Rainy day Thursday musings…

Ahhhh…. rain. I stood outside this morning in the rain, catching the first spatterings from the sky with unconcealed joy. I love the rain. It’s probably because we don’t get much here (we average 7.48″/year, according to the InterWebs). Perhaps if we had a Portland-esque climate I’d feel differently (42″/year!) But I digress.

When it rains, I feel like my soul is being watered; it’s a tangible reminder to me of God’s grace & His care… & when I stand in the rain, I often pray, asking, “God, water the parts of me that are dry & crusty, the places that need Your life & Your touch.” And I feel like He does.


About a year ago, I felt like I experienced a “dark night of the soul” aka a place that Dallas Willard referred to as something that “tests one’s joyful confidence in God“. There were many reasons for this including challenging family circumstances, a roller-coaster of incapacitating anxiety/panic attacks, depression, & the loss/deterioration of a few close friendships. I slept a lot & didn’t eat well… (NOTE: I ate a lot, & my weight jumped… which led to most of my clothes not fitting… which led to more anxiety & crud.)

One day, I saw an invitation on social media from an acquaintance looking for guinea pigs (volunteers) to be a part of his spiritual direction “internship.” This involved a 1x/month Skype session with him for the purpose of discovering/rediscovering what God is saying, doing, & where He is leading. Considering the hole I was in, (& desperately wanted out of) I jumped at the invite. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Over the course of several months, I sensed my dark night (it was more like a dark quarter of a year,) dissipating, with the knowledge that, even when I hadn’t known it, God had been right there in the middle of it with me… And that He didn’t waste any of the pain, but actually turned it to be a source of fuel for bringing change in my life, physically, mentally, emotionally, & spiritually. And in the last 12 months, I’ve been able to track a turnaround in my life. Not an instant miracle, not a “BOOM! you’re healed” moment, but a gradual, (& lasting) shift in how I live, approach anxiety/adversity, what I give myself to, & most significantly, in my relationship with God. My spiritual director didn’t give advice, offer a plan for change, or really direct me to do anything. He merely asked lots of (Holy Spirit inspired) questions, listened to my answers, & asked more questions. And God used these reflections to give me a mirror into my own soul & to shine a bright light that eventually led me out of the dark night… (If you’d be interested in hearing more about this & my spiritual director, send me a note or let me know in the comments…)


This Saturday is our “Giver Team” dinner at Hillside – its a time where we acknowledge & appreciate all the “Givers” who give of their time & energy to serve at Hillside… In essence, its a celebration of the people who make Hillside what it is: a community of people, pursuing relationship with God & with each other, looking to find, understand, & follow God’s plan for their lives, & to help others in that pursuit. When it comes down to it, we believe in process… meaning, when we serve at church, we believe God uses that service (& our interactions with each other) as a source of helping us grow, in Him. Which ultimately means serving (being on the Giver Team) is a way to grow towards our goal: being mature, fully grown Christians… who live, love, & act like Christ would if He were walking in our shoes…. living, working, & playing where we live. I’m so thankful for this community of people – & I would love to be a part of this even if I wasn’t the pastor. And that is saying something.


More rain. I’m going outside.

thinking on one of Christ’s promises, & other musings…

What would you say, what testimony would you share, what message would you bring if your life was on the line?

Paul’s was.

The trouble and opposition that had followed Paul from place to place on his missionary journeys came to a head upon his arrival in Jerusalem. It was assumed, wrongly, that Paul had taken a Gentile into the temple. Chaos ensued. Paul was attacked, beaten, and the crowds tried to tear him to pieces. Fortunately, Roman soldiers stepped in and saved his life – for the time being – and gave him an opportunity to speak. And speak he did:

• To a hostile crowd that wanted to kill him, and saw this as a prime opportunity to do so.
• To a Roman tribunal that trying to figure out WHO Paul the rabble-rouser was.
• To the Sanhedrin (Jewish religious council), which was looking, to build a legal case against him so he could be put to death.

How did he do it?

Paul was living in the grace of the promise that Christ gave His disciples:


And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. Luke 12:11,12 ESV

The Holy Spirit will teach you what to say.

Christ’s promise.

You’ve filled your heart and mind with God’s Word. You’ve looked to put into practice and obey the LORD in every area of life. If (& when) you’re put on the spot, even hot, hot spots, don’t worry. Because the Holy Spirit was given to indwell us for just such moments, and fills not only our mouth with words, but our heart with courage and boldness.

So don’t worry. Don’t be anxious. Instead, give thanks that what we say at that moment of crisis (or in the grocery line) is something that WILL BE given to us at the appropriate time by the One who will never leave, forsake, or abandon us.

Day 1 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – Travels

Left early on Wednesday morning for the airport with my favorite Transporter, theBean, in the drivers seat. We had the full gamut of emotions on the trip, from laughing to tears. It’s hard to leave home.

My flight from Reno the LAX was uneventful, but the gate for my LAX  to Washington-Dulles flight was on the other side of the concourse. Which meant a sprint. And a prayer to hope that the baggage handlers were sprinting too… :)

On my flight, I felt the LORD dealing with me about faith & believing – specifically in regard to anxiety that I have had about this trip, most pointedly about the “Revolution of the Soul” mini-seminar I’ll be doing in Frankfurt this Saturday. I’d like to say that I’ve been the picture of a man of faith, full of resolve & confidence about what I’m doing, & about what is happening. But if I said that, it wouldn’t be true. I’ve been anxious. Worried. Stressed. About the unknown. And even some of the known.

I felt the LORD saying that He’s given me everything that I need for what I’ll be doing – the mini-seminar included. And that by worrying, stressing, & being anxious, I was not believing Him for that provision, for the words, for the direction, & that somehow, someway, whatever happened good or bad, was somehow MY responsibility.

Ooh. Not good.

So I repented. Asked forgiveness for my ego-centrism, worry & preoccupation. Prayed for a heart & mind  renewal. Thanked God for what He’s preparing for Saturday… & that I get to be a part of it.


After my 4 1/2 hour flight to Washington Dulles, I looked around to see what gate my Washington-Frankfurt flight would be departing from. It wasn’t listed. That made me a little nervous, so I checked with a couple of United personnel to see if they had a clue. No dice. I pushed away my anxiety, & thanked God for the peace that I knew He gave & will give, a peace that I determined to contend for.

Walked to the other end of the C Concourse to the United Customer Service desk – & on the way, called United Customer Service as well. The automated ‘agent’ on the phone was very helpful & told me exactly what I needed to know, & where to go. The personnel at the airport were having some troubles locating the airplane & gate, & my flight never did end up showing up on the Departures board. I did however board my flight. Right where the automated agent said it would be. Thanks Hal!


Landed in Frankfurt, & picked up my bag (Yes!) then headed out to meet Eddy, the pastor of our sister church, Treffpunkt Leben Foursquare Church (TPLF.) We took a few minutes to catch up as he drove us back in to town to pick up his 2 oldest boys from school. On the way, he took me by the site of the old TPLF building – there is literally NOTHING there – The entire building, all the way down into the ground, was torn down & the rubble removed. A new building will be built in its place as soon as a new foundation is being poured. I hope to get a picture or 2 of it when I go on my walk this afternoon.

We took a brief foray by the new TPLF church offices, said hello to the multi-talented & imminently gifted Elena, then made our way back to Eddy (& Laura’s)  house for lunch. I have to confess: one of my favorite things about staying with Eddy & Laura is the FOOD. Spaghetti & meatballs. So. Good.


It was about at that time that I passed out on the couch, & woke up… slowly. It took me a while to realize who (let alone) where I was. Turns out, I slept for about 30 minutes, then stumbled around groggily to get my bearings. Took my daily “EmergenC” & myVitality. And my brain turned on, & I took a few minutes to catch up on the election coverage from the vote Tuesday, & decided to blog a bit.

The sum up: I’m well, encouraged, jet-laggy, in a safe place with great friends, in one of my favorite cities & places in the world. Praying for focus, clarity, & the ability to see what is really important for me to pay attention to & do today. I’ll post pictures later, God-willing.