Posts Tagged: "sorrow"

The Great Stripping Away (or—how I lost some of my faith)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thankful Notes (#23)

I will always think of this past year as the Great Stripping Away. There were things I intentionally chose to remove from my life, there were things that just happened naturally and in their season, and there were things that felt more forceful, not in my control… more like a taking rather than a giving or letting go.

This past year…

We sold our big 3,000sf home of 10 years in the neighborhood where Ashah grew up

We gave away most of our furniture

I gave away 3/4 of my clothing

My dad started having memory problems

Ashah graduated / turned 18 / has boyfriend / is heading to college – including a study abroad program

We began a complete gut-and-remodel of our little lake house while living in it… which included no heat or water during the snow storm and power outage this winter

We had to move out for some days when the staircase was gutted (leaving no access to bedrooms and the only remaining usable bathroom)

The main level of our house had no walls, no insulation, no lights, etc. for a while

I slept on a cot in the construction zone for a month or two

We had no kitchen, no way to prepare food at home other than with a microwave

We ran out of money to pay contractors and had to borrow in order to keep going

We began a remodel on our rental house so we could sell it

We sold our rental house

We decided to close our Kent campus after some significant setbacks – the youth pastor left to work at another church and took much of the band and our workforce with him; at the same time, an elder/pastor left because of a pending divorce

The church I grew up in, now a multi-site megachurch in our community, hired our youth pastor without any prior contact or conversation with me. Our youth pastor left to work at one of their campuses and took… Read More

Maybe The Worst Days Are The Most Important Ones

I’ve been playing around with this idea… what if our worst days – the ones we would cancel if we had the power or ability to – were, in fact, the most important days?

There’s a growing trend with churches in our area to cancel services on the Sunday following Christmas. One leading church has been doing this for years – they now call it “Volunteer Appreciation Sunday.” I think what they’re saying is: thank you for volunteering all year – our gift to you is a Sunday off.

I’ll be honest. I’m skeptical.

I think the real reason for cancelling services isn’t gratitude. I think it’s… Read More

Your Problem Is My Problem

- - Uncategorized


I love those stories of family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, or classmates, who—in an act of solidarity with one who has lost all their hair because of cancer and radiation treatments—shave their heads too.

It’s such a visual and tangible representation of “We’re standing with you in this.”

Solidarity is a chosen unity that produces shared interests and objectives.

In other words, solidarity says..

Your problem is our problem.

Your victory is our victory.

Your need is our need.

Your joy is our joy.

Your lack is our lack.

Your gain is our gain.

Your sorrow is our sorrow.

Your celebration is our celebration.

Jesus is the perfect example of this solidarity that says, “I am with you in this.” He came and lived—as one of us. He came in compassion—to heal us. He came in mercy—to pay for our sins. He came in love—to make it possible for us to be the family, the family of God.

The actions of Jesus said, “Your problem is my problem.”

Now, as the family of God, we are called to this same way of living…

Solidarity with others—with the least of these. We enlarge our circle to include; we are one. This is the kingdom way.

The Bible warns us against creating small circles of insiders, vigilantly protecting the exclusive membership roster. There is no “us and them.” There is only “us.”

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? If you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. —James 2.1, 9 NLT

Jesus, just before going to the cross, prayed for us. In this prayer, he repeatedly asks that we “Be one.” Interestingly, He wasn’t praying for a particular number of people—but an ever-increasing, enlarging circle of people—that we “Be one.”

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one. —John 17.20, 21 NLT

I recently finished Gregory Boyle’s book Tattoos On The Heart: The Power Of Boundless Compassion. He is a Jesuit priest, and founder of Homeboy Industries—a gang intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world.

The final chapter of his book is titled: Kinship. The following are excerpts…


Mother Teresa diagnosed the world’s ills in this way: we’ve just “forgotten that we belong to each other.” Kinship is what happens to us when we refuse to let that happen.

No daylight to separate—just “us.” Exactly what God had in mind.

Often we strike the high moral distance that separates “us” from “them,” and yet it is God’s dream come true when we recognize that there exists no daylight between us. Serving others is good. It’s a start. But it’s just the hallway that leads to the Grand Ballroom: Kinship—not serving the other, but being one with the other. Jesus was not “a man for others” – He was one with them. There is a world of difference in that.

No daylight separates us.

Only kinship. Inching ourselves closer to create a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased.

The wrong idea has taken root in the world. And the idea is this: there might be lives out there that matter less than other lives.

We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.

Kinship is what God presses us on to.



This is exactly what God has done for us.

And it is exactly what he wants from us—that we stand with others, declaring…

Your problem is my problem.

If we don’t, we have a powerless religion—and we are just full of hot air.

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. —James 1.26 MSG

Words aren’t enough. Simply praying that hurts would be healed and the hungry would be fed just doesn’t cut it. We must stand with the hurting and the hungry in solidarity because they are “us” and this is our problem.

Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? —James 2.17 MSG

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress. —James 1.27 NLT

In God’s family, the orphans are our children and the widows are our mothers. They are “us.”

Wrapping up, just a little more from Gregory Boyle’s book…

The strategy of Jesus is not centered in taking the right stand on issues, but rather in standing in the right place—with the outcast and those relegated to the margins. Compassion is always, at its most authentic, about a shift from the cramped world of self-preoccupation into a more expansive place of fellowship, of true kinship.


imagine life overflowing 2013 work no 2