What is True

The gifts I have received from my spiritual directors include their sensitivity, alertness to my story (both my successes and my struggles), and their support as I continue my spiritual journey. These soul friends have helped me identify the particular path on which God is leading me without telling me the way. (more…)

Poetry as a Spiritual Compass

Perhaps this is true for everyone, but I can only speak about myself: I was an English major in college nearly 30 years ago, but I still act like one nearly every day. I cannot read anything without a pen in my right hand, ready to underline a phrase or section that hits me or to scratch out a quick note in the margins. Whether reading a book, a newspaper or even a magazine in the doctor’s office, I still look to see whether there is a thesis, body and conclusion. And when someone sends an email, I’m looking for spelling errors as much as whatever information is being communicated! I’m hopeless. (more…)

When God Chooses Friends For Us

In my final year of seminary, my friend Mike approached me and asked if I would meet with him to pray on a weekly basis. He was interested in church-planting, and he knew that I was interested in church-planting, so he suggested that we pray together to discern whether God was calling either of us to this ministry.  Thus began months of praying together every week through which we sensed a call to plant what is now The Upper Room (http://www.pghupperroom.com/main/). What Mike didn’t tell me at the beginning of all this was that God had spoken to him earlier and told him that “You and Chris are going to plant a church together.” But it’s a good thing he didn’t share this with immediately. Through patiently discerning God’s call together, we learned a lot about prayer and we forged a new and deep friendship.  Almost five years later, our greatest strength as co-pastors is that we pray well together, and our weekly prayer times continue to be the center of both our ministry and our friendship.  God has used these years of praying regularly with Mike to teach me a number of lessons. Here are three of them: (more…)

Three Gifts

Who I’m becoming and who I am is a testimony to gracious mentors in my life along the way. Not all of them would call themselves “spiritual directors,” but they have nonetheless served me as such. So many of the good assumptions, expectations and beliefs I hold dear I was given in mentoring relationships. (more…)

Breathe, Look, Trust

For almost 30 years my wife Nancy has been one of my best spiritual teachers.  A woman of deep faith and a centered heart, he’s my primary teacher in learning to appreciate the daily holiness of life.  She keeps trying to teach me three important spiritual lessons.

The first is to breathe.  I am a driven, Type-A person.  I rush from task to task, checking off completed work, and thinking (or over-thinking) about what lies ahead.  I get totally focused on myself and my work.  Just when I’m about to reach the point of feeling majorly overwhelmed, Nancy will walk by and utter one word – “Breathe.”  She knows, by looking at me, that I’ve forgotten to.  Oh, I’m respirating. Mostly I’m gulping air.  I’m not breathing deeply and evenly.  I’m not inviting God, with each breath, to breathe the Divine into me and nourish my soul and not just my oxygen supply.  I’ve reach the place where I now hear her simple instruction “Breathe” even when she’s not with me.  Then I slow down and think of a variation of an old hymn lyric – “Breathe with me, breath of God, Fill me with life anew, That I may love what Thou dost love, And do what Thou wouldst do.” (more…)

Lessons Learned

Both of my spiritual directors over a span of 20 years have taught me a great deal. Here are the top three things that come to mind first.

It’s OK to be quiet together with someone.  In the beginning I was quite chatty and my director seemed almost austere.  But we were meeting at the altar of the church where he served and the sunlight would come through the stained glass and I could see the communion table behind him.  I was amazed at these holy moments.  (more…)

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