00I am not a good sleeper.  Almost fifteen years ago I had a 10 month bout with insomnia. I went through all kinds of testing to figure out the problem.  At the end of the day it came down to one issue, my inability to deal with stress. I was only 22 at the time and my life really was not all that complicated. I had average stressors for a youngster.  I just felt every pressure and responsibility like it was a cinder block laid on my neck.  I wanted to convince myself I was a contemplative person but I really had a deeper rooted issue. I was afraid of failure. I was afraid of not impressing the people around me. I was afraid of missing out on opportunities.  I was afraid I was not measuring up to some invisible standard that haunted me. I could not rest.   It was in that dark season that I came face to face with how self-conscience and impatient I was. I wanted to make a big impact and I wanted it to happen immediately. With all this external passion, internally I was riddled with insecurity, caught in an identity scramble and looking […]

The Psychological Junk-Food: Cynicism

00 When we’re young we all lean towards idealism, believing that not only the good but the best is inevitable, seeing the world simplistically: black and white, good and bad.  Then eventually we come face-to-face with the bucket of cold water known as reality.  When we’re disappointed by people and circumstances the bud of cynicism begins to sprout.  Cynicism is really a reaction to disappointment.  Either our idealism or our idea about how a situation should work out is met with resistance.  When we’re let down and angered we’re faced with how to respond.  It’s at this tipping point that our justifiable frustration can turn into a poison that enters our own blood stream.  A cynic is a dejected idealist. We begin to think that cynicism keeps us alert to the potential dangers that lurk from the individuals and organizations that try to manipulate us into believing what they say.  The cynical voice in our heads convinces us we are more “streetwise.” So we surrender to the cynic inside us. I’ve heard it said that, “The problem with being a cynic these days is that it’s difficult to keep up.”  There is certainly no shortage of targets for the cynic.  […]

Lord of the Sabbath

00According to Levitical law the Sabbath is one of the key identity markers for the Israelite’s that they are “of Yahweh.” The rhythm of the Sabbath in all its forms (every 7th day, every 7th year and every 50 years) was the clearest living liturgy to remind them that God cares for them, provides for them and compels them to live generously (God also instructed them to allow the poor to eat off their land on the 7th day and then for an entire year during the 7th year). God gave the Israelite’s the gift of Sabbath to help aid them in keeping track of their place in this world (sorry Michael W. Smith). Sabbath helped the Jews identify whose they were, as well as it was to “bear witness” to the pagan nations. The Sabbath was a living rhythm that communicated the provision of God amongst those who worshiped false gods. So when Jesus gives himself the title “Lord of the Sabbath” in the end of Mark chapter 2 He is stomping on some toes. At the point that Jesus arrives on the scene there are a combined 60 oral and written laws surrounding how to keep the Sabbath. […]

The Pursuit of Humility

00A few years ago on personal retreat at a cabin I set out to catch some moles in the garden of my heart. I was not at rest going into that beautiful cabin with a warm and raging fireplace. I was anxious and unsure what God was doing in me and through me. After a couple days of digging I sensed the Holy Spirit setting a new agenda for me to live into. This new agenda was concerning my own humility or lack of. Inspired by Peter Scazzaro and Henri Nowen’s writing’s the following was what I wrote down in my journal. New tracks were being layed down for my character; humility does not come naturally so it must be an intentional pursuit. I revisit this journal entry quite often to refresh my focus on pursuing humility. The Pursuit of Humility 1 – Recalibrate under God’s acceptance more than seeking acceptance from others – I’ve often felt the pull to be measured and valued by my skill level, my charm, the strength of my knowledge, my accomplishments and whether people agree with me. My Application: In response I will massage into my life a rhythm of solitude and space where […]

Learning to Love My Wife

00My wife and I just celebrated 12 years of marriage. About two years into our marriage I began to see who I really was. I vividly remember brushing snow off my car in the morning and asking two questions “why do I live in New York” and “why did we have that argument last night.” The second one was obviously the more pressing question. I began driving to work haunted by something much deeper about the reason for that argument we had the night before. For some reason I had an epiphany on that bitter cold snowy morning, “Dan you love yourself more than you love her… really, you do.” I remember realizing this and not being able to get away from it. All day it pressed on me. It was like steam on the mirror was evaporating and I was starting to get a better look at myself. The more I saw the more that sad reality about myself sank in. I had gotten into rut of interaction were I was first looking out for my own needs, my own desires and my own concerns. Sure, I loved her, thought of her, cared for her but I realized my […]

C.S Lewis ‘Till We Have Faces

00‘Till We Have Faces is a book a read a couple of years ago because it was recommended by a good friend. I found it profound and deeply moving. It is a retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, which had haunted Lewis all his life. It is daring, experimental, and unlike anything before or after it in his published work. The setting for the book is in an unnamed time, in a mythical land of Glome. I assume it is set in the distant past. The leader of Glome (King Trom) has daughters: Orual and Psyche. Psyche, the younger of the sisters, is beautiful both of face and spirit and beloved by all. She is sent as a sacrifice to the gods when trouble invades the township. Orual is ugly (in her own words) and as an adult, does not show her face in public. After her father’s death, she is crowned queen, and finds that her life experiences have made her a wise and fair ruler. The story centers on the love between the two sisters (Orual and Psyche). But the love Orual has for her sister is exposed incrementally as you see her self-hatred, her […]

Sometimes God Pushes Pause.

00I remember about 9 years ago I was counseling a young married couple through some difficult stuff in their marriage. We had been meeting for about 2 months and were coming to the end of our sessions together. There was a significant moment when in closing both the husband and wife said “Dan you saved our marriage, we couldn’t have done this without you.” I recall that statement and the feeling that rushed over me and I liked it… too much. The power of being needed and being the only source of help was intoxicating. Little did I know but that moment kicked off a year of private ego stroking and a pursuit of more opportunities where I could be the spiritual hero. It wasn’t until the end of that year that God graciously pushed the pause button on me. I hate pause. I like to keep moving, keep going to get to the next part. But God is less concerned with getting us to the next sequence. True to His character he is more concerned with the state of our heart. I was tempted to blow past the pause God wanted me to take. I thought I was doing […]