"When you're prepared to die, you're also prepared to live." -Dr. Billy Graham
"Death is not an outrage." -Ram Dass
"Be calm. God awaits you at the door." -Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"Premeditation of death is premeditation of freedom." -Montaigne
"End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take." -J.R.R. Tolkien
"Dying is safe," writes Kathleen Singh. Let that thought sink deep into your spirit for a few moments. Then, boldly confront your deep-seated
fear of death with the pure love graciously available to you now by your Creator as you read the inspired pages of The Grace in Dying.
For those who have sought a spiritual path in life, this book will confirm your journey to abandon your old (false) self in pursuit
of a new, truer self in God.
Author Kathleen Singh reveals that re-merging with God is both a birthright and a deathright of all who are created
in His image and likeness. Whatever spiritual enlightenment unaccomplished in life, will be accomplished in death.
Death is to be seen not as tragic, but rather as the final stage of transformational growth, according to Singh.
"Disciplined reflection adds meaning and urgency to life," writes Eric Greiten in Resilience.
Singh explains: "Death is a mirror in which all of life is reflected. We need to recognize death as a part of life as beautifully
conceived as every other part....A greater understanding of the process of dying in physical and psycho-spiritual
dimensions also will enable us to better guide our loved ones and ourselves through this difficult and profound time."
"To see how everything belongs we must trust the flow, trust life, the life so large and deep and spacious that it
even includes death," writes Richard Rohr in Everything Belongs.
"No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils." -Socrates
"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." -Mark Twain
"When we have passed the tests we are sent to Earth to learn, we are allowed to graduate. We are allowed to shed our body, which imprisons our souls...Ive told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation.' -Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Ms. Singh invites readers to take a guided tour of the incremental stages of the "Nearing Death Experience." She explains
that death is "a universal process marked primarily by a dissolution of the body and the separate sense of self and
ascendancy of Spirit." She observes this process usually includes these qualities ...
1. Relaxation - the end of struggle, letting go, emptying of self, like an ice cube melting in a glass of water. 2. Withdrawal - detachment from our worldly self, a positive, purposeful and transforming turning inward. 3. Radiance - brightening aura, relaxing of facial muscles, inner illumination, light from the eyes. 4. Interiority - a liminal experience of clearing our old self from out of the way to allow God to fill us. 5. Silence - the language of love, dear and whispered, beyond words, a sense of great mystery of the sacred. 6. Sacred - the last bond the dying person has to bodily life is an expression of pure love. 7. Transcendence - a transpersonal consciousness, our personal river flowing into the ocean of God. 8. Knowing - A sense of becoming part of something vast, transformation beyond our waking state. 9. Intensity - energy can be felt rising through the chakras in preparation for the moment of exit. 10. Merging - the end of separation and duality, coming face to face with the Source of All Being, God. 11. Experienced Perfection - a sense of absolute safety, that all is really OK. 12. Grace - a transformation from perceived tragedy to experienced grace.
Reader's are immediately swept up in Kathleen's providential worldview of the dying process from "perceived tragedy to experienced grace" which leads us to an experience of transcendence - whether or not we have pursued a spiritual walk or practice in life. In the Nearing Death Experience we face an accelerated discovery of both self and God - a sort of "enlightenment at gunpoint".
She outlines the three major goals of the book as; 1) Embracing the dying experience as a time of monumental transformation, 2) a moment of profound significance in the human journey leading us from the "ego-bound self" which she views as an experience of separation into "Unity Consciousness," and 3) viewing this end moment in a human life as being a "remerging" with The Ground of Being from which we once emerged.
Her basic transformational view is that we all are born of God before we enter the world of form "undifferentiated" then during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood we experience a differentiation, or individuation. Most remain in this state of feeling as thought their self is separated from God until they approach death, which requires returning or remerging with God. Through spiritual practices some are able to find a path in life to shed the ego, or false self, and return to spiritual unity with God via prayer, meditation and contemplation.
"A human being is an organism designed to realize Spirit," writes Ms. Singh. "If transformation into the final stage of consciousness, the merging of the individual, personal identity in it Source, has occurred prior to the time of dying, the Nearing Death Experience suggests that dying, in and of itself, activates this potentiality."
I wish I'd had the opportunity to meet Kathleen in person to give her a giant hug and thank her for a life well-lived and for all of the great work she has done, but on October 1, 2017, Ms. Singh died peacefully with her loved ones. According to her daughter's posting on Facebook, "As she would say, she was an ordinary person dying an ordinary death. Our mother personified Grace and offered it up as a gift for the world."
Above is a song inspired by Kathleen's important book I've titled "Making Space For Grace" ... Below are about 100 of the major truisms I was able to extract from this amazingly practical yet very spiritual book, which I hope you will find helpful in understanding the journey toward selflessness both in life... and in death. Kathleen Dowling Singh has three other books, which I am also reviewing; The Grace in Aging ... The Grace in Living &... Unbinding; The Grace Beyond Self.
The Journey Into Ego
Most of humanity remain fearful of death because they embrace a worldview of "mental ego," or "separate-self consciousness". We usually lack the wisdom which is gained from a higher perspective of life, which Christ, as well as other great spiritual masters from other wisdom traditions, exhibited and taught. I appreciate Katherine's deep desire to help readers connect the dots by including all major religious perspectives in defining the spiritual processes of life, death and resurrection in universal spiritual terms.
Ms. Singh extensively quotes the works of Michael Washburn, an author and transpersonal theorist, and Ken Wilber, considered the most influential philosopher of our time, both of which are helping others understand the pathway to higher levels of understanding, the unitive field postulated by modern physics and confirmed by all the great spiritual mystics throughout history (including Christ).
The two great arcs of human development are 1) the first phase of the journey which leads us to and through the development of our present state of mental ego (personal and separate self) and 2) the laying down of our self, taking up our cross - either in a conscious life process decision or ultimately in the Nearing Death Experience. These stages of transformation in the Christian tradition are encompassed in Christ's words, "I am the Alpha and the Omega".
Ms. Singh illustrates how we are born into this life from God, or 'The Ground of Being' as she often refers, 'Undifferentiated', that is, one with God. "As Washburn suggests, when you hold a newborn and observe his or her self-contained absorption and entrancement, remember that what you are witnessing is partial embedment of the Ground of Being and the magnetic, gravitational pull of the Ground. The luminosity that can be perceived and experienced in the presence of an infant is an expression of the Ground of Being. Our parents witnessed us at this stage of self. This stage evokes love."
As we grow, the self moves toward increasing differentiation, a dawning sense of "me," as Kathleen puts it. This developing consciousness of the child establishes the "First Dualism" - the "Grand Canyon of dualisms" between self and not-self - which has great relevance as it represents the last letting go in the dying process.
Ken Wilber puts it this way, "The distinction between self and non-self is the most cherished boundary we are most reluctant to give up...in death this is the last boundary we relinquish...it is the first one we draw and the last one we erase."
This First Dualism launches us into the journey to ego and spawns our concept of space and time, as we begin to make distinctions between past, present and future, which then births the 'Second Dualism' - the distinction between life and death.
These first two dualisms, which develop in early childhood, seek to divide and separate everything, our thoughts our feelings, removing us from the experience of wholeness and the unquestioning place of Love from which we came. "A posture of defensive, protective self-containment is enacted slowly but relentlessly over the first seven years or so of life," writes Ms. Singh, cutting us off from openness and replacing it with caution and reserve.
The 'Third Dualism' is between mind and body, which is usually developed in the early to middle childhood years. According to Singh, "The loss is immense. We lose our deep integrity, the unity of body and mind, which is the unity of feeling and attention - the ability to be present." This reinforces our sense of "primal repression" and our feelings of separation.
"With our dualistic thinking, with our penchant for boundary drawing, we have already created an illusory sense of self - a mind divorced from body, a self-image...The acquisition of language is our entry into membership in the adult worldview of our culture," which clears the pathway for the 'Fourth Dualism' - our persona, which is our acceptable self-image, and the shadow self, which consists of all the parts of our self that we cannot see or disown.
Late childhood is a period of growth and consolidation for the young and developing mental ego. As the hormones of adolescence begin to rage comes a greater desire for intimacy, a sense of solid identity and worth. "Our personal consciousness believes in its apparent independence and self-control."
In early adulthood years "we become lost in our own dramas; we forget our Original Nature. As we move closer to mid-life, our personal consciousness experiences a growing sense of emptiness, anxiety and alienation and a corresponding impetus toward transcendence," writes Kathleen.
"Although the mental ego's identity is a vehicle of authentic growth and expression during the first half of adult life, it is not a vehicle for the growth and expression of the whole person. It is an incomplete self posing as a whole self."
With this solid foundation of understanding these four great dualisms which are a normal part of human development Ms. Singh then begins to explain how, one by one, these false dualisms begin to entirely unwind when faced with "special conditions" such as; a terminal illness or by systematic spiritual practices including prayer and mediation. In both cases she presents readers with an amazing opportunity to participate in the process of transformation from perceived tragedy to experienced grace.
"Death is the ultimate threat to ego. The mental ego cannot even conceive of it own nullity...the fortunate ones are those who begin to experience and to live in expanded states of consciousness (which require overcoming the four dualisms) long before they are called to the dying process."
"Among all my patients in the second half of life, there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life," writes Carl Jung. Sigmund Freud said, "Our own death is indeed unimaginable, and whenever we make the attempt to imagine it, we can perceive that we really survive as spectators...in the unconscious every one of us is convinced of his own immortality."
"The mental ego is terrified of the universe's indifference to our cherished nonessential nature...death is feared because it is seen as the end of our existence, which is the only viewpoint available to the mental ego...the horror of being alone in a universe no longer caring if they live or die is unbearable."
The key when approaching death, according to Singh, is offering compassion and attention toward yourself and others. "If you have a terminal illness, find at least one person who will listen to all you have to share. If you love someone with a terminal illness, give them the gift of your attention."
In an egoic-driven culture, such as we live in America, the emphasis is always on upward mobility, self-definition, comfort and success. Aging and dying are not seen as integral parts of the life process, but rather as a painful loss and decline. To solve this Singh offers a Path of Return - a journey for the ego back to the Source of it own Being - which she views as a gradual movement into transcendent dimension which are every human's birthright and deathright.
The Path of Return
Singh acknowledges that the path of moving beyond the mental ego is a road less traveled, "largely confined to our spiritual geniuses, mystics, saints and sages, both heralded and unheralded." This powerful transformation or "awakening" involves the death of the ego and rebirth of the self by the Spirit. "All of the splits, rifts we created in our experience of self, or life are healed on this journey...the turning point is often signaled by a restlessness or by the imposition of an illness or terminal diagnosis.
Once the futility of our 'identity project' is embraced, sometimes referred to as disillusionment, the ego gradually comes face-to-face with its greatest fears about its own illusory identity. "The first step toward freedom is the emptying of self... primal repression is loosened in this letting go."
The first dualism to be healed and reintegrated is the Fourth Dualism; the split between our persona and shadow self. "The process of rediscovering, reowning aspects of our being, expanding our identity from an impoverished persona to a full more complete sense of self... more inclusive...owning our common humanity...There is freedom in this integration...no longer tension and energy spent holding in, pushing down, denying all those parts of our self which we are ashamed of or feel unworthy...The truth sets us free!"
The second dualism in need of integration is the Third Dualism; the division of mind and body, which leads to a new transformed and expanded level of consciousness. "The death of the personal self and the beginning of transformation and emergence of the 'transpersonal self,' according to Michael Washburn. It is usually a painful deconstruction period which could be likened to nailing your self onto a cross, with a growing sense of resurrection on the other side of the pain. What John of the Cross calls "The dark night of the soul."
With this reunification of mind and body comes also unity of feeling and attention and the ability to be present, which is the "first really expanded level of consciousness." In the integration of persona and shadow all of our dark corners have been illuminated which provides us a greater psychological freedom.
At this stage of consciousness the heart is open and the mind is clear. "We begin to radiate love as an experienced openness to and acceptance of what is. The cup, the self, truly runs over...In the Sufi tradition, 'The task of a human being is to transform suffering into joy.' At this stage 'mindfulness' - "the focused and deliberate use of the gathered attention" - emerges.
At these deep levels of integration a transformation of our fear of the problem of death begins to dissolve. "There is a growing movement toward the healing of the Second Dualism; that border we drew creating the human sense of time, spawning the fear of mortality."
"The healing of the dualism of life versus death seems to occur with two concurrent realizations; 1) the soul begins to function through integrated mindbody, mindfulness, as presence. 2) the emergence power of presence, or naked awareness...leading to a healing of the human sense of time and terrifying sense of difference between life and death...first conceived during infancy, which arose with the First Dualism of self and other, creating the concept of space and the concept of time."
"Attention becomes a tool of transformation in its capacity to transcend time by so deeply entering the present...this dawning recognition into the eternal and the infinate comes in the lived experience of eternity and infinity, through the vehicle of present-entered awareness, or naked attention." As Meister Eckhart put it, "The eye in me which is seeing God is the eye in God which is seeing me."
"Divine Contemplation is the highest level before Unity Consciousness. We finally know ourselves to be planted in Love...consciousness in search of communion. Gradually, it dawns on us that the glass door through which we are contemplating the Divine is a mirror and the Divine we are contemplating is our Self. This is the emergence of Unity Consciousness. As that sense of self utterly dissolves, so does the First Dualism...This is the experience I believe each and every one of us has as we enter death."
From Tragedy to Grace
"We must recognize with honesty that we live our lives in a dispossessed state, far from our home in the Ground of Being. This is a tragic state. The prognosis of death allows us to realize that we have been living in this tragic state all along...Stephen Levine speaks of the fear of death as "the imagined loss of imagined individuality." With the elimination of the untrue, the truth emerges.
"The experience of living with terminal illness is an experience of subtracting daily...a shedding of the illusory identifications or definitions of self...there is suffering in the loss of one's hopes, and dreams, unfulfilled accomplishments, saying goodbye to all that one cherishes; family, friends, memories, the perceived loss of a
"In the head-on collision between terminal illness and personal ego, hope is almost always the first powerful psychodynamic to come to the forefront. Hope typically signifies one thing: the continuation of self. There is a profound change in the quality of hope during the transformation process. When hope evaporates, we are left with here and now. Hope, a posturing of the mental ego, is transformed into presence, a stance of Spirit."
"Dying is especially difficult in America...medical and hospice personnel are the secular stewards of dying in America, instead of prayer and chanting, we are just as likely to hear the sounds of a blaring TV or hospital intercom...We as members of a spiritually impoverished culture, have failed to provide an adequate context for both living and dying."
"The transformation from tragedy to grace is the transformation from the loss of the lesser self to the realization of (Absolute) Self. Living with terminal illness is, paradoxically, a journey of healing...the process of becoming whole...the restoration of our integrity, the mending of all previously created dualisms...Healing is not a cure."
"The breaking of the heart precedes the dissolution of the physical body. The breaking of the heart, paradoxically, allows it to become open and full, softened by pain and disappointment, vulnerable to each precious moment...There is distinct magnetic feeling, a feeling of melting into the intense beingness of the one who is dying. Some visitors find it uncomfortable and run. The ones that stay begin to melt too."
"Both Eastern and Western wisdom traditions recognize that the deepest reason we are afraid of death is that we do not know who we are. The suffering of the mental ego prior to entering the dying process is enormous as it becomes aware that it can no longer indulge in frivolity, in unreality, in hiding."
"The crucible, like the cross, the West's primary symbol of transformation, represents a situation in which one is held in place, to endure and experience what is. As Walt Whitman puts it, "I and this mystery, here we stand."It is interesting that our words sacred and sacrifice share a common root, reflecting their congruence."
"There is an overwhelming chaos here that demands nothing less than total surrender. With the surrender comes the fall, the terrifying free fall... into the abyss and onto the Ground of Being. Grace comes at the end of such suffering like the balm in Gilead. Tragedy holds the seeds of grace. Grace is the end of illusion, the peace that quite literally passes understanding. Grace finds it's root in the same origin as gratitude.
The "Special Conditions" of Transformation
"Verily, verily I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24
"The level of mental ego seems to be a difficult level to transcend. Self-obsession is so clever and so blind. It seems special conditions must be present in order for transformation to occur. Spiritual practices of any tradition can provide the needed spark, or shock, to start the fire of transformation aflame."
A "skillful means" could be a meditative sit, prayer, the path of imitation of Christ. Often evoking pain and anxiety is a way out of the pain and anxiety of the separate self. The brain will respond to a believed, dreamed or imagined reality as easily as to a physical reality, if we want to transform ourselves, we act "as if." In the world of sales, this truism can be seen..."If you want to be enthusiastic, you've got to act enthusiastic!"
"Our spiritual practice is imitation of the expression of a deeper and expanded level of consciousness, by design and by desire, until the imitation becomes real. We enter the next level of consciousness we confine our being to the expressions, the natural behavior of that next level.
'The adoption of a contemplative discipline requires considerable motivation. Nothing less will do. In the case of the transformation that occurs during the dying process, the disease itself ensures that one stays the course. Once we enter the transformative fields, there is no return and no escape. As St. Augustine put it, 'he arrives at That Which Is"
"This is really all there is to contemplative mysticism - to be aware without judgment or comment of what is actually happening at this moment, both outside ourselves and within, listening even to our involuntary thoughts as if they were no more than the sound of rain. This is possible only when it is clear that there is nothing else to do, and no way on or back." - Alan Watts
"Meditation slowly and progressively purifies the ordinary mind, unmasking its habits and illusions... Ken Wilber/Abraham Maslow say anytime
an individual heals or makes whole the dualism of a major level (persona/shadow, mind/body, life/death, self/other) they enter next level of consciousness.
"The power of meditation is the power of attention, which has incredible power by choosing the content of our consciousness. All wisdom traditions indicate that where awareness is, greater inclusiveness and clarity of consciousness arise. (Think ordinary light vs. laser light)
"No one knows so much of God as the man who is thoroughly dead." - St. Gregory - Many spiritual masters speak of meditation as learning to die while still alive. In the recognition of our impermanence comes the freedom to live in the present, fully, authentically.
"The dying process, as does meditation, uncovers the contradictions of desires, attachments, and fears that block us from the experience of our Original Nature...With this healing unfolds the transpersonal self.
"The act of dying is the most powerful spiritual opportunity of a lifetime...With the acknowledgment that they have absolutely no control over the situation, they let go of 'knowing'. And letting go of knowing they enter being - taking the 'one seat.'
"The time of sickness or terminal illness is a time of withdrawal and isolation...it sometimes reminds me of a car broken down on the side of a great superhighway. Everyone else is speeding by, but you feel abandoned by the world...the tiny space on the side of the road becomes
home for that present experience...attention is more present and intense.
"Withdrawal allows us to step out of the norm and is recognized as a special condition that facilitates psychospiritual transformation. The derivative word for 'mystery' is from the Greek meaning 'to close the eyes' Shutting out the world leads to revelation of mystery.
"For those entering the dying process, as well as those practicing a spiritual discipline, the reintegration of mindbody allows the experience of the body as the 'temple of God.'...the true meaning of contemplation; 'completely, to make a temple, completely to make a holy space. It is one of the first healings on the Path of Return.
"The stance of humility...We are all of us ordinary people...the humility fostered by the Quakers as they follow the path of simplicity... in the practice of ordinariness we allow ourselves to circumvent the traps and pitfalls of the mental ego that thrives on think of itself as special.
"Humility is forced upon us by the helpless and uncontrolable aspects of the dying process...Death is completely humbling...in terminal illness we begin to be able to do only very ordinary things...we begin to be revealed without the carefully cultivated mask of specialness.
"There is nothing so much like God in all the universe as silence." - Meister Eckhart - Both prayer and meditation are facilitated by stillness and complete silence, which is a powerful transformative vehicle...'the fasting of the mind'...purification of the mindstream...like a container of water in which suspended impurities sink to the bottom leaving crystal clear water.
"With the dissolution of the physical body occurring in the Nearing Death Experience, the breath becomes life itself...labored breathing goes on until the final breath...Sitting by the side of someone dying it is helpful to adapt the rhythm of your breathing to theirs...a silent communication, connection occurs that speaks eloquently of your compassion and commitment to be there for the one who is dying.
"While alive in this physical form we are 'being breathed,' inspired, has long been a part of humanity's accumulated spiritual wisdom. The Greeks call the life force pneuma, the breath of the Holy Spirit. Every human death is ultimately due to oxygen deprivation. Breath is life itself...the intersection with the source of all Being.
"The more mindful of our breathing, we become increasingly present...breath awareness of the simultaneity of emptiness and fullness, of the interpenetration of living and dying...the Nearing Death Experience reduces us to just breathing and to mindfulness... we enter into and begin to befriend the impermanence of all this is.
"Resistance is the refusal to accept what is. Surrender is open receptivity to what is. As Wilber states, 'since every boundary line is also a battle line, here is the human predicament: the firmer one's boundaries the more entrenched are one's battles. The more I hold onto pleasure the more I necessarily fear pain...The harder I cling to life, the more terrifying death becomes.' Surrender is the end of boundaries and resistance.
"There is a qualitative difference between acceptance and surrender...acceptance is the cessation of outward struggle, but the inner cringing remains...Surrender is not so much agreeing to, but agreeing with...in surrender we cease being a victim of life...this movement from 'you are going to die' to 'I am dying' is the act of surrendering into the experience of death.
"With surrender and the participatory stance we face and enter reality rather trying to deny it or appease it...Surrender ends the alienation from the Ground of Being when one is already turned toward it and preparing to enter it ever more deeply...Surrender is not something that is done once and for all, it actively requires doing over and over again...Surrender increases the quality of life... and quality of one's dying.
"Our sense of self, identity endures profound and relentless changes during the course of terminal illness and the dying process...aspects of gender, achievement and affiliation begin to fade...'Who am I if I am no longer this?...Not knowing is 'beginners mind' is good...it is the only space in which wisdom can arise without preconceptions, openness to possibilities inherent in each moment.
"As terminal illness carries us closer to death, many people begin a life review...seemingly universal on the meaning , the value, one has created in one's brief stay on the Planet Earth...people come to appreciate, to honor their own lives...developmentally what unfolds, what we move on to is life resolution...the release of history...an integrative entering of the present moment.
"The identity project can finally be acknowledged and then released, like waving good-bye in the driveway to a beloved child who, you know, it ready to leave home...the movement is always and inevitably from the inessential to the essential, from periphery to Center, from surface to depth. We move 'out of our own hands' anxious, grasping hands of our own separate identity transported by grace into safety, into peace.
The Psychospiritual Stages of Dying
"Dying is 180 degrees from birthing...Any mother can tell you with what travail life comes into form...for life to leave form requires equal travail. It is hard work to die...in dying is the task of finding the courage to be in the face of a lonely death. The challenge of the dying process is living while dying, rather than dying while living.
"Kubler-Ross's five stages of dying are; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance...a reaction of the mental ego forced to confront the death of the body in which it presumes itself to reside. The highest spiritual values of life can originate from the thought and study of death.
"Dying at home is qualitatively different from dying in the hospital...more peaceful, filled with genuine care and love...a more authentic expression of the self who is dying. Death is increasingly seen as an event of great spiritual import...death is an event that begs for spiritual guidance.
"The passage from tragedy to grace begins with the terminal prognosis and ends with the final dissolution of personal consciousness...we will be describing the stages of movement from tragedy to grace...each of the experiences of suffering is ultimately healing, integrative and regenerative. All that we have imagined ourselves to be is lost in dying...I will call these phases Chaos, Surrender and Transcendence.
"The stage of Chaos is characterized by turbulence (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance)...as well as alienation, anxiety, the despair that leads to 'letting go' and the dread of engulfment.
"Surrender is a deep phase which begins the moment the ego's presumed sovereignty is surrendered. In Surrender one opens to Reality, to one's deeper Being, recognizing the Ground as its own Essential Nature.
"Transcendence is that phase that goes deeply into expanded, enveloping states of spiritual integration. It corresponds to the period Washburn calls 'regeneration of Spirit' as well as to the expansion of consciousness Wilber refer to as 'transpersonal awareness.'
"Chaos can be characterized by the dismantling of all previous, primarily mental-ego-level identity structures. The will to live crashes, over and over, into the disease process itself, engendering turmoil, suffering and confusion. We are driven by fear...our whole life, reality is disappearing...the reality that 'we' are about to be over, we are terrified...the possibility that we can never be forgiven...perpetual hell.
"Fear that no one will love them anymore...their lives have been meaningless...It is terrifying to think of abandoning the ego when we know nothing else...darkness ensues when our most fundamental desire - for continued existence - are frustrated.
"Denial has been called the ultimate pushing away of the present, serving the same purpose as anestheia. Denial is a powerful tendency of the mind. Denial is our first techicolor view of the 'Grim Reaper'....the look of somewhat vacant madness when the topic being denied is approached. Denial is what we all experience in our minds when confronted with a conflict between knowledge and belief.
"Denial can actually be a creative defense mechanism. It allows the mental ego time to create a category for its own death. When denial no
longer has any blocking power, the scream of 'NO!' turns quickly to the shout, 'Why Me?' Anger arise when the will to live crashes into a terminal prognosis.
"Anger is the highly emotional phase in the dying process...a reaction to our perceived loss of control, which is humbling and overwhelming, far beyond what you can imagine if you have never witnessed it...anger is healing psychologically in that it is real and closer to the truth than repression.
"Bargaining also is well-laced with fear...we want a miracle, a reprieve from death...We begin to answer the question 'Who or what is God to me?' Bargaining is a prayer of supplication, revealing our conviction that God is totally other...revealing our belief that if God loved us, would let us live.
"Bargaining can be conceived as a battle between hope and despair, which comes in waves. It represents the struggle in the mind that is the beginning of acceptance. Bargaining phase of the stage of Chaos reveals to us the 'if only' nature of original mind. It leads at some point to depression.
"The darkness of this depression is the disturbing experience of recognizing, perhaps for the first time, how far we are from the truth. Although painful, dark, and deadening, this period of depression also has some positive aspects to it - the beginning of the loss of all of our cherished illusions.
"With depression we begin to face honestly the powerlessness and the aloneness of the mental ego. With acceptance, although still a far remove from surrender, the protective wall of the identity structure can begin to crumble.
"Acceptance is the mental ego's balancing act, acknowledging inevitability of its own mortality...Outer struggle ceases and we call this stage acceptance. which is centered in a very deep experience of disillusionment marked by remorse, regret, recognition of helplessness and some outer stillness.
"Acceptance is often marked by withdrawal and silence...the movement toward the threshold of silence, is the path that will lead us beyond acceptance... out of the mental ego and into the realms of the transpersonal. With acceptance the dying person begin to be occupied with things ahead.
"Acceptance is dying while living...the terminally ill person typically will be tired and often quite weak...the hours of sleep for a dying person begin to approximate the hours of sleep of a newborn. This sleep is part of the psychoalchemy, a transformative sleep in preparation for Surrender.
From Chaos to Surrender
"Acceptance opens the way to the naked experience of our alienation from the Ground of Being...the real state of being for almost every one of us for most of our lives.
"The mental ego ceases believing in itself...for it has become only a mask, a persona, a disguise. The self can no longer live an identity already revealed to be illusory...during this turbulence the shadow is depressed...repentance helps empty our mind and heart of guilt. Self-forgiveness leads us to peace.
"When despair is reached it is the absolute end of the line of the mental ego. The pain of despair is unendurable, finally more than the mental ego can bear, it let's go. The surrender that arises out of despair is part of the natural progression...the ego jumps with 'fear and trembling' into the abyss.
"The transpersonal realm of being is a dimension where the separate sense of self is melted, purged, cleansed away, dissolved, dissipated, forgotten. Dreams, visions, images are the sign posts of the transpersonal realms.
"In one moment you have lost it all, and then, in the very next moment, you find you have what has always been your most fierce and secret longing. This is the phenomenology, the inner experience of Surrender...Light begins to fill the self, 'the resurrection body', the body of bliss.
Surrender Into Transcendence
"Dying we now behold Thee revealed." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"Transcendence is what occurs as consciousness coincides with the Ground of Being. This is integration as it is organismically experienced. Dread and engulfment shade into awe and ecstasy...leading us to full and complete integration of the self with Spirit...the presence of God.
"All traces of fear are lost and the feeling state become one of reverential joy...the peace that passes understanding...spontaneous qualities of grace. Love appears to be the last connection the dying have with the world of form...Love pours into and pours out of us and through us.
"Transcendence brings us to the level of identity of pure Presence, far more inclusive than the Second Dualism time divisions of past, present and future...and with it the fear of death has dissolved.
"The First Dualism, self versus not-self, is all that hold us back from Unity Consciousness. Once this dualism is understood and experience to be illusory, our sense of identity shifts to the entire universe. This is Transcendence. Self-realization follows upon surrender of the ego. Soul is interior to the mind, just as Spirit is interior to the soul. The inner experience of Transcendence is filled with grace.
The Nearing Death Experience
"With sensitive, compassionate palliative care we can focus on the soul in the body and not on the horror of someone gasping for breath. If you have or if someone you love has a terminal illness, call hospice early.
"The dying process could be described as an awakening from the dream of form through the chaos of dissolution. The entire experience of both living and dying is more peaceful the earlier we experience Surrender.
"The Karnofsky scale (0-100) measures the functionality of a person. At 90-100 a person is still fully functioning able to carry on activities of life normally, evidencing little or no physical signs or symptoms of illness.
"With a Karnofsky scale of 80 the person can carry on normal activity, but more signs and symptoms of the disease are manifesting such as; decreased appetite and strength, weight loss, increased pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, itching, rashes, frequent vomiting.
"Those with a depth of their lived faith often move with greater ease through the stages leading to Surrender and Transcendence...others with espoused belief system that was unlived or unexamined or both often find their structure flimsy and quickly crumbles.
"Contemplative stability also figures as a factor during the end stage of a disease process...we know it dramatically reduces 'death anxiety'...contemplative stability suggests the person has entered transpersonal realms prior to the disease process.
"At a Karnofsky scale of 70% his/her life changes dramatically; weight loss, difficult emotions of fear, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, anxiety, alienation and dread of engulfness.
"Increased systemic deterioration due to terminal illness eventually brings performance level down to 60% on Karnofsky scale, a person need occasional assistance. Life is quieter, simpler. mental ego begins transformation.
"At Karnofsky scale of 50% we require considerable assistance with even the simplest activities of daily life. Medical care is frequent and meditations routinely administered to restrain symptoms. This is the end of independence.
"From a Karnofsky scale of 50% on down, decline is usually much more rapid. Change becomes constant. Karnofsky level of 40% the person is 'disabled' and require constant care and assistance with every aspect of life. At this level most people pass the invisible border from knowledge they are sick to awareness they are dying.
"This is the cross, the crucible, what many dying people describe as the cocoon state, where metamorphosis occurs. Psychological Chaos begins to shit into psychospiritual Surrender and Transcendence.
"Often at this point it is the one who is dying who begins to comfort the ones who will miss him/her. It appears that for many people some inner source of strength is being tapped.
"At a Karnofsky scale of 30% we begin to approach the process of active dying, as it is described medically. Often dying people feel like an ice cube melting into a glass of water, or an autumn leaf shaking in the wind.
"Love is the last connection we have to the world of form and the natural condition of our being revealed when all else is relinquished...All that matters is in the palm of my hand, my family, my love for them and theirs for me.
Signs and Symptoms of Active Dying
"At a Karnofsky scale of 20% or less one has entered a phase called 'active dying'- which proceed over a period of time from typically a few days to a few hours. Level of 10% is characterized as 'moribound' Fatal processes are progressing rapidly. Karnofsky level of 0% the person is dead, with no measurable indices of life.
"This stage requires commonsense acts of human mercy and compassion; wiping the brow, wetting the lips, turning the body and keeping it clean, speaking softly and truthfully and comfortingly... current medical thinking suggests that artificial nutrition and hydration actually make the process of dying more uncomfortable.
"Music that employs alpha and theta brainwave entrainment or antiphonal music of the Christian monastic tradition of death preparation may be calming and appears to foster the entrance of consciousness into deeper dimensions.
"Often seeming agitation can be calmed by the soft, reassuring voice of a beloved or by place a hand under the hand of the dying person to allow the solace of comfort without constraint.
Entering the Mystery
"My work with the dying has been a privilege. I have been transformed, becoming more alert to God, to mystery. This book, with its view of the dying process is a passage filled with grace, is an artifact of our times. It arises as we a maturing culture begin to embrace death as a part of life and more frequently allow our loved ones to die in our midst.
"The imagery we as a culture conceive of death and dying has shifted subtly in the last few decades, moving from enclosing darkness to images of expansive radiance...Thank God we have come this far.
"We will discover for ourselves that the tragedy is not in dying, but in living disconnected from Life. We will experience grace the moment we experience our connection with Spirit. Grace is the common thread linking dying, contemplative practice and spiritual growth.
"May we undertake the contemplative practices that will nurture our deep and more inclusive consciousness in the midst of our lives rather than at its edge, and allow ourselves to be offerings of love and hope for those who live contracted in suffering.
"The Cloud of Unknowing reminds us that the only way back to union with God is 'forgetting, forgetting, forgetting' This is the emptying of self. The qualities of grace, of Being, arise in moments of self-forgetfulness.
At the Edge of Life
"Water is water, no matter what its shape or form. The solidarity of ice imagines itself to be its edges and density. Melting, it remembers; Evaporating, it ascends. -Stephen Levine
"Enlightenment for a wave is the moment the wave realizes that it is water. At that moment, all fear of death disappears." -Thich Hhat Hanh
"May we learn, above all else, to discriminate between 'the time of sickness' and 'the time of dying' and to act appropriately. For every thing there is a season, a time to help a loved one fight to stay alive and a time to help a loved one one face death.
"Let us be the ear that listens without judgment and with deep compassion to all that the voice of our loved one has to say in the phase of Chaos. Let us be the still and quiet point of acceptance where the personal life is reviewed and resolved, honored and released. Let us be the silent and understanding companion to the
voiceless time of Surrender. Sit and breath with your loved one, matching your rhythm. Sit and meditate with your loved one matching your visions. Let us share, far beyond the last breath and even through a breaking heart, in our loved one's Transcendence; the entrance, at the edge of life, into the peaceful resplendent Center.
Here is what another gifted writer and teacher, Jonathan Martin, has to say about this important book...
Books like The Grace in Dying do not come along very often. It is so comprehensive in scope, so bold in its vision, and runs across so many disciplines - it truly is a book of particular genius. Not only is it wise, but tender, warm, compassionate, and most of all unbearably human.
A PhD who has spent her life walking with hundreds of people through the dying process, Dowling Singh's bold thesis is that no matter where people come from, what their culture or background, religious or otherwise - the dying process is remarkably similar when people actually have time to die (as opposed to sudden, traumatic death).
In the same way that Rohr sees the "answer" in Christianity as already being programmed into the problem (through failure, sin and stumbling, we fall into resurrection), Dowling Singh sees divine grace as hardwired into the dying process itself.
The argument runs something like this: We spend most of our lives building our ego, making judgements around our likes, dislikes, and preferences. The ego is not evil - ego-building is necessary in human growth and development. But the ego is not the true self, only our image or perception of ourselves. So we spend most of our lives living from that ego rather than living from our depths, living from the soul.
In the process of dying, all of those ego mechanisms are slowly taken from us as the body becomes weak, frail, and dependent. And yet it is precisely in this letting go of the ego self, even against our wills, that we are liberated.
While the process inevitably entails seasons of chaos, anger, and denial, before death there is generally a time of unparalleled acceptance and peace, however long or short - the last burst of a soul finally living beyond the constraints of the ego. Grace indeed, however harsh it may come.
Dowling Singh herself is Buddhist, but the book is chock full of insights from Jesus and great Christian thinkers and mystics. In fact, I think the book at its core level is about nothing more or less than "losing your life to find it," and Dowling Singh quite understands the essence of Christian theology from the outside infinitely better than most of us insiders.
If it doesn't move you, you don't have a pulse. And if there is not Spirit and life all over this book, I don't know where the Spirit is. I dare you to make it through this book without both blowing a few mental circuits and shedding some hot tears.
"We will discover for ourselves that the tragedy is not in dying, the tragedy is in living disconnected from Life. I have heard it said that our culture suffers not so much from the forces of darkness but the forces of shallowness. We will experience grace the moment we experience our connection with Spirit, the transcendent Reality, the Center to our periphery. We will experience grace the moment we experience Life beyond our cramped self-definition, the moment we take off the blinders and glory in all that is beyond 'me.'"
And later, "The path home could be easily traced, much like a mother following her child's path to bed. She sees what has been dropped on the way. If we were the mother following an enlightened being or the consciousness of one who has entered the Near Death experience, we would see the toys left behind and the shoes that had been dropped, the socks, the pants, the shirt, and the underwear; the body, the emotions, and the thoughts; and last, before the bed, just discarded on the floor, all separate sense of self." Mercy.
Dowling Singh's visionary, monumental work reframes the challenge of Jesus' own teaching in an evocative, potentially life-altering way: if these are in fact the qualities of death and dying, what would it be like if a person were able to experience the grace of dying while they are still alive?
P.S. Great question! I guess we would truly be the 'walking dead' ... "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me," (Galatians 2:20). I am currently reading this book in preparation for volunteer work with Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix, AZ. I plan to write a more detailed review as soon as I finish the book, but I found Jonathon's review so succinct that I decided to repost it here. If you want to read Jonathan's review of 9 additional, life-changing books, including Falling Upward, click here.
2017 Blessings ... 2018 Goals
by David Bradshaw
2017: A Year of Connectedness ~ Top ten list - things I'm most thankful for;
1. A year of spiritual growth - I read a dozen books, 4 audio books and wrote many reviews. Gaining wisdom about the trinity, meditation, the emerging church and Jesus' beatitudes.
2. A year of family connections - with daughters Jen, Beth and Grace and Gkids; Christian, Noah, Harry, Sophie, Jake, Bella, Rheya, Skyler, Pearl and my brother Kevin and Irene.
3. A year of renewed friendships - with Scott McKinney at St. Barnabas Quiet Days and weekly contemplative group, Gary Niki and his mom and Jim, Colinda, Savannah Diletosa.
4. A year of seeking a soulmate - I made several new friends at coffee meet ups, but few 2nd dates. Finding a soulmate for life is a gift from God that requires great patience.
5. A year of new music inspiration - I acquired two new guitars, which helped inspire writing six new songs. Enjoyed condensing book reviews down to new song lyrics and music.
6. A year of new volunteerism - at Alice Cooper Teen Center starting in March to give guitar lessons. Helping my students (Lilly, Charles, Shayne & Landon) stir up the gifts within.
7. A year of involvement at Genesis - I enjoy Ryan's style of preaching, being a part of Empty-Nester home group as we study 'Falling Upward' book and monthly worship team volunteer.
8. A year of good health - A year without tobacco has been a breath of fresh air. Making a commitment to regular exercise to stay in shape - regular swimming, bike riding and walking.
9. A year of overcoming work challenges - My 30th year consulting for Swiss America in the marketing and advertising. I greatly appreciate our twice a week company prayer/care group.
10. A year of learning to be present - Learning to let go of the past and choosing not to worry about the future. Learning to trust that all things belong - including the bad things.
2018 Goals: A Year of Transformation ~ Top 5 goals for the year ahead;
1. A lifetime soulmate - More self-discovery, finding someone who reflects God's love, embraces family, serves others, lifelong learner, full of internal joy, peace and hope.
2. Regular daily meditation time - establish a 20 minute morning prayer/meditation habit which can help maintain inner peace throughout the day regardless of situations.
3. Read and review 8-10 books - Continue on my lifelong learning journey reading a variety of educational, inspirational and contemplative books to expand consciousness.
4. Quality family time - Invest more free time with daughters and Gkids creating memories that will outlast my lifetime. Trips to Calif beaches, Arizona sights, visits to Milwaukee.
5. New avenues of volunteerism - I'd like to begin hospice visits and/or resume nursing home visits to encourage the lonely, sick, dying with music/message that God loves them.
"What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so."
"A concealed truth, that's all a lie is. Either by omission or commission we never do more
than obscure. The truth stays in the undergrowth, waiting to be discovered."
"Truth can understand error, but error cannot understand truth."
-Gilbert K. Chesterton
If you enjoyed 'The Shack' book and/or movie, you will likely find yourself intrigued by this first
non-fiction book published by author Wm. Paul Young, which reveals God's universal, unconditional love and
deep yearning for a growing relationship with all mankind.
The choice of a stark black and white cover is itself part of the message of this series of 28 short
stories. Christians are taught to see the world as; black and white, right and wrong, saved and
unsaved, blessed and cursed - based upon our church tradition, teachings and Scriptural interpretation.
We are trained from day one to be very suspect of anything or anyone which teaches us otherwise.
So, when an Evangelical 'Missionary Kid' like Paul Young tells us that truths he was taught are in fact
lies, it's bound to rattle more than a few religious cages. It takes a good measure of humility to even
consider the possibility that alternate points of view could be just as valid, or perhaps even more true,
than our own deeply held religious views.
Speaking of humility, I like Paul's transparency in the book's Introduction. He says he relates best with
the man born blind (in Luke 9) who says, "I was born blind, but now I see." He acknowledges the older he gets
the more aware he is of what he doesn't understand, but what he does understand now is "the goodness and
relentless affection of God and who we are within that encompassing embrace."
As you read the book (and this review) be prepared to have your spiritual toes stepped on a bit.
Wm. Paul Young says the goal is to stimulate "larger conversations," rather than "controversy."
The following are my short summary of the 28 major lies Paul thinks many Christians still believe
to be true.
1. God loves us, but doesn't like us.
Is it really true that Father God, referred to as "Papa" in The Shack, is especially fond of me? This
is a monumental question in the mind of every person. Sadly, many might say we agree that God
is love, and therefore loves me, yet we do not believe He really likes me, or my bad behavior.
This is a central lie which is perpetuated whenever we repeat the mantra of the world system (and much
of the religious world) which says; "You must first behave, then believe like I do, then you will belong."
In contrast, the central message of Christ is; "You belong - just as you are, follow me to grow your
faith and belief, and watch my Spirit within gradually change your behavior." This is the gospel
of the Kingdom.
2. God is good. I am not.
The belief that mankind in inherently bad is a widespread myth, often perpetuated by bad theology
and poor parenting. Bad theology and parenting remind us that God is angry and disappointed with our
bad behavior or performance. Good theology and parenting tell us we are loved, accepted because we
are made in the image of God - which is nothing but pure goodness."We are true and right, but often ignorant and stupid, acting out of the pain of our wrongheadedness, hurting ourselves, others and even all creation. Blind, not depraved, is our condition...I am fundamentally good because I am created 'in Christ'," writes Young. "...if there is nothing good in us, there is no hope for real transformation." The truth is, you are good.
3. God is in control.
This is a subtle lie which is projected onto God in a desperate effort to compensate for the reality
that as humans we cannot control our lives or destiny. Therefore, according to Young, we need God to
be in control and to have a 'plan' in order to make sense of bad circumstances. "What if there is no
'plan' for your life, but rather a relationship in which God constantly invites you to co-create,
respectfully submitting to the choices we bring to the table?" asks Paul. Young offers the excellent example of how a young couple who seeks to have their lives under control. But when the first child enters their life, it brings a new dimension of love and "messiness" as they submit their plan to the needs of their new child. "Love and relationship trump control every time... Control does not originate in God, but submission does," as we see reflected within the relationship between Father, Son and Spirit in the Trinity.
4. God does not submit.
Does the Golden Rule apply to God? "Does God treat others the way God wants to be treated?" asks Paul. This simplistic question serves as a central theme connecting all of the major Wisdom Traditions,
including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and even atheists. "A central and inherent aspect
of this other-centered love is the dynamic dance of mutual submission...and it originates in the very
being of God."
"Submission can be a beautiful world of relationship - or a terrifying word of power and control," writes
Young. "God submits to the decisions I make, climbs into them...even the worst of my ignorant blunders...Love doesn't protect me from the consequences of my choices, but it also does not abandon me to them...Only as we stumble toward wholeness does our capacity and ability to submit grow and finally become as natural as it was intended."
5. God is a Christian.
One of the most controversial lines in "The Shack" book and movie is where Jesus says, "I'm not a
Christian." What can Young possibly mean by this? For most, "Christian" is a religious term which
seeks separates believers from other religions - Islam, Buddhism, Judism, or even atheism. This
division begins with a false premise, according to Young. To say God is a Christian creates a false
separation between insiders and outsiders, yet God wants to relate to all humans as "beloved insiders".
Putting others in religious categories carries "an implicit judgment of value and worth, we are
joining with the adversary of our humanity, the Satan"...which is "destructive to relationships."
"Believing (trusting) is an activity, not a category...every human is somewhere on the journey between
belief and unbelief; even so we perpetuate the categories of believer and unbeliever," writes Young.
If we must have any language to help us define Christian, perhaps it could best be said that every person
on earth is either a 'believer' or a 'pre-believer,' given that one day every knee will bow to Christ.
6. God wants to use me.
Well-meaning believers often pray and confess they want to "be used by God." Perhaps you have said the same on occasion, as an expression of yielding to God's will in your life. This is a good thing, but in
this chapter Young makes a clear distinction; God is more interested in a mutual relationship
of love and respect than mere utilitarianism.
He gives the example of how a tool is defined as "something used to accomplish a task, to gain an end,"
but we do not enter into relationship with our tools, we just use them. "If God uses us then we are nothing but objects or commodities to God. Even in human relationships we know this is wrong....God does not heal us so that we can be used. God heals us because God loves us...even as we stumble toward wholeness..."
7. God is more he than she.
Genesis 1:26-27 reminds us that God created us male and female in the image of God. This alone should give
us a clue that God is no more male than female, yet the myth of a primarily masculine God is prevalent.
In this insightful chapter Paul explains the story of how his mother struggled and finally accepted his
portrayal of the Father God as an African female in "The Shack" who is referred to as "Papa".
Young reflects on the many images of God which are painted in Scripture - ranging from God as a loving
Father and King...to a Nursing Mother and Woman seeking a lost coin...to animals, such as an Eagle or
Lioness...to inanimate objects, such as a Rock, Fortress or Strong Tower. "Imagery was never intended
to define God; rather imagery is a window through which we see aspects and facets of the nature and
character of God."
8. God wants to be a priority.
Given the widespread desire by Christians to be known as men and women of "principle" and godly "priorities"
it was a bit shocking to learn that neither words are used in the New Testament Greek. Young's premise
here is that "life doesn't work according to lists, and relationships mess with any system of priorities."
He correctly points out that much of life's frustrations happen "because our plans and expectations are interrupted."
"Instead of a list of priorities, Jesus introduced us to something completely different: a moving,
dynamic, living relationship in which God is not first, but central...Lists are about control and
performance; God is about adventure and trust...I pay attention to my spouse not because she/he is on
my list, but because I love them, am in relationship with them and they are important and significant."
9. God is a magician.
By "magic" Young is referring to our notion of being able to control circumstances, God or people based on
the use of "rituals, symbols, actions, gestures, and language with the aim of exploiting power." Paul
believes religious people rely on two common kinds of magic; "faith-magic and performance-magic".
A common example of faith-magic would be a well-meaning Christian who might say something like...
"If you only had enough faith, your (mother, father, brother, husband, wife, child) wouldn't be
dying" (or sick). These type of statements often inflict more pain and guilt upon others,
rather than offering victims any true comfort or healing in the midst of loss and suffering.
"Performance-magic works like this: if I do the right things (read my Bible, attend church, tithe, pray,
and go on mission trips) and if I don't do wrong things, then God will bless me, and the things I pray
for will happen." "The alternative to magic is relationship, which is full of mystery and the loss of
control...once you taste the delight of relationship, you will never want to go back to magic again."
10. God is a prude.
That which Satan cannot possess, he will pervert. Exhibit A: Sex. God created sex as a physical expression
of the union that exists within the Godhead. As Young puts it, "sex celebrates that this attraction and
drive exist because we are created in the image and likeness of God...Sexuality is a beautiful and creative
force only when it is an expression of agape, (other-centered, self-giving, committed love).
Young reminds us "In the classical world, Eros was a demonic god focused only on self-centered and
self-servicing power in which others were a means to the end of self-gratification (think pornography)...
the word eros does not appear in Scripture...it stands in opposition to agape....Romance, the joy of
getting to know and care for the other, is a true expression of agape...self-giving agape is inherently
respectful of the other...it's mutual interpenetration without the loss of individual personhood."
11. God blesses my politics.
Paul Young has a bit of an advantage over most Americans, having grown up as a missionary kid he is used
to understanding the concept of dual citizenship. Believers might be better equipped to serve our neighbors
as fruitful citizens if we understood our primary citizenship is within the kingdom of God rather than to
world systems. As Young puts it, "We must stop confusing nationalism and patriotism with the kingdom of God."
"Political identities do not originate in God. God is not about separation and division, building walls
or excluding, not about domination and power...the kingdoms of this world are always founded on violence
and bloodshed...The only option to the insanity of political empire is the kingdom of God...that changes
us from within to deal with the fear and hate expressed in nationalism...Thankfully we belong to a kingdom
in which violence is never an expression of allegiance." Amen!
In John 17:16-18, Jesus prays to His Father for all believers: "They are not of the world, even as I am not
of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them
into the world." Jesus confirms that His believers are removed from the world system (as God gradually
removes the world's way of thinking out of us). He then sends us back into the world system to represent
His heavenly kingdom (or government) while on earth. The first thing to say about earthly politics is
that it is NOT the first thing, nor the solution to earthly conflicts...only God can heal political divides.
12. God created (my) religion.
Religion is man's search for God, an effort to rebind our self back to our Creator. This is, as Young
correctly states, "a noble gesture, but one doomed from the start...Religion is among a whole host of
things God did not originate, but submits to, because we human beings have brought them to the table...
religion embodies both beneficial and destructive elements when they disconnect with relationship and love."
"Jesus is not the founder of any religion...Rather Jesus indwelt an inclusive family of faith - in which
we are learning to celebrate the presence of God (contemplation and action) and the presence of each
other (community). As religion falls away, so too will the sacred/secular filter that has been our lens."
In this context, we can better understand why when Mack asked Jesus in The Shack if all roads lead to
Papa, his reply was, "Not at all. Most roads don't lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you."
Relationship seeks to pursue the heart of God, religion is a futile attempt to grasp the mind of God.
13. You need to get saved.
This chapter may be a difficult pill for most evangelicals to swallow, but all Young asks is to consider
this point of view: "The Good News is not that Jesus has opened up the possibility of salvation and you
have been invited to receive Jesus into your life. The Gospel is that Jesus has already included you into
His life, into His relationship with God the Father, and into His anointing in the Holy Spirit. The Good
News is that Jesus did this without your vote, and whether you believe it or not won't make it any less
or more true." Wow! Now that's a shocker for most to ponder.
Young boldly declares his belief in "universal salvation," which has been adhered to by faithful and
respected church Fathers throughout history and accepted within with the early church Apostles Creed
and Nicene Creed. "God does not wait for my choice and then 'save me.' God has acted decisively and
universally for all humankind...our daily choice is to either grow and participate...or live in the
blindness of our own independence." In the book's appendix Young offers readers a "catena" or chain
of Scriptures supporting universal salvation, which Paul refers to as "real good news!"
14. God doesn't care about what I'm passionate about.
In this innovative chapter Young tells the story of what happened when a wise theologian is seated
next to a microevolutionary botanist on a cross-country plane trip. The conversation moves to the question
of where does the botanists' passion come from? Baxter, the theologian then offers to explain that
passions originate within the the Godhead, the Trinity. "Inside this moving divine dance of
relationship, everything was created...that passion you feel that moves you to care for creation is
Three Persons of God sharing Their heart and love for the creation with you."
"Our love for our children and our family and our friends originates and is embraced and enfolded in
God...This God will never be cloistered inside walls, but will join us right where we are...Your joy
and your love and your grief and your fury and your hope and your curiosity and your drive toward
authenticity and integrity and your wonder all originate in God. What an amazing thought!"
15. Hell is separation from God.
"There are a number of basic views of hell, including 1) eternal damnation, 2) annihilation, and
3) an age of redemptive purification." Young acknowledges that hell is a big subject for a short chapter
so he proposes to take a first bite of the hell elephant by examining "the belief that hell is separation
from God, from Love, from Light, from Goodness...Either hell is a created place or thing or it is not. If
it is not created, then it must by definition be God, who alone is uncreated. In this sense hell would
be God, who is a consuming fire. Your destiny would not be apart from God but directly into God, who is
Love, Light, Goodness."
"The other alternative is that hill is a created place or thing. Yet Romans 8:38-39 confirms that nothing
can separate us from the love of God, not life, death, angels, principalities...nor any other created thing.
"You are a 'created thing,' so therefore you do not have the power to separate yourself from the love of
God...I may have convinced myself or been convinced by others that I deserve to be separated from God...
What we choose to believe, even if a lie, becomes our experience...feelings that seem to validate the
illusion that God is not connected and in relationship with me or that God has stopped loving me or has
given up on me. Many of us on the planet live in this illusion now."
"Anyone who speaks of separation from God assumes that a person can still exist while separated - as if
our life is not contingent upon the presence of God, who is Life. Does that mean we have eternal existence
apart from Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit? Scripture is emphatic: not one thing has come into
being apart from Jesus...perhaps jell is hell not because of the absence of God, but because of the
presence of God...that intends to destroy every vestige of evil and darkness that prevents us from being
fully free and fully alive. This is a fire of Love that now and forever is 'for' us, not against us...I
propose the possibility that hell is not separation from Jesus but that it is the pain of resisting our
salvation in Jesus while not being able to escape Him who is True Love." This is a paradigm-shifter!
16. God is not good.
It can be tempting at times to question the goodness and greatness of God, especially during periods
of pain, suffering and adverse circumstances. In the Shack movie there is a scene where Mack struggles
with a painful dream of being unable to help rescue his daughter from her kidnapper. The next morning
at breakfast Papa sees his pain and says, "the underlying flaw in your thinking is that you don't
believe that I am Good. Until you believe that I am Good, you will never be able to trust me."
"If God is not Good all the time, then trust is a delusion, and we are left alone in a world of hurt,"
writes Young. "Our pains and losses can blind us to the Good that surrounds us - the grace that is
constantly poured out..." Perhaps the key to maintaining trust in a Good God lies in understanding
that when we come up against circumstances out of our control which we cannot change, is to simply
fall back into the loving arms of God and trust that these circumstances will ultimately change
and transform us into the likeness of Christ.
17. The Cross was God's idea.
In this rather profound chapter, Paul asks "Who originated the Cross?" Mankind or God? All will agree
death on the cross is torturous. "There is nothing good about a cross...It's purpose was solely to keep
a human being alive as long as possible and in as much pain as possible until his very breath (spirit)
was violently ripped from his body through excruciating suffocation." "If God did, then we worship a
cosmic abuser...The alternative is that the Cross originated with us human beings."
"Jesus is God's best given willingly and in opposition to our worst, the Cross," says Young. "And how
would we religious people interpret this sacrifice? We would declare that it was God who killed Jesus,
slaughtering Him as a necessary appeasement for His bloodthirsty need for justice...This torture device
declares that there is nothing I can bring to the table that is so evil or broken that God won't climb
into it with me. The Cross, once our greatest attempt at destroying Life, has become our most precious
symbol of the God who is hope for all of us."
18. That was just a coincidence.
Are the random convergence of unexpected events just a coincidence, or are they in fact a God-incidence?
In this fanciful chapter Paul says, "Until children are taught otherwise, they believe they can speak
the language of God...as participants in a free-form dance of mystery and adventure and relationship...
Childhood was God's idea, and theirs is a language of simple trust and delight, of fun and surprise...
it is the language of the unexplainable and coincidence..."
Paul says, "I believe that we are surrounded by the language of coincidence, usually so subtle that one
would have to be present and paying attention to notice and hear...detour are usually intended destinations
that are simple not in our planner or agenda...I am personally convinced that nothing is apart from the
abiding presence and activity of God." The key is to trust the childlikeness God has put within your spirit.
19. God requires child sacrifice.
In this chapter Paul recounts his experience as a Missionary Kid and the sadness of feeling like he no
longer belonged anywhere. "Christian missions have a checkered past, accomplishing incredibly important
and worthy objectives while also being a source of undeniable misery...One of the narratives about God
is that because of sin, God required child sacrifice to appease a sense of righteous indignation - Jesus
being the ultimate child sacrifice."
"Herein lies one of the most damning impacts of religion...It wields the power to justify its actions by
grounding them in the purposes and will of God...The mythology of power through sacrifice and performance
has devastated humanity from the beginning. In the story of Abraham and Isaac we see just the opposite,
God does not require child sacrifice (Gen. 22:14) ... So if we, the human race require a sacrifice, God
will provide Himself."
20. God is a divine Santa Claus.
"As we move forward in our journey and relationship with God, we will discover that God is not who we
thought. We may have to deny the faulty and flawed perceptions we once treasured...For many of us, the
Nice Santa God is represented by Jesus...The Nasty Santa God is our imagination about God the Father...
as lies and false imaginations about God are exposed, so are the roots that are intertwined in our thoughts
about ourselves and about our neighbor."
"To understand who God really is, you can begin by looking at yourself, since you are made in God's image.
...Even better, look at Jesus, the human being who is the incarnation of the character and nature of God.
...As we stumble toward the Light and Life of the goodness of God, our need for imaginary substitutes, like
Santa Claus, will quickly fade...We will discover that real life, even in its suffering, is much more
deeply rewarding than imagined life."
21. Death is more powerful than God.
"There are some ideas we assume are true because they haven't yet been challenged by life," says Young.
If God's love and relationship ends with death, does that means death defines everything? Trumps everything,
including our choices? "God has gone to incredible lengths to protect our ability to say no, even though
freedom has produced unspeakable pain and loss...why would we think that the event of death would have
the power to take away our ability to say yes?"
"Personally, I do believe that the idea that we lose our ability to choose at the event of physical death
is a significant lie and needs to be exposed; it's implications are myriad and far-reaching...I propose
that the event of death introduces a crisis, as in 'Day of judgment,' a restorative process intended
to free us to run into the arms of Love. I think the devastated and the damaged, the discarded
and abused will also more readily choose the God of Love than we who are religious."
22. God is not involved in my suffering.
"Is love without suffering even possible? asks Young. "It seems that every risk of love involves the
looming potential - if not inevitability - of loss, with all its attendant suffering...we as human beings
share at least two things in common: love and loss...can love exist without suffering? Yes! Prior to
Creation, love without suffering was always present in the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit. Suffering is not intrinsic to love...Loss and suffering were introduced into the cosmos by us
"Adam's independent turning from Life, introduced death into the cosmos...Death is always accompanied
by suffering But God refuses to be absent from the Creation and infuses our suffering with Presence and
Love...God encounters our humanity. God also enters our suffering, and as we experience suffering, we
encounter the humanity of others...choose to be present in the midst of the sufferings of others and
thereby participate in the abiding and active Love of God."
23. You will never find God in a box.
"I grew up in a world of boxes," writes Paul. "Us and them, in and out, worthy and unworthy, believer
and unbeliever, saved and unsaved...Boxes. Cages... we create identities for ourselves based on
generalizations and innuendo...But we have to be careful when we leave boxes behind...we are frequently
tempted to construct and climb into a new one...we might assume that God abandoned that box when we did."
"God has never been a respecter of the boxes we build...The truth is, whatever aspects of true freedom
that have become part of my life are always attended by a greater capacity to love, to accept, to
enfold, to respect...The only time we find God in a box is because God wants to be where we are.
And that is all the time."
24. Not everyone is a child of God.
Here is yet another chapter which will stick in the craw of Christians with a sense of special entitlement
as "children of God." Paul asks, "Is every human being a child of God or only certain ones? He then offers
this analogy; "In our family, our children assume...they belong with us because they are expressions of
us. Their very existence is the only requirement for being our child...they don't have to believe they
are our children in order make it true." No amount of denial can change our children's ultimate identity.
In Acts 17:28-29, Paul writes, "In God we live and move and exist...For we also are God's children. Being
then the children of God...and in Ephesians 4:5-6, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father
of all, who is over and through all and in all."...Every human being you meet is a child of God...Rvery
human being is my brother, my sister, my mother, my father...a child of God." This perspective should
radically and profoundly change the way in which we treat our fellow men.
25. God is disappointed in me.
"Every child yearns to hear 'I am proud of you,' not for performance but simply for being. These statements
resonate powerfully...You belong to me and I belong to you, The universe if better because you are in it,
I love you, I am especially fond of you." Paul then explains the power disappointment and shame has upon
children. "As we mature, we begin to discern the difference between disappointment and grief. Grief is
a healthy response to loss...disappointment largely revolves around expectations and imagination or
"This is precisely why God is never disappointed in you. God has no such imaginations or illusions...
You don't surprise God. God delights in you, as you delight in your own children...God is never
disillusioned by you; God never had an illusions about you in the first place...God does not do
abandonment. We will never be powerful enough to make God's face turn from us." Good news indeed!
26. God loves me for my potential.
Paul asks, "Does God love me because of my potential? No! Do I love my children because of their potential?
No! How are we to enjoy our children in the present if the focus is on some future potential that
qualifies the value of each moment? Each child is an incredible one-of-a-kind tapestry of being."
"Do I want my child to be everything he or she can be? Of course, but I have no idea whatsoever what
that will look like or how it will be expressed. There is no goal for us, no finally 'arriving' no
reaching the place of potential success. We are all eternal beings who are completely loved at every
point along the way...There is no 'potential' competition when it comes to being loved."
27. Sin separates us from God.
"What if sin isn't fundamentally about behavior," poses Mr. Young. "If the essence of God's nature
is relationship, then sin must be defined and understood as missing a relational reality. Yes,
sin is about 'missing the mark,' but the 'mark' is not perfect moral behavior. The mark is the
Truth of your being...You are made in the image of God, and the truth of your being looks like God."
Do our actions have the power to separate us from God? Christians have long espoused a theology of
separation. If so, how does one get un-separated? By right works, right faith, right prayer? "If
separation is a lie, does it mean no one has ever been separated from God? Yes! "Nothing can separate
us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39) "There is nothing outside God." (John 1:3-4)
28. God is One alone.
"In The Shack novel and film, Mackenizie believes in the god who is one alone. God the Father was a distant
deity, hidden and holy, a darkness somewhere behind Jesus. That God was usually disappointed, if not
angry, was unknowable, unreachable, and was watching from the infinite distance of a disapproving heart."
The reason this God did not show up is that this alone God does not exist, except in our minds darkened
by religious indoctrination and our own pain."
"This is why the triune God matters to me...this One God is the relationship of Three Persons, who have been
forever in the great dance of face-to-face-to-face. This divine dance is full of life and light and music
and laughter and joy and wonder and submission and goodness...God the Father is not Gandalf with a bad
attitude, not a distant white grandfather God, but Papa, an all-consuming fire of relentless affection
wrapped in the person of a large black African woman. And she is not alone. With Her are Two, and the Three
together are One."
"The soul grows by subtraction, not addition."
-Henry David Thoreau
"There is a road from the eye to heart that does not go through the intellect."
-Gilbert K. Chesterton
Perhaps the biggest take away from this book is the centrality of relationships - within the Trinity,
between ourselves and God, family members, fellow Christians, and especially our fellow neighbors.
Jesus always always boiled the truth down to its simplest, purest form: Love God, Love Neighbors.
Without limits. Without prejudice. Without presumptions.
This thoughtful and spiritually enlightening little book could be subtitled, "Things they never told me"
because it explores subjects which are rarely discussed critically, but rather, simply assumed to be true
based on a Christian fundamentalist worldview today widely accepted in most U.S. protestant churches.
John 8:31-32: "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching,
you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'"
From this verse we discern that Jesus placed great importance on holding to His teachings,
knowing the truth, and thereby allowing the truth to us set free from spiritual lies about God.
But what if well-intentioned believers, and even Bible scholars, disagree upon one or more of Jesus'
key teachings, or how a particular Scripture should be interpreted? Should such disagreements lead to
defensive spiritual pride, or toward greater humility? To further dialogue and conversation or
division and condemnation?
"I don't need a church to tell me I'm wrong where I already know I'm wrong; I need a Church to tell
me I'm wrong where I think I'm right," said Gilbert K. Chesterton. The truth is, we all have blind spots
and need the wisdom which results from godly counsel and dialogue.
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root," said
Henry David Thoreau. Jesus was viewed as a radical, which means going to the root of an issue.
If Wm. Paul Young is right about even half of the lies we believe, then it may well be he is
correctly striking at the root, and should be applauded for the courage of his convictions.
The issues Young brings up will surely bring some strong reactions from religious leaders. But
remember, historically it is generally the leaders of previous moves of God who fight new moves of God
This little book has the potential to shake up the Church to reexamine some of our pet
doctrines. But more importantly, this little book has the potential to build a bridge to a
world full of hurting people who desperately need to see how relentlessly
our loving God seeks to know each of His children, to heal and bless them - both now and
for all eternity. Please pass this book review/summary onto those you feel need to hear this liberating message!
The Shack touched millions of hearts by challenging readers to reconsider their basic views about God.
Could it be that a loving Creator really accepts us as-is? That we really belong - even before we behave?
Are we truly sought after by this loving Creator for an intimate relationship in this life?
Big questions deserve big, outside-the-box answers, which The Shack serves up to seeking souls.
Predictably, the Shack has stirred up a world of controversy among both the faith-full and not-so faith-full
because it dares to push us outside of our comfort zone - and into the mysterious and messy world of reconnecting
our head to our heart to find the answers our biggest questions about God, tragedy, pain, suffering and relationships.
Mark Twain said, "The truth is stranger than fiction." And so it is with our understanding of this
mysterious Creator we call God. It is understandable that such a benevolent view of God presented in The
Shack is difficult to grasp, given the ever-shrinking odds your earthly father's image reflected
such a loving heavenly Father. Truth is, unanswered questions about the pain and suffering seen in
our world often distorts or stunts our view about God.
The Shack presents a fresh perspective on the loving relationship that exists within the Trinity, which
is pretty fuzzy for most people inside and outside the church world. The Shack presents Trinity as a
loving flow between Father God, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit which is characterized by mutual submission,
rather than presenting the familiar hierarchical view, with Father at the top of the Godhead pyramid. (Recommended
further reading on the Trinity, THE DIVINE DANCE: The Trinity And Your Transformation
by Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell.)
In one of the many powerful scenes, Mack (the central character who is dealing with the brutal murder
of his 6-year old daughter Missy) is drawn into a flower garden by Sarayu, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, to prepare
for Missy's future burial. Mack refers to this overgrown, seemingly chaotic garden as a big "mess". Events and
circumstances in our lives often appear as a chaotic mess, but they can suddenly make perfect sense if we make
space for God's spirit to do an inner work of change within our heart. We simply need an elevated
perspective to see the garden more clearly.
Many other big questions are posed in The Shack, such as; 'Why does God allow evil things to happen to the
innocent?' In this scene Papa (symbolic of Father God) explains, "To
force God's will upon you is exactly what love does NOT do. Genuine relationships are marked by
submission - even when your choices are not helpful or healthy. That's the beauty you see within
the Trinity - all are submitted to one another."
"The world is broken because you abandon relationship with God to assert your own independence.
What is the way out? Re-turning back to God as the source of your security, identity and relationship."
I especially liked the scene, taken from the book chapter titled 'Here Comes the Judge' I which Jesus
leads Mack to a path he must walk alone into a dark cave. Once inside he meets Sophia (symbolic of Wisdom)
to deal with his judgmentalism toward himself, others and even God. "You are here to judge God and mankind,"
says Sophia. "Isn't God to blame for what happened to Missy?" she asks Mack. "Yes! God IS to blame!"
an emotionally distraught Mack screams back.
Slowly we witness Mack come to the realization that he's not fit to judge God, others, or
even Missy's murderer. In this conversation with Sophia once he admits he is unfit to judge, Mack is given
a chance to see his daughter Missy veiled through a waterfall playing in heaven, free of pain, suffering or
unforgiveness toward anyone. Mack learns from Missy and Sophia the power of forgiveness that comes
only when we give up our perceived "rights" and refuse to judge God or others.
On the topic of wishing Missy's murderer would suffer in hell, Sophia challenges Mack to chose which of
his two surviving children should be allowed to live in heaven and which one must live in hell.
"You MUST choose!" says Sophia. "No, No!" cries Mack, "Let
me go in their place!" ... "Now you know Papa's heart," says Sophia. "Give up your independence and
embrace your Father in the midst of your pain and you will understand His love." Mack replies
"I don't want to be the judge, but I need help!" Such is the path of letting go - of surrendering to God.
These are just a few of the reasons The Shack is an important new movie which I feel can help serve as a
bridge between our deepest hurts toward a loving, forgiving and healing God - which is gracefully and
mercifully reflected in a Trinity of relationship. I recommend going with family members and then
allowing some time to dialogue about how the movie moved you afterward. Bring Kleenex. Bring an
open heart and open mind. Bring your deepest pain. Who knows, like Mack, you just may be able to leave
them behind in that old Shack forever and rediscover the love and peace of God you were created to enjoy.
P.S. Wm. Paul Young has just released a new non-fictional book titled Lies We Believe About God
which clarifies his position on 28 major beliefs which he feels distract us from knowing God more
intimately. On the back cover he writes, "This book is not a presentation of certainty. Rather it
is a taste of larger conversations. You may identify with some topics and not with others. You might
agree or disagree with my conclusions. Some of these ideas may be deeply challenging...that is the
wonder and uniqueness of our journeys and the beauty of dialogue and relationship." After I read
the book I will provide my book review of it in this space.
2017: Embracing Humiliation
12.22.16 - David Bradshaw
A holiday gift for you: Andrew Murray's Humility (free book download!)
Warmest 2016 Holiday Wishes!
My prayer: this Christian classic book Humility inspires you to make 2017 a transformational year!
Humility is the starting point of Jesus' sequenced eight-step blessing plan given in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-11).
First, we recognize we're in need (1. poor in spirit). Next, we repent of self-sufficiency (2. we mourn). We surrender control to God (3. meekness). Our gratefulness leads to greater (4. hunger and thirst to be more like Him). We forgive others (5. merciful). Our outlook changes (6. we're pure in heart). We love others (7. peacemakers). We can endure injustice (8. we're persecuted).
The loss of beloved mother Virginia, grandson Cole and disrupted relationship with youngest daughter Braida this year has lead me to embrace humiliation. Yet, through every adverse circumstance out of my control, God is teaching me more about humility, which is the hallmark of Christ's mission ... and ours!
P.S. 2016 takeaways/2017 goals ... -Make space for God's grace, grow daily in loving God and others.
-When facing unchangeable circumstances, circumstances change me.
-In e-v-e-r-y-thing give thanks, it's God's will for me in Christ.
-Speak only words of life & light, to overcome darkness and death.
humility: cornerstone of the kingdom An introduction to Andrew Murray's humility 4.7.16 -- by David Bradshaw, MIF
Are you ready for a short trip to 'the kingdom zone' - where the way up is the way down - and the high and mighty are finally humbled? If you think this zone is reserved only for a heavenly future or an earthly fairy tale, I suggest reading an inspiring little book entitled, "humility" written by Andrew Murray a devoted Christian and prolific devotional author.
Websters dictionary defines "humility" as "the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people: the quality or state of being humble."
But according to 19th century pastor and missionary Andrew Murray it is much, much more. "Humility is the first duty and highest virtue of His creatures. We owe everything to God...but we must present ourselves as empty vessels, in which God can dwell and manifest His power and goodness."
Of course, it's understandable that unbelievers who are prone toward materialism, pride and self-centeredness would naturally cringe at the thought of seeking a humble, grateful and God-centered life, but Murray wrote this book as a sober warning to Christians!
"Nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God will reveal how lacking we are in the grace of humility and how powerless we are to obtain what we seek. We must study the character of Christ until our souls are filled with the love and admiration of His lowliness."
The Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness and the absence of self. The Greek word translated "humility" in Colossians 3:12 literally means "lowliness of mind." So humility is both a mental and a heart attitude, not merely an outward appearance.
Forsaking The Tree of Life
Murray first underlines why humility is so paramount in the life of every believer from the Bible's account of creation. Remember, in the Garden of Eden there were two trees; the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
"It was when the serpent breathed the poison of pride - the desire to be God - into the hearts of our first parents, that they fell from their high estate into the wretchedness to which all humankind has sunk. In heaven and on earth, pride or self-exaltation is the very gateway to hell...Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to us partakers of it, and by it to save us." writes Murray.
It was an act of supreme humility for our Creator to become a man "who humbled himself and became obedient to death," the Word tells us. "His humility gave His death it's value, and so became our redemption," Murray reminds us.
"A lack of humility is the explanation for every defect and failure. Humility is not so much a virtue along with the others, but is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God and allows Him, as God, to do all."
Saintly Reflections on Humility
* "It is no great thing to be humble when you are brought low; but to be humble when you are praised is a great and rare achievement," said the 12th century French abbot BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX
* "Sister Water, so useful, lowly, precious and fair! Water always and forever seeks the lower, and even the lowest, place. We let water - the simple universal element necessary for all life - be our teacher here," said ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI.
* "If you are looking for an example of humility, look at the cross," said philosopher/theologian THOMAS AQUINAS in the 13th century.
"To the humble He reveals His secrets, and sweetly draws nigh and invites him unto Himself," wrote THOMAS A KEMPIS, the 15th century Dutch author, The Imitation of Christ
* "God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us," said MARTIN LUTHER, the brave 16th century leader of the protestant Reformation.
"The greatest glory one can give to God is to entirely mistrust one's own strength, relying completely on God's protection," said BROTHER LAWRENCE, the 17th century French monk and author, THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD
* "Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil's reach as humility," said JONATHAN EDWARDS, the 18th century revivalist, philosopher and theologian.
* "Humility is the proper estimate of oneself," said CHARLES SPURGEON, the "Prince of Preachers" in the 19th century.
* "The utmost evil, is Pride. It is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began," wrote C.S. LEWIS in Mere Christianity.
* "Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of oneself," said T.S. ELLIOT, the 20th century American-born British essayist, poet and playwright.
* "Three demons Jesus faced in the wilderness were; the compulsion to be successful, right and powerful...until confronted presume they are still in charge," writes RICHARD ROHR the 21st century author, philosopher and founder of the Center For Action and Contemplation.
Although the word "humility" is not often used in Scripture, after reading 'humility' I now believe it is very the cornerstone of the Kingdom of God.
This short summary is extracted from just the introduction of 'humility'. Brother Murray refers to humility as "the secret of secrets," so rather than revealing any more, I invite you to read this Christian classic for yourself.
Thankfully, 'humility' is still available in better Christian bookstores, online and even in the public domain. A free PDF version of 'humility' is posted here.
In poker a player who holds a winning hand might say, "Read 'em and weep". I say "Read humility and weep" - if you're willing to further grasp the amazing grace, love and humility of Christ we are called to demonstrate on earth, as a reflection of heaven.
P.S. As a young Christian I discovered early that spiritual wickedness in high places seeks to manipulates our mind on a subconscious level to derail the purposes of God. Last year I stumbled on an old term paper I did over 40 years ago, while attending Melodyland School of Theology, entitled: The Kingdom of God vs. The kingdom of Self.
I wrote, "The foundation for the 'kingdom of Self' is laid from from our first day of existence as we cry for service, mother (and often father) rushes to 'His Majesty, The Baby'. It's important to note that if/when the Kingdom of God is established in a human heart, it is hardly noticed at first; because we allow God only the smallest control over our wills...'King Self' surrenders by degrees."
I thank the Lord that over these last four decades I am learning more everyday about the eternal value of trading up from a self-centered life to God-centered life! Amen.
"Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all. Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you." -Andrew Murray, humility
Making Space For Grace
3.24.16 - By David Bradshaw
"We aren't earthly beings trying to get into heaven, we are heavenly beings charged with bringing heaven to earth." -Chris Tiegren, Heaven on Earth Devotional, Mar. 24th
"Justice; getting what we deserve, Mercy; getting less than we deserve, Grace; not getting anything we deserve." -Pat Stark, Genesis Church
"The death of a beloved is an amputation." -C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.
The recent sudden death of my precious oldest grandson Cole at the tender age of 19 has hit our family and friends hard.
"It is the things that you cannot do anything about or with that do something with you," writes Friar Richard Rohr. Such was the recent passing of Cole from his life on earth with us to his new life in heaven.
At the memorial service I shared with family and friends that on earth, Cole's life was like a shooting star; beautiful, brilliant and unique. Cole's new life in heaven is now even more magnificent. He now rests in the loving arms of his Creator, Father God.
Cole's life is a daily reminder of the glorious simplicity of the Christian faith, requiring only that we love God with all of our hearts, minds and souls and love our neighbors, family and friends in the same way we love our self.
Cole's passing forever reminds me to always make space for God's Grace. To allow room for Him to use every circumstance for His glory, no matter how painful.
Every tragedy presents us with an opportunity and a choice. The opportunity is to fill that missing space with God's grace. And the choice to either ask God "Why?" or simply "What next, my Lord?"
When we ask "Why?" we are approaching life's tragedies from an earthly perspective, but when we ask "What next, my Lord?" we are making a new space for His grace to fill our painful void with His peace and purpose.
"To live is Christ and to die is gain." said the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21.
When Jesus' disciples found the tomb empty, at first their hearts sunk, but then as they made space for God's grace they became empowered to change the world with Christ's message of hope and eternal life, one heart at a time. Make space for Grace in your life today and see what God will do next!
God's Singular Purpose David Bradshaw
It was a real honor to be asked to say a few words on the new FUTURE OF THE CHURCH film, produced by Steven Siwek and Glory Unlimited, featuring 80 church leaders and futurists.
I first met Steve at another film screening in 2015 and later sent him a copy of THE FUTURE CHURCH: Lions in the Pews which I produced back in 1995 for Open Church Ministries - featuring 65 Christian leadership perspectives on emerging church trends.
We chatted for over 30-minutes with the tape rolling about the Kingdom of God and how Jesus prayer in John 17 for Christian unity might come to fulfilment in the future. Steven decided on this 2-min. clip for the film on the topic of God's singular purpose...
Change is made up of our small choices we make each day. Once we make the choice to pray, as Jesus taught us; "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" - and make it our singular purpose to do His will rather than ours - then we start conversing with Him more. As we listen to the Spirit's still small voice guiding our actions, we gradually dethrone our "self" and live a more God-centered life.
Pastor Dudley Hall from Texas put it best; "God does not always do things soon, but He often does things suddenly." This is a truism, which sometimes means we need to dig deep to find the patience to wait for His timing. But during this process of waiting He is actually growing us.
There is no secret formula for becoming all that we can be. It is a unique process, one day at a time, taking the Lord's hand and saying, "Lord I'm with You. I'm going to stand with You no matter how the chips fall."
2016: Bringing Heaven To Earth - David Bradshaw, MIF
In 2013, I wrote a short series of devotionals on the topic Keys To The Kingdom
- which was my best effort to underline THE central theme of the entire New Testament.
-Jesus spoke more in the four Gospels about the Kingdom of God than any other subject.
-There are more than 90 references in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John alone.
-80% of the verses have to do with living as the disciples of Jesus on earth!
Recognizing God's Kingdom as a present reality allows Christians to experience the blessings of Christ's reign now, as well as to anticipate it in the future age. It also keeps trials in perspective.
Chris is the author of more than 50 books and discussion guides, as well as a collaborative writer on more than a dozen book projects. He currently works at Walk Thru the Bible and serves at Daystar Atlanta church. He and his family live in Atlanta, Ga.
I was immediately impressed with this new 365-day devotional because it is concise and includes both Scripture, reader-friendly language, real-life examples and historical quotes from great Christian leaders ... on each page!
For example, the Jan. 1st devotional is titled "The Kingdom Came" (Mark 1:15) - which sets the stage by explaining the first words out of Jesus mouth: "The Kingdom of God has come near."
Chris explains that the Kingdom did not arrive as most expected ... "a sudden shift in the ways of the world or an overhaul of government structures." Instead,
it is "the beginning of a radical restoration ... It means we need to look at the world not as others do, but as citizens of another realm."
At the bottom of the page is
a great quote by a medical missionary to Arabia (between 1909-1954) PAUL W. HARRISON: "Wherever God rules over the human heart as King, there is the Kingdom of God established."
Today at our twice-a-week company devotional we read and discussed "The Present and Future Kingdom" (Luke 19:11-27) which tells the story
of a nobleman who must leave to receive a kingdom and then returns, which reveals why good stewardship of God-given resources is vital to
Chris explains the confusing concept of a present Kingdom with future fulfillment with great clarity and simplicity. "The truth is that the Kingdom has come, is now coming, and will finally come ... and it will break into our age with greater frequency and visibility."
If you are looking for a devotional which presents a clear understanding of Jesus #1 priority on earth, look no further. I will post more about how this Kingdom devotional is impacting lives in 2016.
My Top Ten Books of the Year - David Bradshaw, ideaman
12.18.15 - Warm holy-day greetings from Phoenix! 2015 has been a very busy and fruitful year ... helping to launch two new books, starting a weekly outreach to a local Phoenix nursing home while dealing with personal challenges and circumstances out of my control. But through it all, God has been faithful - helping me to become more resilient, to learn to rest in Him, to walk in Him and to stand in Him. May 2016 bring us closer to our God, our family, our friends (old and new) as well as finding our unique calling and then doing it. P.S. This illustration sums up life pretty well... :)
These 10 books listed below are all very inspirational ... and so I recommend them to you!
RESILIENCE: Hard Won Wisdom For Living A Better Life - Book Review/Summary
If you've ever faced pain, suffering or depression created by debilitating circumstances out of your control, then Resilience deserves a place in your library.
Resilience is a real page-turner. I found myself instantly swept away by scholar and former Navy Seal Eric Grietens' vast historical perspective drawn from the wisdom of the ages such as; Aristotle, Socrates, Cicero, Augustine, Seneca, C.S. Lewis - as well as his deep compassion for a friend and fellow elite serviceman whose life shipwrecked after returning home from combat.
Resilience is the type of book you wish you had read and unpacked as a young adult, however it contains so much practical wisdom it's equally valuable to those of us in the second half of life. Read my TOP 20 TAKEAWAYS...
RE-CENTERING ON GOD- David Bradshaw, IFP
Book review: WHAT THE MYSTICS KNOW: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self - So, what exactly is a Christian mystic? Since the word mystic has some negative baggage, as in "so heavenly minded they're of no earthly good", I was interested to read what the widely respected Franciscan Friar had to say on the subject. Rohr defines a "Christian mystic" is anyone who places experiencing God personally as their number one priority, as opposed to simply knowing about God in Scripture, church doctrine and theology. Rohr advocates prioritizing God-centeredness to rule over self-centeredness, a basic Kingdom principle...
WHY FATHERS MATTER - By David Bradshaw
Could it be the root of America's modern cultural crisis is a lack of loving, effective and functioning fathers? Increasingly psychologists argue that children without such a father in their life are at higher risk in every conceivable way.
In Do Fathers Matter? What Science is Telling Us About the Parent We've Overlooked Paul Raeburn overturns the lingering myths and stereotypes of bumbling dads and disciplinarian patriarchs through an in-depth and personal investigation of the latest scientific findings on the parent often overlooked. This book is important reading for every man. Here are my 10 takeaways...1. Darwinist downing of fatherhood is on the way out.
2. Social sciences have contributed to dad devaluation...
WE HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE AND IT LOOKS LIKE BALTIMORE: American Dream Vs. Progressive Dream - by Craig R. Smith and Lowell Ponte
This easy to understand book offers a panoramic view of how Americans can reverse the Progressive/Socialism trend which today threatens to wipe out the American dream. I learned a lot about Baltimore's fascinating history as a hub for immigrants and innovation, as well as why Baltimore today serves as such a modern urban challenge. Is it possible to overcome the destructive forces of drug addition, racism, violence, poverty and crony capitalism which so many Progressive-run cities in America face? This book helped me to see this epic battle with more clarity. Let us all hope and pray the American dream wins out over the Progressive nightmare!
The 21st Century Case For Gold: A New Information Theory of Money by George Gilder
Book Review by DAVID BRADSHAW, Idea Factory Press - Being a so-called "gold bug" can be very counterintuitive in today's world of changing economic and monetary values. The public has been told over and over by so-called experts to think of gold as either "just another commodity" or "just another investment". But for over 30 years Swiss America has told the public the full story: "Gold is neither a commodity nor an investment - it is the world's most trustworthy store of value, time and labor." Now a new scholarly book and scientific theory, with substantial imperative evidence, backs us up our premise...
DON'T BANK ON IT! - By Craig R. Smith & Lowell Ponte
The symbol of bank security has been the safe. Today it should be the "unsafe" because, as this book reveals, your bank deposits are now in danger in at least 20 major ways - from cybercriminals, money-hungry politicians, Too-Big-To-Fail bankers, and those now stealing your dollars' value. Smith and Ponte propose a surprising alternative future you can bank on, based in part on what a Harvard economics professor did with his own near-million-dollar bank account. This book shows ways to save your savings ...
Eager To Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi By Friar Richard Rohr,
founder of The Center for Action and Contemplation, weaves together a beautiful
and healing spiritual tapestry revealing the 'secret' of Francis of Assisi's way
of simplicity born eight centuries ago. This is the third book by Rohr I have read
in the last two years, following "Falling Upward" and "Yes, And..." - all of
which I have found exceptional. Proverbs 20:5 says "The purposes
of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out."
The insight from wise Christians, such as Richard Rohr, helps to draw out our
deep waters and a deeper sense of purpose ...
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In the End - Dr. Atul Gawande
What can we learn about end of life planning from a thoughtful surgeon who has
been researching for years, then faces the slow loss of his father? Lots!
Atul follows a hospice nurse on her rounds, a geriatrician in his clinic, and
tells the heartwarming stories of reformers who are involved in turning nursing
homes right side up. He finds people who show us how to have the hard
conversations and how to ensure we never sacrifice what people really care about. "Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients' anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them....The only way death is not meaningless is to see yourself as part of something greater."
The Eldercare Handbook - Stella Mora Henry, R.N.
In this comprehensive and accessible guide, long-term care expert Stella Henry helps readers navigate
the daunting logistics and powerful emotions of making care decisions for an elderly parent or loved one.
Drawing from her 36 years as a registered nurse and a nursing home administrator, as well as her experience
caring for both her parents (both of whom suffered the ravages of Alzheimer's disease), Henry tackles all
the tough issues: spotting the warning signs of dementia, redefining sibling roles, doing a walk-through
at an assisted living facility or nursing home, making the move, and coping with "take me home!" demands.
She also explains the medical, legal, and insurance maze. In a time when almost 10 million Americans
currently need long-term care, The Eldercare Handbook is an essential read.
A Song For Grandmother - Dorothy MillerA Song For Grandmother the book and film are full of uplifting stories, as well as providing
much-needed information on the how-tos of ministering to "warehoused" nursing home seniors.
It began on Christmas 1973, when Dorothy Miller took her three-year old son Paul inside a nursing
home to give a box of cookies to a elderly lady. She wanted her son to learn about giving.
Surprisingly, the loneliness of these forgotten seniors beckoned her to return - so this
intended, one-time visit turned into a twenty-eight year ministry. Realizing that many
Christians remain unaware (as she had been) of the desperate loneliness of nursing-home
residents, Dorothy also spearheaded the Jeremiah Films production of the video, A Song For Grandmother.
MEN ON A MISSION Paradise Community Church Men's Retreat Top 10 Takeaways
10.19.15 - By David Bradshaw, My Idea Factory
It was a joy to be a part of Paradise Community Church's "Man on a Mission" men's retreat, where over 50 men of all ages enjoyed a mountain top experience at the beautiful Tonto Creek Camp just north of Payson, Arizona this past weekend.
This was a true bonding experience for all as we worshiped, listened, reflected and then shared reactions in small groups. The food was excellent, the fellowship precious and the fun restful - as we did enjoyed group sports, hikes and campfire.
Pastor Doug Stevens invited Jon Ireland from Ocean Hills Church in Santa Barbara, CA to prepare several messages to inspire men to clearly hear God's voice, to become more authentic as well as make some courageous new commitments to better understand (and then live out) our life mission in community.
In addition to the excellent Bible teachings we listened to moving testimonies by men who shared their intimate stories of redemption ... (what happens at camp, stays at camp).
New friendships were forged in this fertile environment were trust and commitment are nurtured. Where do we go from here? My guess is many men will, like me, put Tuesday 6:30 am men's breakfast Bible study meetings on their calendars (located at 4242 E. Greenway Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85032)
Here are my top 10 takeaways and calls to action ...
1. We all need a 'band of brothers' which we can be real with and rely on for accountability and wisdom.
2. Hebrews 4:12-16 - all things are in His sight - Christ is our high priest who is touched by our infirmities - Come boldly to throne of grace/mercy in time of need.
3. Mark 9:35-37 - the last become first - Christ said to receive and embrace children (the smallest among us) just as we desire to receive Him.
4. Will I go first? Will I be "the initiator of grace"? Will I seek and serve the children God has put in my life? Will I seek, serve and listen to my wife?
5. Will I measure success as a man by the world's definitions or by God's Word? "A little boy/girl cries from the wounds of a father... A grown up man/woman cries for the wounds of a father."
6. Mark 3:1-5 - stretch forth your withered hand (hidden from view) - stand up and receive your restoration - the primary message of the Bible). Nothing changes when we hide our brokenness until we choose to admit.
7. For many it requires a near death experience to reveal what matters most.
8. Luke 9:28-35 - Jesus chose Peter, James and John to be "with" Him to reveal His glory (transfiguration) - yet they at first missed the glory of God, slept thru it - awakened by the voice of God "This is My beloved Son", hear Him.
9. Don't listen to "dream stealers" ... speak words of life (Prov. 18:21)
10. Real men are men who are real. I need "rust, trust & must" friends to help me deal with "neccesary sufferings" in life.
Why Fathers Matter
7.31.15 - By David Bradshaw
Could it be the root of America's modern cultural crisis is a lack of loving, effective and functioning fathers?
Increasingly psychologists argue that children without such a father in their life are at higher risk in every conceivable way.
Fathers, whether biological, adoptive or otherwise, serve as mentors, guides and elders - helping children grow to maturity. Fathers often help children to make important life decisions as well as development of their life worldview - both for good or bad. In fact, the word "father" can be defined as "he who decides." So what is the result if "father" is absent?
In Fatherless America, David Blankenhorn calls the crisis of fatherless children "the most destructive trend of our generation." A recent British report from the University of Birmingham, Dad and Me, confirms Blankenhorn's claims, concluding that the need for a father is on an epidemic scale, and "father deficit" should be treated as a public health issue.
1. Darwinist downing of fatherhood is on the way out.
2. Social sciences have contributed to dad devaluation.
3. Lamb study finds infants prefer father to hold them.
4. Fewer fathers involved in children's lives than ever.
5. Fathers contribute to language and mental development.
6. Children often think of their fathers as playmates.
7. Children of fathers engaged in enjoyable play popular.
7. Fathers encourage risk-taking by being less protective.
8. Children's socialization is accelerated by fathers.
9. Adolescents with dads: less delinquency and depression.
10. Fathers help deter daughters from sex, teen pregnancy.
1. Children suffer from a diminished self-concept - compromised physical and emotional security.
2. Children have difficulties with social adjustment, struggling with emotions and self-loathing.
3. Children manifest behavior problems to disguise fears, resentments, anxieties and unhappiness.
4. Children are more likely to leave school at age 16, and less likely to succeed in life as adults.
5. Children are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and abuse drugs in childhood and adulthood.
6. Child promiscuity and teen pregnancy, higher likelihood of having sex before the age of 16.
7. Children have more health problems such as chronic pain, asthma, headaches, and stomach aches.
8. Children have more mental health disorders, particularly anxiety, depression and suicide.
9. Children have fewer life chances as adults, lower incomes, social assistance, and homelessness
10. Children have a higher mortality rate and live an average a life span of four years less.
Thankfully the tide is beginning to turn.
Truth is, I believe we're all born into this world with a father-shaped vacuum in our heart, soul and spirit. Which means we all yearn for physical, emotional, mental and spiritual love of a father - both on earth and in eternity. I am thankful the value and importance of good fathering is being affirmed more every day. Healthy children need both mothers and fathers.
Women of noble character are both needed, and sorely in need of, to support the restoration of godly fatherhood.
Women who seek security from God first, as well as from her husband. Wives who understand her
husband needs to be honored and appreciated - even when he makes mistakes - and are willing
to ask God for the ability to forgive often.
So what does all of this mean for baby boomers who have already raised their children?
First, it is never too late to begin building bridges to improved father-child relationships, even
if we made some big mistakes along the way. Second, many grandparents are
going to be needed to help fill the role of a missing father for their grandchildren.
Thirdly, the best way to improve our skills as fatherlessness gap fillers,
is to begin to understand how much our Heavenly Father loves us and seeks
to grow our relationship daily. Father God is committed to teaching us how to better reflect His perfect fatherhood, if we will listen first, then act.
"The trajectory of your whole life is determined by one single thing: the image of God that you live your life by, says TradingUp.org founder Doug Sherman. "It is a tragedy to live your life with a false view of God; it effects everything in your life."
Yes, fathers matter more that we may have imagined. May we fathers learn from our Heavenly Father how to become a "Father to the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5).
The Loneliest People on Earth ... Live Closer Than We Think!
6.8.15 - By David Bradshaw
"All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?" -The Beatles
"Cities are millions of people being lonely together." -Henry David Thoreau
"A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely..." -Psalm 68:5-6
Have you ever slipped into a lonely place in your life? If not, odds are you will at some point.
As I've discussed, feeling isolated from God and other people is for many a living hell.
In the beginning God declared it was not good for man to be alone ... and it still isn't.
More than ever before in history, due to longer lifespans and the near collapse of nuclear
family, millions of people today experience the loneliness of outliving their oldest
and best friends.
At last count the total number of nursing homes in U.S. is 15,700. With an average of 100 beds
each, that equals 1.5 million aging souls - at least two-thirds of which are rarely or never visited by family
or friends. There are 144 nursing homes in Arizona and about 85 in Phoenix area.
Last Sunday I embarked on a new journey to reach out to the 175 souls residing at
Coronado Healthcare, a nursing home in North Phoenix, with a weekly Sunday service
and some unscheduled visitation, as time permits. My plan is to share this outreach
with my family, fellow boomers in my local church and our company prayer group to invite them to consider volunteering.
In my first Sunday service included 11 residents and the assistant Activities Director.
I brought a simple message: We have a Heavenly Father that is very
interested in growing our relationship daily.
We started off with a few introductions, then I read one of Trading Up's "Letters From God" - which consists of 40
short personal messages, written in the first person (from God) to the reader,
affirming how special, loved and important each of us are to our Creator. As I read
the first letter, "I love you more than you could possibly imagine," I
instantly discerned a few spiritual lights came on inside. We then read aloud the Bible
verses that correspond with the message and more lights went on!
It is very rewarding to meet and encourage older folks who are desperately
longing for someone to tell them they still matter to God... To show them why true
Christian faith is where the fatherless find fathers in the faith... where widows
are still defended... where the sick have visitors... where the devastated find
compassion and the dying have no anxiety of leaving this world unremembered.
I've named this outreach "Father's Touch"
because we're all in need of a fresh touch daily by our Heavenly Father affirming our identity as
beloved children of God.
This presents a golden opportunity for 50+ baby boomers seeking to give back to their community by
surrounding the loneliest among us with God's everlasting love. If you live the Phoenix area and feel inspired to volunteer at Coronado Healthcare,
or would like resources to reach out to other nursing homes, please email me at email@example.com
or call 602.918.3296.
May God open open our eyes to see; the loneliest people on earth may
be living right across the street or just around the corner!
FULL CIRCLE God's Kingdom Transcends Life and Death
4.17.15 by David Bradshaw
Kingdom living is THE central theme of the entire New Testament.
Recognizing God's kingdom as a present reality allows Christians to experience the blessings of Christ's
reign now, as well as to anticipate it in the future age. It also keeps trials, suffering, aging and especially death in proper perspective.
As I get older I find my reading glasses are no longer optional to see clearly. The same is true as we mature in the Lord, seeing our hurting world clearly requires new lens from God, lest we stumble around in an increasingly blurry world.
Sadly, too many Christians today can barely see the Kingdom of God off in the distant future somewhere, when according to Jesus, it is right here to be seen IF we are looking for it. While much of the church is focused on getting OFF the planet, Jesus is focused on getting his people to understand His will is to get His Kingdom functioning ON the planet, one heart at a time. We think the Kingdom comes last, but Jesus says it comes first. And it comes easiest to those with the eyes of a child.
Each of us is born into this world as 100% DEPENDENT upon our earthly family and our Heavenly
Father for life, love and growth.
Then as we mature, we progressively seek to become 100% INDEPENDENT - in full control
of our future and destiny - in which we often create a world that exalts our 'self' above
our family and Creator.
But each of us will one day come to grips with the fact that all mortals, as we approach
the end of our lives, most likely will again become 100% DEPENDENT upon the kindness of
family, others and our loving Heavenly Father.
This is the 'natural' cycle of life; birth, maturity and death. For most death is a
mystery at best and something to fear at worst. The 'super-natural' cycle of life adds the promise of resurrection and eternal life after death. Jesus Christ demonstrated how to live fear-less in both life and death.
MOM BECOMES CHILD-LIKE
My mother Virginia is now facing her mortality as she approaches her 90th birthday.
After a dozen years of decreasing independence, mobility and mental clarity -
under the daily care-giving of my brother Kevin and his wife Irene - last month
she moved into 'assisted living' due to her frequent falls and growing dementia.
The transition from home living to assisted living marks a new stage of life
which many are unprepared for - including myself. Looking at the upside, now
mom has an enlarged circle of care-givers to help keep her safe and functional
as long as possible.
Mom is coming full circle back to where she existed before birth - embraced by her loving Heavenly Father. Eternity for believers is not a place to
fear but rather a place to rejoice, re-uniting with her Creator and dearly-beloved who've passed.
By the grace of God, I believe mom is 'falling upward'. And I pray she's able to write her
own story's conclusion with the same worry-free faith she had as a newborn baby.
Although dementia is presently robbing many of her fondest memories, God's Word promises
this too will pass and her heavenly mind will be completely renewed.
This life stage change has prompted me to begin researching what more can be done
to help mom, as well as asking what the Lord saying about
the role Christians can play in serving today's aging population all around us.
The Bible has much to say to us about the importance of honoring our elders.
There is a 'time and season for everything,' said Solomon, which includes death.
Old age should be viewed as a privilege and blessing (Isaiah 65:17) ... a
reward (Deut. 30:19) and having grandchildren is a sign of favor (Psalm 128:5-6).
Elders are to be treated with the same respect as a father or mother (I Tim. 5:1-2)
and widows are to be provided for by the community of faith (I Tim 5:1-16, Acts 6:1-7).
Involvement in a nursing home or hospice home outreach is one very practical
way to serve.
Interestingly, as a young man (40 years ago) I was involved in
weekly nursing home ministry in Phoenix. I remember leading worship and then
just talking and getting to know residents, letting them know they matter to God.
One of the biggest takeaways from my reading so far is the importance of
having "The Conversation" with our parents and families sooner, rather than waiting
until emotions run high during a sudden health crisis. Here is a good conversation starter
which is provided by the ConversationProject.
12.31.14 - by David Bradshaw
Proverbs 20:5 says "The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out."
As another year fades into history, each of us have invested another 8,760 hours into building a foundation for what we will become in 2015. Beyond the clamoring of politics, economics and religion lies a vast world within our own soul that yearns for closer relationships - with God and others.
Here are 15 of my key takeaway quotes for 2014 which, by God's grace, will give me the wisdom and vision needed to better fulfill the purposes of God in my life next year. Consider journaling your 2014 takeaways ... in prep for your 2015 giveaways!
1. "The trajectory of our whole life is determined by one thing, the image of God we live our lives by." - Doug Sherman
2. "Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words." - Francis of Assisi
3. "Only when we are eager to love can we see love and goodness in the world around us ... Integrity: a willingness to hold the dark side of things instead of reacting to them, denying, or projecting our anxiety elsewhere," - Richard Rohr
4. "You matter...I hope you know you matter...I hope you know you're treasure" - For King & Country
5. "Celebrating life in the death of your only son requires mustard seed faith." - Jeff Allaway
6. "God does not exist to make our business successful; we exist to make his business successful. And his business is setting up his Kingdom. Therefore, it all begins when we learn to pray: Your Kingdom come - my kingdom go!" - Wolfgang Simpson
7. "Christian competition is out, love is in. And love works." - James Rutz (RIP)
8. "It's a wonderful feeling when your father becomes not a god, but a man to you - when he comes down from the mountain and you see he's this man with weaknesses. And you love him as this whole being, not as a figurehead." - Robin Williams (RIP)
9. "Brain scans confirm the ability to construct language and thinking is stimulated by prayer and meditation - which help consciously envision God as loving and compassionate. - Neuroscientists Newburg and Wallman
10. "Christianity begins not with a big DO, but rather, with a big DONE." - Watchmen Nee
11. "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain
12. "Three pathways to finding purpose; 1) Be present, by taking 3 long breathes, 2) Look for purpose moments, set a goal of impacting at least one person a day, and 3) Learn to listen, both to yourself and others." - Richard Leider
13. "What matters in the father-daughter relationship is that Dad seeks to live a life of integrity and honesty, avoiding hypocrisy and admitting his own shortcomings, so that she has a realistic and positive example of how to deal with the world." - Michael Austin
14. "The younger generation needs us, we are called to be their covering...we are to lead the next generation into kingdom life. They can't make it to God's promised land without us!" -John Boneck
15. "Government is always religion applied to economics." - R.E. McMaster
My 2014 Christmas Song For Mom
12.18.14 - David Bradshaw
What is the perfect gift we can give those whom we love dearly which
has the possibility of bringing them joy all year round?
This year I decided to give my 89-year old mother (Virginia)
an iPod loaded with 100+ of her favorite songs from the 50s & 60s
era. In addition to Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, Jimmy Dean,
Andy Williams, Perry Como, Herb Albert and others, I included a
special Christmas message and song I recorded especially for her.
We discovered this iPod gift idea after watching a excellent documentary
released this year entitled ALIVE INSIDE.
The greatest revelation in the film for me was to learn that our memory
of music and favorite songs - and the events in our life related - are
the last part of our memory to be lost due to Alzheimer's and dementia.
This amazing film, narrated by the founder of the Music & Memory nonprofit organization,
features a unique exploration of music and the mind.
Alive Inside exposes our broken healthcare system and demonstrates music's
ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to
After watching this film, Leoma and I feel strongly that reaching
out to local nursing homes with this "Music & Memory" message is
great opportunity! Stay tuned for the feedback about mom's response
to her new memory-stimulating Christmas gift.
BLESSED are the POOR in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
BLESSED are those who MOURN, for they will be comforted.
BLESSED are the MEEK, for they will inherit the earth.
BLESSED are those SEEKING righteousness, for they will be filled.
THESE are HIS commandments, the RULES of GOD's Kingdom;
LOVE GOD with your whole heart, LOVE Your NEIGHBOR as Your-self.
THESE are HIS commandments, the RULES of GOD's Kingdom;
LOVE GOD with your whole heart, LOVE Your NEIGHBOR as Your-self.
BLESSED are the MERCIFUL, for they will be shown mercy.
BLESSED are the PURE IN HEART, for they will see GOD.
BLESSED are the PEACEMAKERS, for they'll be called children of GOD.
BLESSED are those PERSECUTED, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
THESE are HIS commandments, the RULES of GOD's Kingdom;
LOVE GOD with your whole heart, LOVE Your NEIGHBOR as Your-self.
THESE are HIS commandments, the RULES of GOD's Kingdom;
LOVE GOD with your whole heart, LOVE Your NEIGHBOR as Your-self.
I view these ten simple rules which Jesus taught as His
fulfillment of the 10 Commandments. And, as we live them out in our daily
life, we too are representatives of His Kingdom - serving as a visible
expression of His unmerited (and often even counterintuitive) Agape love.
Bright Gift Ideas!
12.3.14 - by David Bradshaw, Idea Factory Press
If you're looking for a simple way to bring a smile to the faces of your loved ones this holiday season, consider giving the gift of "real money" - U.S. Gold and Silver coins!
This year I decided to give beautiful U.S. Morgan Silver Dollars, minted between 1878-1921. My grandson Harry is pictured showing off his Morgan Silver Dollar at our 2014 family Thanksgiving celebration.
There's nothing like holding a historic U.S. Silver dollar in your hand to remind you of what honest money really feels like. Here are three smart reasons I recommend giving the gift of U.S. gold and silver coins...
1. TRUE VALUE: With gold prices near $1,200 an ounce and silver prices near $17 an ounce, historic U.S. gold and silver coin prices are tremendously undervalued. Prices for U.S. Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars from the 19th and 20th century start at under $25 each!
2. SAVING VS. SPENDING: Every year for the last two decades I've given my 4 daughters and (now 10) grandchildren U.S. gold or silver coins because they are more prone to save them, (rather than spend them) which I feel is is a valuable life lesson in today's world so driven by consumerism.
3. EDUCATIONAL TOOL: Noah (another of my 6 grandsons) asked: "Was this Silver dollar really minted 130 years ago?" Yes, I told him. You're holding a genuine piece of American history in your hands which, in 1884, represented the average daily pay for a cowboy (if he had his own horse, saddle, and gun).
In fact, back in 1884 a Morgan silver dollar would pay for lodging and a meal in the wild, wild West. Four generations later, in 1962, a room at MOTEL6 started off at six dollars. Just two generations later, in 2014, the same MOTEL6 room will set you back $86!
And so goes the story of the U.S. paper dollar - ever since our nation abandoned gold and silver in the 1960s and 70s. The cost of living just keeps on rising, but the value of gold and silver coins often rises even faster.
For example, a decade ago a one-ounce U.S. gold coin sold for about $400 each. Today the same coin is valued at $1,200 - a 300% increase! Likewise, a Morgan Silver Dollar cost about $7 each in 2004. Today the same coin is valued over $20 each - also a 300% increase!
Yes, owning and giving tangible assets serves to teach the us all the importance of holding money which is a trustworthy store of value over time and has the potential to maintain your buying power and rise faster than the cost of living.
A simple Morgan silver dollar gift has suddenly become a wonderful educational tool; to discover the truth about America's unique economic history, to understand how to maintain buying power - and best of all these historical gems are all reasonably priced right now!
That's what I call a bright gift idea!
For details about purchasing U.S. gold and silver coins in time for holiday gifts or for personal asset and retirement protection, please call Swiss America at 800-289-2646 or visit online at
THANKSGIVING 2014 ~ Introduction by David Bradshaw
I am very thankful to be celebrating Thanksgiving with all four of my daughters and their families this year for the first time in many years!
Thanks-giving is an important time to reflect on our blessings, but my ultimate goal is to live a life of thanks-living every day. This requires an ever-expanding personal relationship with our loving Heavenly Father that overflows to others.
According to Trading Up founder Doug Sherman, "The trajectory of our whole life is determined by one thing, the image of God we live our lives by. Rethinking your image of God from the ground up will lead to a vastly better life and dramatically shift how you see everything. That is a Trade Up."
The following is a short essay by brother Doug explaining why the only antidote to man-made religion is to begin leading a true God-centric life. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
It has been said Christianity started in Jerusalem as a group of people reveling in the greatness and immeasurable goodness of God everyday, moved to Greece and became a philosophy, to Rome and became an institution, then to Europe and became a culture, and then to America and became a business. How did the downward migration occur?
Throughout history, church leaders have embraced one of two fundamental starting points for what God is like. One is a badly flawed image which is the foundation for most man-made religions - a source of corruption in both the Catholic and Protestant churches. The other is the pure truth from the mouth of Jesus, and a powerful antidote to the lies of the first view.
1) God as an impersonal Ruler
2) God as a perfect Father
It is impossible to explain the full measure of the tragedy created by the first view. A snapshot of the corruption can been seen in Hitler's reference to God as "the Almighty" At the same, there is no way to fully describe the radical change in the lives of people who start down the journey of seeing God as a perfect Father and enjoying Him with more frequency and depth.
American religion strongly prefers the first view as it supports an economic model where the majority of professed Christians are allowed to live unchallenged in a self centered life; and told if they attend church, give, and agree with what is taught they can pretend to live a God centered life.
The first view allows large quantities of people to sit and listen to the Bible and simply affirm it is true, then go on their merry way either feeling ashamed or proud but with no change in love, loyalty or enjoyment of God on a daily basis. Admittedly, it is a better business model for a bigger church.
But since only a minority of professed Christians are humble and hungry enough to explore a God centric reality; the plate will not be as full. Further this requires more than mere academic teaching. It requires the teacher/leader to first experience many rich encounters with God himself, and then embrace a fatherly commitment to disciple his people to enjoy God in the same way he does, through the entire range of life circumstances. People must be taught how to embrace the truth, live it and reject the lies that get in the way. They need father-like encouragement, and fellowship with those going the same direction. This is simply not the business model of today's church which puts 95% of their budget in the Sunday experience to appeal to the masses.
Let me outline the two views:
1) God is an impersonal Ruler/Creator
Persona: demanding, focused on mistakes, angry, distant, neither compelling or interesting Salvation defined: forgiveness for mistakes and chance to repay the debt with increased morality Primary motivation: fear of retribution, shame, offer of significance in serving the church Primary focus: lifestyle improvement, the ought-to's Approach to Scriptures: what to improve, fix, correct, gain academic knowledge of Fruit: either pride or shame, self focused, dry, empty, insecure, joyless Progress formula: contemplative reading, outward morality, go to church and give Fellowship: what are we learning? how can we do better? what bad things did we do? accountability for morality Vision of Heaven: the more you keep the rules, the more you get to do what you want to do Theology: it is based on a limited picture of God's greatness, with almost no concept of God's goodness-that makes Him ultimately seem small, distant, angry, impersonal, and critical, unpacking God from the starting point of a Ruler-mostly silent on grace, sovereignty, Trinity, kindness, person-hood, or presence of God, but very loud on how to have a more Christian lifestyle for 95% of all teaching.
Foundation for man-made religion, churchianity is a self-led life while pretending otherwise...
- Sells pride in self help morality or superior knowledge or opinion
- Addicts people to shame and the need for relief
- Leads to white space
- Leads to a church-centric life with God
- Leads to 90/10 rule - 90% self-led life, 10% for God
- Focus on the minors
- Confusing ends and means with church, the Bible, spiritual disciplines
- Outside the cup focus, but tragically with little life change or ministry to others.
2) God as a perfect Father
Persona: a real Person-a Perfect Father who takes infinite delight in you, infinitely kind, gracious decent, loyal, fascinating compelling, always present, friendly, eager to help, eager for fresh starts. Salvation defined: the eternal joy of knowing, savoring, enjoying life with this Person, starting with the free gift of eternal forgiveness as a means to end of God enjoying us and us enjoying Him for all all eternity. Primary motivation: embracing the best life possible, trading up a self centered life for a God centered one, one moment at a time. Primary focus: Knowing and enjoying the most amazing Person in the universe, the get-to's. Approach to Scriptures: encountering the living God, hearing His voice, thrilled at revelation of what He is like, letting Him speak into how your life could change if you lived the truth Fruit: humility, joy through growing knowledge of His greatness and goodness, passion to trade up, confidence, inner strength for the knockdowns Progress formula: Seeing God clearly and responding with more frequency and joy Focus of fellowship: What are your best God stories? Where did you see His hand? What did He say to you? How did you trade up? accountability for encountering God with joy Vision of Heaven: the stunning display of infinite love, power, wisdom, kindness brings ecstatic joy as we are fully captivated by Him and completely compelled to love and honor Him with increasing joy Theology: revels in both the greatness of God and His goodness, unpacking both from the starting point of a Perfect Father, the goodness of God is deeply explored, and the main draw of the heart, the greatness of God is explored as well bringing confidence in His leadership-1/2 of teaching is on what God is like, 1/2 on how to enjoy Him.
Antidote to man-made religion leading to a true God centric life:
- Only for the humble and hungry
- Brings freedom from shame, fear, anger, insecurity, purposelessness, stress
- Fills in the white space with rich encounters with God everyday
- Leads to walking with God all day
- 100% of life is possible to enjoy with God
- Focus on the most important part-(Mary-Martha)
- Clarifies ends and means
- Cleans the inside of the cup, passion for love and loyalty to God grows as we see and enjoy Him more-radical life change.
Visit TradingUp.org for a short video introduction, free sign up for twice
daily email/text messages of Scripture translated into first person, free
downloadable leaders guides and his 42-day devotional "Letters From God".
EAGER TO LOVE!
Book Review by DAVID BRADSHAW
"As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do."
"Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."
-Francis of Assisi
This is the third book by Rohr I have read in the
last two years, following "Falling Upward" and "Yes, And..." - all of which I have found exceptionally transformational.
Eager to Love offers us important revelations and reflection upon the living legacies
of Francis of Assisi and the courageous followers of his simple
yet profoundly inclusive "sidewalk spirituality".
My attraction to Rohr's latest work is from the perspective of a seasoned
believer seeking to learn more about Francis' "experiential knowledge of
spiritual things" (aka first-hand revelation) which Rohr refers to as
Christian "mysticism" in a most positive way.
My spirit tells me that this Franciscan way of love, paved by history's most famous and beloved "Saint" Francis,
may also serve as a fresh path for many to explore today.
Rohr's passion and life mission is to help others develop a holistic worldview
patterned after Jesus Christ simple, yet counter-intuitive, message embodied in
the Sermon on the Mount, as walked out in Francis of Assisi's amazing life of
contemplation and action.
"Only when we are eager to love can we see love and goodness in the world
around us ... Integrity is often a willingness to hold the dark side of things
instead of reacting to them, denying, or projecting our anxiety elsewhere,"
says Rohr in the Introduction.
THE ORIGINAL PROTESTANT
"Francis of Assisi has been called the original protestant," says Rohr, reflecting
on the his positive influence upon believers and unbelievers alike.
The words and life of Jesus and Francis challenge us to live in a world without
sacred vs. secular distinctions, to see "everything as a revelation of the divine -
from rocks to rocket ships," as Rohr puts it.
"Both Jesus and Francis did not let the old get in the way of the new, but like
all religious geniuses, revealed what the old was saying all along," writes Rohr.
Readers who accept the death and resurrection of Jesus are called to move beyond
mere understanding and thankfulness of this "Divine Mystery" to the next level of
setting out on this same path of servant leadership for themselves.
THY KINGDOM COME, MY KINGDOM GO
"Our Christ 'reigns from the cross, but with a new kind of power that looks and
feels like total weakness, just as all human suffering and humiliation does. Only
those who have joined him there and come out the other side, like Francis and his
authentic followers, will understand this. They 'rule' from the edges and reign
from what is no longer the bottom," Rohr concludes in Chapter 2, "A Happy Run Downward."
I agree with Rohr's conclusion that most Christians at best split their loyalties
between God and Caesar - with our minds controlled by seeking money, status and power.
This can distract us from seeking first His Kingdom in our lives, day by day,
moment by moment.
"When you agree to live simply, you have time for spiritual and corporal works of
mercy because you have renegotiated in your mind and heart your very understanding
of time ... time is not money anymore, time is life itself," challenges Rohr.
LOVING THIS DIRTY OLD WORLD
Our worldview frames everything we see, think and believe. If our worldview is
clouded with a perspective that the world is evil, we will see evil all around us.
If we can learn to see the world (and all the people on it) as sacred and
lovable to God, it will change our mindset forever. Our world is no longer "us
vs. them", but rather, "us and them".
Francis of Assisi strongly held this inclusive worldview of the 'sacramentality'
of nature and all God's creatures. While much of the religious/evangelical world
can hardly wait to escape this "dirty old world" to arrive in heaven, Francis saw
the splendor of God's present earth as a reflection of the heavenly goodness and
love to come later.
"Franciscans, Amish and Quakers are the Christian groups with the least negative
baggage in Western civilization," says Richard, due to their emphasis on
"contemplative, simple living and peacemaking foundations."
PARTICIPATIVE SEEING & ABIDING
Chapter Five, "Contemplation: A Different Way of Knowing" was one of my favorites.
Echoing Doug Sherman's message of "Trading Up" from a
self-centered to a God-centered life, Rohr writes "contemplatives surrender some
of their own boundaries and identity so that God an see through them, with them,
and in them - with a larger pair of eyes."
"Francis told us that we needed to 'give people reasons for spiritual joy' and
not just quote commandments to them, write Rohr. "Francis and Clare exemplify
a truly 'beautiful morality' ... which shines forth when someone does an imperfect
thing," in sharp contrast to rigid moral conclusions so often held by Christians.
"Franciscan poverty" is not just a life of simplicity, but also the practice of
letting go of our small vantage point," writes Rohr, recognizing we are powerless and
ineffective unless we are abiding in the vine of Christ (John 15:6).
SAYING "YES" TO PARADOXES
"In the practical order, contemplation gives us an inner capacity to live with
paradoxes and contradictions ... a new way of processing the moment ... the
ability to incorporate the negative ... accepting absurdity and tragedy as
part of God's unfathomable agenda," says Richard.
Rohr views the ability to hold and overcome life's many paradoxes as the
beginning of training in Francis inclusive, unified or contemplative living,
as opposed to denying paradoxes. "Conversion, therefore, is not joining a
different group, but seeing with the eyes of the crucified."
"Neither logic nor law can fully achieve this, but participation with and in
God can. (This does not make logic or law unnecessary; they are simply
inadequate to the work of transformation) ... this mean we all must learn to
offer life a foundational 'yes' before we offer our critical 'no'. If we
start with no, it almost impossible to ever get back to a full yes."
Rohr quotes one of Francis most articulate followers, Bonaventure (1217-1274)
who sums up how contemplatives "know" things: "The soul itself is an image of
God, to which God is so present that the soul can actually grasp God, and
is capable of possessing God and of being a partaker in God."
In fact, the book devotes an entire chapter to discussing how Bonaventure
"was to Francis what Paul was to Jesus," providing the church with a
complete theology and systematic worldview based on integrating
contemplation with an extremely active life.
FROM WORSHIP TO IMITATION
"You only know as much as you do," Francis told his first friars. "For Francis
and Clare, Jesus become someone to actually imitate and not just to worship.
Francis starting place was human suffering instead of human sinfulness,"
The writing of Francis reflect this; using the word 'doing' rather than
'understanding' 175 times to five. 'Heart' is used 42 times to one use of
'mind'. Love is used 23 times vs. 12 uses of 'truth'.'Mercy' is used 26
times while intellect is used only one time.
"This is a very new perspective and different from the highly academic
theology that would hold sway for the next thousand years," explains Rohr.
"Francis knew what many educators have now proven - that humans tend to live
themselves into new ways of thinking more than think themselves into new
ways of living."
FRANCISCAN SPIRITUALITY - THE THIRD WAY
"The Franciscan worldview is not heretical, nor is it a threat, except
to the comfortable and the careerists ... Francis put almost all of his
attention on issues of daily practice, humble relationships, and a way
of life rather than on Sunday recitations of creeds. When you honor both
power and powerlessness, you quite simply come up with a third something,
a very different kind of power," says Rohr.
"Good Franciscan spirituality always tries to maintain three freedoms;
1) God's freedom to do what God wills, 2) Maintenance of structural
freedom, and 3) Contemplative prayer to maintain inner, psychological
freedom to do the first two."
"Our emphasis on orthopraxy (simplicity, nonviolence, living among the poor)
and in our thought ('univocity' of all being, freedom of conscience) found
Franciscans on the invisible edge of the Church, which is exactly where
Francis wanted us to be."
Rohr systematically reveals the heart of Francis. "I hope you now see more
clearly how Francis cannot be written off as a mere soft and sweet figure ...
he was deliberately and consciously undercutting the entire 'honor/shame system'
on which so much of culture, violence, false self-esteem and even many of
the ministrations of church totally depend."
"This message of simplicity, smallness and downward mobility is rather
clear in the Christian scriptures (Phil. 2:7, II Cor. 8:9) ... No wonder
Francis called water 'Sister Water, so useful, lowly, precious and fair!'
Water always and forever seeks the lower, and even the lowest, place. We
let water - the simple universal element necessary for all life - be our
DRAWING OUT 'SISTER WATER'
Proverbs 20:5 says "The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out."
The insight from wise Christians, such as Richard Rohr,
helps to draw out our deep waters and a deeper sense of purpose.
We are all called to serve the purposes of God in our spheres of influence,
including family, friends, neighbors, and community. The first way we draw
the hidden purposes out of others is by learning to be a good
listener ourselves, as we see modeled by Francis of Assisi.
Spiritual leaders and practitioners on the front lines of helping
transform our "serve me" culture into a "serve others" culture,
seek to dig into our rich history to reveal
our deepest calling - the pearl of great price - which is to fall in love with our loving Creator
and all of His creation anew daily.
In Matthew 5:3-9 Jesus offers us eight basic rules for Kingdom living on earth ...
1 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
3 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
4 Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
5 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
6 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
7 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
8 Blessed are the persecuted: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Francis of Assisi based his 'rules' upon this solid foundation and
so should we. Notice Jesus 'rules' carry a special blessing and
promise. The power to live like Jesus (and Francis) is never generated
by our own efforts, but rather upon the finished work of the cross.
Humility, empathy, meekness, righteousness, mercy, purity and
peacemaking are all unmerited gifts of God. Praise His name!
Millions of Christians around the world - catholic, orthodox and protestant - today are seeking
fresh ways to reach this generation with the message of God's unconditional love. We are called
to reach up, reach out and reach back over two millennium to discover what has gone beautifully
right ... even when we think it has gone terribly wrong. Richard Rohr's writings are a gift
to the body of Christ to prepare for a great season of Kingdom expansion ahead.
Thanks Richard! Your book has made me more eager to love!
10.9.14 - Celebrating life ... in death!
by David Bradshaw
On Wednesday I joined over 1,000 tear-full souls to celebrate the life of Jeff Allaway Jr. - a life well lived. Jeff Jr., son of Jeff and Ronda Allaway (Big House Inc. ministry) did not survive a fatal car accident 2 weeks ago, yet his spirit lives on in the lives of the many thousands he touched over his two brief decades on earth.
From the moment we arrived at the Marquee Theatre (a popular concert hall in Tempe) it was clear this would be unlike any memorial service we've ever been to. There was a spirit of celebration from the opening song/video slide show, to the heartfelt testimonies from family and friends, to the closing invitation by Jeff Sr.
"It only takes a mustard seed of faith ... Jeff Jr. can't make the choice to come to you today, but you can make the choice to go to him ... to know beyond a shadow of doubt that you will see him in heaven," said pastor Jeff passionately as he held back tears for the loss of his only son.
"This is what Jeff would have wanted me to say ... and I know he is looking down from above rejoicing right now."
We mourn with Jeff and Ronda Allaway the loss of their precious son. We also rejoice that in Christ we can learn how to celebrate life - even in death.
Jeff Jr. was and is a perfect example of the "mustard seed of faith". Although it fell to the ground it will ultimately produce a beautiful tree which will multiply one-thousandfold. Let the kingdom multiplication begin!
It will be interesting to see how our loving Lord uses this tragic event to serve as a springboard to a next season in the Allaway's life of Kingdom service.
Like the U-shaped curve seen in all of the natural world, so our lives are formed by a series of fallings, losses and even failures - in preparation for the next rebirth, rising, gains and successes. "The way up is the way down," writes Franciscan author Richard Rohr in Falling Upward.
Pastor Jeff reminds me of the another unorthodox troubadour from the 13th century - St. Francis of Assisi - who had a driving passion to take the message of God's love for all creatures (especially the poor and downtrodden) to the highways and byways.
"Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them." - St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of Brother Sun
Here's a 150-year old hymn done instrumentally by popular recording artist Josh Wilson, who will be performing at AZHungerWalk on Saturday, Sept. 27th. Leoma, Braida and I are participating in this great cause. Sing or hum it with me...
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin - oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! -
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
[Note: I have known Wolfgang Simson for many years. He is a man with a prophetic voice to the body of Christ. His last groundbreaking book "Houses That Change The World" helped millions to rediscover the simple truth. Please ask the Spirit of God to help you grasp God's Kingdom in his new copywrite-free e-book. I know I will.]
Introduction to The Kingdom Manifesto
Many people dream of God. But what does God dream of man?
What is his vision for his future with mankind?
His vision can be summed up in three parts: * Walk with them
* Be their King
* Marry the bride
Walk with them. The book of
Genesis describes God as the
creator who loves to communicate
with man, made in his image.
the beginning of mankind's history,
the Garden of Eden was the idyllic
setting for the peaceful, relaxed
and protected community of God
with man. This is where God would
openly speak and even walk with
Adam and Eve, like friends.
original, direct, face-to-face communication between God and man existed as
long as humans obeyed God. When they failed, that innocent, immediate, face-
to-face communication with God was lost. The innocent friendship between
God and humans dramatically stopped. Man tried to walk without God - and
has been lonely ever since.
But not only did man miss the walks and talks with
God in the garden, God also missed these times with his human creation. The
Bible mentions only a few individuals that were different: Enoch walked with
God (Gen 5:24). Noah was a just man, blameless among the people of his time,
and he walked with God (Gen 6:9). The first time that God told his friend
Abraham what he wanted from him, he said: I am God the Almighty, walk
before me and be blameless (Gen 17:1).
To walk before God meant to live a live
that has nothing to hide from God, a life of integrity and transparency, a life
aligned with God and his statutes, laws and covenants. Through Moses, another
friend of his, God gave the Law of Moses to his people of Israel. This was crucial,
because for God and man to walk together, outside of the Garden of Eden, two
conditions need to be met: a) for unholy man to meet a holy God, a sacrifice
needs to be made to cover man's sin; b) man is required to follow the laws of
Accepting God's forgiveness and keeping God's Law was the required
protocol to regain and enjoy his friendship. This friendship would include
walking together again: If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my
commands. I will walk among you and be your God (Lev 26:3-12). The post-
Eden message of God to man is: I want your friendship back. I want to walk with
you. But if you want to come into my house, come cleaned and follow the house
rules. Jesus, both Lamb and King, said the same: You are my friends - if you do
what I command (John 15:14). The Bible ends with this vision coming into
reality: The dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them (Rev 21:3).
The Kingdom Manifesto - Table of Contents
- What is God's vision of us? (page 2)
- What hinders it? (page 5)
- What is the Kingdom of God? (page 13)
- The 20 differences between Kingdom and Christianity (page 20)
- Kingdom Singularity (page 21)
- The solution: What do we do? (page 36)
- When Heaven colonizes earth (page 42)
- The Re-Invention of the World (page 46)
- Next Steps (page 48)
Please feel free to email your comments to me to pass onto Wolfgang.
BACK TO THE FUTURE (Church) THE BIG PICTURE: Church Reform and Cultural Restoration
8.21.14 - by David Bradshaw, Idea Factory Press
Over 2,000 copies of THE FUTURE CHURCH audio/print made it into
the hands of church leaders during the 1990s and over 25,000
free copies of a one-hour radio special entitled "Christianity
in a New Key: A Farewell To The Spectator Church" were
distributed nationwide - including 5,000 given away at Dr.
Jack Hayford's annual Foursquare Church pastor's conference.
Part Two of THE BIG PICTURE was entitled "The Warfare Series",
which featured another 50 top Christian leaders offering new tools
to help Christians win the battle for our mind, our money and our
government by developing a more comprehensive Christian worldview.
About 1,000 copies of The Warfare Series were distributed to
brave Christian leaders.
We began with the premise that our theology helps to determine our ideology.
In the 1990s Christians around the world were beginning to rediscovering
the full implications of the Christ's completed work on the cross, aka
"the gospel of His kingdom" - which then empowers us to find our
true destiny and begin thinking and planing intergenerationally.
I feel now the time is right to pass on the baton of church restoration
and reformation to the next generation. Therefore, I will begin posting
free downloadable links to read and listen to THE BIG PICTURE for those
interested in gleaning from this multitude of wise counselors, many
of whom have now been reunited with the Lord of Lords in heaven.
My prayer is that these free resources will continue to multiply the
kingdom of God in our generation ... and the next! Who knows, a video
series including some of these leaders may be the next BIG thing
God has in store to help move us all out of our comfort zone.
Meanwhile, I continue to believe that TradingUp.org offers the body of Christ with a vital invitation to change the direction of the American church - from the inside out!
Upsizing GOD Changes Everything! A Final Life Message From a Dead Poet
8.13.14 - by David Bradshaw, Idea Factory Press
"What's right is what's left if you do everything else wrong."
- Robin Williams (1951-2014)
This week the news of Robin Williams' suicidal death stunned
Americans. How could the man so gifted at making boomers (and
all generations) laugh so hard they cried together, became so
depressed, nearly bankrupt, and hopeless in his prime of life?
He was almost universally loved for his spontaneous creative
genius that entertained us so richly for nearly four decades.
How could this man of so many words, leave all of his fans
and his family without a word, without some record of why?
Perhaps ... he feared confronting his demons of addiction.
Perhaps ... he feared the future, having so much past success.
Perhaps ... he feared financial ruin was his fate, despite his generosity.
Whatever the reasons, he has now left the land of the living,
never again to hug his wife, friends or fans, never again to
tell his children how much he loves them and wants only their
best. Williams is survived by his wife and his three children:
daughter Zelda, 25; and sons Zachary, 31, and Cody, 22.
Fox News reports "Robin Williams' daughter Zelda has decided
to quit social media after receiving "cruel and unnecessary"
Last night Leoma and I decided to watch a Robin Williams movie
on NetFlix. We landed on World's Greatest Dad (2009) in which
his role was a frustrated, depressed non-published author
and poetry teacher who taught at the same high school his troubled,
suicidal son attended.
The turning point in Williams character's life came when his
son first attempted to hang himself with a belt, then later
accidentally succeeded, leaving no suicide note. Without going
into detail, I will say this movie had some strong resemblence
to the tragic real life outcome of Robin.
One of Williams' closing lines in World's Greatest Dad expresses the
deep emotions so many have felt at some point in their life:
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone.
It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that
make you feel all alone."
Williams is not alone in his depression, about 1 in 10 or us will
suffer from depression in our lifetime, and suicide rates for
boomer is almost twice the average. "There is a statistically
significant relationship between suicide and unemployment among
middle-aged Americans," reports Marketwatch.
HELP FROM HEAVEN: LEARNING HOW TO UPSIZE GOD
"It's a wonderful feeling when your father becomes not a god, but a man to you
- when he comes down from the mountain and you see he's this man with weaknesses.
And you love him as this whole being, not as a figurehead." - Robin Williams (1951-2014)
Some experts identify the root cause for our cultural crisis in America
is the lack of effective, functioning fathers. Father's who are loving,
trustworthy and serve as a reflection of a perfect Heavenly Father.
But how can fathers learn to be good fathers if they never had
a good fatherly role model? Religion and the Bible provide some
signposts, but who will be our mentor?
Imagine the joy of experiencing first-hand a fresh and growing relationship
daily with the Creator of the universe, your loving heavenly Father.
Do you think a closer walk with God could help us all overcome
thoughts of depression and even suicide? Me too!
The American Bible Society declares Americans have a major "disconnect
between belief and behavior". The result: most people live their life
unfulfilled and guilt-ridden.
In the summer of 2013, the ministry of TradingUp.org was launched to
help solve a widespread problem which has been identified by pastors,
authors and theologians for generations: Most Christians have never
learned, nor been taught, how to walk with God intimately moment by moment.
"The trajectory of your whole life is determined by one single thing:
the image of God that you live your life by," says Doug Sherman, founder
of TradingUp.org - which is compelled
to serve people who desire a more dynamic relationship with God which
are hungry and humble enough to explore a new approach."
Visit TradingUp.org for a short video introduction, free sign up for twice
daily email/text messages of Scripture translated into first person, free
downloadable leaders guides and his 42-day devotional "Letters From God".
On Aug. 23, 2014 Doug Sherman will begin a new 6-week online series Trading Up Weekly Experience
featuring new videos weekly, daily text/email messages, Letters From God and blog.
If you would like to participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. In the end Williams' life message to his family, friends
and fans was "I am with you to the end... and this is the end".
If the root problem of the world's cultural and spiritual void which is
leading so many to depression and even suicide is a lack of loving fathers
who have been mentored in knowing their loving heavenly Father, then I believe
the dynamic message of Trading Up is a very big part of the solution!
7.31.14 - Giving Thanks To Mom
By David Bradshaw
This weekend I have the joy of visiting my mother, brother and family
in Twin Falls, Idaho to celebrate mom's 89th birthday. What do you give
to someone who has it all, has seen it all, and is now preparing to enter
her nineth decade of life?
Certainly more than a tee-shirt, right?
Well, I have a surprise for her that I know will bring a big smile:
a special video birthday card done by four of her grand daughters
and ten great grandchildren! I can hardly wait to see the look on her
face! I plan to video her response and share with the whole family.
P.S. A few months ago in this space I posted this thought ...
Richard Leider, author of "Life Reimagined" discovered he held the
power of purpose in his hands. A simple "thank you" to his Mother on
her death bed not only changed his life forever, but also christened her
into the next life in perfect peace.
Interestingly, when we are born into this world, often the first words
uttered by our mother is "Thank you" to God for a healthy new child.
How fitting it is that our last words uttered to our mother can also
be "Thank You!" May we learn to live a "Thank You" life toward our God,
family and all we touch.
You cannot possibly imagine how much I care about the mental
image of Me that you carry with you as you go about your day.
Because I want the best for you, I am passionate to help you obtain
an ever-expanding picture of My greatness and goodness!
As a result, I am constantly revealing My true nature to you in
My Word, in circumstances and in nature, so you will know the
truth. These three things are shouting to you all day. The Holy
Spirit is devoted to open your eyes, and help you become confident
in the truth about Me, and to help you reject lies you have agreed
to in the past.
I want your first thought of Me to be as a Father who adores you.
When you think of My infinite wisdom, I want you think of Me as
a perfectly wise Father who cares for you. When you think of My
power, I want you think of an all-powerful Father who cares for
you. Each and every attribute of Mine is a descriptor of the kind of
Father I am.
But it will be a daily battle for you to enjoy an ever-expanding
view of Me. You will naturally wake up and think highly of
yourself and low thoughts of Me. But as you choose to believe the
truth and act accordingly; you will find you want to know and
follow Me more!
God's A Real Brain-Changer!
Angry, Distant, Critical ... or Benevolent Creator? "Trading Up" means taking small daily growth steps toward greater intimacy
By David Bradshaw, IF Press
5.29.14 - Neuroscientific evidence confirms human thinking processes are
positively stimulated by prayer and meditation, yet one study shows 3 out of 4 Christians
(19 of 20 non-Christians) still suffer from a shrunken and distorted view of God -
which seriously limits their daily relationship with a benevolent Creator.
In the groundbreaking book How GOD Changes Your Brain,
Neuroscientists Andrew Newburg and Mark Robert Wallman quote a Baylor University/Gallup study which confirms the vast majority
(72%) of Christians in America (Evangelical, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish) are still holding an
antiquated view of God as authoritarian, angry, distant or critical.
The largest percentage (32%) view God is "authoritarian, angry and punishing." Followed by
24% which view God as "distant, uninvolved or a mere cosmic force." Another 16% view
God as "critical, pushing believers to favor environmentalism and wealth redistribution."
The study found that just 23% of Christians in America view God as "benevolent, gentle
and forgiving. They embrace their Creator as listening, loving and caring deeply."
Sadly just 5% of the unbelieving world views God as benevolent.
In their Chapter, Does God Have a Heart? authors Newburg and Wallman conclude
the missing link to a benevolent view of God is found in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex,
which balances our brain's Limbic (feeling, emotional) lobe with our Frontal lobe
The authors also conclude, Brain scans confirm the ability to construct language and thinking is
stimulated by prayer and meditation - which help consciously envision God as loving and compassionate.
Solving the Disconnect Between Belief and Behavior
Recent headlines from the American Bible Society also declare Americans have a major "disconnect between belief and behavior". The result: most people live their life self-centered, unfulfilled and guilt-ridden.
The truth is that our Creator does not require good behavior to enter into a relationship,
as Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal (Lost) Son illustrates. Father God stands with outstretched arms toward
all willing to come to Him in humility. Our Lord rejoices in seeking us out, in giving to us beyond our wildest imagination.
Although formal religion often demands followers first "BEHAVE, then BELIEVE, then BELONG,"
Father God reverses the order, saying "You BELONG, just BELIEVE, and learn from Me how to BEHAVE".
Dr. Lowell Ponte, author, futurist and former Reader's Digest editor adds: The language
of the Old Testament is Hebrew, which is a familial language. What we non-Jews hear as "Thou
Shalt Not," which sounds stiff and formal, is actually the old-fashioned familiar, personal, intimate form used
among family members and dear friends.
What a Jew fluent in Hebrew hears is; God the Father talking intimately to his children and saying:
"Hey, kids, don't steal. It's bad for you."
God is not authoritarian. He's a parent trying to help his children do what in the long run is
best for them....and that does not always mean letting them have their way. It can sometimes
mean punishing them.
Think of Garth Brooks singing that "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."
Sometimes the greatest punishment God could bestow would be to let us have what we, as
ignorant children, want.
My wife Ellen is going through this right now with her 88-year-old mother....now at times
in second childhood, with Ellen having to become the parent. This sometimes requires asserting
authority, the way a parent tells a small child not to run into the street.
That's what human love is. Imagine what it means for God - who sees beyond time and space,
knowing as we do not what is best for our souls in the long run.
How many of those questioned in this study/poll think that their own parents were at times
authoritarian, critical or distant? Why would they think less than this of God, unless
they see His children liberated by the truth of His lovingkindness?
Trading Up From a Self- to a God-Centered Life
TradingUp.org is a ministry designed to help all Christians encounter and engage with God
from Sunday morning to Saturday night by taking small steps that result in big life change.
According to founder Doug Sherman, The trajectory of our whole life is determined by one thing,
the image of God we live our lives by. Rethinking your image of God from the ground up
will lead to a vastly better life and dramatically shift how you see everything.
That is a Trade Up.
Doug is a popular speaker and a published author of several books, his most popular
being Your Work Matters to God which has been revolutionary for Christ followers
in the marketplace for decades now. He has spent his career engaging God both in the
marketplace and ministry which gives him the unique experience to understand and
speak into both worlds.
Visit TradingUp.org for a short video introduction, free sign up for twice daily
email/text messages of Scripture translated into first person, free downloadable
leaders guides and his 42-day devotional Letters From God and new weekly Trading
China Surpassing U.S. - Economically and Spiritually? America's 142-Year Reign As World's Largest Economy Ending
5.1.14 - by David Bradshaw, IF Press
The US is on the brink of losing its status as the world's largest economy, and is likely to slip behind China this year, sooner than widely anticipated, reports the Financial Times.
The US has been the global leader since overtaking England 142 years ago, way back in 1872.
"Most economists previously thought China would pull ahead in 2019." according to the Financial Times.
Why the sudden acceleration in China economic growth and deceleration in America?
"After extensive research on the prices of goods and services, the ICP concluded that money goes further in poorer countries than it previously thought."
So it all boils down to currency valuations and the true rate of inflation. Which is confirmed to be much higher in the U.S. than the official below 2% headlines. Food prices alone are up 19% in 2014.
"The IMF expects China's economy to rise 24 per cent between 2011 and 2014, while the US is expected to expand at only 7.6 per cent, China is likely to overtake the US this year."
Today in America it appears as though economic freedom and liberty are both having a near-death experience. U.S. economic growth has stalled, due to bad policy and leadership, more interested in wealth redistribution than growth.
"When small men cast large shadows, you know the sun is setting," said Nathaniel Lee, English playwright (1649-1692).
Yet according to The Great Withdrawal authors Craig Smith and Lowell Ponte, "As Benjamin Franklin suggested, we have the power to determine whether America's sun is setting ... or rising."
"Ultimately it is in our hand to take back the power from Progressives, roll back the huge government they have tried to impose as our master, withdraw and detox from the Progressive Brave New World drugging and mind control they have done, and re-boot the operating system of the American Framers."
"We need to withdraw from this Progressive toxicity in order to heal America before this poison kills our nation and our children's future," say Smith and Ponte.
To learn more about how you can become a part of the solution, please call 800-289-2646 or CLICK HERE to request a FREE copy of The Great Withdrawal.
Century-Old Seeds of China's 21st Century Revival
At the turn of the 20th century, Watchmen Nee, a persecuted Chinese house church planter and teacher wrote in his classic book Sit, Walk, Stand ..."Christianity begins not with a big DO, but rather, with a big DONE."
The London Telegraph reported last week, "The number of Christians in (atheist) Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America." Why? Because Christ alone offers "meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied."
We can clearly see over history the seeds of Christian revival are sown by humble, often persecuted men that knew how to draw near to God - willing to "Trade Up" their small life for bigger life in His presence - men such as Watchman Nee, Brother Lawrence and today, Doug Sherman, founder of Trading Up.
"Life Reimagined" - Richard Leider Presentation- MIF
4.17.14 - By David Bradshaw
After 40 years of research, conducting interviews with Americans in their 60s,
author Richard Leider concludes that one of every three seniors are presently in
transition to a "What Next?" phase of life he explained to a crowded theater of
Experience Matters Arizona supporters last week.
Richard's book "Life Reimagined" co-published with AARP, has sparked a fresh
emphasis upon preparing 50+ Americans for the next chapter of life - along with Marc Freeman,
Encore.org founder and author of the bestseller The Big Shift
When asked, "What would you do differently in life?" the responses include;
1) Live more reflectively, 2) Take more risks at work and in relationships,
3) Be more authentic. His research concludes that understanding your purpose
in life affects health, longevity and peace of mind.
Leider explained that increased life spans from 47 years in 1900 to 80+
years in the 21st century require major adjustments and have sparked a new yearning
for purpose and productivity for this previously nonexistent season of life.
Richard discussed personal experiences with other leaders, such as
biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard,
known as "the happiest man on earth" - who teaches we can train our minds
in habits of well-being, to generate a sense of serenity and fulfillment.
Leider shared his Life Reimagined "Manifesto", which includes; 1) The power of
choice and freedom, regardless of circumstance, as one of his mentors Victor Frankl
explains in his classic book Man's Search for Meaning.
Richard shared a very personal story of how he discovered the power of purpose
in his own life when he spoke a simple "Thank you!" to his Mother on her death bed - saying it not only
changed his life forever - it also ushered her into the next life with perfect peace.
Leider then shared his three pathways to finding purpose, which include; 1) Be present, by
taking 3 long breathes, 2) Look for purpose moments, set a goal of impacting at
least one person a day, and 3) Learn to listen, both to yourself and others.
His second Manifesto point is to "Remain curious ... seeing the world with fresh eyes."
Personal isolation is fatal during important life passages. He asks, "Who is your sounding board?
Who is your catalyst (alive or dead)? Who is your teacher?" He feels perpetual growth is vital.
His third Manifesto point: Take the first small step toward change. To help Leider offers
his basic "Napkin Test" formula: Gift + Passion + Value = Calling (G+P+V=C) to determine
if you have found your true calling.
The audience of 200+ corporate and business leaders were then encouraged to answer these
3 questions on a scale of 1 to 10; 1) Do you love your life work? 2) Do you have a passion
for it? 3) Does it fulfill your core life values? If not, then you need to begin reimagining
what your life could be like - and then take the steps to make it happen.
Richard closed the session with a question: "What are the two most important days
of your life?" While most responded by saying "birth-day and death-day," Richard said he
agreed with Mark Twain's answer: "The two most important days
in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."
My wife Leoma and I enjoyed the presentation which contained good life principles,
based mostly upon biblical principles and truth. We were also struck by the
similarity of his central truths and conclusions with the emerging Trading Up movement we have participated with over the last year (minus the focus upon developing a growing intimacy and relationship with our perfect, loving Heavenly Father).
According to Trading Up founder and author Doug Sherman, "The trajectory of our whole
life is determined by one thing, the image of God we live our lives by. Rethinking
your image of God from the ground up will lead to a vastly better life and dramatically
shift how you see everything. That is a Trade Up."
Visit TradingUp.org for a short video introduction, free sign up for twice daily
email/text messages of Scripture translated into first person, free downloadable
leaders guides and his 42-day devotional "Letters From God". Trading Up resources
are complimentary to the public and designed to help all seeking to engage with God - from Sunday morning to Saturday night - by taking small steps that result in big life change!
My Father-Daughter Connection Began With Mom
4.9.14 - by David Bradshaw
As a father of four daughters, I have learned and perhaps earned
the right to speak up on the topic of just how special the father-daughter
As a proud grand-father of four granddaughters (and six grandsons) I am also
discovering of the joy of fatherhood all over again, only this time with more
time for reflection.
My youngest daughter (Braida Zoe) recently turned ten. She represents my last
and best opportunity to put everything I've learned about fatherhood into practice.
Thankfully, we have always been able to have a great time, no matter what we do
together because we love and trust each other.
Last weekend, we attended our 4th Father-Daughter dance at her school.
This is a very important date that we both really look forward to. It is
a time to laugh, to have fun, dance and enjoy a meal together in the
company of other father-daughter "couples". My only regret: so few of her
classmates attended. Perhaps it's a sign of the times, but in my mind,
wild horses could not have kept me from attending.
In 2013, I had the privilege of writing a series of television commercials
staring Braida entitled "The Simple Truth". We had a blast rehearsing the
script, finding the right props and giving it our very best. Thankfully,
the ad campaign was a big success, and is even re-running this year. But
even if the ads flopped, it would not effect our special relationship.
All of my daughters know they can count on Dad to stand by them, no matter what.
But ironically, this is a lesson which I first learned from Virginia, my Mother.
Indeed, the mother-son connection is also profound in many ways. My Mother
faithfully stuck by me as a child, even when I did some pretty stupid things.
She was my emotional encourager, protector and nurturer - during all of the
critical rites of passages in life. But especially during my teenage years.
Recently my wife Leoma and I attended an 8-week class at Paradise Church
on "Telling Your Story". It was a great refresher course in how to stir
up and record important memories which we can cherish and pass on to the next
generation, something we "elders" (50+) are called upon to do with gusto.
In the last few weeks of the class our assignment was to produce a short story.
I decided to do "A Tribute to Mom",
which I will present to her this next Mother's Day.
As we mature we come into greater understanding of just how much our Heavenly
Father truly loves us. In my view, this is the square one of becoming a good
earthly father. Today if you have any doubt about just how much God yearns for a
closer relationship with you personally, I highly recommend reading a few of
these Letters From God
written by Doug Sherman.
If you are a daughter that has missed out on having a loving earthly Father, reading Letters From God this could be the most important message of your life. Daughters,
I invite you to take this quick father-daughter relationship test.
[I took the test on their behalf, and discovered they're all "Loving Daughters" ... yeah!)
If you are a father, I pray you will begin to grasp just how vital it is that
you invest your precious time, talent and love into your more precious daughter(s).
Michael Austin, author of Philosophy for Everyone: The Dao of Daddy says... "How Dad approaches life will serve as an example for his daughter to build off
of in her own life, even if she chooses a different view of the world.
What matters in the father-daughter relationship is that Dad seeks to live
a life of integrity and honesty, avoiding hypocrisy and admitting his own
shortcomings, so that she has a realistic and positive example of how to
deal with the world. He should try to model a reflective approach to life's
big questions so that she can seek to do the same."
Richard Leider, author of "Life Reimagined"
discovered he held the power of purpose in his hands. A simple "thank you" to his
Mother on her death bed not only changed his life forever, but also christened her into the next life in perfect peace.
Interestingly, when we are born into this world, often the
first words uttered by our mother is "Thank you" to God for a healthy new child. How fitting it is that our last words uttered to our mother can also be "Thank You!"
May we learn to live a "Thank You" life toward our God, family and all we touch.
What Lies Beneath: Shaking Off Wilderness Years 50+ Trading Up, Living Out, Impacting the World 3.5.14 - By David Bradshaw
NEWS: "BARNA GROUP'S new research: three-quarters of U.S. adults (75%) say
they are looking for ways to live a more meaningful life. only 40% of
practicing Christians say they have a clear sense of God's calling on
their lives. Nearly six out of 10 all women (59%) say they are dissatisfied
with their work and home balance. Women also describe themselves as
stressed out (72%), tired (58%) and overcommitted (48%)."
-Three Trends on Faith, Work and Calling - BarnaGroup
"AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY reports Americans have a major disconnect between
belief and behavior. The result: most people live their life unfulfilled
and guilt-ridden. Most Christians view reading the Bible as taking your
medicine, which is to say less than exciting. The result: Only 13% of
Christians read their Bible daily."
-Trading Up: A Radically Different Way to Do Life With God
KEY QUOTES: "For dust you are and to dust you shall return." -GOD, Genesis 3:19
"Life's two greatest fears: Being alone and being known." -JOSH WILSON
"Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know Thee." -ST. AUGUSTINE
"Love the Lord thy God with all of your heart, soul, mind & strength and to love
our neighbors as our selves." -JESUS, Luke 10:27
"It is impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature."
-PETE SCAZZERRO, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
"Our great calling for future years is ahead of us, but until we let go of
past hurts in our lives, we may not understand or see the plan," -JOHN BONECK, 50+ The Emerging Joshua and Caleb Generation
"We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right. That
might just be the central message of how spiritual growth happens; yet nothing
in us wants to believe it. Today we live in a "first-half-of-life culture." -RICHARD ROHR, Falling Upward
"Two pivotal points in our Christian lives; 1) Moving from a life governed by rules,
to a life focused on relationship and intimacy, and 2) Removing false images of God
based on lies, then rebuilding a true vision of God based on truth." -DOUG SHERMAN, More Than Ordinary
WHAT LIES BENEATH "The payoff for shedding baggage of the past is to protect future
generations from having to walk through some bad things. And if needed,
to confront the lie that your sin is greater than God's forgiveness.
To walk in our calling as our Father has intended, our eyes have to be
free of personal prejudices, biases and discrimination ... seeing every
member of the body of Christ as special." - John Boneck
Sadly, too many Christians have not fully integrated our spiritual walk
with our emotional health. Like a visible iceberg, only about 10% of
our true self is visible to others, leaving 90% below the surface,
often untouched by the transforming power of our Creator - no matter
how long we have walked with the Lord!
In Eph. 4:22 the Apostle Paul reminds us that we must put off the "old man"
(or self) and put on the "new man" (or self) - and this is a daily process
- like peeling the layers off an onion, which can bring grown men to tears.
RECOGNIZE OUR OWN EMOTIONALLY UN-HEALTHY SYMPTOMS 1. Using religion to run from God
2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear
3. Dying to the wrong things
4. Denying the past's impact on the present
5. Dividing our lives into "secular" and "sacred"
6. Doing for God instead of being with God
7. Spiritualizing away conflict
8. Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure
9. Living without limits, yet with boundaries
10. Judging other people's spiritual journey
The goal is deriving our identity from Christ - set free from our deeply held
(but often wrong) beliefs still within our old self - often deeply rooted in
our family and church background and the surrounding culture.
"The importance of always looking forward become more challenging in the
second half of life - due to the tendency to hold on to hurts or losses
from the past. When we look forward rather than backward, we see things
differently than the world sees them...We declare blessings to future
generations...We act as elders providing life-giving words of wisdom
based on a lifetime of seeing God's faithfulness in our lives," says Boneck.
The Lord wants our spiritual house to be healthy, whole and prepared for
reproducible growth in the future... a new creature - 2 Cor. 5:17. Jesus
said "Come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest"
-Matt. 11:28,30 ... He invites us to take His yoke, His burden is light.
WHO DEFINES YOU?
Christ's three great temptations; 1) Power/performance, 2) Possessions and
3) Popularity. Likewise, we are tempted to believe our identity is based on
1) what I do, 2) what I have and/or 3) what others think of us.
In Matt. 3:17, just before Christ's temptation by Satan, God the Father said...
"And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
We each need that same foundational identity of really knowing that we are
loved and are pleasing to God. We must rest in knowledge that we Belong to God,
as our Belief grows, and our Behavior is transformed.
Keys to Progress on the Road out of the Wilderness ...
1) SILENCE AND SOLITUDE - slow down, feel the emotion of devotion. God is
emotional, it's OK for us to be also.
2) FIND A TRUSTED COMPANION ... we can all use help in the body of Christ
to get free of the pressure of the world system and our own stubborn self-will.
3) GET OUT OF COMFORT ZONE ... finding our true self can be frightening,
awkward, even painful. We must confront past bitterness, hurts, grudges.
4) PRAY FOR COURAGE ... overcoming the walls that hold us back is well
worth the journey to true freedom, joy, peace that transformation brings!
50+ TAKAWAYS: - Something BIG is coming, 50+ers are a big part of it - let nothing stop you.
- When God heals our wounds we're no longer at mercy of what others think/say.
- No longer are we quickly offended or hurt, no place for evil comments to land.
- Goal to help protect younger generation from walking down wrong road.
- What might be holding me back from being all God has called me to be?
- Confessing faults to one another (James 5:16) interdependence in Christ's body.
- You don't need to perfect yourself before you can walk in authority as a Christian.
- Imagine helping 10 people remove "religion" and instead walk spiritually!
- When we bless future generations we act as elders in gate, tell of His faithfulness.
- Importance of looking upward, then outward - Write out daily declaration.
- Importance of having the generations connected to each other... why?
- Purpose: many of us will soon have children or friends facing mid-life crises.
WRITE YOUR OWN LEGACY:
Sample: "David's life was a reflection of God's forgiveness, mercy and love to his family,
friends and acquaintances. He served his God-given purpose and destiny to his
generation and to his God with his whole heart."
Psalm 23: Why Sheep Love & Trust Their Shepherd
2.20.14 - By David Bradshaw
Last Friday in our twice weekly company prayer/care meeting we had a special guest
perfectly suited for St. Valentine's Day: Saeed Hosseini,
founder of Global 365 Prayer Network, a world-wide chain of 24/7 Intercession
with over 111,000 faithful.
Saeed is a humble leader with amazing God-stories to share. His
testimony of God's direction in his life and walk over the last
quarter century instantly engaged and resonated with everyone in our packed conference room.
Over the last six weeks our group has been working our way through the Psalms
using a devotional summary "Spurgeon's Daily Treasury of the Psalms." Psalm 23
has been a lifetime favorite of mine, having memorized it as a child, so I was all ears.
Spurgeon pointes out that the position of this Psalm is important. "It follows
the Psalm of the Cross. There are no green pastures, no still waters on either
side of the 22nd Psalm. We must by experience know the value of the good Shepherd's
blood shed on the cross before we shall be able truly to know the sweetness of
the good Shepherd's care."
Within these six short verses we can see the heart of David expressing
gratitude to God - not only from the perspective of a shepherd, warrior,
and King - but from the perspective of a humble sheep in God's faithful flock.
David compares himself to a creature weak, defenseless and foolish and makes
God alone his provider, director and preserver in this poetic Psalm.
The spirit of God illuminated 17 promises of God from this Psalm to Saeed that
I want to summarize for you below to continue the blessing moving forward. If these
promises are a blessing to you, pass them on. Let us learn to walk in them all!
1. The LORD is my shepherd (David proclaims he's traded up to God vs. self) 2. I shall not want - (I rest in the knowledge that my needs are taken care of) 3. He makes me lie down - (rest in the Lord vital, by choice or by circumstance) 4. He leads me beside still waters - (peace & refreshment from turbulent waters) 5. He restores my soul - (healing begins within, touching our mind/emotions) 6. He leads me in paths of righteousness - (Good sheep yield to His leadship) 7. For His Name sake - (All glory must be given to God or a temporal reward) 8. I walk though valley of shadow of death - (shadows temporary and distorted) 9. I will fear no evil - (His sheep are always loved and protected, no worry) 10. Thou are with me - (God is always very close, we must choose to be with Him) 11. Thy rod/staff comfort me - (love=discipline, rod=correction, staff=comfort) 12. Thou prepare table in presence of enemies - (God permits all at His table) 13. Thou annoints my head with oil - (He's consecrated us to Him for service) 14. My cup runs over - (Abundance is the norm, lack can mark seasons of change) 15. Surely ... - (In Christ we have the assurance of all of His promises!) 16. Goodness and mercy follow me - (Back against a wall? God has your back) 17. I will dwell in house of the Lord for ever - (Eternal outcome = hope today)
Empowered for the most fruitful years of your life! Paradise 50+ New Series on "Trading Up, Living Out & Impacting the World" 2.12.14 - By David Bradshaw
If you are 50+, live in the Phoenix, AZ area and interested in exploring how to release the promises of
God in your life, I would like to invite you to visit Paradise 50+ on Wednesdays 7-8:30pm as we embark
on a 12-week study of the important book, "50+ The Emerging Joshua & Caleb Generation" by By John Boneck, Author and 50+ Pastor at MorningStar Ministries. Location:
4242 E Greenway, Phoenix, AZ (602) 992-8999.
Almost 50+ pastor, Kurt Notehelfer, will lead the Wed. night group in worship, study and discussion. Kurt is also leading a Sunday 10-11am meeting at Paradise on a related subject: Tell Your Story!. Together with master story teller Ron Bleed, they will offer new tools to preserve important family stories and memories. "Gain insight into yourself and the struggles, choices, and forces that have shaped your life. Find direction for the rest of your life and share the wisdom and lessons you've learned."
"For He established a testimony in Jacob ... which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them ... that they may arise and declare them to their children." - Psalm 78: 5-6
"To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever." - Ephesians 3:21
By the age of 50+ your diverse experiences in the Lord - both good and bad - have brought to you through the first, second and now into the third season of life. You have been seasoned and prepared to understand your true calling - to model His blessings to all generations - and to then speak that blessing. Talk about a high calling!
At Paradise Church in Phoenix, AZ we are learning the joy of growing and walking in a fresh intimacy with our Heavenly Father, with the aid of the new Trading Up video workshop - featuring Doug Sherman and Mark
Bankord helping boomers make small daily steps - from lving a self-centered life to a God-centered life.
If you are ready to gain a fresh perspective on your second half of life mission, and then coached on how to best tell the 'story of your life' with the power of the Spirit of God, then you are going to love this book!
50+ers have been called to bless future generations by creating and documenting our unique spiritual legacy, says author and pastor John Boneck.
John has done the body of Christ (and surrounding culture) a BIG favor in writing 50+ The Emerging Joshua & Caleb Generation - which is destined to give added purpose and power to Christians of every generation.
"We're not retiring, we're refiring," says John in his Introduction. The elder generations have always been called upon by God to bless future generations. This book prophetically declares blessing the generation is not only 'mission-possible' - it is truly 'mission-critical' in this hour of history!
John begins by sharing the commonalities between God's faithfulness to all generations, as reflected in Joshua and Caleb - which he sees as a big part of the clarion call and mission statement for the 50+ baby boomer generation.
PART I: Activating God's Purposes
After receiving a promise from God, have you ever had to patiently wait for the fullness of time to bring it about?
Me too. How about wandering 40 years in the wilderness, which is what Joshua and Caleb were given God's grace to endure before finally reaching God's promise land.
Forty years is almost half our lifetime on earth, but it is a blink of time in eternity. God wants His purpose fulfilled by every generation to carry on His family legacy. Caleb's purpose was to pass God's promised inheritance onto his children - and present-day Joshuas and Calebs will do the same.
"The younger generation needs us, we are called to be their covering...we are to lead the next generation into kingdom life. They can't make it to God's promised land without us," John boldly and passionately declares.
"We are called to live with the Spirit of the Lord at the center of our lives. We are called to train the younger generation in spiritual warfare...to be elders in the gate and a protection for those who seek refuge." ... full book review
2014: The real hope on earth
1.2.14 by David Bradshaw, Idea Factory Press
After the magical holiday celebrations - full of giving and spending - comes the sobering math of a new year.
Americans spent less this year in light of the financial uncertainty over jobs, healthcare and debt. ABC News reports 'brick and mortar'
retailer sales fell 21% this season - despite efforts to induce Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving - while online sales
ticked up 15% this year.
The world is captivated by grandiose feats of economic magic, such as a rising stock market, or housing prices driven by large doses of debt and deception. But recent polls say "2-in-3 call 2013 a bad year."
In contrast, the faith community is called to empower others to "do the math" - to count the cost (and reward) for taking every thought captive to Christ. Our goal and purpose must be to set the captives free - and to model a life measured by much more than the sum of our financial net worth.
This new reality requires a fresh
vision of expanding the impact our faith has upon our lives and the others we touch.
This high calling requires us to draw closer to our Creator daily for His
direction of our life, to continue the process of "trading up" from a
self-centered to a God-centered life, then "living it out to impact our world".
Back in 1980, The Alan Parsons Project released a hit song
which I think represents a question millions of baby boomers are
now asking themselves: Where do we go from here?...
Now that all other children are growin' up
And how do we spend our lives
If there's no-one to lend us a hand
I don't wanna live here no more
I don't wanna stay
Ain't gonna spend the rest of my life
Quietly fading away ...
Indeed, most boomers I know are not interested in 'quietly fading away', but would
love some help discovering their highest calling and finding their place of service - the goal of Primelifers.org.
My prayer is that 2014 will bring us each to a clearer choice between
darkness and light - in our personal life and in our culture.
This will require more clear-thinking elders in every community
and church to step in to bring healing words to those unprepared for life's
"necessary sufferings". Just as King David the Psalmist finally did, "For David, after he had served the purpose
of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers
and decayed." (Acts 13:36).
Forty-five years ago Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and social justice campaigner Martin
Luther King, Jr. wrote his final book, "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos
or Community?". I believe he hit the nail on the head then, and now. Without
a growing sense of intentional community, we will descend into chaos of
cultural decline and confusion. Indeed, we are the hope on earth.
2014: What's Under Your Christmas Tree? How to "Trade Up, Live Out & Impact the World"
12.19.13 by David Bradshaw
"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired." -Robert Frost
"My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants." -J. Brotherton
As our hearts turn toward family and friends during this holiday season
and we look ahead to the next year, I am reminded of a simple question
Pastor Tommy Barnett once asked, "What's already in your house?"
The world tells us to spend, spend, spend to make those we love happy,
but the happiness generated by more "things" always fades fast.
In contrast, the joy of appreciation for what has already been
given to us can last a lifetime.
Our relationships and memories transcend riches and possessions.
They are our "true wealth". And best of all, they are already in
our "house", if we make the choice to cherish them,
rather than take them for granted.
In 2013 both my church community and business community began learning to "Trade Up" - from a self-centered life to a more God-centered life. From this
new perspective we are empowered to live out our faith 24/7 - which then spills out of our lives (and churches) to impact a desperately hurting world.
What a supreme privilege it is to be called to build God's kingdom, rather than just our own.
As the popular Christian song "Build Your Kingdom Here" by Rend Collective Experiment says...
"We seek Your kingdom first.
We hunger and we thirst.
Refuse to waste our lives
for You're our joy and prize.
To see the captive hearts released.
The hurt, the sick, the poor at peace.
We lay down our lives for Heaven's cause."
Yes, this year while many Christmas trees will be less full of new "stuff"
due to economic uncertainty, but we can choose to highly value the special moments
of time during holy-days to share the love, joy and peace of God. The truth is, the
older we get, the more community we need and the less stuff.
So, are you ready to experience more of God's irresistible love and
passion toward you today? To receive personal "Letters From God" full of truth
I would like to share a FREE gift with you that will help you to begin taking
small steps toward in a more dynamic relationship with God in 2014. It is
called IgniteYourWalk. You simply
sign up for twice daily one sentence inspirational messages via email or text
from Doug Sherman, author of More Than Ordinary.
Today God is turning the hearts of fathers back to their children ... on earth, as it is in heaven.
Trading Up will likewise turn millions of hearts back to our Heavenly Father in 2014 ... to
then bless all generations!
The Restoration of Trust, Part 1 - IdeaFactoryPress
12.12.13 By David Bradshaw
Today Americans' trust in our leadership and institutions seems to be in free-fall.
Polls show that 85% of Americans don't trust Congress, 53% don't trust the president,
and amazingly, 66% do not trust even their fellow Americans!
Millions of baby boomers are now fearful they may outlive their savings or healthcare
and become dependent upon the government, their family or the kindness of strangers.
Starting in May 2013, Primelifers.org began boldly trumpeting good news for boomers: "Fear not!"
We invite baby boomers to stand on the threshold of a new era of productivity in our
lives by making wise choices, creating new habits and cultivating an inspired lifestyle.
But warnings grow ever louder of an impending "generational war" focused on economic
divisions rooted in; changing demographics, slower economic growth and a government
bent on burying this and future generations in debt while redistributing wealth.
The fruit of this administration's progressive "fundamental transformation" so far is rotten;
* More Americans now receive government entitlements than work full-time.
* Over 100 million working-age Americans are not working, the highest in history!
* The typical American family today earns less than they did back in 1989.
* The national debt is over $17 Trillion, plus $100-$200 trillion in long-term debt.
* Every U.S. taxpayer now has a federal debt liability of $1.1 million and rising.
* 46 million Americans still live in poverty - twice the population of Syria.
* Food stamps have grown from $17 billion to $78 billion annually!
* Welfare spending is projected to rise 80% over the next 10 years!
* Half of Americans have less than $500 in savings!
* 2/3 of today's baby boomers will likely work until they die!
* Millions more are losing their health insurance than are joining Obamacare.
Bottom line: Americans and small businesses now face the most uncertainty in decades.
There is a growing undercurrent of disillusionment going on across all generations.
Younger investors as well as older savers are rightly scared that the trillions of
debt dollars created by the Fed and government will end badly - pushing up their
cost of living dramatically - starting next year!
FYI, all of this mind-jarring information is covered in great detail by former
Vice Presidential candidate and national bestselling author, Wayne Allyn Root
in an upcoming DVD entitled, "The Timeless Truth About Money," written and
produced by Idea Factory Films. [3:00 Sneak Preview]
In this exclusive video presented by Swiss America Wayne explains how to protect yourself from this coming economic crisis by discovering seven timeless truths about money.
"The first rule of investing is capital preservation," reports The London Telegraph.
"Gold is the only store of wealth that has a proven track record over thousands
of years and should be an essential part of every portfolio. The market price
of gold may have fallen during the year, but the fundamentals, characteristics
and attractions of gold are undiminished because we remain in times of extreme
intervention by governments around the world, the outcome of which is completely unknown."
Decades ago economist R.E. McMaster wisely said: "Government is always religion applied
to economics." But 20th century political and economic theory has gradually separated religion from both economics
and government, leaving a huge values void.
To fill the void, politicians increasingly view their role, not as elder statesmen,
living within their means and concerned for future generations, but rather, as Santa Claus.
"Politicians love to play Santa Claus, but the rest of us pay the price for this....and
a much bigger price tag will soon come when people around the world stop accepting Uncle
Sam's credit card....and our economy collapses into another government-caused Great
Depression," writes futurist and author Dr. Lowell Ponte.
"Saint Nicholas was a real historical person, the Christian Bishop of Myra in the 4th
Century. He is remembered for giving gifts, especially for putting coins in the shoes
of those who put them out for him. This dovetails with the Bible's description of
Three Wise Men likewise giving tangible, practical gifts of spices and gold to the
baby Jesus as part of Christmastime's open-hearted generosity and sharing," writes Ponte.
"I plan to follow the example of three Wise Men who followed a star
- and who brought tangible, reliable gifts: the spices frankincense and myrrh, and the
once-and-future universally accepted global currency, gold, which will gain value
as fiat currencies such as today's U.S. Dollar collapse," concludes Ponte.
I agree wholeheartedly, which is why every year for over a decade my children and
grandchildren still receive real gold or silver coins in their stockings. FACT:
today's dollar is no longer backed up by gold or silver, but instead it is backed
up only by confidence in the U.S. government - which is now fading fast.
So how can we baby boomers begin to restore trust and confidence - before the next
financial collapse pushes us to the precipice of a complete political, social and
cultural collapse? (More on this question next week.)
The truth is, Generations X, Y and Z desperately need our help to find something and
someone they can trust to lead them into a brighter future, full of real hope and purpose.
I think Psalm 145:2-4 sums up this fresh call for faith-based baby boomers...
2 "Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts."
Merry Christmas from the whole Bradshaw clan!
Lead by Serving -IdeaFactoryPress
11.29.13 - By David Bradshaw "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your presence, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." -Psalms 19:14
This week youngest daughter Braida and I joined Swiss America broker Bill Durham in volunteering to serve food at a Ronald McDonald House Charity
located at Phoenix Children's Hospital's Cambridge House,
which provides for parents to stay with their children undergoing treatment for cancer.
This experience was especially meaningful for my daughter, as her first act of volunteerism. As she helped with food preparation, serving and clean up I smiled a lot, knowing this is pleasing in the sight of the Lord, as well as teaching her to find happiness in serving others in need. She succeeded in bringing smiles to many faces that night, just as we all bring
a smile to God's face when we reach out to those in need giving of our time and talents to volunteer.
2013 has been a very transformational year for many of us in the third quarter of life (age 50-75). I believe God created us to become more
reflective, and even sentimental - toward God, family and our community - as we age and gain greater wisdom and perspective on life.
I'm thankful Paradise Church in Phoenix is committed to empowering all ages with a fresh vision - to reach across all generations.
Thanks to the life-changing "Trading Up" series by Doug Sherman, (summary below) many are learning to see God more clearly as He really is - a loving Father - in His
Word, in nature and in all circumstances for the purpose of sharing our testimony of his faithfulness with the generations to come.
By the grace of God we're making daily progress 'trading up' from a self-centered life to a God-centered life. We're also understanding the
awesome power our words have to speak life and blessing! It is by serving that we lead - our generation and the generations to come!
Trading Up Plus: A New Vision - IdeaFactoryPress
11.21.13 - By David Bradshaw "Where there is no vision, the people perish" - Proverbs 29:18
Last week at our Third Quarter meeting we discussed "An Evening of Encore"
as a group and what were our takeaways from the event. Response was across
the board - everyone who attended felt challenged to stir up their gifts
and talents to get more involved in community outreach.
Pastor Kurt outlined some of the best thoughts, including, "You will get
more than your give ... We are not leaving a legacy, we are living one ...
teamwork means checking your ego at the door ... and accomplishing great
things together will create solutions to our community's greatest needs."
We also discussed the importance of recognizing and engaging in spiritual
warfare in our quest to serve and support other 50+ers. The enemy of our
faith trembles at the prospect of mature Christians working together to
advance the Kingdom of God, period. Thus it should be no surprise that
the elders in the body of Christ represent the enemy's worst nightmare.
Who and where are the church elders today? Are they the pastors, deacons,
or home care group leaders? James 5:13 says they should be the first called for
prayer over the sick, "Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders
of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord."
In Ephesians 4:13-15 Paul admonishes the elders to grow up, "... to attain the
unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,
to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we will no
longer be children...speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things
unto Him who is the head - Christ."
We closed with an introduction to the book, "50+ The Emerging Joshua & Caleb
Generation - Empowered for the most fruitful years of your life" By John Boneck,
author and pastor, Morning Star Ministries in Charlotte, NC. 50+ers have been called
to bless future generations by creating and documenting our unique spiritual legacy,
says author and pastor Boneck.
"The younger generation needs us, we are called to be their covering...we are to lead
the next generation into kingdom life. They can't make it to God's promised land
without us," John boldly and passionately declares.
The generation gap is about to be filled by 50+ers who are ready to declare an end
to the era of estrangement and begin restoring generational connections. John offers readers
his simple "Spiritual Legacy Mission Statement: We will declare God's faithfulness,
power and provision to future generations, that they too may know and live in God's
love and purpose."
This is a vision and mission I feel strongly is about to quickly spread throughout the church.
As Pastor Kurt outlined, 50+ers need to; 1) reclaim our place and call, 2) Be healed of
past wounds, 3) clarify distortions of reality (Vision), 4) Get equipped for a calling
(Purpose) and 5) Leave a spiritual legacy (MISSION).
Stay tuned, the next chapter of this 'God story' is about to get very interesting!
Trading Up Plus: Innovative Possibilities
11.14.13 - by Kurt Notehelfer, ParadiseChurch
"The world may be done with us, but we are not done with the world."
This quote, shared by Marc Freedman at the Encore event last Wednesday, captures some of the
tension that many of us may be feeling right now. Some of us because we are part of a growing
number of people who, in the world's eyes, have moved beyond our prime.
Others of us, because we are feeling disconnected from the church and are unsure of what,
if any, role we have to play in the new chapter of life that is unfolding at Paradise.
The reality, Freedman explained, is that "innovation and experience is not an oxymoron."
In fact, if we are willing to believe it, our lifetime of experience can bring uniquely
innovative possibilities that can impact the world in powerful ways!
Join us for Trading Up Plus on Wednesdays at 7pm as we explore, together, how our collective gifts and experience
can be used by God, in our world and in our church, to bring about uniquely innovative
possibilities in this season and beyond!
Tuesday night pastor David Harris and Kurt held a baptism celebration after the All Church
prayer gathering. My youngest (almost 10 year-old) daughter Braida was among the group to
take the plunge, declaring to the world, the church and her Heavenly Father that she
belongs to Him for a lifetime.
"Baptism is an outward expression of an inward faith." said author Watchman Nee.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever
I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.
Amen," were Jesus last words on earth recorded in Matthew 28:19-20.
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as
have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ," said the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:26-27.
It is such a joy to experience the wonder of childlike faith from the perspective of
the second half of life. I am looking forward to Trading Up Plus meetings
and will be sharing more soon.
A "REINSPIRED" EVENING of Encore - IdeaFactoryPress "Trading Up -> Living Out -> Impacting the World"
11.7.13 by David Bradshaw
This inaugural ExperienceMatters AZ.com event hosted at the Heard Museum was an amazing assembly
of community leaders and servants. From the first parking attendent's helpful direction to the
last encouraging word spoken by Harvey Mackay and Nora Hannah - this was an evening of reinspirement,
or, as Mr. Mackay put it "refirement".
Experience Matters Arizona CEO Nora Hannah began the event with an overview of their mission of
connecting experienced talent with the community needs. Of the 77 million baby boomers hitting
traditional retirement age, 1 million of them live in metro Phoenix. She views the Encore movement
as the fulfillment of the social movements boomers spearheaded in the 60s, 70s & 80s. She reminded
the 400 event attendees that when you volunteer or give you always get back more than you can give.
Nora introduced Judy Mohraz representing the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust which presented
a $50,000 award recognizing an inspiring Encore Career leader who is addressing a major
social need in Maricopa County. Judy said she believes that given the size and magnitude of the
boomer movement, Experience Matters AZ will eventually "make eHarmony envious," by connecting
and mobilizing individuals toward true fulfillment in life via purpose-driven second acts.
Judy introduced author and Encore founder Marc Freedman, who believes it fitting that this county - the original "Mecca" of American retirement dream of the 60s - should again be at
the center of a new vision and dream to fill the vast purpose gap amid baby boomers a half
"If you build it they will come," said Freedman, speaking both of the past vision by Del Webb
to pioneer building retirement communities in Sun City, as well as ExperienceMattersAZ's new vision to help aging baby boomers plug into community volunteering jobs. According to Marc, so far 9 million have been touched by the Encore message
and another 32 million are now also leaning toward it. Mr. Freedman says the biggest difference
between happy and unhappy retirees is having a strong sense of purpose and living it out.
Mr. Freedman then introduced the VIRGINIA G. PIPER CHARITABLE TRUST ENCORE
CAREER PRIZE winner, Micheal McQuaid,
"A $50,000 Award for Applying Experience to Improve Social Good".
A tribute video then spotlighted McQuaid's humble
dream - which now spans across generations - to help end homelessness in his community, Maricopa County.
A dream of using the very best of his God-given talents and gifts to transform society. As a developer
and builder of shopping malls, that talent translated into building the Human Services Campus
a modern new homeless mall-complex with offices from 12 community services. Brilliant!
Mr. McQuaid is president of the Human Services Campus, which have been "Giving Hope & Transforming
Lives" for three decades. Located at 12th Ave. and Madison in Phoenix, their stated mission is:
"Using the power of collaboration to create solutions to end homelessness in our community."
"The Human Services Campus offers resources to over 1,000 people per day. Many of these
individuals are connected to our services, our shelters, and our programs. A lot of
these folks ARE working. However, they are underemployed, working part-time, or in
minimum wage jobs that do not allow them to maintain housing at this time."
explains their website.
Mr. McQuaid, and his family and closest associates have invested the last 30 years
serving the homeless with food, shelter, clothing as well as hope-building. It
was a high point of the event when Michael introduced his sons and grandson that
will carry on the family tradition - serving the needs of their community and
generation as a threefold cord (which is uneasily broken).
McQuaid's visionary approach to ending homelessness involves reaching out with helping
hands and bringing people together to create long-term self-sustainability for the homeless
population. This outreach is truly a beacon of light in a darkening world. Leoma and I have been inspired
to become volunteers at the Human Services Campus.
Next time I will cover what bestselling author and inspirational speaker Harvey Mackay had to say,
which was plenty - starting with something his father taught him as a lifetime rule; "Invest at
least 25% of your time volunteering!"
TRADING UP "PLUS" - IdeaFactory Press "Trading Up -> Living Out -> Impacting the World"
10.31.13 by David Bradshaw
As the 6-week "Trading Up" series by Doug Sherman, author of More Than Ordinary concludes, I know my life and scores of other have been deeply impacted. The simple truth presented is that our Heavenly Father wants us to trade up to a much closer walk with Him in all circumstances.
I highly recommend Doug's twice daily email/text personal messages available free at Ingiteyourwalk.com!
"Trading Up" has inspired us to better understand... "Trusting God When Life is Hard" ... "God's Passion to Reveal Himself to Us" ... "Embracing the Truth and Rejecting Lies" ... "The Perfect Father - A God-Centered Reality" ... "God's Attributes: -Without Limits,
-Always the Same, -Self-Disruptive" ... and "Belong -> Believe -> Behave" (not visa-versa).
What comes next for the Third Quarter group at Paradise Church in Phoenix, AZ? Pastor Kurt Notehelfer suggests the following strategy:
"The next step of the journey, as we learn together, is to follow hard after Jesus and fully leverage our lives for the kingdom. A revitalized spiritual life naturally leads to new and greater vitality in every area of life.
In TRADING UP "PLUS" we will begin to expand the vision for where we are heading by introducing the three primary elements of living life to the full!
1. TRADE UP your relationship with God. 2. LIVE OUT your calling from God. 3. REALIZE your greatest impact for God.
We will continue to practice the daily rhythms of life with God that we have been learning from Doug Sherman and have opportunities to "tell God stories" in community with one another.
In addition, we will begin to explore how the new perspective we have gained, in our relationship with God, leads us to greater clarity and focus about who God is calling us to be and, ultimately, how we can take action to realize our greatest impact for God - in every season of life!
Of course, we will do all of this in community with one another, as a place to both learn and grow, but also a place to debrief and unpack our experiences of stepping out to serve throughout the week.
WED. NOV 6 - "AN EVENING OF ENCORE" - Come along for a "field trip" to hear Mark Friedman, author of The Big Shift speak and, together, gain a broader perspective on our culture and our mission field!
On the following five Wednesdays in November and December we will gather for times of training, small group interaction, and spiritual empowerment to begin learning what Jesus meant when he said in John 10:10, "I have come that they might have life, and have it TO THE FULL!"
I invite fellow 50+ Phoenicians to join us at the ExperienceMattersAZ "ENCORE" Event on Nov. 6th at 7pm at the Heard Museum to hear Mark Freeman and motivational author Harvey Mackay. Then join Third Quarter the following Wednesday at 7pm for "Trading Up PLUS" at Paradise Church, 4242 East Greenway Road, Phoenix, AZ.
TRADING UP: Rethinking Life With God
Session Six: "Trusting God When Life is Hard"
10.23.13 by David Bradshaw
This final chapter of Trading Up is especially important during the difficult
times in which we live today. Creating the new habit of seeking God's kingdom
first in all circumstances flies in the face of all that the world is telling us.
Doug Sherman shared a great example from his
experience as a fighter aircraft pilot and trainer in the Air Force. "Don't trust your
self, trust lead" is square one of becoming a good wing man. "Always follow lead, no
matter what the circumstance," was his advice to cadet pilots. Why? For everyone's safety.
The reason the wing man must keep his eye on the
lead pilot at all times to prevent confusion and potential panic sometimes
caused by an inner-ear disequalibrium which could lead to flight miscalculate
during a steep dive in a battle situation.
"Every difficulty, every injustice, every betrayal, every disease, everything
that is hard in our lives is redemptive. Most of the wisdom, goodness and power of God is unseen. We have to trust the
unseen goodness of as well as admire Him for the goodness that we see,"says Sherman.
Of course God hates pain, disease and all other difficult circumstances that
all humans experience, yet God allows them that we may learn to trust in Him
alone, instead of ourselves. "Pain deconstructs our ego," says Doug.
This is why the Sermon on the Mount feels so counter-intuative to the natural
mind. Becoming poor in spirit ... meek ... merciful ... persecuted ... none
of these traits appear to be the pathway to greatness in this world, yet Jesus
said these beautiful attitudes (beatitudes) were the fruit of walking in His kingdom.
On Sunday at Paradise Church pastor David Harris spoke on the subject, using
Scripture to illustrate the Apostle Paul's ultimate mission and goal; "to have
sufficient courage that Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or
by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Phil. 1:20-22)
David sums up our response to challenging circumstances as the "Nevertheless
Principle - the ABC's of Trusting God are simple; 1) Life is Difficult,
2) Jesus is Lord, 3) I will Rejoice in all things!" When crisis or trouble
strikes, don't look around, look up. What is your downside? Certainly not death!
Both early Christians and we modern Christians need to live boldly. When we become
a new creature, we are now members of a "fearless faith," says Harris. And this
comes from living live in the hand of God, which is our choice. Paul could have
thrown a pity party in prison, but instead he understood that God had a purpose
for him right where he was... even in chains!
In the end there are really only two types of Christians; 1) those who trust in
a loving and unfailing God, and 2) those who trust in man and his logic and
earthly knowledge. Only one path leads to life and inner peace in all circumstances.
Doug concluded the series with a reminder that a 3-fold cord is not easily
broken. As we begin to see and seek His 1) Wisdom, 2) Goodness and 3) Power...
we will be trading up a self-centered life for a God-centered life and are
then fit to become vessels of honor to greatly expand His kingdom throughout the earth.
I am looking forward to the next steps of action for our Third Quarter group
that will follow this excellent teaching and reminder of God's passionate desire for us to
know Him ... as He knows us. Meanwhile, our twice weekly company prayer meeting
is continuing to use Doug's "Letters From God" to help this important message sink
deep within our spirits.
Pastor Kurt at Paradise is already working on the next steps for our Third
Quarter group to help all achieve "life to the fullest" (John 10:10). Trading Up is
step one, which should be followed by step two, "living out our calling from God" and
step three "realizing our greatest impact for God".
If you are ready to gain a fresh perspective on your second half of life mission,
and then coached on how to best tell the 'story of your life' with the power of the
Spirit of God, then you are going to love this book!
50+ers have been called to bless future generations by creating and documenting our
unique spiritual legacy, says author and pastor Boneck. Here is a short preview
from the book...
"Our society and cultural Christianity have
fostered a lot of spiritual orphans, not connected to spiritual parents, although they
want to be. In each person, God the Father has placed a spiritual genetic desire to
be connected to spiritual parents...We have learned so much along the way, our hearts
for them compel us to share the stories of God's faithfulness," writes John, echoing
Doug Sherman's call to freely share "God stories" from our daily Christian walk.
TRADING UP: Rethinking Life With God
Session Five: "God's Passion to Reveal Himself to Us"
10.17.13 by David Bradshaw
God reveals Himself to us using three primary means; 1) through His Word, 2) through
our circumstances and 3) through His creation/nature.
John 1:18 reminds us that no man has ever seen God, we can see
Him reflected in His son Jesus, in His lovingkindness toward us His
children. "We can see Him in every molecule of the universe, if we
are looking from the right perspective," says Doug Sherman.
A molecule is defined as: "The smallest possible amount of a particular
substance that has all the characteristics of that substance." Which
means we, as children God, are infused with the substance known as "faith"
complete with all the characteristics of our Creator, our Heavenly Father.
This week our 'Letters From God' focus was on "You can trust in My
unseen goodness,' and "You only have to take one step at a time."
We discussed how to finish our walk with God well, despite the
adverse circumstances we face daily.
Who are we (the clay) to argue with God (the potter) when His unseen
wisdom is at work in our life-challenges? (see Isaiah 45:9)
Doug shared the story of a canoe trip with his daughter that ended
up all wet and very cold. After they got to shore, they laughed and
enjoyed the moment, despite having their perfect plan capsized. So
it is that we must make a choice when circumstances "ruin" our plan,
our show. God wants us to give Him permission to "run the show" of our lives.
As contemporary Christian artist Toby Mac sings in "Steal My Show"... "If you wanna steal my show,
I'll sit back and watch you go, If you got somethin' to say, go on
and take it away, Need you to steal my show, can't wait to watch you go!"
Another message that liberated all participants in our small group was
that God is proud of us, right where we are at. He seeks for us to bask in
His love and acceptance, as we make small steps closer to Him, and then
to share our rich 'pilgrim's progress' experience with others.
This sharing of our real-time "God stories" or encounters has an amazing
collateral effect: it will bring blessing to all who hear or read it and
inspire more encounters because everything in God's kingdom that is healthy
must reproduce to continue growing.
Reflection: Begin to think of how God is revealing Himself to
you in the Scripture, in your circumstances and in His glorious natural world more
each and every day. Tell someone about it or write it down in a journal
to be shared at that perfect opportunity later. Record the vision! In all things re-joice!
TRADING UP: Rethinking Life With God
Week Four: "Embracing the Truth and Rejecting Lies"
10.9.13 by David Bradshaw
"Our image of God is a mixture of truth and error. Every truth about God
has one or more corresponding lies which hinder our relationship with
Him and others," says Doug Sherman in the latest installment of Trading Up.
After walking in the truth of God for years, is it possible that we still
can fall prey to lies from the enemy about ourself, the world and God?
Sadly, the answer is yes. Our self-centered nature can blind us to the
truth without even knowing it. We often box God into our own limited
For example, consider this "Flees in a Jar" story that one of the Trading
Up participants at Paradise Church shared in our small group last week.
Did you know that if you put flees in a jar for three days or more, even
when you release them from the jar they will never jump any higher than
they could when they were inside the jar? It's true. They hit the lid so
often they became programmed - thinking their jumping power had a permanent limit.
Likewise, often we allow our circumstances to limit our view of ourselves, our
world and our God because we have also become programmed to artificial limits.
Thankfully our God wants us to continue in His Word, know the truth and be
set free, Jesus taught us in John 8:31.
"Every problem in life can be traced back to believing a lie," teaches Sherman.
Common lies can include ... -God is not interested in the small details of my life.
-If I work hard enough, God might be pleased and bless me.
-God sometimes fails to keep His promises.
All of these are lies, but subconsciously, we are prone to believe them, because
we may see them operating and struggle with them daily.
Today in one of my text messages from IgniteYourWalk
came this message: "Here is some fatherly advice. If you
can see it, don't trust it. Instead trust Me. I am perfectly wise, loving and loyal. -Jesus"
We live in a world that is driven by the things seen, but the Scripture says we live
in another realm - an unseen spiritual realm - which is driven by faith in the unseen.
Hebrews 11:1 reminds us, "Faith is the substance to things hoped for, the evidence of
things not seen."
If we are to live lives pleasing to God we must see beyond the physical realm and
walk in the Spirit, which is a lifetime journey of taking small steps out of lies
and darkness and into the truth and light.
Doug closed the session with the recognition that we are in a battle for our mind.
It is our choice to reject lies and embrace truth. "God loves fresh starts."
Lord God, today we yield our heart, mind and spirit to Your Way, not our own way.
We want to know you personally and learn to relate to You as our truthful Father.
Help us learn to reject the lies all around us and to stop trusting our eyes to
reveal the truth. Instead of saying, "Seeing is believing!" - may we instead
begin to think and then say "Believing is seeing!".
TRADING UP: Rethinking Life With God
Week Three: "The Perfect Father" Key Truism: God-Centered Reality "Before-During-After" Challenges
9.26.13 by David Bradshaw
In week three, Doug Sherman offers a couple great examples of how our
Heavenly Father is perfect in every way, perhaps in contrast to our
experiences with our earthly father.
Doug shared of his experience flying with his sons to Rome, Italy
and how God allowed his sons to "trade up" to First Class to sit
with him at no extra charge.
How special his sons felt during the 9-hour flight to enjoy
the best thier father wanted for them. So to is with our Heavenly
Father who is hoping we will "trade up" for his best plan for our lives
rather than settling for our self-centered plans.
Doug also shared about his first experience driving a tractor
and allowing his infant son to sit on his lap and steer, together with
his strong hands along side to guide the wheel safely.
This story illustrates the truth that God's wants to control
the vast majority of our time and life, in everyday life experiences, but the choice to invite Him remains up to us. He wants us to grip the wheel lightly, and allow Him to do the real steering.
Lastly, Doug challenged us to "trade up" to a God-centered lifesyle
during appointed meetings and conversations by remembering to seek His
direction before-during-after such life challenges and opportunities.
Again his emphasis is upon taking small steps daily and watch the
transformation take flight - over the days, weeks and months ahead.
Week Two: "What Is He Like?" Key Truism: God's Attributes: 1)Without Limits, 2)Always the Same, 3)Disruptive
9.19.13 by David Bradshaw
In a world that changes constantly we need to be reminded that our heavenly Father is unchanging in His love,
His kindness, His goodness, His vastness, His majesty.
But knowing this is one thing and acting like it is really true is quite another.
In the video Doug Sherman shares of his trip to the mountains of Alaska to witness the awesome majesty of God's creation.
At first the mountain peaks were shrouded by fog.
Did that mean the majestic handiwork of God were not present?
No, they are just not visible to the human eye from an earthly perspective. We need a higher perspective - which is possible when we
are seated with Him in heavenly places throughout the daily course of our lives.
Likewise, God's presence and majesty are ever-present if we wait on Him for eyes to see it. The fog of daily distractions from
both the world system and religion can often blind us from seeing the truth.
Doug asks, "What makes angels laugh? ... When humans ask for more of God's presence!"
"God's lovingkindness is without limits, it is always the same and it is infinately disruptive in our lives," says Doug. God's
perfect plan for an intimate relationship with us towers over our problems, concerns, fears and foibles.
Sherman shares of his disrupted air travel plans as an example. Do we give thanks that He is in control of our time, schedule and
life when our plans are disrupted, or do we grumble? Our actions reflect our true beliefs.
I am really enjoying reading the "Letter From God" handbook included in the teaching series. The truth that God is passionate
about seeking His children's best is clearly communicated in these 41 short letters, each signed "Your Heavenly Father".
We have started to use the "Letters From God" in our twice-a-week company prayer/care group, investing the time to review
the four Scripture references included with each letter to help the truth to sink into our spirit further.
Paradise Church is hosting the video series on Sundays at 8:30am and Wednesday at 7pm (address below). Sunday services at 10a and 11:30a feature companion messages by pastor David Harris. My wife Leoma and I feel this series is the
foundation for the next big step of maturity in our walk with God. Perhaps it could be for you too also?
Next week's topic is "A Perfect Father"!
P.S. I just started reading another very good book: "50+ The Emerging Joshua and Caleb Generation" by John Boneck. I have emailed
with John, who leads a 50+ ministry with MorningStarMinistry in Fort Mill, S.C. Their goal is to call the boomer generation (50 and above) back to work, affirming them in who they are as fathers and mothers of the faith, and then pass the blessing onto the next generation. So far it is excellent, highly recommended!
New Boomer Group (3rd Quarter) Launches at Paradise Church Key truism: Belong -> Believe -> Behave
9.12.13 by David Bradshaw
Recent headlines from the American Bible Society declare Americans
have a major "disconnect between belief and behavior". The result
is most people are living their life unfulfilled and guilt-ridden.
The poll found that most Christians "view reading the Bible as
taking your medicine", which is to say less than exciting.
The result: Only 13% of Christians read their Bible daily.
TRADING UP with Doug Sherman launched last Sunday at Paradise Church with the
premise that we each need an enlarged view of our heavenly
Father if we are to find true meaning in life.
The words and teachings that I became aware of from this past weekend session was
to humble myself and rediscover God. As Richard Rohr reminded us; On our life
journey, we as Christians, need to dissolve our boundaries, feel the suffering of
life, learn from it and then lead others.
In addition, as Doug Sherman mentioned; We all fear the letting go of our "egocentric"
lifestyles. We must learn to trust Him moment by moment. "Ignite Your Walk"
daily email and text messages have helped me grow closer to God and fellowship with Him throughout the day!
I applaud the boldness of Paradise Church pastor, David Harris, for facilitating
face-to-face interaction within the service - allowing attendees to
fellowship with more than the back of someone's head.
If you like being given the freedom to encounter 'body life' with fellow Christians, this
is the place for you! Imagine, a dedicated time to share what God is
doing in your work, your life and walk with God.
From ... Behave-Believe-Belong To ... Belong-Believe-Behave
In our culture today, and sadly in much religion, feeling
accepted, or that we belong is based upon thinking we must do better, or simply put, we must BEHAVE to BELONG.
Morality and strict rules are the key to pleasing God, most think.
But the Bible teaches otherwise; we must first understand that
we BELONG, that we are loved, as-is. From this perspective
we then grow in our faith and BELIEF. Then our BEHAVIOR gradually
changes from "What pleases me?" to "What pleases God?"
After a lifetime of having the world system (and religion) brainwash us to
believe just the opposite, the chances are very high that many of us need
some deprogramming to walk in this new spirit-led self.
Just before Christ's temptation by Satan we
hear the Father saying... "And a voice from heaven said,
"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased,"
(Matt. 3:17). We each need to have that same foundational identity of
really knowing that we are loved and are pleasing to God.
This is the goal of TRADING UP, as I see it. I invite all
Phoenicians to begin Trading Up, Session Two: "What He is Like" this Sunday,
Sept. 15th at 8:30AM at Paradise Church, 4242 East Greenway Road,
Finding our place of service in God's Kingdom is His ultimate plan for our life.
It all begins with a change of heart, knowing He is passionate about
knowing you. God wants a closer relationship with you. Wouldn't you like
to "trade up" from a self-centered life to a God-centered life today?
2013: Greetings from the Valley of the Sun! Here's a ministry fund-raising idea!
INTRODUCTION: For a quarter century I have researched and reported on economic trends from a Christian perspective for Swiss America. In that time I have watched debt enslave and devour American culture. Americans are now urgently seeking answers about the shaky economy, soaring debt and how to survive a rapidly rising cost of living.
GOOD NEWS: I have a fund-raising idea to share with you today which could help expand your budget and outreach by $100,000 per year* or more. I have helped a small national ministry use this fund-raising concept successfully over the past two years. Here is the idea in a nutshell:
1) WHO: Swiss America, founded by Craig R. Smith in 1982, is the most respected national brokerage firm for precious metals in the U.S. and a trusted source of the most comprehensive free educational resources on such investments. Swiss has no unresolved complaints and maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Swiss was the first company invited to advertise on CBN.com and The 700 Club. Craig Smith has been a member of Phoenix First Assembly of God (Pastor Tommy Barnett) for over 25 years and written about by Pastor Barnett in his books. Pat Boone is Swiss America's spokesperson and is widely respected for his integrity, ministry and lifetime achievements.
2) WHAT: To help fund your ministry Swiss America's in-house advertising agency (FAME, Inc) would like to extend an offer to make a donation to your ministry for each referral who either calls us at a special toll-free number or online registrations to receive a free educational kit. Educational kits may include a free book, free dvd, free cd, free White Paper, etc. There is no obligation to purchase anything. Those contacting us simply agree to receive free, postpaid information on the Bible's teachings about economics via our free resources.
3) HOW: Monthly we will provide your ministry with a $25 donation for each new, unique inquiry to Swiss America (name, address, email & phone) requesting our free, empowering educational resources. Our approach is to work with fellow Christians such as yourself to share a monthly or quarterly email blast offer, internet banners and links, and/or radio/TV show mentions and/or live interviews with information that can help the faithful in these times of trouble and testing.
4) SAMPLE FREE OFFER: "Truth About Money" cd and "Re-Making Money" report which explains why and how individuals, families, ministries and nations should and could restore the sound money values of the Bible that America's Founders included in our Constitution.
I would love to work with you to help build His Kingdom and strengthen your ministry with a solid gold foundation, for the sake of our future and our children.