Category: Transcendence

Our Highest Priorities and Deepest Values

Our Highest Priorities and Deepest Values

searching for westThanks to my colleague, Jim Hughes, for spotting this gem. As an outdoorsman and father it’s right up his alley.

At Peregrine we help men identify their highest priorities and deepest values, and then guide them to make courageous decisions to live by them. One of our organizational values is to regularly engage in the adventure and glory of God’s creation. We also call men to passionately live out the roles they have in life: son, brother, husband, father and grandfather.

We urge you to take the time to view this spectacular short film, Searching for West, and follow this man’s journey towards significance. The profound challenge to identify his deepest priorities and values and the courage to live by them is an inspiration.

All of us find ourselves facing competing priorities for our time; and frequently both priorities are great ones. How do we decide which to choose?

Dangerous Play

“What did ‘play’ mean for you as a boy? What does it look like now?” Those were the deceptively profound, seemingly innocent, questions posed to me, and a group of men, at a Brotherhood Adventure last week in the Poudre River Canyon, west of Fort Collins, CO. By the end of the conversation I thought, […]

Saying Goodbye to Parents, Part V (What I Think God Would Say)

Saying Goodbye to Parents, Part V (What I Think God Would Say)

StormWhen we come together at a funeral to honor the loss of our father, our grandmother, our daughter, or our friend, we deeply grieve the loss of that person. But I believe there is a much bigger story taking place at the same time. There is a deeper ache in our hearts:

We are not only grieving the fall of the person whose life we honor; we are grieving the fall of all Creation.

On a human level we grieve illness, frailty, loneliness, heartache, loss of awareness, even the loss of decent human dignity. But at the same time we are grieving the horrific, tragic turn that God’s Creation has taken. Our loved one’s death is just the most recent and most painful reminder.

I want to share with you 3 messages I’m convinced God wants us to hear from him as we mourn the loss of those we love:

1. The first message is, “I know how you feel. Me too.”
“I made you in my image; I’m the one who gave you emotions like the ones I have; like the ones you feel right now. I know what sadness, grief and pain feel like. Those come directly from my own heart.”

Friends, there is a way in which we tend to think God doesn’t experience the deep emotions we feel. We might think God and the rest of the Trinity are removed from what we carry in grief. I don’t believe He is at all. Scripture tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…” (Heb. 4:15) In describing Jesus Isaiah called him, “a man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief.” (Is. 53:3) Even his own Spirit “intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Ro. 8:26)

Every life lost to age, every miscarriage, every victim of famine warfare or disease, every one of these lives is a life he created specifically, intentionally. He knit them together in their mother’s womb. (Psalm 139) Every one is a child he dearly loves as Heavenly Father.

He knows the pain, not only of loss of life, but of the brokenness and indignity of life that so often pierce us. I believe these pierce the very heart of a loving Father even more than they pierce us.

I believe God says to us, “I know how you feel. Me, too.”

2. A second message God has for us is, “This is not what I intended for you.”

“What I intended for you is exactly what I built your heart for, and exactly what I gave you. The Garden: beauty, fruitfulness, unimaginable union with me, endless joy. It’s no wonder you feel the way you do. This is not what your heart longs for.”

Friends, what God designed our hearts for is spiritual experience beyond the limits of a fallen earth. Transcendence. Sadly, what we chose through Adam and Eve was distrust, shame, and hiddenness. Fallenness.

The painful gap we live with is the gap between what God intended for us and what he allowed us to choose for ourselves.

What He gave us a longing for is joy of heart, soul, mind and strength. What we live with is the degradation of those very same parts of our being:

Broken hearts
Wandering souls
Confused minds
Decaying bodies

Romans 8:22 says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

I believe God says to us, “This is not what I intended for you.”

3. There is a third message God has for us: “Just wait. I’m going to make it right.”

I believe God says, “Please trust me, please believe me, please rely on who you know I am—powerful, righteous, loving, forgiving, just. I have not forgotten you; I am not ignorant or uncaring of your grief. Just wait. I’m going to make it right.”

One of my favorite qualities of God is that he is Redeemer. Jesus is our personal redeemer; the only perfect man who ever lived died so I can have life. But God also redeems on a universal scale. He takes what is broken and hopeless and turns it around 180 degrees to make it powerful and life-giving.

Some day he will redeem all of Creation. He will make it right.

Isaiah 65:17 quotes God saying:
Pay close attention now:
I’m creating new heavens and a new earth.
All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain
are things of the past, to be forgotten.
Look ahead with joy. (Message)

Paul says, “that our present sufferings are not even worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us…” God redeems on a personal scale, and He will redeem on a universal scale.

There is a second quality of God I love. He’s the God of Hope.

Not hope as the world gives it—wishful thinking, crossed-finger, pinky swear hope. No, Rock-solid confidence, a sure foundation based on who He is—Creator, Redeemer, God of hope.

Ro. 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” We Christians can walk through the grief of the loss of life with a promise of Hope; Hope that overflows from us, even with an impact on those around us who have no sense of hope when confronted with death.

The 3rd message I believe God has for us is, “Just wait. I will make it right.”

beyond the skyThere is a song that communicates so well the feelings we experience in the midst of the loss of life—both the grief we feel, and the hope we claim during trials like this one. It’s called Beyond the Sky by Fernando Ortega. A few of the lines read:
One morning when time is done,
Bright Heaven will be our refuge: The City of God most high.

 

Beyond the sky, Beyond all telling,
Our Father Himself will be our Light.
His arms will hold us, and with His hand
He’ll wipe away the tears
That stain our eyes.

Friends, if God were to speak to us directly in the time of the loss of a loved one, this is what I believe He would say:
1. I know how you feel. Me, too.
2. This is not what I intended for you.
3. Just wait. I will make it right.

And in response we can claim Ps. 130:
Wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Saying Goodbye to Parents, Part III (A Severe Mercy*)

My dad is disappearing. In fact, to a large extent he has already disappeared. I’m just trying to learn how to say Goodbye. A naval officer in World War II and Pentagon intelligence officer during the Korean War, hospital administrator for two and a half decades, and the director of a ministry support organization, my […]

Knocking on the Door of a Brothel

Knocking on the Door of a Brothel

Have you noticed how frequently men will risk complete compromise of their values, their marriage and their reputation to pursue a short-term enticement?

Perhaps you saw the former TV show To Catch a Predator, where a guy in a computer chat room thinks he’s talking to a young teen. He and the girl arrange a meeting at her home, which he eventually enters, thinking he’s fulfilling a sad fantasy.

What he doesn’t realize is that the girl is actually a young-looking vice cop, and the home is wired and filled with hidden cameras. The girl excuses herself momentarily, when out from behind a wall pops the condescending host who interviews the horrified victim. The cameras roll. (“It makes for great TV.” What a sad commentary on our culture that is.)

The look of horrified shock and pending disaster on the face of the “perp” is awful! Most of them, after submitting to an interview, eventually run out of the house, thinking they’ve been released, only to be captured and arrested by waiting cops outside.

Unbelievably, many of the perpetrators have seen the show! Some even say, “I knew it was going to be you guys.” Still, they show up. Like sheep stumbling dumbly toward slaughter, they move toward the irresistible answer to their fantasies.

Many are the creeps we’d expect. But some are teachers or respectable businessmen; one is a youth pastor, another a rabbi. They are you and me. I want to weep for them!

We could go further and list the politicians and church leaders who have made the same stunning career-ending choices, but we won’t. They are easy targets. Low-hanging fruit. The point is, this pattern is everywhere.

If we men are going to guard ourselves against falling to a similar temptation, we need to understand what the draw is. G.K. Chesterton tells us the answer in one of the most arresting quotes I’ve ever heard:

“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” What?!!

Beauty, relationship, adventure, intimacy, significance, transcendence. They are all part of the hunger that God put in our hearts. His plan was for those godly longings to be fully satisfied through an eternally transcendent relationship with him. Horrifically, the first man and woman doubted him, and chose the curse mankind lives with: a core longing that will never be fully satisfied on earth.

So we, too, often choose false ways of satisfying this deep longing. Jer. 2:12-14 confirms this:

“Be appalled at this, O heavens,
and shudder with great horror,”
declares the LORD.

“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

When men (or women) pursue lust, pornography, sex chat rooms, or promiscuous relationships, all of them figuratively or literally the “door of a brothel”, we make two mistakes:

  1. We forsake God himself. We essentially say, “God, you are not really enough for me.”
  2. We dig broken cisterns. We pretend that our own solutions will truly satisfy. They can’t. They don’t hold water; so they don’t quench spiritual thirst. They leak.

Men, we must see the bigger story that is taking place in our hearts. We thirst for something God-given, which is only God-quenched. When we doubt that He is truly enough, we look for our own shallow sources of satisfaction. We dig our own cisterns. We stagger into the girl’s home, we click on the next link, we pursue the enticing flirtation at work or across the street. None of them will ever satisfy. They will only bring great horror.

Oswald Chambers tells us, “There is only One Being who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.”  C.S. Lewis echoes the same refrain: “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself. It is not there. There is no such thing.”

“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” To that I would add, Every man who digs his own broken cisterns is looking for God…in himself.

Men, we already know the broken cisterns we dig don’t quench the thirst. That’s why we keep returning, looking for a bigger well. There is only one “spring of living water”: deep relationship with God, through his son, Jesus Christ, who made it clear, “If a man is thirsty let him come to me and drink…I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me…Seek and you will find.” (John 7: 37; 14:6; Matt. 7:7)

Knock and the door will be opened to you.

Turn or Burn

Until this year, the worst year in history for wildfires was 2002. The premier fire that year was the Hayman Fire which engulfed 138,000 acres and 133 homes just west of Colorado Springs in 20 days. It still holds the record for being Colorado’s largest wildfire ever. Not long ago I hiked with a few […]