A Healthier Approach to My Spirituality

My whole life I’ve had preachers tell me I needed to “crucify the flesh” within me in order to be close to God. “Yes, He is always present, but it’s His MANIFEST Presence that is cut off from us because of our sinfulness.” The solution? Lots of time in isolation crying out to the Lord. Continual pleading for forgiveness. Subjective experiences with the power of the Spirit that would hopefully, finally “mortify” at least some of the power of sin over my life…

A Broken Pattern

I bought into this kind of messaging and I put it into practice. I would hunger and thirst after the manifest Presence. I desperately spent endless hours confessing and renouncing my failures, asking God to cleanse me of every wicked thought or deed. And I chased manifestations of the Spirit like they were Pokemon… “Gotta catch ‘em all!”

Truth be told, there wasn’t much I wouldn’t do at that time for a spiritual high or for a reassurance that I was currently “right with God.” The problem was, it was all temporary. It was cyclical. I’d sin, or even just feel what I perceived was a temptation, and I’d be reminded again of my depravity. I was acutely aware of the apparent distance between myself and the One I wished I could better serve. Any security or assurance I had previously felt would escape me, and I’d be stuck in a mental battle with “conviction” until either 1) I started feeling like I was performing better or 2) I started thinking I’d had a revelation on how to get it right the next time the devil came to test me.

If I ever did seem to succeed at walking in obedience and in peace for a while, I was made to second guess myself by sermons telling me that I needed God to search my hidden motives all the more. After all, “nobody is perfect!” I wouldn’t want to get prideful!

My perpetual prayer was for God to transform me. To deliver me. Essentially, to fix me. All the while, I believed I was “legally justified” and technically in right-standing with God. I just couldn’t seem to get such ideas to bring me consistent comfort.

A New Message

Eventually, I came across some crazy grace-preachers who were preaching a message I’d never heard before… A message that struck me as heretical at worst, or “out of balance” at best. Like Paul, they taught that I was already thoroughly “dead to sin and alive to God” (Romans 6:11,14). That I am no longer “in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God is within” (Romans 8:9). That Jesus actually finished the job of crucifying my old self, and now “it is not I who live but Christ who lives within me” (Galatians 2:20). That, by some mysterious miracle 2,000 years ago, I “have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). According to these guys, I “have been made complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:10)… Most confounding of all, they said I couldn’t be any closer to God than I already am, for “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1st Cor. 6:17).

At first it was hard for me to stomach these radical, absurd notions. Nevertheless, I quickly began to recognize that the depths of my being overwhelmingly resonated with such truths. In a variety of ways, the Spirit of God clearly gave His stamp of approval to these teachings over and over. Through Scripture, I further began to find that these concepts were not just “part” of the Gospel. My research revealed that these concepts were ALL over the whole New Testament (and in much of the Old) — infused in the entire proclamation of Christ’s work.

Slowly but surely, I began a serious, intense religious detox. I was “deconstructing” before it was ever a buzzword. All the while, I fell more and more in love with the person of Jesus and more convinced of both His utter goodness and His insane loyalty to me.

Laying aside my self-righteous piety, I broke up with spiritual desperation. I abandoned my BS repentance rituals. At last, I let go of my confused commitment to what I called “self-denial” (which was really just self-loathing and shame with a nice coat of paint on it).

Very New Results

And would you believe it, my sense of connection with God improved exponentially. I started becoming aware of His nearness and activity in every area of my life — every day. Even on my worst days. I started having many more wild and frequent manifestations of the Spirit and His gifts in my life too, to the degree that I had to get used to NOT having dry-spells anymore. Confoundingly, despite being told that my willful, ongoing sin would push Him away — I even felt close to the Father when I recognized I was practicing bad habits! 

Over time, this all helped me only want to invite Christ’s leadership into my decisions all the more… I welcomed His input on my choices, not because I was still afraid of what would happen to me if I didn’t do so. Rather, it was because I was genuinely confident that He was invested in my well being for the long haul, through thick and thin.

Somehow, all these changes further gave me confidence to become more authentically vulnerable with both God and with other people. I generally quit shying away from discussing my weaknesses, failures or embarrassments. Because of that, I started developing a level of intimacy in my friendships that I didn’t even dream was possible. In the process, I came to see self-acceptance and Christ-like self-sacrifice as working together in harmony (instead of being in tension with one another).

I still embrace the need to address areas of dysfunction in my mindsets and behaviors, of course. Nevertheless, I’m done trying to in any sense improve on who I am. With that, I’ve completely ceased feeling like I get out of touch with God’s nearness! My prayer-life has only been enriched, and with so much less effort than it ever took me in my adolescence…

No Barriers to His Presence

My point in sharing all of this is to encourage you to stop buying into confusing, self-contradictory, mixed-messaging. Give yourself permission to take a deep-dive into the unconditional love and unmerited favor God so freely gives to you. Further, carefully filter through any voices that tell you there are prerequisites or qualifications needed for you to experience oneness with the Lord. 

If we can just quit tripping ourselves up with traditions and arguments that deny the Finished Work of Christ’s Cross, we CAN experience a more substantial satisfaction and contentment in everyday life. Even on our worst days and in our hardest seasons! After about a decade of living this way, I can guarantee it is real and it is better than what much of the evangelical and Charismatic world portrays as possible on this side of the age-to-come.

Lean into the faithfulness of God. He is here, He is for you, and He is endlessly accessible. He refuses to define any part of you by your decisions, and there are no barriers or obstacles standing between the two of you.


Dream: A Pointless Journey


I dreamt that I was standing at the bottom of what appeared to be a very tall hill. I had to climb it if I was ever going to reach the “Promised Land” I had been told about. The land was said to be a rich, lush, green valley. It was full of refreshing rivers, fruit and rest for my soul. I had a sense that it remained ahead of me, somewhere just beyond the ridge of the hilltop. The only way I knew how to get to it though was to move forward, struggling up the climb before me.

I began to march up the mountainous hill with countless other wanderers journeying along side me. Apparently we were all seeking the same endpoint. We’d all been told the same kind of message and none of us questioned it.

Pretty quickly in my ascent up the incline it become too steep to hike upright on. I adjusted my posture and began to crawl up the hill, hands on the ground like a bear. I still thought it would be a pretty doable journey. Over time however, the hill steepened even more.

I eventually found myself bouldering the hill like a rock-climber. At one point I was stretched out almost completely vertical — hanging onto the hillside with all my might as I reached upward. I was starting to get very tired. Somehow I hadn’t expected it would become this much of a challenge. I was exhausted…

Suddenly the loud roar of an engine ripped through the air. I looked up, and far above me, over the top of the hill, a couple massive vehicles appeared. They were specially-crafted machines, looking something like the hybrid of a tank and a large four-wheeler. They’d clearly been built just for this sort of intense terrain.

Someone was shouting from one of the vehicles, “It’s no use!” I stopped to listen to what they were saying. “Turn back! It’s no use! We’ve climbed for so long, and it’s an endless desert up here. It doesn’t ever get better — no matter how far you search!” Continue reading “Dream: A Pointless Journey”

“The Invitation”

Do you hear it?

He’s calling.

His voice keeps reaching out to you. To me. To us.

Just listen for a moment…

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.

Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.

Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

(Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Bible)

Jesus is constantly inviting us all to enjoy his friendship and apprentice with him. He wants to teach us how to live more fully. How to break the cycles and quit wearing ourselves down.

His invitation is easily drowned out by the noise of life’s business, but it’s also the only antidote to that very noise. It’s an invitation to take a whole new approach to doing things…

Christ is inviting us to a more restful, quiet, undistracted life. He’s inviting us to a more rhythmic, routine, simple life. He’s inviting us to a life of greater fulfillment, meaning and contentment in the here and now. That is, instead of always reaching for the next big thing that offers to satisfy us.

Jesus is inviting us to prioritize relationships over accomplishments. Quality time over time getting tons of things done and living with a constant fear of missing out.

He’s inviting us to let go of pressure and demands, and to learn things like humility, authenticity, contemplation, and stability (the kind produced by trust, rather than by our mere human “grit”).

He’s inviting us to learn better self-care so that we have more to give to others. He’s also inviting us to bond more closely with others, and to learn and grow in nurturing community together. He’s inviting us to stick with the process, and to “go low and go slow.”

And he’s inviting us to fall deeply, madly, obsessively in love with him — for his joy and our benefit.

Don’t rush past the invitation when it catches your attention. Yield to it. His offer is the offer of eternal life, abundant life, ever unfolding within your present life. It’s worth following along.

He’s only got your good in mind… your peace and your wellbeing.

Don’t worry about what your “calling” is and how to fulfill it. Just come with him. Come to him. He’s got so much to keep teaching you.

You Are Not What You Contribute

You are not what you contribute.


I know the world tells you the opposite. Every social media influencer, every motivational speaker, every “creative” and “thought leader” repeatedly puts out the same message. They assert that you’ve got to get your grind on and contribute SOMETHING to the world today in order to make your life meaningful. But it’s actually not true.

If you were an infant, a child with severe down syndrome, an elderly person in a coma, or even just a full-time janitor who no one ever noticed — guess what? Your life would still be significant. That’s because your personal value is not based on the sum of change that you create. You are infinitely loved for who you ARE, not what you do.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to create. I love to encourage others to release the powerful energy within them too, for the betterment of the communities around them. I genuinely believe we all have something special to offer in some form or fashion that can bless and benefit others. We’ve got to keep in perspective though that all of that is the overflow of who we already are. It is not what defines who we are. Our value does not increase based on how much positivity we are exuding or how much good content we materialize. We are valuable because of the divine beauty seeded within us, whether or not it is ever fully seen for what it is by society.

So yes, go make your impact. Go share your voice and give people tons of inspiration. Be love, even as you are loved. But feel free to take plenty of time to just breathe and to just receive unmerited grace too. You don’t have to crank something out to be important. You matter just as much when you are sleeping as when you are touching lives and killing it at fulfilling your calling.

r e a l i t y

In darkness I fall asleep

Restless I may be

But I sink into your embrace

And dream within your heart

I awake, and new mercies greet me

And it happens over and over

Night after night

Morning after morning

From glory to glory


You meet me in my rising

You catch me in my falling

In my highs and my lows

Mountain tops and valleys

Your presence is inescapable


When I’m soaring, you are everywhere

When I make my bed in Hell

Again, I find nothing but you there

In ecstasy, in sublime delight,

And when I land at rock bottom

This Spirit remains the ground of my being

The surprise of your voice, never ceasing


In trusting

In clarity

In doubt

In wandering

At every turn

In every season

I am not alone


Encounters at my right

Signs upon my left

Surely goodness follows me




There is no more reaching for Heaven

Heaven’s grip is firm on me

There is no more seeking infilling

I’m in you and you’re in me

I’m as full as I will ever be

It’s an everyday discovery


There is no veil between us

No walls

No offense or separation

Grace has cleared my vision

And more and more I see

You are Immanuel


This is my breath

This is my life

This is my confidence

My deepest conviction

I am in Union

I’m caught up in Trinity

This is my daily bread

My eternity


Thank you for nearness

Thank you for here-ness

I recognize

I receive

And I live in appreciation




I am yours

And you are mine

And this is love

This is


Repost: Free Verse Poetry

The following is one of my favorite poems that I’ve written. It was previously posted on an older blog of mine.

“Listen to Me”

You have so much worth and value
Can you fathom how much you mean to me?
I look into the windows of your eyes
And inside is an endless realm of beauty
Just waiting to be explored
I tell you this over and over
Still resistance is all I receive

Now your face is downcast
Your countenance – guarded, hurting
You’re trying so hard to prop up those walls
To ward off anything that could end your poverty
Presenting an air of cool confidence
You claim you’re working through your issues
But your hours are spent wallowing in pity
Rationalizing despair and hiding from all who care for you

Please, join me
Help me in fighting for yourself
Welcome the hand of grace
Let it into the deeper place

I long to search out the gold within your heart
To help you uncover all that’s buried inside
Just stop holding onto the ghosts that haunt you
Let truth be the guide of your life

I will not stop
I will not give up
If I have anything to say about it
You will find hope
You will find love
Because you belong with me

Open up, I plead
Give me ear
Let winter come to an end
The Kingdom is coming near
It’s at hand
Just reach out
And I’ll take the lead

Trust me
And believe
I’m right here
And I’ll never leave
No, you are loved
And you always will be

Will you just listen to me?