Author: Derek

Steward your symbols!

Complete your symbols!

If the first half of life is finding your true symbols, the second is more fully tending and harvesting them, letting them bear fruit for others to enjoy. The first part of the journey is finding your symbols, and what is your own land to cultivate or be formed within in Him. In the latter half, you have discovered them, and need to tend them into wholeness-to cultivate your symbols into a true and fuller interpretation, so your story can be left for others to receive from. We are no longer insecure or in competition about who we are, we are able to allow Him to start to whisper nuances. To fill in His story of who we are in Him. He is pronouncing the poems of Himself through the poems of who we are. And our task is to collaborate in blooming our true inner symbols.
For example, i live (invest, dwell intentionally nurture) in three cities currently, each represents a unique aspect of my own story, and His Story through me. Each symbolizes part of His story of my life.
The three cities (there are others, but i use these for clarity) I occupy in this season for instance, are aspects of a whole symbol of my life in Him. Currently for me these would be: Austin, San Fran and Antwerp—each symbolize different aspects of your calling and His Story through your life. They each need to be harvested uniquely. But in Him, they are integrated.
As we get older, the parts of our lives start to integrate into one centered experience and expression. Our lives get interpreted, as teachings for others! As we grow up in Him, He literally brings the rooms of ourselves under the same roof. He is that roof. And Jesus is the key to integration and identity. We had to believe that by faith at the start, but now we know it, and we watch Him slowly gather our houses into One expression-His House and ours.
Our outer symbols have attached with our inner reality, and our lives can be read as art which tells a clear story. There is a complete narrative in Christ. He contains the entire path prepared beforehand to be our way (Ephesians 2:10). He who formed us, is also able to pronounce us, as we remain yielded and faithful. How He is allowed to symbolize Himself through the story of your own life, is one of the funnest and best collaborations you will ever experience! You get to watch The Master Artist, doing His thing through your very life story!
Our outer lives and activities start to reflect directly our inner reality. The medium becomes the message! The outer frame starts to symbolize the inner reality of who you are. This occurs in Christ. And it is His pleasure to make us more whole as His Art. Who we actually are, starts to express itself in all we do outwardly. And this is a great mystery of a long life yielded!
One of the saddest things in life is to feel a life cut short, or a story not fully told, explained or expressed. When the symbols are not complete, we feel impartial. Like the body of an artist work which never got to be complete. We have a Curt Cobain moment, or many other artist who didn’t get to finish their symbols. As those in Christ, we are able to finish and cultivate our symbols, and allow Him to make the full body of art He desires to make through our lives. And that is beautiful!
In the first half of life, people are searching for self- what is home, what is Real, what is theirs to know and tend. What symbolizes them. We search through jobs, relationships, travel, to define ourselves. In the second, you know what’s yours and you begin to refine it and teach it to others. We switch from define to refine, once we know the basic story line of our lives. Mine art, spirituality, integration, and identity. Creativity and Identity and their proper relationship in Jesus.
Will you leave completed symbols on the earth? Now that you’ve found your symbolic lands, how to cultivate and complete them. That’s the second half of life’s mandate. The second half of life is about that symbolic efficiency and effulgence! You know what you have to tend, now you can make it fruitful with Him—finish the lines of your poem! Let Him enjoy the final chapters, and say with you, it is finished! It is whole, completed, expressed fully!
As you go into the 2nd half of life, you want to refine what you already have. You want to make each symbol more complete!!! Stewarding your symbols becomes a pleasure. When young, you found them, now to edit refine and share them. To tell the whole story. To collaborate in completing your testimony—His story of your life! This becomes your passion.
You see those who still want to do the first half of life’s task, while clearly standing the second. They still want to get their symbols out, or to discover them. But we are meant to be tending them in the later half of life. To already know who we are in Him, and be secure in that, and now to work on expressing it in a way which will bless and cover those after us!
To complete your symbols on earth, becomes the task of the second half of life. The symbols you searched to find and conquer in the first half of life (blessed are those who overcome in the first half, blessed are those who know in the later part of life (St John)—the true images of self or yourself, others and the world, can now be contoured, completed, filled in, outlined, interpreted for others and shared. The story can be told! The second half of life is to tell the whole story well. To complete the symbols in Peace and with Wisdom and articulation. No longer are you in competition, so you can complete your symbols in peace.
Walk them out! Steward your story well. Cultivate the pleasant lines of your inheritance!
Having crossed your Jordans (your necessary deaths to self), having entered the land of your inheritance (the pleasant lines of yours), having occupied, possessed-now, you move on to cultivate, to bear fruit which will outlast you. The colorful fruit He desires to express through the story of your life! To complete the symbol of God’s story through your life. To interpret your life as a sign for others. To tell the whole story-His story of your life. To do so, you must steward the symbols of your life. Jesus completed His symbols! And like Him, we should be able to say at the end, “It is finished!” Let’s us allow Him to finish His story of our lives. Now that we know them, let’s steward our symbols well in Him!
What symbols do you still have left to discover or complete in your life? How can you collaborate with Christ in discovering them, and helping them become whole? If you see yourself as His art, what areas does He want to refine, cultivate, heal and fill in, into His fullest expression of Himself through you?! How can He complete the contours of what He wants to express through you on earth. He wants to tell the story of Himself through yours. Ask Him, what is His version or interpretation of your story? Write and live that out! His testimony concerning you, is His Testimony about Himself. And He who started a good work–the Author and Finisher of our faith-is able to cause us to be (to cause us to stand-Romans 14:4), and finish the stories we are in Him! Allow Him to finish His own story of you!

The types of leaders needed now

There are different types of leaders in scriptures. I’ve been looking at these unique two people, Jeremiah and St Paul, as examples for the type of leadership we need now.
Jeremiah the authentic personally vulnerable priest prophet. The autobiographical one. The intimate with God’s Heart one. The emotional one. The transparent one. One who interprets by how they live. The outer court-near the people, and their concerns-one. The social prophet. Jeremiah is the type of prophetic leader we need today. The transparent prophet. The poetic prophet. The persecuted and still favored prophet. The prophet aware and sensitive to the nations, and their purposes in God’s plans.
I think Jeremiah in the OT, and St Paul in the New were the most transparent with their personal stories (they had anointed autobiographies!), and had two of the hardest spiritual assignments in scriptures. Their lives both became models as well. Part of their message was their actual life. They lived symbolically in this way!
They were both very transparent about their inner lives as well. Both lived in moments of displacement, and migration, cultural shiftings, and had to become compasses for their times. Both were intimate with The Father. They had a father spirituality.
Both, also displayed the feminine and the masculine in their actions. They could move from God’s father and mother hearts! The ability to both father and mother things is essential now. Unique men of God.
Authentic prophetic people and teachers are what is most needed now, to communicate God’s Heart in expressive and unique ways. It’s one of those times again! Their type of spirituality is needed again especially in leadership.
Fathery transparent, story telling, poet teachers aware of cultural shifts from a spiritual perspective–ie revealed knowledge, not just book knowledge. Revealed and lived out theology goes farther historically. Encountered in direct relationship with God, knowing, lasts.
We need the subtle interpreters-poet teachers. The gifts of poetic language and story telling speak and directly enter into the hearts of many types of people. The medium, in this sense, becomes part of The Message.
Those with this gift of contextualizing what we all see daily, and expressing it in a way which translates, imparts hope, and offers understanding. And we need honest interpreters willing to be transparent about their own brokenness-the blues in their own songs.
Those who can culturally contextualize the times, be an expression of His Message into it, and live out their message. Be the teaching. And be becoming it, out loud or publically! Living life out loud, so others can hear and see it! And judge for themselves, the veracity.
If I had to pick types of leadership needed now, i might add St John to this list-the pastor, theologian and seer poet! Poetic story telling leaders are needed to express the complexity and nuances of what God wants to speak into our times. We need priestly artistic leaders like Jeremiah, or Daniel, the prophetic ruler, and another practical mystic, willing to be raw about it all, and tell the true story well.
So, authentic, willing to be autobiographical (i.e., vulnerable), transparent and very intimate with The Father is what I would be looking for from leaders today. That’s what I’m learning from these guys, today anyway.
Leaders who are very transparent with their own struggles and stories, tell their own stories well, are emotionally open, and good expressers of the essence of things. And priestly leaders who can also see prophetically and are in touch with the outer courts of the temple-where social exchange occurs.
All three were also practical mystics, being given revelations, visions, dreams, and visitations, but downloading it through the heart of God into practical messages, people could understand. Paul even received a “revelation of the mystery of the gospel to the Gentiles”, for which we all are thankful. In short, they interacted directly with God, in a way which brought needed communication to the society around them. And they did so in a transparent and willing to tell their whole story way. And their lives became signs and portents of what they preached. They were a way in Him! That’s the type of leaders we need now.

Napkin Prayers for America

As I came through New York City last week, thinking about America again…scribbled this on a napkin while waiting in lines with nearly every nationality and ethnicity of people…

What would it look like for America to steward her gifts, resources, and symbols well in this hour (i.e in humility and gratitude and Wisdom) right now? I know some have given up on her, but I don’t think she’s finished her story yet.

And yet, not to be too simplistic, isn’t it ironic that the land of the free and the brave made up of refugees, is afraid to take the lead in welcoming, and even modeling how to bless those in need now. Her statue of liberty and her eagle need to get together and move into parenthood and maturity now. This is not an hour of fear, but of bold blessing with all her resources.

This idea I’m working on about completing your symbols as part of stewarding your life well, applies to nations as well. Each nation has its unique gifts to offer to the whole story of the planet, This nation is meant to cover and haven the oppressed (it’s bountiful resources were given just for that purpose), and was given resources in order to be generous in blessing those in need. In this chapter in history, these are the people in need. Find the people in need, and you’ll find Jesus. He’s always there.

I know we still struggle with materialism and racism, and that is obvious now, but one method of moving towards healing in both these two national wounds, is to reach out and serve those in need. It’s an opportunity for healing being offered. Don’t waste it!

This refugee crisis is a test of character or a challenge to find our true values again, and is a test of character to each nation. Many are showing their true colors now, the space where beliefs meet action. As Bono was saying in a recent interview, “America was a promised land for the Jews, for the Irish, for the Italians, when they needed it most; now, she has an opportunity to bless the Syrians and others fleeing persecution. And she is still needed to do so. She is meant to model generosity.”

This nation needs to get back to its basic humanitarian heart, and finish the symbols it started on. Steward your symbols towards completion—the statue of free welcome and the eagle of searching for those in need to bless are her two core symbols to call into fruition in our hour.

Jesus is always where the poor and oppressed and needy are. It’s a spiritual fact. Easiest place to meet Him really. So, let’s meet Him there. If you can’t find God, go serve the poor, the fleeing from oppression, and you will! God is always there. There’s a spiritual motivation to serve in this hour.

Come on people now, shine on your brothers, for your own good if nothing else. Don’t drop the ball now.

Walls versus harbors:

This is not a wall metaphor season, but more a welcoming harbor! Time to get our harbors in order. Let’s polish ours up til her heart glows again! The eagle and the statue of liberty are the two core American symbols. So, the vision and range of sight and impact, with a heart to haven those in need. The masculine and feminine aspects of who she is. Freedom in order to haven and serve specifically the weak needy and oppressed peoples.

I was in NYC again last week, and the first thing you notice is all the different nations being human together. You just feel like a huge and very diverse family. That sense is the past blessing into the present. We now can seed into our future by polishing the heart of our loving receptivity in this country. Give us your war-torn, hungry and fleeing ones again-that’s what we are made up of really anyway.

Let’s clean and open our harbors intentionally again! A harbor is feminine and represents heart-even the state of the heart. Let’s be a welcoming harbor and use our eagle’s eye vision to see who to bless now with our resources! Of course, we need to discern our guest, but a filter is not a wall.

If we had to flee, we would search globally for open doors, we would look for an open heart, which leads to open doors. Let’s be one.

For, to welcome from the heart is also a great healing gift for oneself. The power to receive well is healing for both parties involved. And this nation clearly needs healing, and integration.

Don’t stop now America, you are still needed in the human story! You can yet do some good. Don’t forfeit your later chapters in fear, but allow them to be written out as a hopeful sign for the human family.

After photo-ing the contents,
I left this worded napkin in New York City (in the Hudson somewhere-i like to symbolize my prayers), I hope it blows and flows in the right direction, and lands in the right part of the heart…as bono said recently, “its not a matter of left or right politically, but right and wrong morally at this hour.” It’s a moral dilemma and a question of identity. This isn’t a political thing, its a human thing. Will we finish our story with integrity. I hope and am praying, we do. The world needs it now more than ever.

I did of course, have jet lag, but looking at my thoughts that day, i think they were at least in the right ballpark, as they say here.

What makes you tick?

For an article they are writing on creative spiritual people, someone asked me for a quick summation of what makes me tick? Here was the live recording, so unedited. Still, may the parts for you, be guided into the right parts of your heart in order to bless and bring His Kingdom there. My answer goes off on several areas along the way, as i often do-i love rabbits!-but i hope it will be helpful on your own quest. It was a long answer (I tend to include everything in one answer or quest-ion), but i was surprised what was emphasized:

My father is a pastor and my mother an artist, so I’ve been trying, or allowing Him, to integrate those worlds for a long time! I lived in, visited and started several arts and spiritual communities over the years, went to art school and seminary, in my quest. The Kingdom seems to be the key! Art and spirituality are both contextualized and integrated by His Kingdom.

I have a hard time feeling settled anywhere down here. When I first saw those floating world Chagall paintings, I related to that landscape—somewhere between worlds. I used to do drawings when young of a man walking a wire between worlds. I would drawn the earth in the bottom right corner and the Sun filled with music in the upper right corner—it’s rays were people of God (the saints), and below were the cities and seas.

My home was in between, where the actual music was. I drew them in my drawings as musical notes, and they were the atmosphere. I had a vision once of the funnel of music between the realms. All the fruits of the Spirit were represented as musical composition in notation. As long as I was staring at Jesus, I could enjoy the ambiance of the music and how it touched the earth and issued from the heavens. I could travel back and forth freely. The vision felt true. Since then I’ve had many other dreams and vision about the simultaneous realms, the endless interface between heaven and earth.

Another way i came to look at it was in layers. I started writing poems about the Kingdom being present at cafes as people were talking. I’ve never seen it as “way over there”, but rather as interfacing here. Wasn’t that Jesus point, to come to earth and bring it here! The highway, the new city—they are meant to be coming here!

Anyway, at my wedding i wore at least nine watches! I love something about simultaneous times going on at once. I still collect watches. I have hundreds. God is Lord over space and time. Time is where Jesus entered from space.

The Jews write lots about consecrating time and space. I relate to that. Both are tabernacles of meeting–places to know God.

Much of my direct interaction with the spiritual has happened in transit, on the road or train stations or on airplanes. God meets me in the liminal-the in between is sort of home to me. Prayer art space is my home.

Mysticism is just the way things actually are to me. There are multiple realms interacting all the time—that’s biblical. Daniel (one of my favorite king prophets!) saw it, as did all the prophets really. What I like about Daniel is he was a practical prophet. Met God is rulership as well as mystical experiences. Anyway…more personally…

God has chosen to emphasize my identity, to use that as part of His Story about Himself. “You are being what we are talking about” as one friend put it to me. This idea of the life itself, being part of the message-i relate to that way. That your actual life is God prophesying about Himself! Yes, we also prophecy, and i do often, but we are also ourselves prophecies! That’s an important thing to see well. We are living stories or testimonies, and that is half the content. The vehicle of the message is part of the message–if you get my point.

In the Old Testament, where the prophets lived, if they were married or not, where they gave their messages, which direction they were facing when speaking–all were part of the content of the message itself. I’ve always felt that was true. So just being somewhere at a certain time, is part of what He is communicating through me. What I wear (prophetic fashion has always interested me-the cover of a book reveals the content! Christian publishing missed this), or my tone is part of what He wants to express. That is part of the art of the prophetic. I call it prophetic orientation. But you can’t get the full message of the older prophets if you don’t consider all this. Their identities were part of what God was saying!

Jeremiah and Paul both had anointed autobiographies. I relate to that. Like King David’s life story was part of the message. I’ve always related to that.

Sometimes God highlights identity. That’s been so in my case. Not in an egotistical way, but in a way in which God uses the story of Paul’s life as part of his message. Who we are is part of what God is saying about Himself! So we need to know who we are!

So my life passages from the bible, were always celebrating identity—Jeremiah’s calling: I knew you, therefore I called you; or in Ephesians: we are His poetry…etc. Paul’s, “I know a man..” speaking of himself in the third person. David’s, “I am myself fearfully and wonderfully made!” (Psalm 139). These are life examples of how to let our biographies become His! How our life stories become living testimonies of God. It’s a unique calling, but it’s how my life has been. Who I am, is part of His story or whatever He is saying through me.

One’s life story is part of God’s message to others and to the earth itself. We are symbolic and symbolizing creatures. Some of us highlight that. We are poems and books about and from God, expressing aspects of who He is, as we get out of the way (lose our lives in Christ), and come into His Way, we shine as more our true selves. That much is simple. Peter stares at and sees who Jesus is, and Jesus tells him who he is- Peter’s true name. To know ourselves, is to know Jesus. The white stone name then starts getting whispered.

True or authentic identity then, has been my life’s theme. Jesus turns out to be the source and revealer of true identity-so is the way to really know oneself and others, for that matter. God’s song of myself.

It’s a thin line to consider identity so often without “making it all about yourself”—the line between narcissism and allowing God to celebrate your true identity (David did it well!), and looks stupid, but as in my dream about Bono-where from the audience’s perspective he looked like just a rock star, but from behind he was praying and being priestly, and actually suffering (bruised all over his body, in the dream)—that is how it is for me. God has chosen to use me as a disco ball, outwardly shining and appearing as this or that, depending on context, but inwardly just being in and with Him.

We are close friends, and that is my basic spirituality—friendship with Jesus. That’s not changed since i was young.
Context has, but not content.

When you emphasize unique identity, you often meet the most unique people in the world. And I have. Many of them. Some very high impact personalities. Some very connected, some very lonely, but all of them remarkable, one of a kind people—God’s favorites.

I’ve been blessed to know myself and to get to know many other remarkables. I’ve always gotten to ride on the “special bus”!

Yet, i can’t remember ever feeling at home anywhere here. I’ve lived all over the world, and certainly all over my own nation (almost every region now), but nowhere has felt fully home. I’ve always felt like I was from everywhere and nowhere. Always a local and a foreigner, so I relate to both, but never really home. I relate to the refugees and the people who house them. I’ve done both in life-lived homeless, lived in my car, in parks, but also had small castles to host in and haven others, resources to bless. But really Jesus has been the only home I’ve known. The rest keeps changing. Our friendship has been the gravity line in my life, the only orientation point which hasn’t changed. The backdrops keep shifting over and through times and seasons. They shift geographically, culturally, and physically, but He has remained the same.I’ve had glimpses of my heavenly terrain several times.

I had a vision I was in a landscape something like west Ireland, but even greener and more verdant. Every color so vibrantly alive with life. Crystal streams, the works really! Lots of animals, interestingly enough. God would sit close to me, and was giving me messages and I was running, sometimes leaping or dancing, and delivering them to people in joy. I was allowed to be very creative how i gave the words, and God enjoyed how I would choose to communicate them. At the end of this vision, He sent me back to earth on a balloon, which i just loved, as I do love balloons in real life! So I didn’t mind so much going down through the stratosphere into the interruptions on earth.

That also hasn’t changed. I talk to God, and tell people and places what He said. I try to tell them in a way which is in their language or tone or style. I’ve gotten better at expressing the messages, but the process has been the same for many years.

So my spirituality is friendship, but my calling is expression. Specifically expressing what God tells me to express to others.
What has grown in the process is getting to know His Ways through doing it. To be blown away by how kind He is and His desire to specifically communicate to so many. Carrying the poetry of His thousands of thoughts towards each us daily has been a privilege, and continues to be. I’m mediocre at it, but He enjoys it when I try! His actual messages are so much more nuanced and subtle than we can express. His Tone alone would re-shape a mountain in an instant! Much less a person. If we properly received even one word from Him, we would be eternally altered! That’s the power of even partially expressed prophecy down here!

So, identity and expression are the two words written on my heart. But I’ve gotten to grow in knowledge and love as I’ve gone. According to Peter, Godliness, brotherly love, endurance and perseverance and Wisdom would be next in line…

Still, I am so thankful He integrated my creativity and my spirituality. He did that early on. I’m thankful, as it’s allowed me to enjoy life and Him more. I think I help people integrate their’s as well. I also was given the gift of authenticity. I am able to help people have an authentic not a borrowed, spirituality. And I think i model that. So He made me an authenticator in His Body. And an integrator.

Again, I’m grateful. To give people permission to have their own authentic relationship with God is wonderful. I enjoy that. You can have a unique-you shaped relationship with God, because He is personal, and He made you unique. You two have your own style of relating. And it’s a gift to others in the end.

It’s not just do your own thing, but it is be yourself in Him. Sometimes, it’s be yourself, despite yourself! But it is always allowing Him room to celebrate His song of yourself, as a song about Himself! Who are we to block His Voice. Let Him sing the notes of your being in Him!

In another dream, i was teaching some seminary students that they could be themselves. I taught from Psalm 139 about celebrating yourself as a poem of God. In the dream, i gave them permission to find their true identity in Christ. That He was the Namer and Author of who they really were. So there was no need to interface through some external system to have direct relationship with God. Jesus brought God to us.

We can be ourselves. We can be authentic and creative. We can be both artist and followers of Christ. There is no need to make art about God, but rather from your relationship with Him. To make authentic expressions flowing from the journey of your relationship and growth in Christ.

So I give people permission to be real or authentic, and permission to integrate their creative process. I think that is one area where i move in healing or helping make things whole. I think its the same with cities for me—i like to help mend and integrate the imaginations of cities. I’m very interested in people having a baptized imaginations. And when cities do this—heal their cultural expression; something amazing happens. They become living testimonies of God.

What about the needs of the art and church worlds?

I have favor in the art world and the church world, and that has always been the case. He allows me to contextualize the art world, and to free up the church world. It’s been a neat role in both arenas. I feel fortunate to be able to freely be myself in both art and church worlds. Both need different things.

The art world needs a way of interpreting true value and context of the creative process outside of materialism or entertainment (the constant need for validation-often lack of fathering-drives many artist into some form of prostitution, or her ways!); the church world needs to be freed up to make authentic art flowing from their relationship with God. Permission to be, and not feel they have to only use their creativity to carry the gospel. That they can just create unto God or before Him, as little priest! And that they celebrate who God is by doing so. Francis Shaefer taught this well. And I spent years under his teachings. The Lordship of Christ over every area of life, means we are free to just create, it doesn’t always need to be overtly about God.

In my theology of the arts, I would add, that God loves the whole person, including your imagination. And wants to baptize your imagination into active relationship with Him. This would cure pornography in a day, if we really related to God actively through our perception! The three I state as a foundation for the arts: Jesus Lordship over all of Reality, including the symbolic; God’s Oneness, so His desire that all the areas of your life be one or integrated; and His Love of the whole person–still hold true for me! I discovered these three over time in my own journey.

The art world needs an interpretive context, the church permission to be and express freely! Again, The Kingdom provides for both! And engulfs them!

I’ve been able to walk in both worlds as myself. And it’s a joy.
This is part of my testimony, i suppose. To be allowed to be fully myself in the art world and in the church world. And I’ve gotten to know very high impact leaders in both over my life. Thankful again.

I think the kingdom contextualizes the art world and the church world. The Kingdom is bigger than the church, and is certainly bigger than the narrow confines of the art world.

I’ve tried to live from The Kingdom, and let my friendship with Jesus dictate everything else.

Thanks for asking….(to the interviewer)

Again, i’d say my personal spirituality is about friendship with Jesus, and my outer expression of that has been to live as an artist. Or to let my life itself become His art.

I also like helping people integrate these areas of spirituality and creativity. My wife and I ran an arts community for many years-upstairs was community, downstairs art studios, so the two could come together under the same roof-be literally physically integrated.

For the christian artist who lived there, the number one issue was being ok to just create without making it overtly about God, to let there expression authentically flow from their relationship with God-to make it less about and more from. For our friends from the art world, it was about contextualizing their creative process in a spiritual process of formation and relationship with God and His Kingdom. For both worlds it was about integrating their creativity and their spirituality. That’s a need for both the church and the art world, and His Kingdom provides the Key. I would say the core practice is prayer-or sitting with Jesus as He prays. That’s where true vision takes place. My own art flows from that space. Visions and dreams happen there for me.

He mainly talks to me through dreams, study, visions—most often through the symbolic. But He also talks to me directly in words and images during prayer. Prayer is a central daily practice in my life. It’s where i see and hear things, which later turn into art or ministry.

To the church, i would be given as a prophetic person. To the art world, more as a guide. I’m thankful He’s used me in both worlds to bring the fragrance of Himself and His Kingdom. I doubt that will ever end. I’m blessed, and we are friends, and He enjoys me running around and expressing from our friendship, all that He tells and shows me.

I have so many stories of meeting famous people like Madonna, and getting to prophecy to her and her entourage. And getting to talk a man off a suicide bridge in Paris entirely in tongues and by sketching some images. Stories of what must be miracles as well. For many years, He would directly tell me where to go exactly when. Once, He told me which airline to get on and when to leave, and flew me in to bear witness to 911. This sort of direct leading has never stopped for me, and is part of our relationship. But my angels have the best footage of all this. I’ve forgotten half of it.

Even meeting my wife was a divine appointment, but I’ve had so many of these they are normal spirituality now. Go to this parking lot and wait. Ok, ask that lady if she knows your friend. This happened when i was first getting to know my wife. The woman he told me to ask turned out to be her best friend. God knows stuff if we listen and act. These tales increase and continue daily—that’s never changed for me, and I suppose it keeps me jazzed, or helps make me tick. I like collaborating with God daily.

What would you challenge people with?

I would challenge you to let God pronounce the poem of who you are, less interrupted. To let Him prophecy your life to yourself firstly, then out to others. It sounds simple, but most of us don’t lose our lives to find them enough! We don’t live near the cross, as the old timers used to put it. We don’t die daily in order to become the glorious poetry we actually are in Him. That would be my challenge. To allow God to share His Own art—the art of who you are, to His People, to the world, and into the heavens. He wants to pronounce us as His Own poems ultimately about Himself and who He is.

When people hear these poems, they will realize what a wonderful Poet King and Almighty Creator He actually is. He wants to reveal who He is—His True Identity—through yours! Our job is to get out of the way, and let Him do so.

The way to know and express who we really are, is to get to know who Jesus and His Father really are. That’s the journey or trajectory. God is making us His art, and we are meant to be collaborators in this process, yielding to His pronunciation of ourselves. Our creative collaboration makes me tick! It’s His testimony I am becoming, His living pronounceable poem.

Towards an article on what prayer really is….

What prayer really is: union with Jesus as active Priest over everything! Prayer is not some boring activity, it is communion with the highest aspect of the One we are following and being transformed by! Jesus, The High Priest over humanity!

For Christian’s we can’t get around the practice of prayer! It’s the foundational practice for us who are followers and friends of Jesus Christ.

We are to be ever increasing our intimacy with the actual personhood of Jesus Christ. We want to know as much of Him as possible. One part of Him is clearly His priesthood. He is praying for all constantly—He ever lives to make intercession. So when we pray, we are joining Him in this activity.

Ever increasing union with Jesus through this life into the next is true Christian spirituality. The practice is prayer, study of the word and fellowship with others who are growing in Him and His Nature. It’s not a mysterious system really. We do what Jesus did while on earth, but we do it in His power and nature. Peter taught us to participate in the Divine Nature and that it would empower our ethics and action.

What prayer does? Bring us into union with Jesus as Priest! It also takes us outside our selves and our narrow concerns and places us more in His. It tilts us towards His Concerns rather than ours. Prayer is then an essential practice and central for Christians. We cannot just feed the poor, when we pray we see which poor and when. It opens our heart’s eyes to the specific nuances of His Orientation towards each situation. Prayer then is a way of having much more effective ministry on earth. For in prayer we get imparted to us, part of His Heart for that situation.

I think this practice of seeing yourself and your life from outside yourself—from His Eyes. Rising above yourself in time, and looking back at yourself from His Perspective is a healing act. For then you can return to time and act in wisdom, seeing where you are on your journey of growth in Christ. Seeing what you need now. For me, He is adding knowledge and more godliness and hopefully holiness to my life.

Prayer is part of our own transformation. As we sit with Jesus as Priest, we ourselves are transformed by encountering His Heart for others and for whatever else He is praying for. If we want to become like Christ, we will want to be with Him in prayer. Being with Him in His High Priest role, transforms our own hearts, and informs our actions while here on earth.

There is a daily practice in prayer where we are meant to rise above ourselves into His concerns and thoughts. We are meant to follow Him rather than just our own hearts. This is simple practice of prayer. But it is essential, even fundamental. Part of what prayer is—allowing us to rise above our daily concerns and tune more accurately in to His day.

Of course, prayer involves the imagination. We start to see things as we pray. And this is another way Jesus communicates His Heart into ours. The symbolic is another part of communication. So we keep our imaginations receptive and open while we pray, so He can show us things, and align them with His Feelings and thoughts about them. He is One, and in prayer, we start to sense His Oneness. His imagination, feelings, thoughts and actions are in sync. Prayer helps us practice this oneness of being.

Prayer is the foundation for the prophetic! When we pray, we are getting His Orientation towards each situation. We cannot deliver His Words, without His Orientation of heart. Prayer allows us to have His Heart about the matter, imparted! So then if we are used to bless into that situation, we do so in His Heart and Power. Prayer comes before prophecy. Just as Jesus stopped and prayed each time before acting, so we are to pray before ministering into situations!

Prayer is about putting us in a less self centered place and more in a place of receptivity to His concerns. We have prayer authority the degree we are “in Him”. It is His authority we have as we move in collaboration with Christ. Prayer is collaboration but it begins with listening to Him and His Concerns.
Often we don’t ask why should we pray, or what is prayer? It is a type of practice where we are becoming less so He may be more. We are getting to know Him Priest. So it is part of restoring priesthood down here.

Prayer is the place of vision! We cannot see as He sees until we put ourselves in a prayerful orientation. In order to see, we must be with Him as Priest and Seer. The two are connected in Him–His Prayer life allows Him to see what the Father is doing at all times! It is meant to be the same for us as we union into the prayer life of Our Friend Jesus. We begin to see more of what He is seeing. And that sight transforms and informs us, teaching us how to truly pray!

As we commune with Jesus as Priest, we get to know Him in a unique part of His activities. He makes intercession for us all, and all the nations and peoples, and we get to overhear His intercessions! Prayer is coming into union with Jesus as the High Priest!

If we do not know Him as Priest, we miss out on a big part of what He is currently up to!

Constant union with Christ in His Prophetic, Kingly and Priestly aspects is the ever growing pathway of those in are called into His Name. And ever more deeply baptized into it!

So prayer is a way to transform ourselves, it is a way to rise above our narrow concerns, and it is the foundation for us to be able to move prophetically into the lives of others and situations around us. Our goal is a more perfect union with Christ in all His aspects, but particularly Jesus as our great High Priest! When we pray, we are getting to know this central aspect of the Life of Our Lord!

Prayer changes who we are. It gives us more of His perspective on whatever we are concerned with. It equips us for ministry or acts of service by sharing in His Concerns, Power and Authority as Priest. His Priesthood is on the top of the mountain, then, like the priest prophet Samuel, He moves halfway down the mountain to deliver messages from the top, we encounter Christ’s Prophetic aspects, then in the valley, His Kingship. On the mountain top, half way down delivering what was encountered to the people, then in the valley of His Kingship and managing how the top of the mountain revelation applies practically to the people–that’s the patterns in scripture. You see it with Moses also.

That is the order of authority in Christ’s Own Being–Priest is highest, then prophet, then king. When we pray we are meeting encountering and being transformed by the highest part of who Jesus actually is! That’s reason enough to pray without ceasing. Let’s!

Spiritual Intelligence

Are we growing in spiritual intelligence?

Spiritual intelligence means that we have allowed our minds to be formed and informed by God’s Mind. This happens through His Holy Spirit.

My favorite Paul quote: “The person who thinks they know, does not yet know as they ought to know.” God’s thoughts, feelings and knowings are higher than ours. We are wise to seek His.

He affirms our intelligence, but spiritual intelligence is another matter. The things of the Spirit are known by the Spirit. Spiritual knowledge is revealed by His Spirit. This holds for our thoughts, feelings and imagination. All of them must die to be reborn. Each area of self must come to the altar and be altered!

We come to discern the difference between His thoughts and feelings and our own. As we do, we grow in spiritual intelligence.

You can tell when people have spiritual intelligence versus just smart people. It’s a different type or level of knowledge. Your very best thought is still so much lower than God’s.

When we start to get more of God’s thoughts, feelings and imagination into ours, things alter. I once had a priest tell me, you will begin to feel less of your own pain and more of His. We must do this in each area of who we are—our minds, feelings and imagination. Less of me, more of thee.

The smartest people in history were often spiritually unintelligent. Jesus taught, that many knew the letter, but not the spirit. They knew the law, but not the giver of the Law and His Ways.

Revealed knowledge takes time and prayer. The holy spirit must place it in your spirit. Revealed knowledge is another level of knowing, and leads to greater love of God and others.

Have we yielded our best thoughts, feelings and creativity to God, so that He can transform them into His new creature. To alter us on His Altar in every area!

The truly lasting thoughts of man were revealed by God. The greatest spiritual thinkers downloaded some of the thought seeds of God, they were given some of His keys. A tree is known by its fruit. You think of MLK and the seeds from God he carried, and how they still bear fruit. He had spiritual intelligence.

Perhaps it is most hard for the very smart to lay down their best thoughts and allow His thoughts to inform and transform their own. But this is also true in our emotional and creative lives. Jesus desires to transform the entire person, and that requires us to surrender our thoughts, feeling and imaginations to Jesus.

I had an uncle who was uneducated in the world, but was educated by The Spirit. He was one of the most spiritually intelligent men I ever met. God often uses the simple to confound the wise. Whether we are highly educated in the world, or fishermen like many of the disciples were, we must lay down our thoughts to be formed by His. Perhaps this is why Jesus taught that it was hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. Those who are rich in their own thought life, may be very poor in His!

This does not negate learning and study, as Jesus did both as He grew in wisdom and stature; but it is the nature of our learning. Are we learning, feeling and creating in His Spirit. If so, we will grow in spiritual intelligence. For we are promised that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth! We are not anti-intellectual, but rather like St Paul, who was highly educated first in the world, and then in the Spirit, we have put our best thoughts on the altar, so that we can become wise. Our intellects are in a process of sanctification, as are our feelings and creativity. The whole is becoming formed and transformed by the Nature of Christ.

For many this is a matter of laying down and confessing our intellectual pride, in order to find His Intelligence. We must do this in every area of life. One well downloaded thought of God, can change the world, and will certainly transform us as well!

The tone of knowing, determines interpretation

Interpreting the gospel of John from the tone of his relationship with Jesus!
(interpreting scriptures through the personal spiritualities of it’s writers)

One of my personal keys to true interpretation of scriptures is to dwell on the personal spiritualities of the writers of the book. Not just what they wrote, but where in their relationship with God, did they write it from! What was their personal relationship with God really like—what was the tone of their relationship with Him, and how does this reflect the particular parts of God they revealed in the expression of their writings. Daniel, in the Old Testament, for instance, had a mystic vision, dream life, and study based encounter and relationship with God; he “fixed his gaze to understand” how God works through study and prayer, and mystical experience. He combined dream, study, and practical rulership or management into a unique spirituality of service.

So we overhear Daniel, confessing and praying, and we have many of his visions recorded, and encounters with angels in dreams and trances. He also often focused his interest on the nations, and the timings of the rise and fall of empires and rulers. He was interested in how God interfaced with the rise and fall of empires and nations-the timings of the governments of earth. But was also most concerned with his own sacred people group and their future. He was also interested in the wise men, the sub-culture, placed under his care, after he saved their lives. He was a unique prophetic ruler in many ways.

He read Jeremiah to determine the days of captivity, and met God in study of books. He became a ruler over his subculture of wise men and mystics. He was given a unique position, and one of his first great stunts was to save all the wise men, by telling the king not only the interpretation of his dream, but actually what the king had dreamed—this is one of the best spirit-stunts ever! He was something like a mystic scholar/king. Very unique in Jewish history in that he was prophetic but also a ruler and counselor with a foreign king. Not unlike Joseph.

He reveals to us through his personal story and relationship with God, how God is sovereign over all nations and empires and works directly to bring about His Will, and will continue to work in this way until the end.

Now, when I turn to the gospel of John, in the New Testament, I see a spirituality of friendship that crossed the realms between down here and up there. A sort of mystic friendship that was at the same time very practical and real.

About this version of the gospel of Jesus, which John wrote:

First the tone of the gospel of John reflects, and is centered in his friendship with Jesus while on earth!

Unlike the other gospels which give you more of the facts, the history, the progression of the life and times of Jesus, John gives you the Reality—the signs, the wonders and all the good eternally practical stuff. Then walks you out into where it is actually happening. Gotta love mystical writers—i.e. those who spend lots of time in the spiritual realm in order to interpret and give meaning to the natural realm.
John had that balance.

While Peter focuses us on the spiritual continuum of living hope, which the prophets learned and lean into, based in Jesus future actions on our behalf, John takes us into what He is doing now, and in the past, and in the future, so we can encounter a true context for purpose and meaning daily down here. In this sense, it is the most practical of the gospels. But in an unusual way.

His friendship with Jesus was his basic spirituality. He was a friend of Jesus (Jesus even gives him care of His own mother from the cross), so it makes since, that he went where Jesus was after He died on earth. He went to heaven and kept hanging out with Jesus as a friend. That was the nature of their relationship!

Thus, he wrote from heaven and earth about his good friend. So, we have a very unique revelation of the nature and life of Jesus in John’s writings! I relate to that way. The spirituality of St John makes sense to me. It’s a spirituality based in true friendship and intimacy. That is his challenge for us in our own personal relationship with Jesus as well. Can we become friends with Him, in such a way, He can lean over and tell us what He is really thinking feeling doing etc….

There is no distance in John’s gospel between him and Jesus—they are close. So he starts out with the Cosmic Christ who was there from the beginning, then ends up in the book of Revelation (which i believe he did write, though this is not certain, regardless it’s writer shared the writer of the gospel’s type of spirituality; one of friendship and intimacy!), with the future Christ intervening still with humanity. This revelation is based in friendship. So John stayed with Christ after He died and was resurrected. It is interesting that God let him live a long time as well, and appears to be one of the few apostles who was not martyred, but lived out his life into old age. Maybe Jesus just wanted to be with Him on earth for a longer time than most.

This gospel is unique and authentic linguistically as well. It is the gospel of Jesus the Logos, Jesus the Son of God, Jesus the bringer of Grace and Truth, Jesus the one to follow after John the Baptist pointed to Him. This is a gospel centered geographically around Jerusalem rather than His Galilee ministry, and filled with the signs of Jesus while on earth! Here is the unique way of faith emphasized rather than law. Faith as a new way of entering the realm of God and His Kingdom.

John’s personal spirituality of friendship allowed this vision or knowing to be recorded. It is for this reason a great gospel, and unique in emphasizing certain aspects of Jesus personal life few writers touched or knew, or could express so poetically. His baptized imagination, meant that he could meet Jesus through sight, perception and creative vision and expression.

His imagination, like so many saints, was a place of meeting and communication with His friend Jesus and The Father. Therefore, he was able to both see and express or write the book of Revelation (or, even if he is not the writer, certainly have a clear vision of the Cosmic Christ who was with God from the start!). They had a relationship which included the creative imagination. This is a great area of his personal spirituality that we can all learn from and enter into. He was able to write even that John the Baptist was shown that the man who the image the dove landed on was the Christ. So you see that John the Baptist also had this relationship with Christ through his sight. This cannot be under emphasized in what both Johns were modeling for us! Spiritual sight was a basic and very practical part of their communications with God!!!Our creativity and vision is meant to be a place of meeting God, and part of our basic relationship to Him. We see this in Daniel, and clearly in John’s spirituality and the expressions in writing which flowed and poured forth from it! They understood the symbolic dimension of communication with their God. They had no poverty of imagination!

Here, also, is the sensory gospel of the tactile smell of perfume being broken over Jesus’ feet—a sensuous telling of Jesus’ Life on earth; and in John’s letters we see this tactile quality as well– of seeing and touching the actual Logos who became flesh and dwelt among us, as a human being like us and with us. This is a very Jewish and down to earth gospel, and the most sensual and yet mystical. The Light becoming flesh, wrapping Himself in our humanity, clothing Himself in us, in order to save us!

The one he describes as The Light coming into the darkness. The Logos become flesh. The one who came into humanity which rejected him. Here is the son of man and son of God combined. As Jesus and John were friends on earth and in heaven.
In this way John’s personal spirituality is uniquely challenging for us to know Jesus as friend on earth, and as heavenly King simultaneously. To be both very down to earth, and living in heaven at the same time in our relationship with Christ.

To know Him as both Cosmic Christ and Jesus our friend who washes our feet. As Jesus the wine maker (Cana’s miracle is only mentioned in this gospel). Here is a writer who is both mystic and very practical pastor, caring about the daily needs of others.

Eugene Peterson called John a theologian, poet and pastor. That’s about right. For John was a God-thinker, who had a baptized and prophetic imagination, and a carer for real people with real earthly needs! All three are reflected in his spirituality and writings! And we are challenged to emulate all three aspects in our own lives as well!

We have so much to learn from John’s practical and mystical spirituality about friendship with our Divine and very on and down to earth Lord, Jesus!

Each gospel has its nuances of who Jesus really was and is; but this one is particularly revealing of the Identity of Christ, and worth a deep and encountering meditation!

When we look at the four gospels we have to interpret the personal spiritualities of the writers—what their unique relationship with Jesus was like. We need to sense what part of Him they were intimate with and could therefore reflect and express best. We have Luke the doctor historian, Mark the careful recorder, Mathew the thorough etc….each had their unique way of reflecting different dimensions of who Jesus really was, and is!

And there are windows of the beautiful multifarious Nature of Christ in each. We do well to peer through each window of the writers of scriptures, to know more of the endless Identity of Our Lord and Savior who came to earth and dwelt among us as a real friend and king, and made us children of His Father, and brothers and sisters with Him.

Often people think of mystics as impractical people, but in St John we have quiet the opposite–a very practical mystic concerned with, as he wrote, revealing the true nature of who Jesus was, is and will be always, and what close friendship with Him yields!

When you think of the Bible itself, you see that two friends of God wrote the beginning and end of it-Moses and John (even if some are not sure this is the same John who wrote the gospels, whichever John did write this last book of the bible was clearly a friend of Jesus, and shared the spirituality of the Apostle John. What I am concerned with here, is looking at the spirituality of the writers of scripture and what we can learn and embody of them in our own lives and relationships with God! In this case a practical mysticism based in friendship!).

These are practical mystics, who God chose to reveal the beginning and end of His Book about Himself through! We often divide mysticism and the practical down to earth stuff-we have many false inherited dualisms there. But the bible itself is book-ended by two prophetic people who were close friends of God. Friendship with God, allows us to be both mystical and very useful on earth. For, as John taught us, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us! That’s one of the lessons we learn from John’s personal spirituality with God. We are both salty and in The Light!

Trusting God in Suffering

The Holy Spirit will guide you into the level of understanding that you can handle this day, and at the same time will comfort or even suave you into a way of receiving it! He is both the message and the deliverer! The one who knows how much and in what way you can handle it.

The Holy Spirit filters, and has to simplify what The Father is saying, so that we, as little children, may understand and receive it in a practical living day to day way. God is faithful to communicate what we need daily, to each of us, in a way we can understand, regardless of our situation.

We trust Father to do this in all things, even great suffering. In both our current and future situations, He is our interpreter, and our comforter as we grieve and celebrate the things which we are meant to behold, know and become in Him daily.

St John expressed it like this: (John 16:12-)
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

(So you see that even in the Trinity they have this partially revealing dynamic)

And He did have much more to say to us, and does daily. Even, or especially, in our hardest moments. We will be able to interpret or understand our daily stories, and the grand narratives of which we are all apart.

Some things are more than we can today handle, but we can trust that we will get today’s manna today, and tomorrow’s on that day. What we can handle and heal from is given in portions! The revelation of His Full Face, would be too much, but we can be given glimpses of aspects that we need to encounter each hour.

And He is able to reveal Himself, progressively, in the way we need to know Him each hour! God is faithful to show us the story, and one chapter or instant, at a time. He works in time an real life drama with each of us.

Our prayer today for our many friends who are experiencing a current grief. May the Spirit of truth be our “Guide” today in all we are experiencing. Guide, speaks of someone who helps us walk it out, in pacing which integrates and helps us heal and become, The Spirit comforts and instruct us, in Wisdom, on into the fullness or towards the goal or fruition of our stories! God is able to show us what we need to know to interpret and go on into a deeper Love.

May we come to trust His guidance, HIs Actual Presence as it reveals itself in our own personal languages, even in grief so that even our style of suffering may become a sign to others of hope and trust/knowing in the Living relational God, who communicates daily in the way we personally need-in sickness and in health. In this way, He will turn our grief to Joy!

Petites Tablettes

This week, i felt like writing on small tablets, little teaching seeds, that are easy to run with. Hopefully they will be like a little sunflower seed packet for others who are on the go. Be blessed.

So, here are some little tablets to run with- speed teachings for those with spiritual ADD. Little seeds can still grow big plants, or even trees. I’m practicing condensation this week! Do more with less!

Soil, Sight and Skin are three neglected areas of His Lordship. Our relation to the earth, our imaginations, and our physical bodies are all places of meeting and knowing Our Lord.

Creativity is meant to flow from core true identity. Culture flows from identity.

Identity is hidden in Christ, and therefore eternal. He shows us who we are as we lean into Him. Both our names and our paths are in Christ. He protects and nurtures both. The streams of who we are in Him are trustworthy because of who He is. We are not broken lines in Him. We are not crazy in Christ. We are known seen and loved. Psalm 139—search me and know me. Ephesians 2:10—we are His masterpiece poems. He who made us know us, and can reveal us to ourselves, and share us with others for His Purposes and pleasure. Trust that your identity is held in Him, even when you cannot see the whole narrative yet. He is writing you, and you get to collaborate.

An elder is never worried, but concerned. They know the Father, therefore are in His Peace, even in the midst or clear site of suffering and grief. Elders are commended for knowing The Father. When young we are commended for overcoming or for righteously reacting. In youth, we are defined by what we push against. Elders are no longer pushing against. They simply rest in His I-AM-ness. There is still sadness, but more trust and less rush. Restlessness is worthless to an elder. They have given themselves to the Father, and so become shade for others.
One of the occupations of an elder is to be thankful. Trust breeds thanks.
Elders are also comfortable not knowing everything, but resting in God. So seeming paradoxes don’t bother them as much. Some things just trail into mystery, and they are ok with that. Not everything must be black and white or fully known. For they know the Knower. They lean less on their own understanding, and move from their own best ideas, into trusting His. They have already committed intellectual suicide.
They are no longer being formed in reaction or by pushing against or competition. But are defined rather by being in His Being. They are no longer threatened that His Thoughts and Ways are higher a bigger than their own. In short, they trust God.

The chain of communication. From Father to Son, to Spirit, to revelation to our spirit, down into our soul. Our spirit is higher than our soul, and is in charge of our soul and body. Our spirits should be leading, as they are led by His Spirit through the scriptures and The Holy Spirit. Through HIs Spirit we are led to The Son, and through the Son into The Father. That’s the heavenly hierarchy. There is a hierarchy in the Kingdom. For there is a King who is in charge and above every other name. Spiritual things are discerned spiritually! That is by our spirit talking to His Spirit. We cannot discern by the soul. When we are soul led, we are idolatrous. To lift the soul above the spirit is to raise an idol.

We need to be in God, in order to deliver His Messages. God is One, and wants to be represented as whole. We go up the mountain, and draw very close. Then, if He sends us down into the valley, we stay in Him, and deliver what He has told us, in His Tone. That’s prophetic spirituality. To be close friends with God is more important than doing things for God. We are ones who instead prioritize being with God. God can use a donkey to prophecy. But if we have a spirituality of friendship with God, we may be useful to others. And have His prophetic orientation towards others and the world.

What we will be has not fully been revealed but is already in Him. The way to know yourself is to know God. We lose ourselves-our versions of ourselves-in order to find our true names in Him. We die daily to the false versions of ourselves, to live in our new creation selves. We reject the streams of accusations and enter into the streams of intercession. This is our hourly practice. This is applying the Cross in the area of identity. We confess, thank and get true revelations of who we really are in Him. We then seek to live from our true selves. Then we are able to truly lay down our lives for others. Jesus knew who He was when He endured the Cross. He knew what He was laying down. He was not victimized by the Cross. We should choose to take up our crosses also. But we need to know who we are while doing so, so that we are truly laying down our lives for others. The apostles knew themselves, because God had revealed it to them. So should we.

The spiritually mature are slower to speak, and quicker to listen in Love. They are less loud and more comfortable in His Silence. The Silent Being of The Father. The secret place of the Most High. Elders reside in the I Am-ness of God.

Deeper sanctification includes getting Christ into the whole self. So that He and our true selves are co-ruling within. A deeper embodiment of the Life of Christ is the spiritual journey for us all. The further He comes in, the more I am my true self. Sometimes, we need practices which help us let Him in. That’s our part of working out our salvation. We learn to progressively yield more and more of our lives into His.

Some are in healing seasons, and just need to meet Him working through the grief, necessary confession and forgivingness, and transparency in order to get less opaque. In order to come clear. We meet Him where we are meant to meet Him each new season. If we are in denial, we are unable to confess, grieve and let Him in. This stunts spiritual growth. Confess constantly is what John is teaching in his first letter. He is faithful to guide us to areas in ourselves which still need healing. And He is The Healer, and will make us whole in that area. He who started a good work in you, is able to walk it out into completion! He is faithful.

Knowing what season you are in matters. We need spiritual maps to know where we are in Life, and where He wants to meet us. What is He forming in you now? What part of His Life is He grafting into yours at this moment. We need that GPS to know where we are in Him. Where is He discipling you and how. This is another way of getting to appreciate how Great He truly is. Trust that process. There are lots of good spiritual growth maps stated and implied in scripture.

The whole journey of Israel is one: from slavery, to wilderness refining and training, to the great equipping of Sinai with His Law (growing in knowledge of His Ways), to crossing over and co-reigning through possessing, occupying and cultivating the lands of your spiritual inheritance.

There is an order to occupying each city, and particular enemies revealed in the book of Joshua. Each city (or part of self, area of life etc) had a way God was taking it, and a particular enemy to overthrow. The whole book is a prophetic map of spiritual growth on one level.

Other basic models are John’s blessings of youth for overcoming, and elders for knowing The Father.

When young, we claim the word and do battle to know Him. There is a blessing in doing that well given by John. As older ones, we are blessed for knowing God, and resting in His Nature. This offers clues as to what the trajectory of spiritual growth is meant to look like. It heads towards rest in The Father.

We cannot take land outside ourselves if He has not already taken that land within us! To the degree He has, we will have authority to bless others in that area.

The basic foundations to a theology of the arts are: God is One; Jesus is Lord over every area of Reality, including the arts and imagination; God loves the whole person, including their creativity. The rest are footnotes. The God who is One desires to meet and love, call forth, bless and be Lord over, every area of our lives. He loves our whole being, so wants to meet us in our creativity. He is the Father of the arts.

The Lordship of Jesus over every area of Reality, frees us up to bring His Kingdom into whatever our sphere of influence is on earth. We are no longer divided into sacred and profane. He is One, and is making us one integrated expression. We are free to bring Him wherever He leads us. This is liberating knowledge. In this sense our ultimate calling is to become our true selves in Christ, and walk on the paths He has prepared beforehand to be our way! (Ephesians 2:10) He is already there, when we get there! He is with our future selves, forming Himself in us. We continuously transform as we walk with Him through time. He is Lord over the past, present and future. The Alpha and Omega. So we are free to grow, and go wherever in Him.

Freedom is among other things, correct interpretation! If we interpret our situation from His Perspective we remain free regardless of our circumstances. This is the spiritual contentment which St Paul wrote about. He had learned to be free in every situation whether he had or didn’t have, whether rich or poor, in prison or walking around in the marketplace. He had learned the secret of spiritual contentment-to be in Christ. Freedom involves seeing things and understanding them from His Perspective. This occurs through prayer mostly. When Paul said to pray without ceasing, he was talking about an orientation of being with God in whatever you are doing. This is a freedom practice. It is the walk of faith into freedom.

Performance orientation towards God is deadly. So is spiritual perfectionism. The first resides in the stream of lies about God not approving or really loving us, unless we perform well. In truth, we are simply “included in the Beloved” despite ourselves.The second puts our own soul attempts to do things perfect above His Grace and actual Presence. They both choke the spirit’s growth. Both have to be daily dislodged by His Cross actively. Put to death. We are responsible to be collaborators in working out our salvation; but we can’t perform our way into approval by God. He accomplished this through His Son. His Son is the only Perfect one. Let’s let ourselves off these unnecessary and crippling hooks.

The Bible is primarily a place to meet God. Scriptures contain the categories He chose to reveal Himself in. The book itself is meant to be a place of meeting the Living Word. Letter and spirit ignite the pages! When we meet God there, everything is illuminated! The book needs to become a book in Him for us, in order to understand it. We sit with Him as we read and meditate. We encounter new nuances of Him. It is not just from Him, it is in Him. It is a medium He offered to touch Him through, to come to know and love Him more, to commune through. That’s how to read it, and then it opens up to us and transforms us. Be in love with the One who is in the book with us! Some don’t love the bible, others have idolized it by separating it from Him Himself, but once we meet God through it, we will be lovers of The Word through the word!

In His True Image

Thoughts on the role of the arts in our spirituality…

(His True Image: why the arts really still matter! And how our creativity relates to a spirituality of cities!)

From an article I’m working on about seeing and being in love with cities: Mending the imaginations of our neighborhoods and cities into His True Image, and the role of art and creativity in our relationship with God.

I’m in love with cities! It is possible to disciple a city through it’s imagination! As we engage with God in this, our own imaginations are made more whole in Him!

“Each city and country has its gifts, and struggles, and unique broken but redeemable reflections of certain aspects of The Real. Finding their particular nuances and what aspect they reflect of God, has become part of my spirituality.” (from a book on the theology of cities, I’m reading; to disciple the nations you have to know them and love them first like people!)

Cities are like people to me-on a journey of becoming, in need of love and revelation to know themselves, just like us. I like walking alongside them, and enjoying what they already know, and seeing what they need. Listening to them on their own terms, not mine. Trying to hear them for what they truly are, not through my projections or needs on them.

In my life, I’ve fallen in love with many cities…
Each city reflects unique aspects: Antwerp has creative curious friendship; berlin a strong house for all nations and bold leadership-arm of God stuff; Prague, that sweet song of solomon fragrance, a lover’s attire, and a place of mystical exchanges in conversation; Austin, creative incubator, entrepreneurial catalyst haven…each city has their gifts and their struggles to become. It is a joy to get to know so many places well. So many places still yet to know and love in this life. Perhaps we never finish in loving…

Of course, like people, our very strengths unredeemed are also our greatest weaknesses, or areas of life which are hardest to live out. So the biggest wounds are often where the greatest strengths reside. I like looking there first to know and listen. So a place of friendship, can become insular; a place of leadership can become presumptuous, a place of curiosity can become mentally unstable etc—but just on the other side of these shadows, is the redeemed identity, standing in the Light, and reflecting upwardly. I like to bring salt and light right there. So I can see who the other really is.

I also like to think of how individual’s stories who live in a city, relate to the city’s biography. How our personal stories relate to our city’s narrative has always fascinated me. Why am I here in this place at this moment of our journeys. What developmental stage is my city at, and my own—how do they match and where do they not? I love asking these sorts of questions as I travel.

I have an insatiable appetite to love more places people and things, and to come to know God through them, and let them be loved by God into their true shining..let’s take off our outer masks and get to know one another deep to deep friend. I’m in love with what that outer expression is coming from! As Van Gogh said, “The way to know God is to love many things deeply.”

We are trying to encounter and mend a fuller image of who God is by seeing and loving one another and places more precisely-to see things true, helps them to become truly themselves, for God’s perception heals places. We are doing a repairing of the imagination—how we image God, one another, and the earth itself. One way to do so, is to see one another more accurately through His Eyes. When we see well, we are engaged in healing the imagination of Reality. To baptize our imaginations is an act of healing for the world. When we see accurately, we help things be more truly themselves.

When we were told to disciple the nations, it included cities and their cultural creative dimensions. We were to disciple them into all three Names of God—the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Part of this holistic baptism into all three Names, is to see, perceive and creatively dialogue with one another in love.

We see through His Love, this lens made for the aperture of the spiritual imagination. We must wear it, or put it on (part of the Mind of Christ is His Perception!), so we can see one another more as He does. Otherwise how can we prophecy towards wholeness?! If we cannot pray into this person or city’s future whole self in Christ, how can we be helpful to them?!

This is the use of the imagination in discipleship. Blessed are you church, Jesus says through Peter, for The Father has revealed My Own Identity to you. That is the foundational truth of the church–the true image and identity of Jesus, The Messiah!

The Father had revealed the true identity of Jesus to Peter, so He could “see and know” that He was The Son of God. We are equally blessed when the Father shows us the true Identity of His Son, and as He reveals the true identities of one another through His lens of Love. Creative sight is part of knowing something. We must have the windows of our perception cleansed to see through His Lens! Even to see another person well, requires us to come to Him and borrow His Eyes and Heart for a moment. Then we can truly bless that person.

You see that the enemy tries to distort and dis-integrate our image of others. He pornographizes vision! That is his way. Jesus conversely, clarifies vision. Part of our allowing Him to do so, is to invite Him into our creativity!

This is a key part of the role of imagination in discipleship of the nations. The baptized imagination sees more as He sees, the true identity of other. And can therefore call it forth and bless it into His Name. He is healing the nations through the imagination. We are no longer just using the imagination to carry gospel information, we are actually allowing Him to look out through the imagination and heal the nations. The sanctified imagination is part of what Christ uses to heal the nations. the cities, and the world itself.

Ultimately, we have to get a clear picture of who God is. When we do, we will see what parts of His Life are reflected in others around us, and our cities. And which parts are still being brought into alignment with His True Image. Then we ourselves can start to try on our eternal images, and we can help others put on theirs. By starting to wear our eternal clothes, we begin to imagine ourselves more as He sees us. By helping others try on theirs, we get to partner with Him in healing the nations!

Practices: When we pray, write down or draw what we see about whatever or whomever we are praying for. Gather them, and ask the Holy Spirit to amplify them towards a fuller picture, to fill in the poem of its true being.

Then our seeing becomes a way of getting to appreciate how God sees.
When we walk around our neighborhoods ask Him to draw your attention to things which represent the aspects of Him He wants to draw out and bless in that neighborhood. And which sins still need to be confessed for that area to become a clearer reflection of Him!

When we prayer walk our cities, start to enter His creative dialogue with her central symbols or meeting places. Be part of mending the imagination of your city! See what He wants them to be, if the patterns of sin were removed. Pray and confess those blocks of sin in each place which keep Him from expressing Himself more accurately.


You can do this in small groups or by yourself.
Try to paint or draw, dance, photo, or write how that place would look whole.
There are many other exercises I use, but these are a few.

I often take a camera and sketch pad out as I walk through a neighborhood. I try to photo basic objects which represent the identity of that place. If your neighborhood had three basic symbols to represent itself, what would they be. I focus on that, and then ask Him how He sees them, and try to make my art in response to His answer. Or as a response to what He reveals. The art often becomes an answer. My technique may not be perfect, but the conversation itself reveals things to my spirit about who this place really is, and who it wants to be! That is entering His making it more whole, or healing.

Creative prayer walking, or walking with your imagination engaged in your relationship with Christ, can change the atmosphere of your sphere or domain of influence—your neighborhoods and cities can become a clearer reflection of His True image there. We become reconcilers of the cultural expressions with the core identities of our cities. That integration process is the same which happens on a personal level as you allow God to talk to you through your imagination, or in your creative process. Most artist don’t think about their art making as a place of meeting God, but it is meant to be. As you do so, you find that you yourself also become clearer, and more clearly formed, in this creative collaborative partnership and dialogue with God in mending the imagination of people places and things.

One of the purposes of art is to encounter and know and therefore end up loving God. This is the purpose of every area of Life, but is often overlooked with the creative aspects of our relationship with God. Ask Him to help you meet Him in your creativity. You will be surprised by the increase vibrancy of your own imagination.

The Romantics made the mistake of idolizing the imagination. But since the enlightenment, or before, the church has made the mistake of distrusting the imagination. If you throw out the imagination in your relationship with God, you miss out on much of who He is. Creativity has His Life in it, and that birthing power. We need that force even to re-imagine God Himself. We need our image of Him corrected firstly. One way to begin this process is to make art with God.

Jesus is Lord over the whole Person. God is One, and wants to love our whole selves. Our creativity is included in our relationship with God! Most artist don’t contextualize their creative process in their relationship with God. But that is exactly where it flourishes most. There is also an overt relationship between art and healing.

In graduate school I studied arts and healing. What was missing there was the key Jesus Factor. But when we bring Him into the center of the creative process, when we ask Him to baptize our imaginations, we do find that He heals us through our creative activities. The arts can become both part of our healing, and the healing of the imaginations of our cities!

Some artist are so talented, that they struggle to put their talents on the altar. Others are so intimidated by their own creativity that they never get playful with God and their gifts. Most artist struggle with the need to be seen in their process, and often an acute sense that they were born as outsiders or observers, and often they don’t know why they are in that marginalized position. Of course, Jesus loves the freaks and marginalized, so He is always there waiting to meet them. I’ve discipled artist for over 20 years now, and some of the patterns are the same.

The general enemies in the art world, celebrity culture or entertainment spirit, witchcraft and sorcery are all obvious in most art school programs. How do you value or contextualize your art making process. Is it number of successful gallery shows, is it becoming famous, as it often is for musicians for instance; is it having collective books of your work, is it meaningful collaboration with your heroes? There are many gauges of success offered in art school. But rarely is the depth of which you met and where formed by God the highest aim.

The general enemies for artist in the church world have been named well. Using the arts only for evangelism, to decorate the building rather than express the church’s core identity; the prostitution or using the arts as propaganda for God; the worship entertainment machine, which uses artist’s gifts to entertain people in order usually to get higher numbers in the pews etc. Christian artist have to find a way to place their creativity in a larger Kingdom context, in order to not grow bitter or boxed in by the church’s poverty of imagination concerning the arts. Of course, much has changed in the church over time in regards to the arts, and there is positive expansions of imagination going on even within her more institutional walls. Still, the artist must find a way to keep art making as part of their authentic spirituality, and not get lost in the narrow purview the church often has towards the arts.

I work with people in both the art world and the church world, both ultimately have to contextualize their creativity in their personal relationship with God and in His Kingdom. Since my father is a minister and my mother an artist I have grown up knowing both worlds intimately, and tried to integrate them in Him, and His Kingdom. Since, Jesus is Lord over all the realms and the whole person, and the church and the art world, we are free to create as those in His Image. But we often have no clear spiritual context for our creativity. I see this struggle for christian artist as well as others. The challenge is always to bring your whole self to the One God. And be in relationship and conversation, allowing His Holy Spirit to guide you into understanding and interpretation of your creativity. That is true across the board.

Over the years, I’ve met many very high impact artist and leaders in the arts; some have been part of leading cultural movements. Many of these, still do not have a full understanding or context for their creativity and how it fits into their personal spirituality. I like helping them find His Kingdom context for their creativity. Something bigger than worldly versions of success. And bigger than the church’s “use” of the arts. He is growing the imagination of the church to see how creative He actually is, and how He enjoys dialoguing with His People through their creativity.

Prayer is creative! And a place where His Imagination touches ours. Prayer itself then can become a place where you get to know more of who God is, and how He sees yourself, your home, your neighborhood, and your city. Prayer becomes a way of getting to know and therefore love God more! And your place becomes a medium through which you come to appreciate all He sees. For the eyes of Lord are always watching, and caring for what He Himself made, knows, redeems and loves.

Jesus is Lord over the art world and the church, His Body. His book in which He revealed Himself is a work of art, and we ourselves are said to be His masterpiece poems (Ephesians 2:10). Our very identities are His art. Thus, we are free to create with and in Him in order to be more fully formed into His Nature.

The fuller incarnation of His Imagination in His People, is one of His goals in our times. He wants us to see and create with Him and in Him. When we do, you will see some of the greatest art of all time emerging. Here it comes. He is birthing and incarnating His Imagination more intensely in His People in our times. If they are not open, He will use anyone open to download His Images and Perceptions onto earth!

He wants to incarnate in our imaginations more intensely in our times. This is happening as the darkening of imagination through pornography and false advertising, propaganda, and banal uses of the imagination are increasing—the wheat and tares grow together; the darkness increases, but so does the Reality of His Light! God wants to enter in to our creative dimensions, and make us more fully human in this key area. The arts are not just for artist anymore. They are part of His deeper incarnation on earth, and are a place in which He is preparing a way for His Kingdom to come.