“Raise a Little Hell”

How I trooped back to church through Rock with some monks. January 2021

After forty years of church, seven as a pastor, I lost my religion.

I wanted nothing to do with it. I was frustrated, burned out, and angry. Depression and anxiety overwhelmed both medications and counselling. The anger was rooted in hurt, disappointment, and tiredness. It led to behaviour “unbecoming a pastor”, storming out of meetings, or swearing at an elder.

These have consequences, rightly, and sadly so. I was retired for health reasons, burnout and depression. Thankfully, this allowed me to retain my ministerial credentials. An irreverent Reverend. Some desired stronger consequences, which I admit, had some justification.

After forty dutiful years – church attendance, Christian Schools & Colleges, Catechism, Small Groups, Seminary, and pastoring – I was free falling, with further to go.

I was bad to the bone in the province of stinking thinking. To make ends meet I drove transport, long haul. Its cab, was my cell, jail and monastic, retreat and remand. Here, I wrestled with God, swamped in self-pity. I believed no one could understand my despair and humiliation. I grieved for a job I’d loved and lost, more than I’d done for any person. Talk about stinking thinking!

I was going through a “teenage rebellion” in my forties, or midlife crisis. So I turned the Rock up loud, from the fifties to the naughts, and beyond. The defiant screams, heart-broken anger, and biting lyrics with raucous guitar riffs and heavy back beat, articulated my state of mind for several years.

Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Sammy Hagar, Styx, Trooper, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, John Couger Mellencamp, and of course, U2 & Midnight Oil, plus others.

They did what no one else could do, stick with me, in a living hell of heart and mind. Providentially, they were backed up by God, through the prayers of my Men’s Group, spouse, family, and friends.

Eventually their prayers infiltrated the driving rock lyrics to say, “Hey Mister! It’s a beautiful day, don’t let it get away! Someday you’ll get it right! But today, as a man in motion, start taking care of business again, provide for your faith life, stop letting the four strong winds toss you about, feel the hand of God reaching out for you, making your own Northwest passage.”

God did not speak so inarticulately. Yet, overtime, He impressed that and more on my heart. I began salting my Rock with Cistercian Chant. Then one day I noticed I was praying for others. Then rock was joined by Jazz, Western, Classical, followed some time later by Fernando Ortega, John Michael Talbot, and Newsboys. Gradually church attendance crawled from 5 times/year, to once per month, which stepped up to twice per month, then I was back into a steady, weekly pace. I was in church again!

I told my men’s group, “I really don’t know, how I got from where I was seven years ago to here. From a mental hell, to something beautiful today, not quite heaven, but at least walking on sunshine more often than not.”

Their response, “Remember, we prayed for you…, A LOT!”

Have I found religion again?

Well, I’m not free falling anymore. My faith’s been restored. There are things I don’t like, so I raise a little hell with God, who changes me to see something beautiful despite the ugliness.

Some beautiful things are I am now at home in not one, but two congregations, and two small groups. Plus, I work part-time for my denomination again. All faithful, not perfect, like me, partnering with God to change the world to the place where the streets have no name.

“How do we get there?”


“It could be a name, yet, it’s a thought that changed the world.”

Did mine, thanks to Rock and monks, I found myself still in the hands of God.

Holding a light for another, gets messy

The God of Astrologers?


December 2020

Is God in your horoscope?

It was for three wise men in the Bible (Matthew 2:1-12). They were eastern scholars in the tradition of Daniel and his friends from Babylon. The wise men saw in the movement of stars and planets the birth of a Jewish King. Today some think this was the Great Conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter, that happens every 800 years.

We may think “superstitious” reading such connections between planetary movements and world events.

Yet, God guided them through their astrological education. He led them on a journey to Bethlehem to present gifts to Jesus, a toddler at the time. An act of adoration and worship. In the Bible others too looked to the stars and worshipped!

In Psalm 8, David looked to the expanse of stars, and wondered “What is humanity that You are mindful of them?” He saw both the stars and us as God’s handiwork. He saw our insignificance in comparison to the vastness of creation and worshipped a God who was yet mindful of him.

Like David, people today look to the stars and planets, some through astrologers’ horoscopes. They see in their movements a direct influence on their lives, the why and how for their good and bad experiences.

When you look to the stars, what do you see?

Some see what the wise men saw, movements predicting and influencing world and life events.

Others connect them into constellations. They see their movements in relation to earth’s orbit around the sun, marking times and seasons.

Still others feel themselves shrink beneath the vast, ever-expanding universe all around and over us.

And some see all these and more. They perceive the God of the Bible. He comes to them in a journey across a wilderness, within or without. Here they gain wisdom and knowledge through lived experiences, and encounters with God. These shape their lives for good, even through the bad.

You can see God in the stars because He made them. He created them to mark the seasons and times, thus they also mark our celebrations and festivals during the year. But before these secondary marker lights existed, God was The Only Light! David saw that! I pray that you may too. May the stars point you to an infinitely creative God, who influences your journey for the better as you come to worship Him through Jesus.

Bible Passages:

  • Genesis 1:14-19 The Fourth Day
  • Psalm 8 David’s Stargazing
  • Matthew 2:1-12 The Wise-men
This new Hubble image reveals the gigantic Pinwheel galaxy, one of the best known examples of “grand design spirals”, and its supergiant star-forming regions in unprecedented detail. The image is the largest and most detailed photo of a spiral galaxy ever taken with Hubble.