Turning Resolutions Into Life Practices

Light Bulb

What would it take to actually implement our New Year’s resolutions? Resolutions are fine. They are collections of good intentions. But when we actually want to implement resolutions, inward psychological change is required in order to follow through with outward behavioral change.


Simply put, our internal processes directly influence our behavior. The way we perceive a goal strongly influences the likelihood of that goal being achieved. Allow me to share a personal example. For many years I aspired to become a writer. I believed I had something to say; something to contribute which would help this world change for the better. And for years, I was successful…slightly. I produced an article here and there, along with the first few pages of many manuscripts. What I’m saying is that I REALLY wanted to be a writer, but I wasn’t actually writing much at all. Now, I’ve authored five books and am working on more. What changed?

As with all of life, there were many changes which led to major behavioral change. Yet, there’s one change which can help us all turn aspirations into habits. The title “Writer” had to go. Over time I realized that my perception of a writer’s life is a picture of passivity, tedium, boredom, and very little people interaction. So, predictably, when I tried to “be” a writer, I abandoned that project quickly, unconsciously steering myself away from an unattractive way to live. The change in my writing behavior came when I discovered the title “Content Creator.” I noticed I create content for written pieces, but also for many types of training events. My content creating was for sermons, blogs, seminars, workshops, keynotes, and so on. So I began to think of myself as a content creator rather than writer. My perception of a content creator is very active, engaged, and forward-moving. This internal psychological change opened the door to external behavior change.

As we pursue our aspirations for 2019, we will make more progress by stepping back and reflecting. What are our perceptions in the background which influence our behavior in the foreground? Making the time to identify our driving perceptions will save us time spent in frustration and disappointment when our resolutions go south.

So here in 2019, may our New Year’s aspirations become real life habits through changing our perceptions.

It Is About Sex, Just Not That Kind

In recent weeks several conversations on my social media pages have turned to LGBTQ issues. One was not a surprise, since it was about another denominational break-up driven by sexual orientation concerns. Another though was not about sexuality in any way, yet surprisingly and quickly turned toward that issue. Evidently, sexual orientation continues to be on people’s minds. Trying to answer why would take more blog space than I could afford to purchase, so I’ll leave that to the experts.

Instead, I would like to offer more down-to-earth perspective; a more practical and actionable pathway. I’m remembering when I served as a pastor and then as a therapist for the first half of my vocational life. For every one person walking through the pastor’s door or making a therapy appointment regarding their sexual orientation, there were at least 25 others coming through the door to discuss other sexual issues. When pastoring, the majority of my conversations with people experiencing angst, conflict, problems, or otherwise dis-ease regarding sexuality were heterosexual people. Then as a therapist, LGBTQ issues were occasionally the focus of therapy, but couples considering separation, divorcing, or trying to recover from affairs was far more common.

I wish I could lay my hands on the study I read in 2002 or 2003. I can still remember the primary finding….that 40% of people in churches are either actively in an affair (heterosexual type) or have been at some point during their marriage. At the time, I thought this percentage exceptionally high and factually suspect. But then, as a therapist, I can’t tell you how many stories I heard of people starting affairs while they served together on pastor search committees, or on the lay leadership team, or on the church staff. Who knew travelling to hear prospective pastors preach was such fertile ground for infidelity! Rarely were these affairs of the same gender type. Add this to the fact that 50% of marriages end in divorce, with those who participate in church divorcing at the same rate as those who don’t, and it appears the church has a major problem with sex….just not that kind (same gender).

This makes the Church’s current fixation on LGBTQ issues strange indeed. It appears as if we have far bigger concerns to address. Here’s where this discussion takes me.

  1. Sexuality is a powerful drive in we human beings. Surely this doesn’t need written or spoken! Or, does it? Our silence on sexuality when it comes to church speaks volumes. Since sexuality is part of us, being expressed in so many healthy and unhealthy ways, perhaps we should accept ourselves more fully as sexual beings. Just naming this reality as a normal part of the human experience may help us drop some of our dysfunctional baggage when it comes to sexuality.
  2.  If making pronouncements and taking moral stands on issues was a primary strategy for managing ourselves well regarding our sexuality, one would think it would have resulted in better results by now. The traditional orthodox perspective about fidelity in marriage has been taught for centuries, yet infidelity flourishes. Many denominations, local churches, and even individual disciples are fixated on crafting their precise position regarding LGBTQ issues, while nearly half their people are experiencing great pain and heartache due to their struggles to manage their heterosexual selves. Pronouncements by themselves help, maybe, but just not that much.
  3. Perhaps it’s time to refocus our energy. What is it we aspire to as sexual people who follow Jesus Christ? Well, I’m not the go to person with all the answers, yet from where I sit it seems that fidelity in covenant relationships is the ideal. If so, let’s put our energy and effort as churches into helping people toward faithfulness and integrity. Imagine generating more interest in a couples enrichment retreat for your church than for debating same sex relationships on the internet. Imagine starting a men’s group where healthy sexuality and growth in integrity were the primary focus. Imagine robust premarital counseling groups where couples can actually learn about the rigors of marriage before tying the knot. Imagine denominations who redirected the thousands of hours spent on conflicts around LGBTQ issues, with the inevitable fall-out after decisions, shifting their energy to strengthening the faithfulness of heterosexual persons.

One other note: in no way am I minimizing the issues related to LGBTQ persons in the church. Instead, I’m suggesting that we may be focusing great energy and effort on the sexuality of a small sliver of the persons involved in church, while the majority go right on acting-out all kinds of brokenness. Maybe it’s time to lower the reactivity, step back, and take a good long look at what’s really going on regarding sexuality and the Christian journey.

What Happens When A Millennial And Generation Z Type Show Up For Dinner?

Fall Break - Erin and Cami, 2018

I always learn so much when our young adult children are around. This Fall Break we enjoyed a good meal with offspring number 2 and 3, both college students, both Environmental Majors. The conversation turned to what they are learning in their classes, followed by curiosity about what the challenges may be for their generations, one a Millennial and the other Generation Z. Somehow we started talking about the challenges of the Builder Generation who’s focus was building a great society after the last great war. Our parents we part of that generational cohort. Then we Baby Boomers were about discovering our individuality right in the midst of excessively homogeneous suburban culture. Now what will be the significant challenges for our young adult children as they move into the future? Here’s what we identified.

Climate Change – They will need their best brain power to help the human race adapt to a warmer, dryer, and less predictable habitat here on planet earth.

Food Distribution – One informed us there’s enough food produced to feed all 7 billion of us. The problem is distribution and food sharing. Sharp minds will be needed to resolve the tension over food.

Exponential Population Growth – We don’t yet know the extent of the problems which come from this many people on this crowded planet.

Global Problems – As population grows, the planet warms, and technology improves….the human family will face problems which will take collaborative efforts to solve.

Affordable Housing – Fewer young adults see home ownership in their future, compared to their parents’ home ownership opportunities.

So, what are my takeaways from listening to and learning from our bright offspring?

  1. Everything is interconnected, and more so in the future. We clearly see our interdependence in financial markets. When one economy is suffering, world markets react. So, isolationist approaches will hold us back. Going it alone, if that ever was productive, will be even more problematic as large-scale problems rise. We will need our best collective intelligence and collaboration to resolve what’s ahead.
  2. For the human race to do well in the near future, we are going to need more maturity from ourselves and our leaders than before. We are going to need some large-soul people in leadership; those who recognize it’s about the human family, not one particular tribe of humans. We need the best in ourselves to rise to the surface and grow activated, working for the common good of us all. Mature leaders recognize we are all on this planet together, working collaboratively to solve the challenges coming toward us quickly.
  3. We need faith traditions with the power to transform societies and cultures toward the better. If our faith tradition does not include a hopeful vision for humanity (get your escape ticket punched and then just hold on until evacuation day), then it won’t be much use. If our faith tradition solves problems for some people but leaves others out (God bless us, but sorry about them), then it won’t get us to where we need to go. When our faith tradition has the power within it to transform earth and its peoples toward the good, then we can live with hope.

So now I’m praying. I’m praying that emerging generations will take what we’ve given them and improve on it. I’m praying they will become more mature than are we. I pray leaders will rise among them who have expansive perspectives, caring for all God’s children on this planet. In the meantime, life’s not over for me and my generation. It’s time to be the change we hope to see in this world. May we live into our best selves, becoming the people God believes us to be.


When What Was More Good Than Not, Becomes More Not Than Good

After events on the national and world stage this week, I need this word again, remembering Jesus Christ who embraced this life as it is, overcoming evil with love.

mark tidsworth

Ash Wednesday Cross

When what was more good than not, becomes more not than good

When the underside of our kind becomes the upperside

When what was hidden in the dark is disclosed by the light

When leaders disappoint so often our trust-ability may never fully recover

When we recognize our faith traditions are unintentionally complicit with systemic brokenness

When we recognize it’s more about maintaining power and position than living the principles

When our best collective expression of what is good is consumed by our worst expression of ourselves

When our disappointment with the Church tempts us to harbor resentment or become a Done

When we recognize that even what we thought is good in this world is tainted by evil

When we can no longer deny that we are part of this mess

Then we start

Then we start to recognize the Christ

Then we start to recognize the Christ who…

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Bathroom Evangelism

Bathroom Tract

While on a consulting trip to Western North Carolina last week, I stopped by a grocery store which has a Starbucks inside. Before purchasing coffee, I visited their restroom, glancing down, spying a brochure-looking paper sticking out of the baseboard below a toilet stall. After bending down to look more closely, I recognized it as an evangelistic tract.

My first response? “Gross, I’m not touching that without rubber gloves and plenty of disinfectant handy.” One would have to be pretty desperate to reach down for this ill-placed reading material.

Yes, I gave out a few tracts in my early years, thinking they might be helpful. But each time I participated in a tract-giving-group-frenzy, I walked away with a bad feeling in my gut. Certainly I used to hear stories of people who were converted to Christianity through tract-reading, yet I’ve never really met anyone who claims to have read one (besides Christians who are curious or find them amusing).

Seeing this tract, likely placed by someone who’s well-meaning and believes it his (in the men’s restroom) duty to share the gospel this way, raised many questions about evangelism in this Postmodern world. How much money is spent on these? What indicators suggest this is effective in any way? How much energy is spent in this activity? Why does this seem so misdirected? Can’t we do better than this? Is this counter-productive, turning people off to the good news?

Here’s where this experience really took me…evangelism; loving one’s neighbor in the name of Jesus, can be intimidating. It’s so much easier to place a tract in the bathroom at the grocery store, checking off one’s evangelistic duty, than actually engaging others in real life. When we actually endeavor to love people, things get messy and our lives get some of the mess on them. We can’t stay removed, the mysterious person in the background who planted an evangelistic tract and walked away. Loving our neighbors requires involvement; a certain vulnerability.

In this Postmodern world, wherein most everyone is suspicious of those who claim to know something about God, actions have to accompany our words….or better yet, precede words. Words on paper don’t mean much to a society who’s inundated with words on paper. Until we live lives which are different, which do communicate something about the transforming love of Christ, we are discounted right fast. Authenticity, genuineness, presence….these are more necessary than anytime in our lifetimes in order for others to believe there’s anything to the Christian narrative.

So, Christians, no more tracts strategically placed in public restrooms (which no one besides the poor soul who has to clean it would every pick up), please. Instead let’s step outside misguided religious duty and connect with the contagious love of God. Maybe then we will have something worth sharing with our neighbors.

Christ-Shaped Facebook Debating

Facebook Debates Meme

Recently I’ve posted on Facebook about issues of concern, which also happen to be controversial, like gun control. The responses are varied from agreement to silent disagreement. But there is a category of responses catching my attention to which I need to respond. My responding is not for debating them, but because I hope to be more like them when I grow up.

Several people are disagreeing with my point of view, but in such a way that the light of Christ shines through. Clearly they are shaped by their discipleship, given the way they disagree, even in impersonal social media. The content of their argument tends to be similar to others, so that’s not the difference. What’s striking is the spirit of their engagement. It’s more the music below their words.

With reflection, the essence of the difference in them is their care of the relationship. They avoid drive-by shootings in their comments. Clearly their intent is not to hit (make their point) and run (put you in your place, then move on). They assume their relationship with you will continue as it has, so they make their point with consideration for the other. After their engagement with you in social media, even when there is disagreement, you could still sit across the table from them over a cup of coffee. Their goal is not to destroy their opponent, but to collectively pursue insight.

So, I find myself learning much from Facebook and other social media these days. Often I learn how I don’t want to engage others. But from these particular Christ-follower people who are expressing disagreement on my page…I find I want to be more like them. Thank you for ambassador-ing well. Your example is calling out the best in the rest of us.

What Would Jesus Do…At This Protest (WWJD)?


Religion is in the news again. An article by Daniel Burke, CNN’s Religion Writer describes the chaotic clashing of religions and religious beliefs in our current context. This week President Trump declared the U.S. would recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move quickly scraping the veneer off competing religions in that region and here in the U.S. Burke noted the wedding cake controversy from 2012 which is moving through the courts, as well as the Roy Moore spectacle wherein religion is being used as a club by many. See this article at Roy Moore, Jerusalem and LGBT rights: Why is religion so divisive? 

Even more, Burke cites research about the intensity behind religious motivation when it comes to grasping for power or position. Not surprisingly, we humans tend to use our religion to help us get what we want in life. There is a clear stream of self-interest even flowing through our use of faith systems. Our brokenness as human beings shows up even here: in our faith traditions which are designed to help us rise above that very brokenness. Thus, we are living the human dilemma.

All this though, makes me wonder what God thinks. I find myself reflecting on what Jesus would do when it’s protest time. Would Jesus just stay away, being too busy healing and serving elsewhere? Would Jesus march on one side or another, waving signs and staring across the divide at others? Would Jesus appear as desperate as any one of us, scratching for our place in society?

This moves us to the heart of our faith. This takes us to the primary images driving our faith traditions, the Christian tradition in particular. The cross, it turns out, is the primary and nearly universal symbol of our faith. In and on the cross, Jesus most clearly demonstrated what it looks like to love a world gone wrong. His teachings consistently reinforced this crucifixion symbol. Remember his arrest in the garden, telling the disciple to put away his sword (a kingdom not of this world)? Remember all the talk about loving one’s enemies, laying down one’s life for others, and turning the other cheek? Remember Jesus’ invitation to discipleship, including taking up the cross to follow him? Does this look like someone who is protesting to get his rights acknowledged?

No, I’m not suggesting Jesus would avoid the protest. In fact, that’s one of the places Jesus would most likely be; where our humanity is on full display. And I’m certainly not suggesting those protests from the past which embodied Jesus’ principles (like the nonviolent MLK, Jr. organized marches) were misguided. What I am wondering is what Jesus, were he incarnated in the flesh here and now, might do. Perhaps he would

  • Hire a catering company to set up tables between opposing protest groups; inviting all sides to a good meal together, knowing that eating together always breaks down barriers.
  • Set up a listening booth (like Lucy from Peanuts, but without the advice), inviting protesters to tell their stories, listening with curiosity and empathy.
  • Invite everyone into every house of worship if the protest was a march; inviting each faith represented to lead us in focusing ourselves on something beyond ourselves.
  • Ignore his own desire to push for his rights; instead looking for the most powerless and least represented in the crowd and lifting those persons up.
  • Direct his anger toward the religious people who were condemning others because they are not following their rules (see all four gospels).
  • Offering to take pictures of protesters from opposing sides so they can remember their day together.

And who knows what else. It’s strange how powerful our symbols are when it comes to driving our behavior. Certainly this list leaves many questions unanswered. And just as certainly, following Jesus who’s driving image was the cross, makes for a messy existence.

Yet, it is equally strange how the ugliness of the cross can become so attractive in our broken and divisive world. Few of us are drawn to militant religions, driven more by the desire for power than anything else. That image of religion drives so many of us away from the entire organized religion endeavor. But, this Jesus on a cross, taking the suffering of our kind into himself; transforming it through self-sacrificial love. One could follow a God like that.

New Dilemmas for Christ-Followers in Postmodern America


If one’s sense of morality is not being tested at this particular point in history while living in this United States, then that one is not paying attention. On a far grander scale than ever before, those who organize their lives around Jesus Christ, are regularly and starkly presented with large-scale moral dilemmas. The clear and present divisions in this country, combined with the outing of so many powerful people for sexual harassment, along with a president who is willing to exploit the issues churning in the public square to advance his cause or himself…all of this is confronting Christ-following people with major kunundrums rarely experienced on such a large, public scale.

In this kind of context, identifying the questions before us can help. Certainly the way we frame the questions influences the answers, revealing clues about the perspective of the one doing the asking. Yet, that doesn’t negate the need to clarify what’s before us.  Here are some of the more glaring questions confronting us right here, right now:

  • How willing are we to tolerate moral failure in leaders in order to gain political power?
  • How much do we believe the ends (one’s political party being elected) justify the means (exploiting fears and electing dubious characters)?
  • Is there a political party with Christian values? Anymore? Ever? Or has it always been about political power?
  • Does integrity matter in leadership? Or does expediency trump integrity?
  • What does the gospel (good news) mean in this context?
  • Are our churches able to help us navigate these waters; help us collectively struggle with these important issues? Or is the fear and suspicion too pervasive even in church communities to be much actual help to each other?
  • Is there good news in the gospel which transcends one’s political affiliation? Is there good news which endures when one’s country appears to be deconstructing before one’s eyes?
  • How sustaining is one’s faith when that religion appears to only be an extension of a political party?
  • How does it affect our participation when our religion moves from majority to minority status in our country and communities?
  • What does it look like to be a Christ-follower, people who organize their lives around the Way of Jesus, in THIS America?
  • What’s it look like to be salt and light in this crazy American context?
  • When the categories which held for decades (like liberal and conservative) disintegrate, no longer resembling what they were, where to from here? Are categories even helpful at all anymore?

I could go on.

You get the idea.

I believe these are the kinds of questions which come to a people when their culture, political system, and cognitive schemas for understanding their world deform and deconstruct. I don’t believe America will return to its previous state or condition; too much has come to light and broken apart. I do believe many saw this coming; observing major large-scale shifts rising for years.

Given this, one thing I do know. The answers we gave to the questions before this postmodern shift in America arose no longer suffice. Since the former ways of being in the world are going the way of all things, the answers which informed and guided us then are also growing irrelevant.

That’s where hope lives. I believe the gospel is good news for all people in all places AT ALL TIMES. I believe this is the perfect time for the good news of Jesus Christ to guide us in the present. I’m eager to see how the robust, life-giving, good news of this gospel will transform those who will into vibrant examples of human beings, even in a context of deconstruction. May it become so right here, right now.

8 Key Factors For Pastors Considering Establishing Coaching Practices

Coaching Image

More and more professionals use leadership coaching to help them strengthen their effectiveness in their vocations. Over the last ten years or so, pastors have been inundated with invitations to be coached, with many doing just that. We at Pinnacle Leadership Associates coach pastors from many different size churches and various denominational backgrounds every week. Sometimes those pastors are so moved by their coaching experience, they themselves grow interested in serving as a coach. We see their interest as very good news; indicators that the power of coaching draws others toward the coaching profession.

While the interest of pastors in moving into coaching is encouraging, there are specific considerations to engage before making the decision to launch a coaching practice. Over time, we’ve watched (and coached) plenty of pastors who have made, or are making, this move. Observing their process has sensitized us to the pivotal factors involved. We hope the following list saves others effort and perhaps costly unforeseen mistakes, while positioning pastors for effective discernment regarding coaching.

  1. Purpose/Calling – Reflect on why you are interested in becoming a coach. Do you have the kinds of gifts which contribute to effective coaching? How much might coaching be another expression of your calling? How much might coaching be part of your life purpose; an expression of why you are here on this revolving planet? What part of your interest is financially driven? What part of your interest is about building security through an additional vocational outlet? Then, what do your answers mean to you?
  2. Capacity – Reflect on your current work week. If it’s full (whose is not?), then identify the negotiable parts? What might you lay aside in order to take up coaching? By capacity, we are restricting this word to time in particular. How willing and able are you to make time in your week, laying aside other activities, to provide coaching?
  3. Initiative – By now, the coaching field is nearly saturated. We can’t tell you how many coaches are trained and ready, yet are unable to create a client list. So this means successful coaches are people with high initiative. They are able and willing to do the cultivation work necessary to develop clients. Pastors would do well to consider how much initiative (directed, extroverted energy) they have available for developing their coaching practice, while maintaining initiative in their congregational ministry.
  4. Effective Working Agreement With One’s Church – There is nothing good about starting coaching on the side without the church’s agreement or blessing. Before investing significant time and money into the training process, explore your congregation’s openness to you adding coaching to your portfolio. They will want to know if you will coach disciples from your congregation, what the fee arrangement will be, where you will do your coaching, and especially how your coaching work advances or detracts from the mission of this congregation. Prepare well before initiating this dialogue.
  5. Training – There are many fine training outfits available. As you consider your training options, visit the International Coaching Federation’s website, looking at their list of accredited training organizations. These are not the only training programs who can provide credentialing-ready training, yet they are representative of quality training. The ICF does not provide training, instead functioning as the credentialing body. Others, with counseling licenses, may want to pursue the Board Certified Coach credential which requires less training, given their counseling skills which easily transfer to coaching. As you look at training, you will naturally assess your time and financial capacity for becoming a trained coach.
  6. Solo Practice Versus Joining A Group – Many factors influence this decision, though the second and third factors listed here are primary. After determining your capacity level along with the initiative available for coaching work, then you are positioned to decide on going solo or joining an established coaching group. In general, only those with high capacity and initiative will be effective at establishing a solo coaching practice. Solo practices include additional skills like website development, newsletter creation, forms development, billing and collecting fees along with everything else involved in business ownership.
  7. Confidentiality – Most pastors have some level of training around confidentiality, or have learned its significance through experience. Yet, when moving into coaching, pastors discover layers and nuance regarding confidentiality which they have not been required to consider. Reflect on your ability to resist the urge to talk openly about coaching experiences in sermons, social media, and in casual conversation. Our organization has received new coaching clients who abandoned their former coach after seeing the content of their coaching session on Facebook.
  8. Location For Your Coaching – The transportable nature of coaching is wonderful. Coaches work from traditional offices, home offices, church offices, outdoor settings, and coffee shops (to name only a few potential locations). A major factor in this decision is whether you will provide in-person coaching, phone coaching, or video-based coaching. Many of us provide coaching by each of these modalities. A primary consideration which needs to be part of your working agreement with your congregation is whether you will do any coaching from your church office, either in-person or by phone.

Though there are others, we have found these 8 factors are critical for pastors assessing their interest in becoming coaches. One other, which nearly goes without saying, is for a pastor to have a coach. I guess we are assuming this is the case, stoking the interest of pastors toward coaching in the first place. Nevertheless, engaging a coach who can help one consider these 8 factors, and then certainly if one decides to launch a coaching practice, dramatically improves the likelihood of success.

We hope these 8 factors will contribute to your discernment about your relationship with coaching. For those who discern becoming a coach is not their calling, you have done good work by carefully considering the factors involved. For those who discern their calling includes becoming a coach, blessings on the journey as you pursue this life-giving way of serving in Christ’s kingdom.

NOTE: Myself, and our team at Pinnacle Leadership Associates, regularly coach pastors in so many ways. Feel free to contact me at markt@pinnlead.com, 803-673-3634 (Pinnacle President), or our Coaching Coordinator, Ircel Harrison, at ircelh@pinnlead.com.

What I Know Now


“I rather wear out than rust out.”                                                                                                       -Dick Bass, Mountaineer

I’m in shock. Surely I’m not 55 today. That’s only 10 years from traditional retirement age. Though I don’t expect to keep that tradition, the realization of how fast time is flowing is shocking. Yesterday it seems I was only 25. Just, Wow.

Over the last two or three years, I’ve fallen into the practice slipping one particular exercise into as many presentations as possible. Calling it an “exercise” or “activity” doesn’t do it justice, since it often leads to holy moments right there in the event or retreat or presentation. It’s very simple really. At the right time, when people are ready, I ask them what they know. “What do you know about God and God’s ways with our kind (human being Christ-followers)?” No, not what does your systematic theology tell you. No, not what you believe you should or ought to know (don’t should on yourself). No, not what your peers expect you to say. But what is your REAL theology? What do you know deep in your bones about you and God? When you wake up in the middle of the night, anxious and scared, aware of the fragility of our existence….what do you know then which brings peace and allows you to go back to sleep? When you run out of options and your back is up against the wall….what do you know then which empowers you to continue onward? When the wolf is at the door and the door is breaking down, what do you know then which calms the terror in your soul and gives you confidence for living this life? In other words, what do you know about how God meets you in your need?

So, here on my 55th, it’s a good time to share my answers. During those events wherein I ask this question, I provide 4 or 5 insights which I know. Yet today, I hope I’m still learning and engaging and experiencing God. I hope what I know now is what I used to know, plus more. Here’s what I know. Here’s what sustains, empowers, and generally keeps me hopeful as I traverse through this wild wide world.

God’s love is bigger and better than I thought. The boundaries I consciously and unconsciously set around God’s grace have been blown away by God’s fierce love.

Church breaks out in so many unexpected places. As I travel and engage Christ-followers in various places, we instantly bond around Jesus. 

Human beings can stand more than they think they can stand. Our family has experienced deep pain in several ways, travelling through desert wastelands, and yet we were sustained by God’s enduring power. 

The landscape on the other side of pain is richer, fuller, deeper, and more real than on the pre-pain side.

Everyone’s got a story. No matter how good, nice, or pretty their lives look, everyone’s got a story. Working as a therapist for 20 years blasted the illusion that anybody has it all together. And, we human beings are far more alike than different.

Strangely, God grows thick in a room when people drop their defenses and share their stuff. 

Holy moments, times when the veil between us and God grows thin, cannot be manufactured. They have a life of their own. This makes them so much more real when they happen. 

Holy moments; genuine “blow you away” spiritual encounters, don’t happen so often. If they did, I think they would destroy us. I can live off one holy moment for a long time. They are that powerful. 

My belief that one can vision life, then plan it out, has gone the way of all things. Now I discern where the energy and passion are, and then follow. There are too many variables and moving pieces to do anything else. Peace fills my soul when I live by faith.

People are strangely beautiful. They come in so many shapes, sizes, and configurations. There’s no end to the quest to understand them. I’m more fascinated with them than ever. 

People can hurt you when you get up close to them. Being in relationships requires courage. But it’s good courage and the joy of knowing and being known is worth the pain inherent in the experience.

My sense of mystery is growing. There is so much more going on in this universe than I imagined or was told. The more I pursue the mystery, the more wonder and awe fill my soul. 

Jesus was so far ahead of his time that we still have not caught up with him 2000 plus years later. Living in the Way of Jesus is so dramatically different than how we actually live, the best among us is just flirting with it so far. And, simultaneously, we are hungry for living that way and connecting with others who are pursuing that life.

Conventionality is overrated. Every day I care less about the shoulds, oughts, and prescriptions about how this life is lived. The less I care, the richer life becomes. My aspiration is not to become unconventional (still a dependent life position), but to grow more authentic and real. 

I could go on. And I hope I go on. I hope what I know will look very different 5 years from now. But for today, this is what I know. What about you? What do you know that sustains you day in and day out? I’m curious to know.