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.

Lies We Believe About God
by William Paul Young - Atria Books (March 2017) 272 pages
Book Review/Summary by David Bradshaw, Idea Factory Press
April 25, 2017

"What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so." -Mark Twain

"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." -Josephine Hart

"Truth can understand error, but error cannot understand truth." -Gilbert K. Chesterton


lies 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 human beings." "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 illusion." "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 the hardest.

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: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity
Reviewed by David Bradshaw, Idea Factory Press
Listen: THE SHACK audiobook (8 hours)
March 13, 2017

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?

shack 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.

WISDOM 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).

db 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.

Blessings! db

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.

humility 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

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 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.

pride 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.

GraceSpace 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.

FOTC 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."

Watch 2-min. Film Trailer
Future of the Church: "History of the Church" (Animated 7-min.)

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.

For example...
-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!

HOE 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.

In 2016, I am excited about expanding the Kingdom message and mission in the small groups I am apart of using a brand new resource, HEAVEN ON EARTH Devotional by Chris Tiegreen.

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 Kingdom growth.

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
resilience 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...

Recentering 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
Fathers 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...

STF 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!

CFG 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
dboi 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 ...

ETL 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 BeingMortal 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. ElderCare 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 Miller GramaSong A 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.

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.

transfigured 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.

Fathers 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 we've often overlooked. This book is important reading for every man. Here are 10 big takeaways from the book:

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.

Ten Disastrous Side Effects of Fatherlessless -PsychologyToday

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.

fatherhole 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).

Here are a few links for further study:
- Father of the Fatherless
- Building Men, Character, Fatherhood, Legacy
- How Dads Influence Teens' Happiness
- What Girls Miss When Dad Leaves The Home
- Teen Depression in Girls Linked to Absent Fathers in Early Childhood

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

FT 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 ideaman@mideafactory.net 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!

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.


momdv2014 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.

momdb1973 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.

dbsong 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 suffering souls.

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.

You can LISTEN to my simple Christmas song for mom titled "10 RULES OF GOD'S KINGDOM" based upon Matt. 5:3-10 and Luke 10:27.

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.

Happy Holy-Days!

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!

Hcoin 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).

Silver1884 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 www.SwissAmerica.com.


Happy holidays from our family ... to yours!

Two Starting Points for Seeing God
By Doug Sherman, TradingUp.org

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

ruler 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

abba 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".

Book Review

"As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do."
-Andrew Carnegie

"Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."
-Francis of Assisi


In Eager To Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi 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 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.


"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.


"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."

FoA 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.


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."


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).


"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." Bonav

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.


"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," reveals Rohr.

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."


"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 teacher here."


Proverbs 20:5 says "The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out."

siswater 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!

P.S. Here is a link to watch a good movie version of Francis of Assisi.

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.

JeffRIP 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

9.25.14 - It is Well With My Soul -Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

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.

Fare Thee Well - Phil Keaggy

9.4.14-The Kingdom Manifesto -Wolfgang Simson

[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

TKM 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.

In 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.

This 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 God.

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.

THE BIG PICTURE: Church Reform and Cultural Restoration

8.21.14 - by David Bradshaw,
Idea Factory Press

Two decades ago I had the privilege of assembling a unique multi-media educational resource targeted and U.S. church leaders for Open Church Ministries entitled "THE BIG PICTURE: The Shape of Things To Come", featuring interviews with over 100 top Christian leaders.

Part One is entitled "THE FUTURE CHURCH - Opening Day in the House of God - 65 Leaders Cut the Ribbon to the Church of Tomorrow". This represented our best effort to nudge American church leaders and pastors to glean from the wisdom of a multitude of godly counselors about how to transform the U.S. church into a more interactive and empowering representation of the Kingdom of God on earth. CINK

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.

2. THE FUTURE CHURCH 25-min. audio preview of The Future Church
3. THE FUTURE CHURCH 256 page transcript of The Future Church
4. THE WARFARE SERIES 25-min. audio preview of The Warfare Series
5. THE BIG PICTURE 25-min. sample audio from The Big Picture
(featuring Ern Baxter, Dennis Peacocke, Steven Fry and Joe Tosini)

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?

WilliamsFamily 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" comments online."

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.


"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.

tradingup 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 info@tradingup.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?

momis89 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.

6.11.14 - A FATHER WHO ADORES YOU - LettersFromGod

I am a Father who adores you.

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!

tradingup 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!

-Your Heavenly Father

John 1:18, Matthew 7:9-11, Psalm 51:6, John 16:13

All 42 Letters From God

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.

brainpower 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 (logic/reasoning).

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.

Fatherlove 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.

tradingup 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 Up experience.

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.

china-us 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

reimagine 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 relationship is.

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.

db-bzb 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).

bzbpainting 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

"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

"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

"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

iceberg 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.

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.

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!

- 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.

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.

Psalm23 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

50+ 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."

Here is an excerpt from my book review.


"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

2014 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."

Creating class warfare and crushing the middle class is the intended political consequence of conjured economic magic, as covered in detail in The Great Withdrawal book and a new FREE DVD, The Timeless Truth About Money.

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.

At Paradise church in Phoenix we will be taking incrimental steps toward this goal using "50+ The Emerging Joshua & Caleb Generation" book by John Boneck. At our Swiss America company prayer/Bible study we will begin a new devotional on the Psalms using "Spurgeon's Daily Treasures of the Psalms". I hope to have lots of nuggets of truth to share throughout the new year.

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

bzbtree 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 and light?

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.

bokentrust 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!

timelesstruth 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.

bzbBillD 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."

vision 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!

P.S. At our twice-weekly company prayer meeting Bronwin shared how this story: The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself Today changed her life. I invite you to take 5 minutes to read it! We are continuing to bask in Doug Sherman's "Letters From God" at each meeting. It is such a blessing to see and hear how He is speaking into our busy lives through these simple expressions from the heart of God.

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!

kurtbzbbaptism 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

encoreprize I, together with nearly 20 others from Paradise Church's Third Quarter group and Swiss America's company Bible study attended ExperienceMattersAZ "Evening of Encore" last night, featuring keynote speakers Harvey Mackay and Encore founder and author Marc Freedman.

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 century later.

"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.

Encore 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".

My recommendation for Christian-based boomer groups as a next step to begin walking out your holy calling is to read 50+ The Emerging Joshua & Caleb Generation by John Boneck of Morning Star Ministries.

50+ 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. molecule

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 experiences.

peopleinajar 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.

FlyFirstClass 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. AMEN!

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.

AlaskaFog 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

ABSchart 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.

Session One: "Rethinking God" was a breath of fresh air! I attended with great expectations, having read Doug Sherman's new book More Than Ordinary. Here is what a friend wrote...

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, Phoenix, AZ.

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? Start here.

Latest Boomer News Briefs

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.

Faithfully yours,

Editor, Real Money Perspectives
Publisher, Idea Factory Press

*Based on generating 8,000 responses to free educational offers at $25/response since 9/2009.