Category Archives: Streams of Influence

Do you want to be healed?

I love the story in the Bible, in John 5, of the man who lay helplessly by the pool of Bethesda. The story goes that angels came and stirred the water, and whoever got into the pool first received miraculous healing. People flocked from near and far for a chance to be healed.

There was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years and couldn’t make it to the pool fast enough. “When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

What an insensitive question, Jesus! What do you think, certainly this man wants to be healed!

Can we stop and consider for a moment that we are to a great extent the authors of our own experience in life. We tend to repeat patterns of perception and behavior over and over without really realizing that there are other options open to us.

You know the old story of the woman who was asked why she always cut off the end of the ham before she put it in a pot. She answered that she really did not know why but her mother had taught her to cook a ham in that way. When she asked her mother and finally her grandmother the grandmother said that the pan that she had was not big enough for the whole ham. Often practices that start for very practical reasons continue far beyond their reason for being.

How often do we continue to follow the same patterns of behavior without having any particular reason for doing things in the way that we are doing them? It is my contention that the man at the pool of Bethesda knew how to sit on his mat at the edge of the pool but to do something different was somehow a larger challenge than he was willing to accept.

We can complain that life is not going the way we want it to go. If we want change we must be willing to experiment with doing things differently. I had a friend who decided he wanted to quit smoking. He threw away a whole carton of cigarettes. That is the spirit of willing.

There is a book on addiction that I have not read but the title says it all. The title of the book is “I will quit tomorrow”. Tomorrow never really comes. Change only happens in the present. The present is the only thing that is real. New life happens the way it did for the disciples of Jesus. They dropped their nets and followed Him. This is the structure of New Life. It happens NOW.


Bread and Fish

The feeding of 4,000 with just a little bread and a few fish

loaves and fishThe story of bread and fish, which appears only in Mark and Matthew, is also known as the miracle of the seven loaves and fishes, as the Gospel of Matthew refers to seven loaves and a few small fish used by Jesus to feed a multitude.

According to the Gospels, a large crowd had gathered and was following Jesus. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed  such a crowd?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

Jesus told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.

We have all heard this remarkable story of simple bread and fish. It seems to be a story that describes supernatural powers that Jesus had to out rank the natural order of things. Jesus seems to be like Super Man who could leap tall buildings in a single bound. He seems not to be confined to the limitations that you and I face every day. Here is a child, a little boy, who may have packed a lunch for himself and possibly a friend. His lunch of bread and fish was clearly “not enough” to feed the crowd gathered to hear Jesus.

Can you and I bring to mind the many times in our lives when we clearly have not “had enough”. It seems to me that the miracle of the story is that somehow the little boy showed up with what he had. Fear, defensiveness, shame and doubt can so easily block us from “showing up”. We are often convinced that what we have to bring to the party is not enough. We may suffer from low self esteem. We may hear voices from the past that accuse and judge us. These voices can direct our paths and determine our behavior in situation after situation.

This magnificent story invites us to bring what we have. Bring our bits of bread and fish. Even if the bread that we carry is stale and dry, we are challenged to bring it. Bring ourselves, open our hearts and our lives to “love God, neighbor and self”. This is what transformation and New Life are all about. If we think we are not enough and can make no difference in situations that we face in life that thought becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. In life, love is the answer to every challenge. I believe that we are invited to deal with ourselves and each other with care and compassion.


My hope is that this Blog will inspire a conversation about things that support us as we encounter difficulty and loss on our journey through life.

In the groups that I have led over the years we experience the gift of connection to others who are finding their way through painful situations that they never expected to face in themselves or in those who they love.

trippingAs I think of recovery, the image that comes to mind is the experience of unexpectedly being tripped up by some circumstance in life. Next we move around searching for a way to regain our footing and continue down the road.

Many things can cause us to lose our footing. The most difficult things can be those experiences that remind us of some difficult or painful experience in the past.

Chambered Nautilus

Chambered_Nautilus_ShellAn image that has provided rich insights to me is the image of the chambered nautilus. I realize that I draw on concrete images to provide a model to represent abstract and dynamic processes.

The chambered nautilus provinces such an image. As I look at this amazing creature I see an organism that carries its present and history on its back. Each of the chambers in the shell on its back are chambers in which the little fellow once lived. Each of these chambers contain varying amounts of gas that provide support and buoyancy to the natulilus as it wanders the sea floor. I think of these chambers as places that at one time were large enough to provide shelter, home and protection to the nautilus but now the nautilus lives in a much larger chamber. I imagine that each chamber remains important to the natilus throughout life as a source of remembrances of important life lessons learned in the various stages of life. The space that was completely sufficient at one stage of life becomes too small, limiting and cramped for the next stage. Life is always moving forward to ever expanding spaces. JD Phillips wrote a book with the title Your God is too Small. God and the life that God has created is always larger than we can comprehend. New Life is a continual process of moving into larger and more inclusive spaces of ourselves, each other and the creation itself. Someone has said that organizations are either growing or dying. This is true of individuals as well. Ideally as we move through transitions in life we are constantly transforming. As we transform we are able to appreciate more and more of life. This transformation “makes space” for more of ourselves and others. It has been my experience that isolation, fear, secretive living, defensiveness and the like stunt transformation and  keep us stuck in the smaller chambers of life. In a sense we need to be open to grow beyond ourselves to become ourselves.