute nose, the majestic summit of Everest, the rolling velds of South Africa, an Okapi’s hind legs.

Everyday we step out into an art circle tour.

Reality is the Louvre — times a billion.

We live and move and have our being within the ambit of his every morphing craft, his living, breathing, changing oeuvre.

I see it; I’m grateful.

Someone told me last week that because of a decision I made, I would have immediate grief. I didn’t. Maybe they did, but it didn’t much involve them.

They said I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I slept fine. I had made an excellent decision and it had good results.

Sometimes we need to hear something about ourselves, sometimes we need to disagree with what we are told about our selves.

Someone told me recently that they didn’t feel good about how they looked. They look fine. I told them so. Then they agreed. We had a good talk about accepting our wonderful but imperfect bodies.

Sometimes we need to not listen to ourselves. We are wrong. We need to listen to someone else.

Life is constant process of discernment.

But how do we know what is right? When do we trust our own thoughts, when others? Experience, gut, context, speaker, time, education, mental health, intent, sincerity, history — so many factors weigh in.

One thing comes to mind to help. Are the remarks shaming, judgmental, condemning? Then they are very often not to be trusted.

Do the words or thoughts point to solutions, to wise processes, to helpful insights, to understanding, to a positive future. Then often they are good.

Discern; learn.