Friday, December 30, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year - from the Watters Family (aka Harbaugh Nation)


in this new year, in this new season, resolve to simplify; more focus on God, eliminate distractions as much as possible, and the toughest but most blessed of all - die to self . . . my personal first step; goodbye Facebook!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Excerpts from Poustinia by Catherine DeHueck Doherty:

Definitely worth the read and may it lift and guide your spirit:

The word 'poustinia' is Russian meaning 'desert'. It is an or¬dinary word. If I were a little Russian girl, and a teacher during a geography lesson asked me to name a desert, I might say 'Saharskaya Poustinia' - the Sahara Desert. That's all it really means. It also has another connotation, as so many words have. It also means the desert of the Fathers of the Desert, who in ages past went away from everything and settled there. In the Western sense of the word, it would mean a place to which a hermit goes and, hence, it could be called a hermitage. The word to the Russian means much more than a geographical place. It means a quiet, lonely place that people wish to enter, to find God who dwells within them. It also means truly isolated, lonely places to which specially called people go as hermits, and would seek God in solitude, silence and prayer for the rest of their lives. However, a poustinia was not necessarily completely away from the haunts of men. Some people had reserved, in their homes, a small room to which they went to pray and meditate, which some might call a poustinia. Generally speaking, however, a 'poustinik' (a person dwelling in a poustinia) meant someone in a secluded spot. It was considered a definite vocation, a call from God to go into the 'desert' to pray to God for one's sins and the sins of the world, also to thank Him for the joys and the gladness and all His gifts.

It seems strange to say, but what can help modern man find the answers to his own mystery and the mystery of Him in whose image he is created, is silence, solitude - in a word, the desert. Modern man needs these things more than the hermits of old.

True silence is a key to the immense and flaming heart of God. It is the beginning of a divine courtship that will end only in the immense, creative, fruitful, loving silence of final union with the Beloved. Yes, such silence is holy, a prayer beyond all prayers, leading to the final prayer of constant presence of God, to the heights of contemplation, when the soul, finally at peace, lives by the will of Him whom she loves totally, utterly and completely. This silence, then, will break forth in a charity that overflows in the service of the neighbour without counting the cost. It will witness to Christ anywhere, always. Availability will become delightsome and easy, for in each person the soul will see the face of her Love. Hospitality will be deep and real, for a silent heart is a loving heart, and a loving heart is a hospice to the world.

Who were these men and women of Russia? Why did they go into 'the desert'? Who were they spiritually? They were people who craved in their hearts to be alone with God and His immense silence. The mountain of God's silence - covered with the cloud of HIs mysterious presence - called these future poustinikki in that awesome yet loving way. To go into the poustinia means to listen to God. It means enter¬ing into kenosis - the emptying of oneself. This emptying of one-self, even as Christ emptied Himself for us, is really a climbing of this awesome mountain right to the very top where God abides in His warm silence. It also means to know 'how terrible it is to fall into the hands of the living God' . . . and yet how delightful, how joyful, and how attractive! So attractive, in fact, that the soul cannot resist. That is why the Russians say that he who is called to the poustinia must go there or die because God has called him to this mountain to speak to him in that awesome silence, in that gentle, loving silence. For God has something to say to those whom He calls to the poustinia, and what God says to them the poustinikki must repeat as a prophet does. Humanly and psychologically speaking he is reluctant to speak, as every prophet was reluctant; but to him too comes the angel with the coal of fire, that invisible angel that cleanses his mind, his mouth, and his lips (symbolically speaking) and watches that man or woman arise and start on this awesome pil¬grimage.

Silence is not the exclusive prerogative of monasteries or con¬vents. Simple, prayerful silence is everybody's silence - or if it isn't, it should be. It belongs to every Christian who loves God, to every Jew who has heard the echoes of God's voice in his prophets, to everyone whose soul has risen in search of truth, in search of God. For where noise is - inward noise and confusion -there God is not! Deserts, silence, solitudes are not necessarily places but states of mind and heart. These deserts can be found in the midst of the city, and in the everyday of our lives. We need only to look for them and realize our tremendous need for them. They will be small solitudes, little deserts, tiny pools of silence, but the experi¬ence they will bring, if we are disposed to enter them, may be as exultant and as holy as all the deserts of the world, even the one God Himself entered. For it is God who makes solitude, deserts, and silences holy.

Into the poustinia the poustiniks brought one book only - the Bible. They read it on their knees, impervious to or even perhaps uninterested in any purely academic question. To them the Bible was the incarnation of the Word and they felt a lifetime wasn't enough in which to read it. Every time they opened it they believed with a tremendous deep faith that they were face to face with the Word. Yes, the poustinik reads the Bible on his knees. He doesn't read it with his head (conceptually, critically) except in the sense that the words pass through his intelligence, but the intelligence of the poustinik is in his heart. The words of the Bible are like honey on his tongue. He reads them in deep faith. He doesn't analyze them; he reads them and allows them to stay in his heart. He may read only one or two sentences or maybe a single page in one day. The point is that he puts them all in his heart like Mary did. He lets them take root in his heart and waits for God to come and explain them which inevitably He will do when He finds such deep and complete faith.

Everyone is a pilgrim on the road of life. Some - and there are more than we know of- are like the poustinikki, truly seeking the Absolute-God! So I think the poustinia will begin slowly to attract many such people who will arise now here, now there ... and go seeking to find a place where they can enter into the silence of God and meet his Word - Christ - in that silence. Thus the hermit, the poustinik, learns to know God. Not learn about Him, but learn of God Himself through God Himself. For in the tremendous silence into which this poustinik entered, God reveals Himself to those who wait for that revelation and who don't try to 'tear at the hem of a mystery' forcing disclosure.

The poustinik also occupied himself with some work, like weav¬ing baskets. People came to visit him, for a Russian hermit has no lock or latch on his door except against the wind. Anyone at any time of day or night can knock at his door. Remember, he is in the poustinia not for himself but for others. He is a connecting bridge between people and God and God and the people, and God speaks through him. The East believes that the poustinik is such a chan¬nel, so they come to him, and he must always be available. He also must share food with anyone that comes. They may refuse, but it must always be offered. He may just have a piece of bread, but he will break it in half or into as many parts as there are people. Thus the second aspect of this strange life is hospitality, the sharing of what he has, the offering of it at any moment. Hospitality above all means that the poustinik is just passing on whatever God has put into his empty hands. He gives all that he has, and is: words, works, himself, and his food.

A poustinik lives not far from a village. It is hay making time, the weather turns stormy, and his help is asked. Immediately the poustinik drops everything or anything he might be in the middle of doing - prayer, garden, reading, whatever it may be - and spends all his time on the hay. For we believe in Russia that if I touch God I must touch humanity, for there is really no distinction. Christ incarnated Himself and became man, so I must, like Christ Himself, be a person of the towel and the water. That is to say, wash other people's feet as Christ did, and washing other people's feet means service. I cannot pray if I don't serve my brother. I cannot pray to the God who incarnated Himself when my brother is in need. It is an impossibility. It would be like the priest, the Levite, who passed the man beset with robbers, and that I cannot do. So sometimes a poustinik might spend a month, six weeks, working for the various needs of the villagers and never think even for one minute about the fact that he is supposed to be in a poustinia, reading the Bible, or praying, because he is in the poustinia of his heart always, especially when serving others.

If you ever see a sad hermit or poustinik, then he is no hermit at all. The most joyous persons in Russia are the ones who have the eyes of a child at 70 and who are filled with the joy of the Lord, for they who have entered the silence of God are filled with God's joy. Yes, the life of a poustinik should be truly joyous with the quiet joy of the Lord and this will be visible. He will have the eyes of a child even if his face is old. You cannot fool people as to such things as the presence of love and joy in a human being.

The poustinia can never simply be a place of rest - sleeping, recreation, a 'change of pace'. The poustinia is a holy place, so holy that one trembles when one enters. It is not an eating place, nor a sleeping place. It is God's place. The desert, of course, is the symbol of austerity, poverty, and utter simplicity. It is God who leads the soul to the desert, and the soul cannot remain in the desert long unless it is nourished by God. Therefore, it is a place where we fast from bodily food and even spiritual food, such as reading all kinds of books, for we enter there to meet our God with the only book in which He is fully accessible: the Bible. Let your poustinia be a quiet, secret garden enclosed, for it is a hallowed place, a holy place where the soul enters to meet its God.

The one who goes to the poustinia for the first time will experi¬ence a certain amount of interior noise. The first time one of the staff went she said to me on returning, 'Boy, that was a terrible experience! You know what happened to me?' I said, 'Yes, I think I do. But tell me anyway.' She said, 'All my thoughts buzzed in me like flies. I was think¬ing that my jeans needed stitching, that the garden needed weed¬ing. I thought about everything except God.' I said, 'Oh, that's perfectly natural.' It takes a long time for the person of today to close the wings of his intellect and to open the door of his heart.

For those of you who go into the poustinia, this is the essence of it: to fold the wings of your intellect. In the civilization of the West everything is sifted through your heads. You are so intellectual, so full of knowledge of all kinds. The poustinia brings you into contact first and foremost with soli¬tude. Secondly, it brings you in contact with God. Even if you don't feel anything at all, the fact remains that you have come to have a date with God, a very special rendezvous. You have said to the Lord, 'Lord, I want to take this 24, 36, 48 hours out of my busy life and I want to come to You because I am very tired. The world is not as You want it, and neither am I. I want to come and rest on Your breast as St John the Beloved. That is why I have come to this place.'

The West values itself for its ability to produce things. Priests, nuns and lay people tend to evaluate themselves interiorly by what they produce. Priests especially do not realize that their presence is enough. I often tell priests who work in parishes that one of the best things they can 'do' is simply walk around their neighbourhoods and be present to their people. If they don't do something, they feel that they are wasting their lives away. So it is with the poustinik. There is an inability to realize that the pres¬ence of a person who is in love with God is enough, and that nothing else is needed. That doesn't mean that the poustinik's assistance in definite ways cannot be helpful to the community. But it does mean that one should be perfectly at peace even (should I say especially?) when one hasn't got 'something to do'.

Prayer is the source and the most intimate part of our lives. The life of prayer - its intensity, its depth, its rhythm - is the measure of our spiritual health, and reveals to us ourselves. With the ascetics, the desert is interiorized, and signifies the concentration of a recollected spirit. At this level, where man knows how to be silent, true prayer is found. Here he is mysteriously visited. There should be no break in our prayer. Why should my heart be removed from God just because I am talking to you? When you are in love with someone, it seems the face of the beloved is before you when you drive, when you type,, anything like that. If you fall in love, then it is impossible to escape and you must breath from prayer. Prayer is simply union with God and one does not need words. When people are in love they look into each other's eyes, or a wife simply rests in the embrace of her husband. Neither of them talks. It has reached that intimate realm of silence where it pulsates and reaches proportions unknown to those who haven't entered into it. Such is the life of prayer with God. You enter into God and God enters into you, and the union is constant.

Our house of prayer in the marketplace would continue to intensify its very ordinariness and simplicity, bearing with people who will not understand why they are producing so little. They will have to accept the fact that people will say of them what others said of Jesus: 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Through their prayerful, hidden and seemingly unproductive life, God will prepare those involved in the house of prayer for new contacts and new works according to His plan and not theirs. Subtle temptations will come as the devil will try to twist the meaning of their vocation. He will suggest how impossible it is to form a community of love, to really become a poustinia in the market place with its door open. The essence of such a house will be that its members really bear with one another, and cover them¬selves with humility, compassion and love toward one another. The devil will attack with all sorts of logical arguments and prove that it is just not possible.

The poustinia in the marketplace begins with prayer, much prayer. It does not mean that you are not doing the work you have been doing. No. But you must understand that the poustinia begins in your heart. It is not a place, a geographical spot. It is not first and foremost a house or a room. It is within your heart. It is imple¬menting the prayer of St Francis. That is the work of the poustinik in the marketplace, to be hidden as Christ was hidden in Nazareth.
When this work of the Holy Spirit is really allowed to take place in a human heart, the person is utterly indifferent as to where geographically he is situated. It is possible to live in a lovely house while inwardly, spiritually, you are clad like John the Baptist in animal skins and eating locusts and wild honey. If this inner poustinia, this stripping of oneself, this kenosis, is begun, it means that you kneel before the Lord and say, 'Here I am, Lord, do with me as You will. Speak for Your ser¬vant is listening. Lord, I thank You for all You have given me, for all You have taken away from me, for all You have left me." When you have done that, you will have begun to understand the poustinia in the marketplace.

Suppose that you were married and became pregnant. Would you stop cooking for your husband? Would you stop doing the laun¬dry, the cleaning, stop going to meetings on racial justice and school affairs? No. You'd go about your daily business. The only difference between you and everyone else would be that you were carrying a child. Your womb is a poustinia for the child, and you carry him wherever you go. Wherever you go you are pregnant with Christ, and you bring His presence as you would bring the presence of a natural child. For when a woman is with child, people give her special attention. They smile, they offer her a comfortable place to sit down. She is a witness to life. She carries life around with her. I don't know if I have succeeded in giving you a clearer idea of what this kind of poustinia of the marketplace is. It is not a matter of retiring to a basement! You live in the marketplace and carry the poustinia within you. That is your vocation. You are pregnant with Christ. You are Christ-bearers. You are poustinia bearers. Where? In the marketplace. To whom? To anyone whom you meet there, but especially to those you are mandated to be with. This eliminates, I hope, all notions of being recluses, of with¬drawing from the marketplace.

We must follow Christ in the rhythm of His own life, the rhythm of solitude and action. What is needed in our days is to retire to solitude and silence, to hear the voice of God, to glorify Him and pray to Him, and then to return to the secular world. Tragically the West keeps brushing this aside and saying, 'Yes, that's basically true - but let's get down to action!'

If a Russian built a poustinia next to the village, he automatically knows that he is part of that village. He doesn't have to be told that he is now part of that community. Being part of the community is not a matter of geography. If your spiritual director says that you should spend three days in the poustinia, you spend three days. If he thinks you should spend four, you spend four. If he thinks you should come out of the poustinia for a while altogether, you come out. Wherever you are in obedience, you are part of the community. It is not a matter of being inside or outside the poustinia.

A room, a bed, two chairs: stark, naked room of pain, a room set all apart for just that pain, in a desert more real than the deserts of sand and heat. Poustinias indeed where man meets his God, face to face, both crucified. Gone are all subterfuges, excuses, rationalizations. Now man enters into the truth of God. All his masks are torn and man becomes what he truly is. Poustinias in a hospital of Golgotha on which the crucified God is planted in the midst of crucified men. Now is the moment of meeting. Now is the moment of speaking. But no words are needed in the poustinia of a hospital room. Only the steps of the Father and the light of the Spirit that comes like a gentle breeze in the spring, consoling, assuaging, making clear all that was unclear so that in a stark, naked room of pain joy enters. The sick arise and dance with Christ.

As I sit here and try to rethink and meditate on what I have writ¬ten about the poustinia, I honestly wonder if I can say 'Amen' just yet. My purpose was to explain the poustinia vocation as found in Russia, in my own life and in the life of the Madonna House. But, when you come right down to it, the poustinia is not a place at all - and yet it is. It is a stage, a vocation, belonging to all Christians by baptism. It is a vocation to be a contemplative. There will always be 'solitaries', or should be. But the essence of the poustinia is that it is a place within oneself, a result of bap¬tism, where each of us contemplates the Trinity. Within my heart, within me, I am or should be constantly in the presence of God. This is another way of saying that I live in a garden enclosed where I walk and talk with God (though a Russian would say 'where all in me is silent and where I am immersed in the silence of God'). It's as if I were sitting next to God in complete silence, although there are always many other people around. (Like a hus¬band and wife being in a private silence and solitude even though they are at a party and the room is filled with people.) How stumbling words are! How inadequate the similes! Yet the poustinia is something like this to me: a state of contemplating God in silence.

The poustinia is within, and one is forever immersed in the silence of God, forever listening to the word of God, forever repeating it to others in word and deed. Thus everything that I have said about the physical poustinia, about trying to adapt it to the West, can be said about every Christian. The poustinia is this inner solitude, this inner immersion into the silence of God. It is through this inner, total identification with humanity and with Christ that every Christian should be living in silent contemplation. This is the poustinia within oneself. I don't know if all this makes any sense. It is only in identifying with Christ, it is only by plunging into (In-great silence of God within myself, that I can love others and identify with them. It is by listening to the great silence of God, and having this strange, passive dialogue in which I become aware of the silence which is the speech of God - it is only by listening to this that I am able to speak to my brother. It is only by listening to this silence that I can acquire the ingenuity of love, the delicacy of Christ in my human relationships. In this silence I become identified with Christ, I acquire a listening heart.

The poustinia is a state of constantly being in the presence of God because one desires Him with a great desire, because in Him alone one can rest. The poustinia is walking in this inner solitude, immersed in the silence of God. My life of service and love to my fellowman is simply the echo of this silence and solitude. Inwardly I identify myself with God and with humanity. Jesus Christ Himself conducts me into this inner silence, into that soli¬tude which speaks so loudly to the Father under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Now I am immersed in the Trinity, in the fire of the silence of God (for the silence of God is always fire; His speech is fire). Now I become as one on fire with love of Him and of all human¬ity across the world. Now it is not I who speak. I speak what God tells me to speak. When my immersion into this immense silence has finally caught fire from His words, then I am able to speak. I can speak because His voice is sounding loudly and clearly in my ears, which have been emptied of everything except Him. Now only His name is on my heart, constantly; it has become my heartbeat.

These readings are extracted from Poustinia by Catherine dc Hueck Doherty, used with permission of Fr Robert Wild, Madonna House, Combermere, Ontario. Copies of the book may be obtained from that address or from Cloisters, the Northumbria Community's trading company.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light."
"For to us a child is born; . . . "

But have the people really "seen" the light. Have they understood not only what, but WHO the light is?

Jesus came and turned things upside down; the least is the greatest, less is more, smaller is better. Doesn't sound like our world does it?! While His Kingdom is already here, we mostly fail to see it, or to live like it.

We call ourselves Christians, but we really don't reflect Christ. We are caught up in our worldly lives, including this religion called Christianity, and have lost sight of the Person.

This Christmastide why not turn aside from all the hype & glitz; all those big productions & promotions, and simply find a quiet place (like a lowly stable) and reflect on the first Christmas and it's little family.

Joyeux Noel . . . O come, o come Immanuel and ransom our captive hearts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Christmas Letter?

“Help us, help us, help us! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

This is how your Mom likes to condense the Prayer of Philippians 4:4-7. This morning when I awoke I realized I was feeling a bit stressed (depressed & anxious). But I personally don’t have anything to feel that way about.  Let’s face it, Pops is retired and doing what he loves most; being a grandpa and storyteller.

However, my family lives very busy, stressful lives, and therein lays my own “worry”. So, what better place to go than in God’s Presence praying that prayer that has become a “bedrock” for our family over the years. So, I proceeded to do what comes easiest and most blessedly to me; to rejoice in God always, to stay calm and know He is very near, to lift up all those worries and cares, and most importantly to give thanks for all the ways He has blessed all of us.

Here is a list you will all identify with at some point:

 Employment – in an economy where many are not working, you all have jobs!
 Relationships – God has richly blessed you all, even if there have been some trials along the way (we all have them.) 
 School – Karly and Phil are headed toward those coveted Bachelor’s degrees, AND Cody toward his Master’s, with Dr.’s Kyle & Laura already in the midst of theirs. And, even though Laura is in a tremendously stressful period, she is meant for what she is doing, despite the trials, we all rejoice in Dr. Laura!
 Finances – God has always provided what we needed, we are not rich, but we all know we have much to be thankful for in this area as well.
 Health – Well, yes, M&D are getting older and “suffering” some aches and pains, but generally we all have good health, especially that lil pumpkin of our collective eyes, Anthony! 
 God – we all know to some extent that God is real, AND for us! That is the most important and blessed thing to be thankful for in a world that seems so harsh and unforgiving at times.

Yes, I do get stressed at times too, but it passes, especially when I focus on God’s Providence and Love, and recite that Philippians prayer. So, here is the whole thing from the Bible for your reference, including verses 8&9 which are good too. 

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Found my true identity:

Classic Christian Literature – A Simply Annotated List

Introduction: This is an attempt to list generally the best in classic (and soon to be?) Christian books & authors. The annotation simply gives one word or phrase for the overall theme of the book so that readers can find particular selections for that aspect where God is either speaking in their lives, or where they need some direction; whether from Holy Spirit (circuit judge in the brain) prompting or some other conviction or “leading”, including a word from trusted friend(s). I heartily recommend the collections from Renovare; Devotional Classics, Spiritual Classics, Longing For God and 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. Time spent in those publications is invaluable to personal formation, but I realize many of my friends and loved ones do not have the luxury I currently have in this season of geezerdom.

So, in no particular order:

 The Imitation of Christ – “humility” [My personal favorite, and I also prefer the Tylenda translation with foreword by Sally Cuneen.]
 On The Incarnation – who & why of Jesus, apologetics (defense of the faith)
 Confessions – struggling with faith, autobiographical
 The Sayings of the Desert Fathers – humility & discipline
 The Rule of St. Benedict – humility & discipline
 The Divine Comedy – the journey in poetry
 The Cloud of Unknowning – contemplative prayer
 Revelations of Divine Love – divine knowledge of God
 The Philokalia – comtemplative life & total surrender
 Institutes of the Christian Religion – foundation of reformed theology
 The Interior Castle – aka Mansions, contemplative journey & knowledge
 Dark Night of the Soul – spiritual desert/depression
 Pensees – apologetics from a mathematician
 The Pilgrim’s Progress – allegorical journey steeped in Scripture
 The Practice of the Presence of God – Presence & simplicity
 A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life – practical daily living with Jesus
 The Way of the Pilgrim – interior life, prayer as Presence
 The Brothers Karamazov – theology in allegory
 Orthodoxy – apologetics and journey
 Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins – faith in poetry
 The Cost of Discipleship – total submission
 A Testament of Devotion – interior life in the midst of the world
 The Seven Story Mountain – spiritual autobiography (see Confessions also)
 Mere Christianity – apologetics, classic and transformational
 The Return of the Prodigal Son – biographical, relational, theological in allegory

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

finding that perfect book for your spirit . . .

At the risk of being bold and appearing a "know-it-all", I offer some direction on Christian reading (in companionship with the Bible of course.) And of course I do tend toward boldness (a fault too often), but certainly don't know it all. There are so many wonderful, classic or soon to be classic books on the life of following Christ, that many people just give up, overwhelmed and don't bother.

I have found some publications of Renovare to be invaluable in my quest to read those classics that will speak to my heart. The books; Devotional Classics, Spiritual Classics, Longing For God, and the latest, 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, are like a wonderful annotated bibliography of the best in Christian writing from the 4th century on. You can read these surveys any way you like, picking what you're led to, or check out all the entries and find those that God will speak directly to you in. Okay, you say, but you've still given me FOUR (4) books to read! I get it, so I would say start with Devotional Classics if this is your first venture into these books. I trust you will find a books/authors within its pages that will lead into a deeper knowledge (heart & head) of God.

I highly recommend any of these books (collections), and they would make wonderful gifts that will last and keep on "giving".

only by Grace . . . always Grace,

da Moose ;-(

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Is God “at work” in your city?

If indeed God is "at work" in our communities, that "work" should look like His Son's work; the hungry get fed, the naked get clothed, the homeless get sheltered, the sick and suffering get comforted. For following Jesus, being a disciple, an apprentice, means doing as He did, exhibiting His character in our lives by the Father's grace.

"Thy Kingdom come ON EARTH as it is in heaven." His Kingdom HAS come, and is coming. We who live in the Light of the Resurrection get to partner with the Almighty God; Father, Son & Spirit, in making all things new, in completing God's work of the redemption of Creation . . . Outrageous isn't it?!

As the Body of Christ, this is NOT about "inreach" for one particular church or denomination. It IS about "outreach" of His Kingdom by His disciples as ONE, without regard for the "differences", and with complete focus on, and surrender to Him.

We get a glimpse of his heaven come to earth on the grand scale (stage) of events like Convoy of Hope, where many churches partner, putting aside their own agendas. But the even grander scale is the often unnoticed work of individual disciples, which when combined changes the world!

When churches, leaders and others put aside their own agendas and petty theological differences, focusing instead on Jesus Christ (read your Bible), then we will truly have something! When His church (remember He said He will build it) was just getting started there were no buildings, programs or denominations. And, their numbers grew because and as a result of the proclamation of the Gospel (sometimes using words). ;-) And this Gospel; in Jesus Christ, God's redemption of His people (yes, Israel too) has come! The Kingdom is here and now, and the King is on His throne.

I suppose this is why I love "parachurch" ministries and organizations; no one church, pastor, denomination, etc. seeking its own agenda, or claiming to have "the corner" on God's Truth. Just a gathering of people trying to follow Jesus, and doing His work wherever they find themselves. Being vulnerable and available to others they meet, and even occasionally sharing the Gospel, but not before trust is built through the intimacy that vulnerability and availability bring.

Can I get an “AMEN”? ;-)

Moose reflections, or “conjectures of a guilty bystander” (apologies to Thomas Merton), or simply “moose musings”.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Moose musing along the Road - via Facebook

Patrick Watters
Moose musing — at In My Room.

Polkinghorne - when religion/philosophy meet quantum physics. Hmm, maybe that explains why Patti seems so close even though she's 2K miles away? ;-)

‎"moose musing" - part prayer, part 'day dreaming', always in the Presence of God. ;-)

The "mystery" of Job in a nutshell - when we have lost everything and are miserable, God remains the "Eternal constant" and our loving, merciful refuge and hiding place.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Healthy Perspective On Evil

Recent dialog with a friend, and the current illness of my wife, Patti, have had me looking into the question of evil in the world, and specifically the devil (or dweeb as I like to call him.) There was a time when I had an unhealthy fear of evil and the dweeb. I suppose I could attribute some of it to depression and chronic anxiety? I've learned as I've walked with God to understand this aspect of life in the world and have a more healthy perspective on it.

To deny the existence of the devil, evil and darkness, or even to ignore it, is to deny much of God's Truth in the Bible and Jesus' own teachings on the subject as well. Not that we are to obsess on it, but to be aware and put it in its "right" place in His Name. We have nothing to fear because we are already victorious in Christ. We await and partner with Him in making all things new. Yes! God Who IS Light, even in the darkness, will eliminate evil for all eternity.

Here are some Bible passages to reflect on as you seek this Truth for yourself; Job 1 etal, Luke 8:11-18, Ephesians 6:10-18, James 4:7 and 1 Peter 5:8-9.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Family Matters

As I anticipate my return home to Sacramento from the "Big Island", I do so with both excitement and husbandly concern. I am truly excited to return to my role and life season of grandfather. Yet, I am somewhat saddened to leave Patti here in Hilo for another month. Yes, of course she can take care of herself, but some recent health issues have not been completely resolved, and so I feel a need here as her husband and soulmate. But we have learned to surrender all to our loving God Who knows best and always cares for us. We look forward to having our family together again (at least those of us who now share the family "compound" in the City of Sacraments.) And to whatever God has in store for us in this season.

The heart of the matter, and the person -

"Never judge a book by it's cover." And, never judge someone's heart and soul by their exterior. You may never know what you had until they're gone.

Friday, November 4, 2011

as seen recently on facebook:

Patti often must remind me that's "it's time for you to visit Thomas 'a Kempis"! I guess I sense it myself this time, facebook has become to much a distraction, time to immerse in The Imitation of Christ and God's Word so interwined there, especially the humility of the living Word, even Christ Jesus. Sometimes I think it would just be easier to "disappear" into grandfatherhood, to become a "hermit" of sorts there? So, goodbye for now, I'm sure I'll be back, (to many's dismay). :-)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

the evolution of the "family" home, or returning to simple, sustainable living -

As Patti and I plan our "living quarters" at the "family compound" back in Sacramento, I've been thinking about how we've become so consumptive in the western world. The family home is a primary example of this evolution toward "bigger and better" (worse in my opinion) homes. We have gone from 1K square foot easily sustainable living spaces to 5K monstrosities with separated living spaces where no one has to enounter anyone else throughout the day. There are "living rooms", "family rooms", "AV rooms" (the entertainment centers of our media submersed culture) and more.

My first home in North Dakota was about 800 square feet. We lived there with a native American family who also had a baby, our dads worked together on Garrison Dam. One "living space" that constituted kitchen, dining, living, work space . . . and also the only room with heat! :-) Then two small bedrooms (sleeping quarters) for each family. Oh, yes we did have indoor plumbing, including a bathrooom. Now, we have so many separate spaces we really can "avoid" one another if we want to. However, we are thinking of ways to be "family" and save money too. All of it also helps reduce our "carbon footprint"; energy conservation, etc.

This poor economy has everyone looking for ways to save, which is a great thing. It motivates us toward simplification and conservation, something we all should be doing anyway. I am personally excited to experience three generations under one roof, just hope we continue to "get along" and not become our own version of a bad reality TV show?! :-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2000 years – Context, or what the heck is going on here?

Consider if you will the “state” of Israel in the first century A.D. Palestine is under Roman rule and experiencing a time of relative peace (Pax Romana). Although “puppet king” Herod is bent on killing off his entire family, he seems willing to let the Jews live their lives in peace as long as they “behave”. The Jews for their part are awaiting the long anticipated arrival of their messiah/king who will deliver them from tyranny. This is the world Jesus (the Christ) will be born into, but this humble messiah/king will not be what the Jews are expecting. Now, think of the context of these events as one grand story or play being acted out over thousands of years, but where every event is connected to the other across time, for this is the reality of God’s plan. If we look at the first century and our 21st century, we will see some interesting and possibly disturbing parallels. But fear not, this is a creation process, not a destruction process as many view it . . . at least it is for those who seek God. Okay, bear with me and see if these parallels are also obvious to you? Since the time of exile (separation) for Israel, sectarianism has increased and solidified among the Jewish people. The sects [read denominations” here] are as much political and cultural as they are religious. The Pharisees [read “leaders” here] have become enamored with their own interpretations and legalistic hypotheticals which do not necessarily jibe with the Torah [read “Scripture” here]. Interpretation and tradition, in fact, are on par with the Law itself. Okay, fast forward to our own time, about what we are seeing now, (you PC USA folks should really be getting this.) Further, with popular support, many of these religious leaders are seeking government offices or places of high regard and authority in the sects [denominations]. (Think General Assembly here PC USA friends.) It is fairly clear that in their first century religious beliefs and practices the Jews had come a long way from Mt. Sinai (or maybe a better way to phrase that would be “have strayed a long way?”) In the same way, Christians have come (strayed) a long way from the empty tomb. Lord have mercy indeed! But the truth remains; God has taken on human flesh and moved into the neighborhood! What a mystery! What a marvelous and wonderful mystery! So, if you feel you have strayed too, look to the Good Shepherd, He’ll lead you back. Amen?

Oh, one more thing . . . “church” isn’t happening in denominations, committee meetings or often even in corporate worship settings. It’s not about big glitzy highly promoted events; it’s about intimate personal discipleship. It’s happening out there where His disciples are lovingly imitating Him, where He is “building His church.” Remember, Jesus did not come as a religious leader. He held no official position, nor was He trained (seminary) to be a priest or other cleric. He took His ministry to the cities, towns, country roads and farms and homes . . . wherever the common people might be found. And, He calls us to do the same.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reflections from retreat – Ainaola Anam Cara “Monastery” Waiakea Uka, Mauna Loa, Hawaii:

The following are notes and reflections gathered during time of extended retreat. Much is taken directly from Scripture, or adapted from Celtic Daily Prayer with my own notes based on my family heritage of the Celtic Highlands and Islands (Scotland and Northern Ireland). Prayers of the Highland Christians and Hebridean Altars are also sources. The Watters clan [tribe], (name meaning in Gaelic: they that dwell by loch and muir; or lake, inlet and sea), lived out life for some time as farmers and fishermen under clan chiefs, later emigrating to North America to begin new lives there as both Celtic and Lakota. That story, “From Clan to Tribe”, has been documented elsewhere. No directions are offered here for either study or meditation, but I trust that those who read and reflect will enter upon on holy ground and be blessed.

During the season of falling leaves, (canwapekašnawi in Lakota), in the year of our Lord, 2011:

I have learned during solitude and silence up here, that life cannot be all retreat nor all mission. There must be a balance as Christ Jesus modeled; wherein each discipline feeds and nurtures the other. So life is a series of seasons during which God provides His own rhythms for our good and His service. Finding our rhythm and getting in step with the “dance of the Trinity” is a lifelong journey along the Narrow Road, the Good Red Road of Christ.

John 16:33
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

St. Columba’s final words to his fellow religious seem an appropriate beginning, as well as end, to these reflections: “I give to you, my children, these final words: Be at peace with one another, bound together by mutual and unfeigned love. If you do this, according to the example of the ancient fathers, God, who gives strength to the righteous, will bless you; and I, abiding with Him, shall intercede for you. Not only will God provide all things needed for this present life, but He shall prepare for you blessings of eternity.”

I recall during prayer the struggles of our former church family, and these words of Columba seem apt knowledge and reflection for them.

1 Chronicles 16:8-11
8 Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
9 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
10 Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the LORD.
11 Search for the LORD and for his strength;
continually seek him.

A common aspect of monastic communities, especially the Celtic which combined work in the community with retreat into solitude, is the daily offices or rhythms: “When labor in the fields was finished they returned to the monastery and spent the whole of the day until the evening in reading, writing or praying. When evening came, and the stroke of the bell sounded, whether only the tip of a letter or even half the form of the same letter was written, they rose quickly and left what they were doing. In silence, without empty talk or chatter, they went into the church. When they had finished chanting the psalm, with voice and heart in complete harmony, they humbled themselves on bended knees until the appearance of the stars in the heavens brought the day to a close.”

May we be one Lord God as You are ONE; Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Isaiah 53:3-7 – counting the cost

3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the LORD laid on him
the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.

“It was custom that anyone who yearned for this manner of saintly life and asked to join the monastic community first remained for ten days at the door of the monastery, as if rejected and also silenced by words of abuse. If he put his patience to good use and stood there until the tenth day, he might be admitted and first put to serve under the elder who had charge of the gate. After he had toiled there for a long time, and many conflicts with in his soul had been reconciled, he was finally judged fit to enter the brethren’s society.”

My brethren, be joyful, keep your faith and belief, and perform the small things which you have learned from me and have seen in me, those which God will make great in His providence. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
A Time for Everything
1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.

John 4:23
23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.
“Recognizing time as a reality made holy by a loving God, the Celtic saints valued the daily, the routine, the ordinary. They believed God is found not only at the end of time when the reign of God finally comes, but now, where the reign is already being lived by God’s faithful people. Theirs was a spirituality characterized by gratitude, and in our stories we find them worshipping God in their daily work and very ordinary chores.” Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints

Labor and rest, work and ease, the busy hand, and then the skilled thought: this blending of opposites is the secret of the joy of living.
Whether I be in retreat, or about Your work, keep within me a stillness deeper and sweeter than a forest’s in mid of winter.

Ezekiel 33:30-32
30 “Son of man, your people talk about you in their houses and whisper about you at the doors. They say to each other, ‘Come on, let’s go hear the prophet tell us what the LORD is saying!’ 31 So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. 32 You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it!"

Mattew 25:35-40
5 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[a] you were doing it to me!’

How wretched we are, given up to sleep and laziness so that we never see the glory of those who watch with Christ unceasingly! What miraculous things I have seen after so short a vigil here!
Deliver me from self-trustfulness. In the frequent days in which I must do battle with my self as foe, arm me with a constant trust in Thee.
I am calmed because I know You love me. Because You love me, nothing can move me from my peace. Because You love me, I am as one to whom all good has come.
Lord, You love us to stand in Your sight upright and with such a gentleness in us that some other will yearn to win its power.

John 17:25-26
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”


An open question re: seminary -

Does the intellectual pursuit at seminary better prepare one for apprenticeship to Jesus?

Further, is that what Jesus had in mind when He said, "Go and make disciples."?

If so, or if not, why do seminaries exist? Are they just professional clergy prep for the denominations?

Yes, I have my own thoughts, but I'm curious what others think, especially seminarians and graduates.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

humanity vs. Humanity

So much preoccupation with politics and agendas of the world. So much distraction from what really matters to our true Humanity as opposed to that lower form we so often exist in. Whether LGBTQ extremism, Christian Right, or other media-fueled nonsense, we become mired in useless activity and dialog. What if we could rise above this lowly state, and even for a moment experience the "knowledge" that we are meant for something higher. What if our sexuality, politics, materialism and more could be shed for that higher life we were created for?! Lord have mercy, we are a pathetic lot! We argue as if we have the absolute truth in our own little brains . . . and He would laugh if it all weren't so sad. Only the Spirit can reveal the truth, and we'd better be very careful what we do with that truth. It was never meant to be used as a weapon or to enslave others. No, it was meant to free them and us. That's why it says "speak the truth in love" . . . and not speak your truth and condemn. Yes, I know, we are called in this Humanity to "judge", but only as to truth and/or sin, and not another's heart, only the Creator Himself has that authority, and it is rightly His and His alone.

So, what do we do? Well, discourse is good, the Apostle Paul loved and used it often leading into teaching moments. But when the point is reached where friendly, respectful discourse is replaced by shallow argument and finger-pointing accusations . . . that is the point where "shaking the dust out of your clothes and off your shoes" becomes the best recourse to failed discourse. In my simple terms; walk away, ponder and pray, preserve what little love and grace you have left for another day.

Anything more only gives the evil dweeb a "foothold", and he just loves to weasel his way into those places. Best to recognize him and his slimy little minions and put them in their place with haste, in Jesus Name of course! ;-)

And that will end this latest Moose rant, posted here at the monastery at Ainaola Anam Cara.

Grace & Peace, and always only by grace on my part.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Thinking about my daughter and son-in-law, and so many others I meet along the "road". If they don't like the church, no amount of invitation (pressure) will get them there. So, how to introduce them to Jesus? "Go" . . . where they are, speak their "language", live in their world.

Bring church into our home, (imagine that, church in a house). ;-) Play some spiritual music, something from their world that creates a space or place for thought and discourse. Then just "talk story", like Jesus did. Keep it simple, friendly, seasoned with love and grace.

Start with Him, Jesus, you're gonna end up with Him too since the whole Bible is His story. Explain the gospels and His teachings, as He did with his first disciples. (Not heavy theology, not OT study, just simple stories a fisherman could understand.) Move to Paul; his story and letters . . . always imitating Christ. Converts will eventually desire deeper, further study and pursue it on their own.

Always be in prayer; for yourself AND those you meet with. Ask the Father to send His Spirit to give the word and lessons. Intentionally surrender self and BE in Christ - for as Paul said, your true self is hidden there, in Him. Trust God to use you as you submit to Him.

Lastly, make sure you are in a discipling relationship for yourself too, and maintain your own church connections. God will honor your efforts.

While I wrote this thinking about my own family, it is easily applicable to our lives out in the world too. It works in coffee shops, diners & dives. Just be open to opportunities, don't force it, just let God work.

Yes, I do this. It never seems to look the same each time, owing to different people and places I guess, and it is a work in progress, a process that is dynamic, just gotta keep goin with the flow.

Amen? Amen.

Searching for what?

The big island of Hawaii is certainly all that people and travel publications say about it, and more. It IS a paradise of sorts, at least physically; climate, scenery, etc. But paradise should also have something to do with how we feel, a spiritual aspect? And to be truthful I have met some "locals" who seem to understand what they have here. They are content in relationships, family, with little need for material possessions.

I have also met many "transplanted" folk, mostly haole, as the locals call them (and me), but not in a derogatory sense. However, the haoles all seem restless to me? They don't have the same calm demeanor, the aloha, of the locals? I've chatted with many, asking about their "journey" and such. They all seem to be either escaping from something (often literally) or searching for something which continues to elude them?

Interestingly, more than a few have left the deserts of Sedona for these rainforests. I guess the harmonic convergence petered out or they got tired of peyote?! ;-). Here they can trade in peyote for pot, and still have a cloudy mind in their seeking. Then also, there are the wealthy who come and build multi-million dollar homes in double gated enclaves, missing so much that is Hawaii.

I admit I love it here, but family and home are in Sacramento. And, if I've learned anything while living here, it's the ultimate importance of relationships, of deep, vulnerable, authentic, caring, loving relationships.

Sadly, many of the "aliens" here tend to intentionally isolate themselves, physically and socially from the people here, the kamaaina who could really help them. So, while I do love it here, I sense a sadness that seems so out of place here, especially in the tension of the haoles and of course most of the tourists too.

I believe I know what, or rather Who is missing from these lost lives. The Creator of this place, and all of them too. But, I don't force religion on my "friends", just smile and listen, and trust the Lord will reveal Himself as He chooses. Oh, they do know where I'm at on this journey, and often remark about the message in the tattoos they see. Even asking what 3:16 and 2 4:7 mean. Yea, I know, a little sneaky evangelism on my part. ;-)

So I spread His love, His aloha, as best I know how. I get to disciple a couple young men here too, praise God. One a gifted artist and writer who is searching, and another who is a wYLdlife leader here, and who stayed with us on the mainland when he came to camp as a HS student.

It's still a weird season for me here Lord, but I'm just trying to obey and learn what You have for me in this time.

Hmm, started with a question, ended with a prayer . . . actually, I guess it's all prayer?


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Alcoholic - a pseudohaiku

The evil and idolatry is destroying his soul, even as the alcohol, his body.

Anon E. Moose

The Question:

Is he so stubborn and proud, or evil, that he refuses to save himself?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Personal Daily "Office"

My daily “office”: (slowly and deliberately, listening for His voice)

In Your Name Heavenly Father, in Your Name Lord Jesus Christ, in Your Name Holy Spirit.
Knowing what lies ahead, a new heaven and new earth, I press on toward the goal for which You are restoring me.

One thing I ask of you Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in Your house all the days of my life, to behold Your beauty and seek You in Your temple.

Even my faith is a gift from You Lord, even that I seek you is by Your Grace.
“And who is it that you seek my child?” I seek You Lord God, with all my heart and soul, with all my mind and strength. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, may it be so.

Yes, I seek You Lord Jesus, the Way to the Father with Your Spirit as my guide. In this way I bind unto myself daily Your Holy Trinity, Your Three In One.

I life up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? To whom shall we go Lord?
You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and come to know that You are the Holy One of God. Praise to You Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.

Readings, prayers & meditations – (Psalms, OT & NT, inserted here, and again listening, with added supplications and intercessions, as well as thanksgiving.)

Christ as light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield, overshadow me. Christ above me, Christ below me. Christ before me, Christ behind me. Christ beside me, on my left and on my right. This day be within and without me. Lowly and meek, yet all-powerful, be in the heart of each to whom I speak, be in my heart as well. Be in the mouth of each who speaks to me; be in my mouth as well. Lowly and meek, yet all powerful, Christ as a light, Christ as a shield, Christ beside me, on my left and on my right.

(as sung by the Father and the Spirit to us):
“May the Peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.”

In Your Name Heavenly Father, in Your Name Lord Jesus Christ, in Your Name Holy Spirit. I bind unto myself this day and forever Your Holy Trinity. AMEN.

[adapted from Celtic Daily Prayer]

In this way I experience sweet daily communion with the Creator of the Universe and lover of my soul. Such is His outrageous Grace and Mercy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Carmina Gadelica & The Watters Clan

In these writings from the 19th century are captured the spiritual heart and life of my Celtic family. Alexander Carmichael collected the hymns and prayers of the people of the Scottish Highlands and western islands, which were handed down from generation to generation, and which sustained a people who lived hard lives and suffered oppression throughout those generations.

The Watters "clan" can trace their roots back to those islands before fleeing to northern Ireland (county Antrim) during the "Clearances", eventually emigrating to America when the Ulster Plantations threatened them once again.

Their faith, weathered and beaten, remained their only steadfast rock as they forged a new life in Pennsylvania, and later the Dakota territory. Even incorporating it into Lakota life as they became part of those tribes. [See "From Clan To Tribe"]

And now, in my generation, we seek that truth and faith once again by God's grace. Knowing that our past is part of "who" we are, but that we also look forward to a new heaven and earth.

Mitakuye oyasin, beannacht De ort. (all my relatives, God bless you - in Lakota & Gaelic respectively)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The spiritual health of places -

As I alternate living between Hilo, HI and Sacramento, I have sensed differences between spiritual calm and tension, respectively. Here in Hilo there is a "pace", a spirit of aloha as Hawaiians call it. It is evident in how people treat each other (most of them anyway), and most notably for me, how they always yield to others on the roadways.

On the other hand, California and my beloved City of Sacraments has a spirit of anger and tension. Whether due to politics, crime, economy or just everyone always in a hurry I can't say. But, I find myself struggling to maintain my own personal spirit of aloha (for me the spirit & character of Christ) when I'm back in Sac.

I realize this may have benefits for practicing spiritual discipline, as the tension "drives" me to seek Him more intentionally there. Contrastingly though, the spirit of love in Hilo reminds me continually of our loving Father God, which prompts thanksgiving and a grateful heart,as well as a "drawing to Him".

What to do with such "openings"? I continue to seek Him wherever I am, trusting His Son's assurance that He is near. To persevere in faith, even more so in the places and people of tension. And of course, I seek out "thin places" in and around our City of Sacraments. I continue to follow Jesus by Grace and in His strength, hoping to be a source of His love and light (however small mine is) trusting Him with outcomes, etc.

I also try encourage others to do likewise, AND, I try to introduce others to Jesus; first through actions & attitude, later through gentle words and personal introduction to and invitation from Him. Getting around assumptions and biases, the historical and institutional church, even the words (Christian, Christianity, religion and more), presents challenges, but submitting to Jesus allows The Spirit to work in ways we cannot anticipate.

This journey on The Narrow Road is one we were all created to take, our adventures may be very different, but our destination is the same - a new heaven and new earth. Our responsibility is to encourage one another, and gently invite others to join us. Be encouraged in Him; Father, Son & Spirit.

only by Grace,


P.S. One place we can all do better as Christians (The Body of Christ, the organism called church) is in our institutional churches. Avoiding a spirit of competition and fostering a spirit of cooperation and collaboration will go a long way to introducing others to Jesus by reflecting His Character; love, humility, grace and mercy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A ‘”nutshell” update from Da Muddy Moose:

As our kids settle into life in their various pursuits and locations, Patti and I continue to “follow” where He leads. 

 Kyle & Laura thrive in Omaha (if that’s possible), he loves teaching physics at Creighton University, and Laura weathers second year residency at U. Nebraska Medical Center. Hoping we see them back in California in the future (Santa Barbara/Westmont??!!)
 Cody is excited as his graduate studies begin at my (Pat) alma mater, Sac State. Already loving classes, and getting paid as a grad assistant, he can’t believe it?! Also working at our Zoo, which is a bonus, and getting to rotate on all the animals.
 Karly and Phil are into family life, and holding down the home front for Nana & Papa. Finishing up their own studies in Sociology and Criminal Justice respectively. Anthony is thriving with all his BIG family; walking, talking and just getting into little boy trouble as best he can. 
 Patti and I are in Hilo for another three months, she continuing to serve the elderly community at Hale Anuenue, and me finally getting all my volunteer opps lined up for the next three months; Arc of Hilo, Wainaku Elem. School and YL Big Island, with time for outrigger and stand up paddling on Hilo Bay. And, of course my favorite role as “house boy” for Hilo Patti.

We have notions (plans to come) for an “ohana” addition to our home for Nana & Papa. The kids will take over our home and we’ll live “out back” in our own little Aloha cottage. Ministry continues as only God could envision and lead, and we expect to stay in our anam cara (soul care) upon return to the City of Sacraments. Breathing his Life and Light into those He places in our lives, so good be two broken jars of clay leaking goodness as He fills us up.

Packing for a short trip up to Corvallis, Oregon and visit with friends celebrating 60th birthdays (I’m already there), Sac State vs. Oregon State game, and more before my own flight back to Hilo.

All “only by Grace”, and God is good, all the time, God is good. So, seek Him and His plans for your own life. He promises a “great adventure”.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Getting life right?

Conservative Christians cast their disapproving glances my way. Even the liberal ones also seem to disdain me? Republicans, democrats, LGBT activists, both pro-lifers and pro choice, just about anyone with an "agenda", (other than unconditional love), hmm, maybe I'm starting to get life right? I love you world, I truly do.

Those "agendas" are just more idols disguised as justice and righteousness. No, I won't worship your idols. But, my love for you will/must surpass any disagreement we may have. Yes, I choose to love and defend you regardless the cost.

My "reputation" means nothing aside from my reflecting the love and grace of the One I owe my life to.

Regardless of my puny personal opinions and my beliefs, may my gay & lesbian friends know I love them above all and at all cost. My prolifers & prochoicers, war-mongers & peace-mongers, atheists, agnostics and more.

Hate me, curse me they may, but . . . Father I will love and forgive them as You have done me.

May my eulogy simply say, "In the end . . . his life was hidden in Christ."

Only by Grace, Da Moose

Searching for the "true" Jesus and His apprentices -

Matthew 5

The Message (MSG)

You're Blessed
1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

3"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

4"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

5"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

6"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

7"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

8"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

10"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

11-12"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Salt and Light
13"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Completing God's Law
17-18"Don't suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures— either God's Law or the Prophets. I'm not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God's Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God's Law will be alive and working.

19-20"Trivialize even the smallest item in God's Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won't know the first thing about entering the kingdom.
21-22"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

23-24"This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

25-26"Or say you're out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don't lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you're likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won't get out without a stiff fine.
Adultery and Divorce
27-28"You know the next commandment pretty well, too: 'Don't go to bed with another's spouse.' But don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.

29-30"Let's not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here's what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.

31-32"Remember the Scripture that says, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights'? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are 'legal.' Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you're responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you're automatically an adulterer yourself. You can't use legal cover to mask a moral failure.
Empty Promises
33-37"And don't say anything you don't mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, 'I'll pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying, 'God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say 'yes' and 'no.' When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.
Love Your Enemies
38-42"Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: 'Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

43-47"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bringing Creation Care Home

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 and teaches the kids too.

1. Use only manual or electric yard work equipment. (It’s good exercise also.)
2. No chemical herbicides or pesticides. (Instead nurture your mantids, ladybugs and lizards.)
3. Plant for habitat and creatures. (You’ll reap the benefits of beauty, AND entertainment.)

Practice conservation every day around home. There are many simple ways to do it and your utility companies are glad to help; energy saving light bulbs, water conservation devices, and more.

For motivation and inspiration here’s an excerpt from The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones:

“Jesus knew that God would always love and watch over the world he had made – everything in it – birds, flowers, trees, animals, everything! And, most of all, his children. Even though people had forgotten, the birds and flowers hadn’t forgotten – they still knew their song. It was the song all of God’s creation had sung to Him from the very beginning. It was the song people’s hearts were made to sing: ‘God made us. He loves us. He is very pleased with us.’ It was why Jesus had come into the world: to sing them that wonderful song; to sing it not only with his voice, but with His whole life – so that God’s children could remember it and join in and sing it too.”

Sometimes returning to elementary Sunday school roots (as teacher and student), is a really good thing! Practice creation care, and then sing along with all Creation!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The JOY?! of sharing in Christ's suffering . . .

As I am forced to lie low with a cold, I have time more time for prayer . . . the deep, Spirit-led kind. God reminds me that when I surrendered my life to His Son, He (The Father) sent the Holy Spirit (as promised) to teach and guide me. This is one of the profound mysteries of the Holy Trinity working (dancing) in unity as a beautiful relationship to grow us and at the same time renew the Kingdom ("make all things new"). I don't begin to feign understanding of this mystery, but sometimes the Spirit reveals things to me ("openings" as George Fox called them.) Today, I marvel at how the Holy Spirit enables us to pray out of compassion and with "suffering" for others and Creation. Filled with the Spirit and the compassion of Christ, we enter into the "groans" of Creations itself for the land and people; in poverty, in starvation, in death and dying, in tyranny and so much more that is a sign of brokenness in this world. We partner intimately with the Holy Trinity, Father, Son & Spirit in prayers that emanate from our guts . . . no words, just groans from deep inside. It is a most blessed "calling", this prayer. But God does not leave us there, He prompts us to do practical things; whether donations to causes or direct labor in the Kingdom . . . and of course, He takes our small (and seemingly insignificant) offerings and magnifies them for His Glory and the welfare of His Kingdom, which is here now, and yet also coming. This is life, to be yoked with Christ and share in His sufferings . . . there is an indescribable JOY in this that the "world" cannot understand or fathom in the least, but it is JOY unsurpassed, even heavenly. Out of darkness into Light, come Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Eternal Perspective

Eternal Perspective: an attitude of heart and mind, even spirit, that enables us to face each day without fear. To face even death without fear. It also enables us to share our stories of salvation without shame or guilt, because it assures us that we are totally forgiven and loved by God. That He has washed us clean, white as snow, and forgotten any transgressions (sins). It enables us, empowers us, to be an encouragement to others who might otherwise become mired down in their own quilt and shame. It allows us to be vulnerable and available, filled with compassion and mercy.
Coming soon; Part II, how do we get E.P.???

Sunday, July 31, 2011


An old Japanese man with long, white hair bends down and picks up three stones. He places them in orderly fashion at his feet. He stands and regards the stones.

The LORD grants me a vision. The stones come alive as a blessed community. They begin to dance in perfect unity, leading one another with divine love and grace.

The old man continues to regard the stones. I wonder, does he see the dance too?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Powerful thoughts on the life of Christ, and how we are to imitate it – The City Without A Church by Henry Drummond. Excerpts follow:

“If you ask what particular scheme you shall take up, I cannot answer. Christianity has not set schemes. It makes no choice between conflicting philanthropies; decides nothing between competing churches; favours no particular public policy; organizes no one line of private charity. Christianity is not at call carried on by committees. As Christ’s friends, His followers are supposed to know what He wants done, and try to do it – this is the whole working basis of Christianity. Next to its love for the chief of sinners, the most touching thing about the “religion” of Christ is its amazing trust in the least of saints.”

“His pulpit was the hillside, His congregation a woman at the well. His work was everywhere; His workshop was the world. One’s associations of Christ are all of the wayside. We never think of Him in connection with a church.”

“ . . . Christ did not pass among them as a very religious man. It is certain that the religious people of His time not only refused to accept this type of religion as any kind of religion at all, but repudiated and denounced Him as its bitter enemy.”

“It is a mistake to suppose that the working people of this country are opposed to Christianity; the working men would still follow Christ is He came among them.”

“In many lands the churches have literally stolen Christ from the people; they have taken Christianity from the city and imprisoned it behind altar rails.”

“As a channel of nourishment, as a stimulus to holy deeds, as link withal holy lives, let everyone use the church, and to the utmost of their opportunity. But beware of mistaking its services for Christianity. What church services really express is the want of Christianity.”

“Earth is the rehearsal for heaven. The eternal beyond is the eternal here. The street-life, the home-life, the business-life, the city-life in all the varied range of its activity, are an apprenticeship for the city of God.”

“ . . . even when the highest heaven lies all around us, when we might touch it, and dwell in it every day we live, we almost fail to see that it is there.”

Having been a “chief” of sinners, I am still a least of saints, but here I am LORD, speak, your servant is listening.
only by Grace,