On the Morning After…

the winners will celebrate, the losers will evaluate, and the problems will remain the same. We’re in debt more than our entire economy can pay and spiritually living off the fumes of a morality we’ve decided to jettison. The bill collector is here and we’re stuck fumbling around our pockets trying to find something besides lint.

You’d think that someone would be seeing all of this and saying “This is nuts, we can’t live like this.” Yet the word on the street is still “There’s more of everything and less of whatever you feel might restrict your inhibitions.”  Just one step farther, Just one more denial of reality. A little more bending of the natural order should do the trick. Walk towards the deep end and just hope that somehow, something, technology, the economy, a new discovery, will help us grow the legs we need to keep from drowning.

It won’t work, of course and it doesn’t make a difference who proposed what. Over the flow of human history the natural order of things cannot be denied any more than building cities along the ocean can prevent storms. Something will have to give and deep down inside we know its true even as we do our best to pretend its not really happening.

There is, however, a way but its not a political, economic, or social way out of all of this mess. We have to be transformed, each of us, from the inside out by something larger than ourselves because politics, economics, and social tinkering are just too small to do the job the way it needs to be done. There is simply no god less than God who can make this happen.

Of course this path, this way provides no money for people building the useless junk they say we need to be happy, It also provides few followers for the peddlers of utopian politics. So the larger world, so invested in its delusion will will fight back, hard.  It’s difficult too because we’ve all been so bent out of shape by all of this that getting back even to some semblance of right will take much effort.

Yet it can be done. .

Come unto me all you who are burdened and heavy laden, Jesus says, and I will give you rest. That, according to Jesus, is where the real fix starts, the real change begins, and the substance of what you were looking for emerges.

Find this and you’ll leave the morning after for the morning that never ends.



The one thing needful
(From the spiritual diary of St. John of Kronstadt, “My Life in Christ”)

What do I need? There is nothing on earth that I need, except that which is most essential. What do I need, what is most essential? I need the Lord, I need His grace, His kingdom within me. On earth, which is the place of my wanderings, my temporary being, there is nothing that is truly mine, everything belongs to God and is temporal, everything serves my needs temporarily. What do I need? I need true and active Christian love; I need a loving heart which takes compassion on its neighbors; I need joy over their prosperity and well-being, and sorrow over their sorrows and illnesses, their sins, failings, disorders, woes, poverty; I need warm and sincere compassion for all the circumstances of their lives, joy for those who are joyous and tears for those who are in tears. Enough of selfishness, egoism, living only for oneself and acquiring everything only for oneself: riches, pleasures, the glory of this world; enough of spiritual dying instead of living, grieving instead of rejoicing, and carrying within oneself the poison of selfishness, for selfishness is a poison that is continuously poured into our hearts by Satan. O, let me cry out with King David: Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee. My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart. Grant me, O Lord, true life, dispel the darkness of my passions, disperse their power with Thy strength, for with Thee all things are possible!

We Live in a Culture…

of anecdote, a life lived away from a larger narrative. Yet a larger narrative is a kind of stability that keeps us from faddishness, from having our lives jerked from one compelling but temporary story to another. It’s very hard to live a life of all exceptions and no rules, a life of individual moments without a larger explanation.

We live in a world of human drift because a story that feels good at a particular place in time might not have the wisdom, the strength, and the insight to last, leaving the one who lives it constantly on the move from one unsatisfying narrative to another. Left unchecked it can give birth to a world weary cynicism, a life where one believes nothing because everything else has failed to be enduring.

In this sad place there is, however, an invitation. Restless hearts can find a rest in God if they listen to their cynicism and emptiness and hear within it the call to a larger and more enduring story. Anecdotes come and go, truth remains, and Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”


we watch the TV while somewhere else the storm rages. It’s quiet here in this part of the country. No ocean, no hurricanes, no lights, camera, action. Minnesota is far away and safe from all of this, tucked at the top and the middle of everything.

Sometimes its good to live in fly over country. No, we don’t get the TV weather coverage they’ll get in New York.  We can have two feet of snow and 60 mile per hour winds and the networks will give us 20 seconds tops. Yet there is a quiet here away from the coasts that pays us back for not being in the eye of whatever happens to be the current storm.

We’ll keep you in our prayers, all of you who are hunkered down in the face of the winds. We know lousy weather here in the upper Midwest and we sympathize more than you know. And when the time comes we’ll roll up our sleeves and help as we can because that’s what we do.

Yet if the bright lights and tall buildings are in New York City, and they are, there are times when its better not to be in the center of everything. Tonight is such a time. Storms come and go, but tonight everything is quiet in fly over land.

Psalm 16…

Psalm 16

Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Owner of a Broken Heart…

Back to the doctor’s office yesterday because my heart had been fluttering around for several days. EKG. Stethescopes. No emergency. Stress test next Wednesday. I think this will be the third.

Let this cup pass away from me…  Yet it apparently is not to be. Genetics. Stress. Who knows but it seems my heart is from now on going to be at the center of my life. I listen to it, feel it, pray about it, and every so often I head into the doctor’s office to get in checked out.  Never the less thy will be done…

The first time your heart starts whirring around your chest its terrifying. No one pays much attention to their heart. It’s just supposed to be there, silently ticking away, awake even when you sleep. Palpitations are a rude interuption to all of that. The bottom part of the heart is trying, in my case, to help out the top by pushing harder.  That push means you’re alive, that the back up systems have kicked in. That’s good but it feels like the whole thing is going to explode.

Over time you get more used to it. You can just tell when everything is in sinus rhythm and when things are fluttering. The fluttering is not fatal, its just annoying, and its a sign that one day your heart, like everyone else’s, will eventually malfunction without the capacity for repair.

Obviously I don’t like that. Who would? I have a little thing inside my chest that tells me one day my systems will fail. I would like to live for years and years just out of curiousity for whatever comes next but those little bumps remind me this is not to be, for me, or for anyone else for that matter.

Perhaps God is His good grace will see fit to divinely heal that which has been broken by sin. Yet if that is not the case I have no intention of cursing God and dying in response to this setback. My life was, is, and always will be in His hands and I know that He loves me. If the worst were to happen, and I’m a long way from the worst, I hope it would be quick because I tend to ponder things too much. Yet where can I go where God’s love is not? Ultimately I will trust that God knows me in all my strengths and my brokenness and loves me.

And that’s the gift in all of this. In easy times the heart and mind can wander, drifting away from all that the important and good and from the One who is goodness Himself. We labor under the illusion of our own strength. We forget the larger and eternal things. Everything gets out of focus.

There’s nothing like being attached to a heart monitor to dramatically make everything real again, especially God. There’s no way for me to fake it, no sweet smile to make it all go away. I can see my heart beating, each flicker of light one more second of this life. I need God, not just an accessory but because I am afraid, can’t often see beyond my shoes, and I’m trying to make sense of it all.  I need a place to rest that is beyond me, because”me” is the owner of a broken heart.

As the journey continues I will not give in to despair. There may be no answers to “Why me?” but I have a life wish, for this life and the next. I plan on grabbing hold of Jesus with a, pardon the pun, “death grip” and stay as close as I can until whatever breath is my last arrives. Whether I live to be old or discover that time is not on my side His life will be mine, not because I deserve it but because I have sense enough to take the Gift when it is offered.

Until that day when I am called Home I plan to live, and love, and enjoy, beacuse that, too,  is God’s gift to me.  After all, nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ. Let the future present itself. I am in good hands.

Dear Vikings Fans…

it’s a pretty good feeling to be sitting at 4-1 right now, especially after last season and the tough times we’ve had. Let’s enjoy it but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The NFL is designed for parity, that is a deliberate attempt to spread the wealth when it comes to wins. Not so good teams, like last year’s version of the Vikings, get easier schedules the next year. Good teams, like last year’s Packers, get harder ones. The idea, at least in theory, is that on any given Sunday or any given season the wins and losses MAY be spread around and people will keep on paying attention to a team because there is a probability of winning or staying in contention. Of course, it doesn’t always work this way, but it’s designed to have us believe that this year our team could win and that keeps the money flowing.

Yet we Vikings fans seem to run hot and cold. Win a few games and we’re off to the Super Bowl. Lose a few and we want everyone fired. I get it, we’ve come close but have never made it to the top. So we desperately want our team to win even as we brace ourselves for disappointment. There’s a better way.

Simply enjoy each game, one at a time, neither projecting success too far ahead or collapsing in despair. Have fun on Sunday, yell, be with friends, cheer the team, and have a good time. Each moment of success is a plus, and when a loss comes, and it will, don’t write off the team forever. It’s just football. If the whole thing gets out of hand why just take a good walk outside and get some fresh air.

That all being said, this season has been, so far, a nice ride and I hope it continues. There are some tough teams ahead in the schedule and the meat of the divisional play doesn’t come for a while so just hold on and enjoy the trip.

Skol, Vikings!