Ash Wednesday

Tonight I went to a church close by my home, Montrose Church, for their Ash Wednesday service.   My family and I attended a few Sundays there during my sabbatical this past summer (2013).  The really wonderful thing was that we already knew a few people that attend the church.  Love how God brings people together.  I thought the pastor did a great job of articulating the meaning and purpose of Ash Wednesday and helping us establish the fast.  Thank you Pastor Dave Roberts.

I came home to prepare a one page “guide” for myself to create or deepen a few practices to turn from my sin and towards Jesus during these 40 days of Lent (minus the Sundays) before the resurrection of Jesus.

I found this short and insightful (fun too) 2 min video on Ash Wednesday.

Even though I have known the basics about Ash Wednesday this short video was helpful.

Why was Jesus so direct? (Journal entry & listening prayer)

Each morning I write out a prayer, often in conversation with Jesus over his word. Generally, I record my conversation with Jesus and share with a few friends. In this spiritual community we call this sharing our – My Daily Bread (See link for more info on this process from my mentor).

Today I share my prayerful conversation with Jesus about his words to his disciples when he says, “Why are you afraid you people of weak faith?” I share and hope this is an encouragement and inspires you to get to know and trust Jesus. At the very least you can see my relationship with Jesus.


When Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. A huge storm arose on the lake so that waves were sloshing over the boat. But Jesus was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, rescue us! We’re going to drown!”

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you people of weak faith?”
Then he got up and gave orders to the winds and the lake, and there was a great calm. (Matt 8:23-26)


Jesus, I know when you are speaking to the disciples you are not insulting them, nor demeaning them by saying they are people of weak faith, but rather you are describing the reality of what they trust and how robust their trust in you is – it is weak. In the midst of a very scary situation for them (the boat is being tossed and turned) again, it would have been reasonable for them to be very afraid. Yet, in this moment you don’t comfort them rather you describe the reality of where they put their trust. Then, you give orders to the sea and things become calm (which I am sure they are comforted by this situation). In the previous moment you tell the disciples – “Let the dead bury the dead.” You are speaking some pretty strong words here. Very clear and to the point. What is going on here? Why did you need to be so clear and direct?

John, I know such clear and direct, confrontational kind of talk is not the way you normally talk, nor lead. And, I speak in many different tones and strengths. In these moments I am gathering a small group of people together for my life to be planted within them. In a sense it is very compassionate because they would not be surprised (well, not completely surprised) by what the cost will be in following me. In the formation of this early team I needed to draw the line and describe reality about what it means to follow me. It is a narrow path. Yet, it truly leads to life. Abundant life. But, initially and throughout the journey of following me, being with me, having me formed within – requires a surrender that most people will not choose. John, don’t you find yourself with clear choices of either the narrow way of forgiving Sungshim for a comment or look? Sometimes you’d rather (and you do at times) send her back a like-minded jab? Everyone who follows me goes through this process over and over again. This was the beginning of a new way of living for these disciples. On a deep level I was kind to their ego alerting them that if they were going to follow me their ego would need to die and surrender to my life within them.

Wow, Jesus, I can see this in a whole new way. This isn’t completely new, as you and I have conversed about these moments when you are quite intense. I need to be reminded again and again. I wonder when I have prevented your life that is in this form from budding because I was afraid of upsetting people. I ask for your wisdom, grace and love when these moments arise in my life. Deepen my trust in you to surrender to your life flowing within so that I can be clear and direct when you lead me in that direction.

Jesus, help me to attend to the way your Spirit moves within me so that I can grow deeper in my trust in you. Help me to take the risk of honoring your voice within me and go with you. Surrender to the Spirit’s moves in my heart and mind. Amen.

Contemplative Breathing

IN – I breath in your heart of truth and love.
OUT – I breath out the freedom of surrendering to your life flowing through me.


* Thank you to my wife for encouraging me to share this.  Thank you honey!

Empathy is the glue that holds us together

Do you ever think about the difference between empathy and sympathy?
Even think there is a difference?

Brene Brown has a thoughtful and humorous take on the difference.

RSA Shorts – The Power of Empathy

In this short video you will learn why empathy is challenging for many people, but isn’t that complicated if we are willing to give it a shot.

This is originally from Brene Brown’s website here

Great story on Marriage and love

“Danny and Annie” from StoryCorps

I watched this simple video. A simple story of two people loving each other over the years. I think we need to fill our hearts with these kinds of relationships.

What sort of relationships are we meditating upon?
We will become like those relationships.

What is the hardest part of communication?

Before we get into the main thought I want you to pause for a moment and think about what is the hardest part of communication for you.  Where do you tend to get stuck?  What causes you to be triggered into a survival instinct (fight, flight, or freeze)?  With that in mind I will share what I read today.

Today I read a blog post by Corey at Simple Marriage (I recommend you check out his site).  I refer many people to his site and posts.  Today the quote that stood out to me that gets at the essence of communication is this:


“Communication is about handling what the other person thinks and feels.”  

- Corey @ Simple Marriage

This jumped off the page for me.  I thought he nailed it.  This is when I tend to react or shut down.  I’ve grown in my ability to listen to my wife (for instance).  So, if she shares a different point of view, I am decent at handling this message.  Where I tend to get triggered is when I perceive her “getting me wrong.”  That is when I can react from a survival instinct, rather than staying in the conversation to hear  her out fully.

When I am able to handle the message the other person is sending then we can truly meet as two people.  Our relationship can grow and we can move forward together.

In future posts I will share what I do to grow in handling the message.

Awareness is the first thing needed to change any habit.

Did you grow in awareness of where people can get stuck in their communication?

[I'd love to continue this conversation below in the comments.]

Journal Entry – Giving thanks!


Rejoice always.
Pray continually.
Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  (1 Thess 5:16-18)

Jesus, may this word become my substance to sustain me today.  May I learn how to return to joy – the sense that you are glad to be with me and treat my weakness with tenderness.  When I see that “I’m glad to see you John” look on your face I am inspired to stay in the conversation with you and keep talking and listening to you.  Help me to see what the father is doing today.  Inspire me to see all the things that I can give thanks to you today.  May it be natural and easy for me.  As I live this way I can be confident that I am doing your will as a way of life.  This is my deepest desire.  To do your will and to know, to see, what you, Father, are doing right now, and to have Jesus, you, mentor me.  Spirit, keep your words of life before me and help me to meditate on your life giving wisdom each moment.