Definition of “I’m flexible”

Gracie with her Justin Bieber Doll

I was walking out of the RV, and I heard my wife talking to a friend on the phone.  They were discussing the plans for tonight.  I overheard my wife say “I’m flexible means I don’t want to make a decision.”  It stopped me in my tracks – right on!

So here’s some of the translations of “I’m flexible” in my life:

  • I’m not wiling to be intentional with my time
  • I don’t really value my own time or other people’s time
  • I don’t want to make a decision
  • I want you to make the decision, or…
  • I’m really being flexible – intentionally, thoughtfully and purposefully

Anyhoo, just thought I’d share that since it hit me so hard.

Love and peace from West Palm Beach, FL (where we’re at for a week or so),

– Adam

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Coffee at Starbucks & the Curse of Judgement

G’morning, all!

"You are heading in the right direction"

We’re in Front Royal, VA.  This is a pretty special place.  It’s flat-out beautiful here, and the Catholic community is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  We may move here, but…  we’re moving on for now, heading out of town by Friday (I think).

Last night I feel asleep after watching a netflix movie on the iphone (the only device that gets any bandwidth where we’re staying!) on the fold-out couch with Grace, Therese and Lilly (our dog).  It was not the most comfortable night’s sleep I’ve had lately (but Lilly was a good foot-warmer)!  I got up around 5:30am, which is pretty normal for me.  I actually like getting up early, but it’s harder in the RV, ’cause I can’t just walk out to the kitchen and make coffee — the kids’ bedroom is the kitchen too.

Anyway, I started praying when I woke up.  Actually…  I was crying out to the Lord.  Literally.  I just repeated, over and over again, “Lord, I cry out to you!”  I was still feeling bad from last night.  I snapped at Grace, she felt bad, I felt bad, other’s reacted and felt bad, and our evening prayers had a dark cloud over them.  I felt defeated by the enemy, like he was laughing at my attempts to stand up against him.  Inside, I understood this and mentally refused to give ground, but my heart was low.  It’s at these low times when the enemy comes in with every doubt, fear, etc. — he sees a crack, and opening, and throws everything at it:  “what the hell are you doing in this RV with four daughters, a wife and two dogs?  what a loser!  and you’re homeless.  and you think you’re going to help other people, have a ministry… ha!  you can’t even get along with your family.  heck, you can’t even pray with your family. what a joke.”  Well, Henry Ford once said “If a man says he can, or if a man says he can’t, he’s right.”  When I believe the enemy’s lies… he’s right.  When I believe my God, when I believe my own heart, he’s wrong (and I’m right).  The enemy is right there, always, giving his spin, his interpretation of everything that happens, isn’t he?  On last night, on this whole RV trip, on my whole life.

Well, I’m feeling better this morning.  Prayers have helped.  Perhaps your prayers for me were the key. The darkness has passed…  The bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, and “heart-fortifications” are melting away, revealing themselves as shadows, or built on shadows, dispelled by the Light.  But I do have to be aware – I am under attack.  I’m trying to remember that the enemy’s resistance gets stronger when we get closer to who we are and to fulfilling our assignment.  He’d like to take me down, to take the teeth out of everything I’m doing and hope to do for the hearts of my family, the hearts of men, and… my own heart.

A friend of mine, Dr. George Burriss, taught me a very interesting theory about judging others.  Although I am not 100% certain it is theologically “correct”, I use it as a working model anyway, and it’s very helpful.  Here it is, in a nutshell (or my take on it, anyway):

We know that Jesus warns us very solemnly that we are not to judge others:

Luke 6:37-42: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  [38] Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Mat 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

But what is judgement?  Dr. Burriss used the analogy of a court of law to illustrate. First, in a court of law, if you were to just walk up and sit in the judge’s seat, you’d be arrested or thrown out of court for contempt.  That is, it’s not your place.  And what does the man (or woman) who sits in the judges seat do?  He/she does three things:

  1. determines motives
  2. declares innocence or guilt
  3. hands out punishment

Therefore, if we find ourselves doing any of these three things, we are in illicit judgement of another.

Of course this does not mean that we’re not to judge the actions of others.  In fact, we must do this (e.g. that child steals or lies, so I won’t let my child play with her).  What it means is that we can’t know the guilt/innocence or motives of another, i.e. we can’t know their heart (in fact we can’t even speculate about it), and it means we can’t punish them.

This has been very helpful for me.   This means that I can say “that man told a lie”, but I can’t say “that man is a liar”.  If I find myself judging motives or determining their guilt or innocence, I need to repent immediately, ask for forgiveness, and turn my attention to my own heart and why I felt like I needed to judge this person.  I’m especially guilty of punishing others (I’m thinking of last night, when I decided to close up my heart against my wife… true, it was a thought/action designed to protect my heart, but it was also designed to punish her.  that was my clue that I was in judgement)!

But here’s the unusual part of Dr. Burriss’ theory: he interprets Jesus’ warning against judgment as a warning to save us from the curse of judgement.  He interprets “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” to mean that if you judge someone of a particular sin, you have been, are, or will be guilty of that very same sin.  So, for example, if I judge someone as guilty of sexual sin, I’ve just cursed myself to be guilty of sexual sin.  If I punish someone for being selfish, I’m cursing myself to be guilty of selfishness.

So… if I am judging motives, guilt or innocence, or punishing another, I’m falling under a curse, and I won’t be released of that curse or forgiven until I repent of my judgement, release the other person, and ask for a release from the curse myself, i.e. call on God’s mercy (and He’s just waiting to release me and give me His abundant mercy).

Why this teaching now?  Well, I’m realizing that part of the bitterness I was experiencing in my own heart, as well as the bad feelings and the opening I gave to the enemy to attack me, was due in part to my judgement of my family and my wife.  God… forgive me.  For those who know me, it’s actually kind of humorous.  Me, judging anyone of anything is pretty hilarious.  Especially if you know how good my wife is!

Yes, it is all melting away.  The fog is lifting, I can see the goodness of my wife’s heart, and the goodness of God’s heart towards me.  Thank you.

Until next time,

Peace be with you!

– Adam

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Maddy’s 10th B-day – video

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Maddy’s 10th Birthday!!!! Happy B-day, Maddy my dear…

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Battle in the Shenandoah River State Park

The pull from the moment — into the past, future, or fantasy — is strong. I notice my old foe restlessness is back. I had a long respite. He’s back with another old enemy; irritability (and my family might say with meanness, too). but my self awareness has grown. So now I see it, sometimes grudgingly, but I don’t know the cause. My gut tells me it has to do with an old and deep heart wound. I’m being called out of my lethargy and into battle.

Front Royal, VA Shenandoah River State Park

Now, some would say that knowing the cause is not really necessary, that God’s healing love will continue to bathe us in healing graces as we walk with Him, and I don’t really doubt this. Indeed, I think there’s a dangerous trap in the notion that we have to unearth and understand every past hurt, every twist in our psyche, in order to find healing — it’s just not true. However — I feel the Lord calling me deeper, welcoming me through my sufferings, woundings, regrets… and it’s my reluctance to follow that troubles me. I think He wants to show me something, but I’ve been shrinking back, finding a million reasons to avoid quiet time with God, and, I believe, it’s in silence that He can lead me deeper. I realize that even this blog post is, in it’s own way, avoiding Him. But it unclogs channels, and in its own way it’s following Him deeper. I think it’s one of the ways He speaks to me (through my own writing, that is).

Let me give a little context, if I may. For newcomers to my blog and as a reminder to folks already following, my life has been powerfully and irreversibly changed by believing that we really, truly are, at this moment, in the thick of a life-or-death battle four our hearts and the hearts of our brothers and sisters here on earth, and engaging in that battle. Demons are real — actual entities with personalities –, and that I must engage in battle. Daily. Literally. I mean like verbally rebuking them, binding them, and casting them out kind of real. I believe this because it’s my faith and because I’ve had honest-t0-goodness, personal, experience with demonic oppression and freedom from it. I’ve had real demonic entities cast out of me. Why do I believe this? Besides the physical effects I’ve felt during deliverance from them (and they are bizarre), my life has been completely (and I mean completely) changed because of the deliverance from them (feel free to contact me directly if you want more details or if you are interested in more info or if you think you need freedom in this area yourself).

But demons won’t go if they have a right to be there. Let me give more background. Satan (when I say “Satan” I mean anything and everything opposed to God, all evil forces, demons, curses, hexes, etc.) comes at us in two ways, through “intrusion” and through “legal ground”. I believe most of us experience both of these regularly, but most of us are only familiar with the intrusion tactic. Intrusion is an attack from the outside, and we experience them all day long. All sorts of temptations, fleeting thoughts, bombardment with images, etc. But they’re from the outside. But when he has legal ground, Satan attacks from the inside, and the damage is much more insidious and difficult to deal with. Obvious grounds for his legal right to be in us is stuff like serious sin and unforgiveness. Less obvious are psychological (and even physical) wounds, inner vows, and curses (generational curses and actual curses through those involve din the occult). This may seem strange to my Catholic readers, and it was startling for me too — how can I be subject to these while I’m in a state of grace? But it’s true nonetheless (I can get into this deeper if you ask me). Anyway, when Satan has legal ground, he’s got a right to be in us, and he has terrible power to mess with us. The experiential difference between an attack through intrusion and oppression is profound. My experience is that attacks through oppression manifest as an ongoing, overpowering, unrelenting desire to do something bad, and you do it, and even after confession, repentance, etc. it continues. It cannot just be willed away. I also experiece ongoing modes of thinking, feeling and acting that are harmful and seemingly impossible to uproot and change. The legal ground must be discovered, the reason for it must be removed through repentance and healing, the door that gave Satan legal ground must be closed, and one must ask for and receive God and His gifts in the place that was occupied by the enemy (there’s actually much more to it than that, but I don’t know if I have time to talk about strongholds in detail. Let me just say that we have psychological and even physical constructs – some built over our lifetimes – that must be dismantled too in order to be truly free).

I’m giving you this background because I feel something coming up, coming to a head. I’ve been irritable, restless, having a hard time being quiet and in the moment, and I notice myself in these modes of thinking, feeling and acting that are a lot like autopilot, and very unpleasant for me and those around me. Frankly, it’s embarrassing. I like to be peaceful, joyful, holy, grateful and living in all these good promises our our Christian walk. I also like to be seen as being holy, peaceful, wise, etc. I want freedom once and for all, done with, and I’m a great and holy guy from that point on. But that’s not the way it works. The enemy is ancient and cunning, and there is no such thing as resting. Really, there’s no such thing as pretending the battle is not raging. Disengaging from the spiritual battle has effects that are as real as if you were on an actual battlefield and just decided to pretend that no battle is going on. You just get taken out. And that’s what I’m experiencing – taken out-ness. On top of and ins spite of, and frankly because of my spiritual pride. And battle fatigue. The pull is strong… to go back to sleep. Especially when the battle is raging. Like when the whole family is fighting in the RV. Two tremendous forces pull me in these situations. On one hand, I want to “toss a grenade” — come in and just crush everything and everyone. On the other hand, I feel a strong pull to disengage. this takes many forms. Like putting on my earphones, turning them up, and listening to some spiritual audio (lol!). Or going outside and smoking a cigar in the cold and watching a movie. When I take either path, I’ve walked right into the enemy’s trap. And, just like sin, it seems right at the time. It seems like it will give relief, but you all know the story. It feels bad. Really bad. Ah, but the narrow path… the path that is neither of these, the path of love, peace, joy… the path of God Himself. This, I believe, is a path of battle and surrender. Ignoring the battle part does not work, because the enemy is actually attacking me (and my family), and his attack must be dealt with. He must be dealt with, and it’s beyond my human power to do it. It must be done through Him and by His authority, but — interestingly — He gave me His authority and asks me to resist the enemy. He asks for my engagement against the enemy.

So I’m feeling the enemy’s attack, and i’ve been vacillating between engagement and the other two options. I’m running out of time to write. It’s almost time to go to Paige’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s a prayer I borrowed and modified. I am going to pray it, then go back into the RV and engage. Engage my heart, my will… and engage with my wife, daughers and with life. I love you, pray for me!

“Arise, warrior! The battle rages around you! Though you feel faint, the mighty spirit of the Lord dwells in you! Stand up! Have courage! You have a fearsome enemy, but an even more fearsome God!
I put on the full armor of God – the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel, helmet of salvation. I take up the shield of faith and sword of the Spirit, and I choose to wield these weapons at all times in the power of God. I choose to pray at all times in the Spirit.
Jesus, I sincerely receive you as my authority, rule, and dominion, my everlasting victory against Satan and his kingdom, and my ability to bring your Kingdom at all times and in every way. I now bring the kingdom of God, and the authority, rule and dominion of Jesus Christ over my life today, over my home, my household, my vehicles, my business and finances, over all my kingdom and domain.
I now bring the authority, rule and dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fullness of the work of Christ, against Satan, against his kingdom, against every foul and unclean spirit come against me. (name the spirits that you know have been attacking you). I bring the full work of Jesus Christ against every foul power and black art, against every human being and their warfare. I bind it all from me in the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and in his Name.
I call on my patron saint St. Augustine and all the saints, and I summon my guardian angel and St. Michael and St. Raphael and all angels in the authority of Jesus Christ and command them to destroy the kingdom of darkness throughout my kingdom and domain, destroy all that is raised against me, and to establish your Kingdom throughout my kingdom and domain. I ask you to send forth your Spirit to raise up prayer and intercession for me this day. I now call forth the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout my home, my family, my kingdom and my domain, in the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, with all glory and honor and thanks to him.”

(borrowed from Ransomed Heart Ministries)

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Our new dog Muffin

20111108-221630.jpg

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New pictures, video, etc.

hey Fam and Friends!

Not sure if you knew we’ve got some new pix, etc. at the picture page (link is at the top of the page, but here’s a direct link too): http://www.lifeoftheheart.com/pictures/

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Winter’s Beauty – a poem by Therese

The little fairies fly,
they dance across the sky,
so beautiful and grand,
a winter wonderland.
The soft and gentle breeze,
as crystals hang from trees,
the birds have flown away.
With each and every day,
the frost seems to lay
so pretty white and plane,
made out of frozen rain,
so calm and grand,
a winter wonderland.

– Therese

Therese with headphones

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In Fort Scott, Kansas with the Kerr family

Hello friends and family,

We send our thoughts and prayers from the road!

A quick update, since I haven’t been able to sit and really pour my heart out lately.  Michelle is in Winnipeg with the girls, visiting Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Maria and a host of friends.  Word is that they’re having a ball (I’ll try to coax them into a blog post).  As for me, I’m in Fort Scott with my business partner Dan Kerr and his wonderful family.  The RV is parked out on their yard (it’s a big yard, ’cause they’ve got a farm), and we’ve been enjoying just hanging out.

we've set up camp in the yard

The latest news is that I’ve gained deeper insight into my need to be working with Dan side-by-side right about now.  We’re on the brink of some serious growth, and the need for focus and energy into the business is intense.  For this reason (and some others), we’ve changed our strategy a bit.  Instead of continuing without a home-base, we’re making Fort Scott our home-base for a “season” (perhaps a year or so?), with multiple week-long forays out in the RV to the various places around the country that we want to visit and “interview”.  This will add a very-much-needed sense of stability and rhythm back to our lives, and will allow for mostly uninterrupted work on my company.  I’ve got the strong sense that this is the season for work.

 

 

 

You don’t know what you don’t know…  I’m seeing, at least in my own heart, a pretty deep craving, perhaps even a need, for some stability right now.  The trauma of selling the house, uprooting from our network of dear friends and our familiar neighborhood and living without a home is significant.  We’re having lots of good times, lots of adventure, and movement and change are happening indeed.  I feel pretty strongly that we’ve made a good long-term decision, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge.

I’m sitting on the Kerr’s front porch, watching the sun go down… his cattle are grazing around, the dogs are playing.  It’s getting chilly, and there’s a gentle breeze.  Life is good, God is good.  The lover of my heart is here with me.  And He’s with my wife and daughters in Winnipeg.  I miss them and want them “home”!

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Notes from my meeting with my mentor from Oct. 18th

a common sight in my family

(this first part is regarding feeling bad about disappointing someone)

There’s a difference between cause and condition: I can’t cause him to react in a certain way, but I can create conditions to incline him to react in a positive way.

___________________________________________

(this second part is in response to how I was feeling the week leading up to the session)

dealing with a state of being like mine (sadness? using the term theologically). St. Thomas describes sadness: “weighed down by circumstances”, feeling stuck in current circumstances, and moreover the attempt to move to better circumstance is filled with resistance, and fills one even more with a sense of being weighted down. Sadness is a sense of feeling stuck or beaten down by life, discouraged.

There are a couple of paths out:
a) lower level/practical – do something that gets me out of myself – give myself away, find a situation in front of me in which it’s easy for me to be of service, easy to act just for someone else’s good. This pulls you out of yourself, turns the focus onto something/someone else.
b) higher level – VSPA – vision, strategy, plan and action: getting clear about these. What’s a plan? A plan is an attempt to implement a strategy. What’s a strategy? A strategy is an attempt to implement a vision.
Look at the example of the three brick layers: The first brick layer was asked “what are you doing? He said “I’m putting this brick on this brick”. the second brick layer was asked “what are you doing? He said “I’m building this wall.” The third brick layer was asked “what are you doing?” he said, “I’m building a cathedral.” Number one had no vision beyond action. Number two had more vision, but only so far. The third has a vision for the entirety of the vision. The great challenge is to figure out how to have a sense of vision operating at the level of day to day action.

(this part starts to unpack/understand vision, mission, current situation)

Vision – this is the ideal.
Say in your mind “current reality” because a vision only has power in connection with your current reality/situation.  The challenge is having true insight into your current reality and your vision.
There’s a great breadth of attempts to define vision (vision for your life), and it’s often confused with mission.
Definition of vision: a compelling image of an ideal state, or a compelling ideal future state of being in time.
Breaking it down:
Image is not a concept; it engages your imagination. It’s not concept-less, but.. it’s more evocative than a merely “abstract” concept. So when you have a vision of something, that truth, that insight takes on the “color” of an image, and engages your mind not only intellectually but also at the level of your imagination.
To have power, a vision must be compelling. It must be attractive, and so attractive that it begins to pull you. If not, you don’t have an authentic vision yet.
Ideal: An ideal is a perfect model, an “exemplar”.  Monks used to copy manuscripts in what was called a “scriptorum”, in which there was an “exemplar” — the perfect text, the flawless manuscript. They’d work to make real the reality that was there with them. The exemplar is “the ideal that must become real”
MISSION:
Whereas vision is about identity, mission is about purpose. Vision is about being, mission is about doing.
Recall the Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life”.   He wanted to help churches, and then people, be relevant by having purpose, so he gave them something to do. He focuses on the “doing”.  A book should be written that’s called “the identity driven life” – don’t focus on what to do, focus on who you are, because then what to do will flow from that. Mission will flow from vision.
In scripture, men/women are told their identity, then sent forth on mission. Mary’s identity: “full of grace”, her mission, mother of god. Isaiah, Moses. Socrates (know thy self). If you really know who you are, you’ll know how to act.
John Paul II – authentic human action vs. mere human activities. Activities. Purposeful (specific goal), deliberate (saying yes, I will do to this), conscious (aware that I have a goal and that I am choosing to do that goal). Action follows being; authentic human action flows out of authentic awareness of self.
Concept of vision applies in different categories: business, life, marriage, etc. but there’s basic differences between these kinds. How to arrive at vision is rarely written about. Most ideas of how to arrive at vision are based on Steven Covey’s model that “best way to envision a reality is to create it” – create it, and go after it, and make it real. The basic problem with this model is that it won’t be authentic.
The Catholic tradition is different: it’s not the desires of your heart, but rather the desire of your heart; discovered in you that which is not from you. That would apply to someone’s life call, e.g. Priesthood; not primarily from outside, but bubbles up from within. Desires of the heart are fine as long as they’ve been crucified with Christ. Remember, there’s a war waging within us, and we must beware “go with the flow”.
The American mode: your source of vision is you. Catholic tradition: you are to discern vision.
There are two categories of vision:

  1. the kind for building a company
  2. the kind for building yourself

One deals with becoming what you are, the other with become what you are not. What’s difference?

Most everyone talks about second. “You’re at this level; e.g. 10 employees, want to be 20 employees – therefore, you have to become what you’re not” – or e.g. to become a concert pianist; requires many years of hard work.  For an amateur pianist to become a concert pianist, she must become what she is not.
But the process of growing in holiness is not becoming who you are not: it’s becoming who you already are.  This means you already are holy, like a masterpiece, like a statue locked in marble (John Duns quote – the sculptor does not make the statute, he removes what’s hidden” or Michael Angelo – “my job to set David free”).
Am I holy? Yes! because God’s Holy Spirit dwells in me. Am I living the life of holiness that God intends? No. That holiness already dwells in me, but I usually do a pretty good job of hiding it. Growing in holiness is the process of removal, not so much about adding things (e.g. more prayer time, more activities), but removing the things hiding what is already mine because of God. I have to “realize” my ideal state of being (realize in both senses of the word; bring about and recognize).
Question: What does the first son of the king have to do to become the king?  He does not need to become something he’s not, he just needs to be! But he eventually has to “realize” what it means to be the son of the king – recognize it and “make real” all the things that a king is going to have to do; stewardship, responsibilities in accord with his identity, ready to step up when it’s his turn. In so doing, did he ever become someone who wasn’t? NO! he only became what/who he was.
In business, I see myself as helping it become what it is not. I’m growing it. That’s fine, for a business. But for myself? That’s a different path. That’s a process of becoming more fully what I am.
We tend to transpose the fist onto the second; growing ourselves into what we’re not.

Current reality: REAL.
vision is an attempt try to capture, in some kind of image form, a state of being that is where I must go, where I must tend towards.

HOMEWORK for the week: pick no more than three areas of my life where I’m trying to get a vision. e.g. work, company, men’s ministry, marriage, father, son of God. pick one under “becoming what is not” (e.g. business), and one or two on the other side (e.g. relationship with kids, or me myself).  Approach the process of envisioning in two ways:

  1. cast a vision out there: this is currently what I’m doing right now. cast out 3-5 years, pick exemplar “what would that look like” – if I could build anything, this is what it would be. write it down.
  2. Then, with stuff like marriage, “God, you are the author of my marriage. what are you trying to speak to the world through our married life? give me your vision for our married life, and show me clearly the current reality for our married life; where are we at right now?”

If I do this well, I will begin to feel a sense of “pull” (as opposed to trying to force myself towards a vision that is not authentic, that does not “draw” me); the more clearly I can state my vision, the more I will be “pulled” out of my current reality to the vision, instead of trying to lift myself out, and feeling stuck. if it’s authentic, it will lift me up and out.

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