Gordon Cosby may be the most influential pastor you've never heard of.  He's a model and mentor of the kind of life I write about in these posts.  And today, we need strong models, witnesses to the life of the Spirit.  He's one who attracted thousands upon thousands to the Jesus of the Gospels, many who were either burned out or turned out by the Jesus of suburbia bandied about buy a large segment of American Christianity.  His vision of Jesus and his way of life is particularly important in these days of increased suspicion, hostility, and violence. Gordon died on March 20, 2013 in Washington DC.  The co-founder of the Church of the Savior co-founder and life-long servant leader he passed into the full presence of God at Christ House, a hospice he helped to found for the homeless.

From the Washington Post:

Gordon was absolutely Christian. He was focused on Jesus and sought to live deeply in Christ. I once asked him if his intense focus on Christ did not get in the way of interfaith conversation and respect. He told me that it was his experience that those who went most deeply into their own religion’s truths seemed to understand each other and communicate with each other best. He was profoundly and distinctively Christian without an ounce of parochialism.

I was working with a group of preachers this morning to help them find their voices.  On a regular basis, preachers use their voices publicly.  But as these preachers recognized today, the voice they use publicly isn't always their real voice--their own voice. Your voice--my voice--is deeply spiritual.  Your voice arises out of who you are--your own God-breathed originality.  Your voice is different from the words you may speak.  Your voice is the living witness to all that makes you who you are; it comes directly out of the experiences that have shaped you, the truth that's real to you, your intimate connection with the Divine.  It is the true you God's made you to be.

If you know your distinctive, God-breathed voice, you're on your way to owning the gift you have to offer for the healing of the world.

The trouble is, our voice is usually hijacked by the voices in our heads that come from parents, older siblings, friends, enemies, religious leaders, affinity groups, and so on.  The voice we usually present to the world is the voice we think the world around us wants to hear.

If you want to live with integrity, to live as God desires you to live, you must find your own voice--peel back the masks we wear, strip away the falsehoods, stop the charades.  Only then can you live as the unique person you are meant to be.

Finding your voice is critical if you want to live a more focused, strategic, purposeful life--a life aligned with the God who made you--and to make a real difference in the world.

Intention: Today I will begin my search for my one, authentic God-breathed voice--so that I may live a more focused, compassionate, purposeful life.

EXTRAS . . .

Here's a witness to a young Indian woman who has found her voice and is leveraging it for good:

Pranitha Timothy: a voice for the voiceless

Here are two good pieces that can help you find your voice:

4 Steps to Finding Your Voice

10 Questions that Will Help You Find Your Voice

Below is an email exchange with a reader. He's given permission to post these notes. I thought it would be helpful for you to hear about another reader's journey into the prayer of the heart . . .

Dear Chris;

I write to say “thank you” for the encouragement I have received from your honest reflections in the downloadable eBook Returning to the Center. I sincerely hope that part 2 is available before too long. Is the entire book available anywhere? I have, so far, been unsuccessful in my web-searches I arrived at your website, and the above eBook, after reading comments about you and your work in Alan Roxburgh’s book Missional Map-Making and found that your writing spoke directly to the kind of journey I seem to be making at present. It is a journey into prayer of the heart – and I am experiencing all the many distractions, of which you speak.

Kind Regards


Dear Peter;

Thank you for your thoughtful note. Alas, part two is on hold for quite awhile. I'm working on another book on prayer now. Part two of my memoir requires some maturing before I can write honestly about the years since the first part ended. It'll be out someday, but not soon enough for you. My advice is to simply practice the Jesus Prayer. That sounds so terribly unhelpful, I realize. There are several books that you might find helpful. Here's a little list: Prayer in the Cave of the Heart, Cyprian Consiglio; Word Into Silence, John Main; The Cloud of Unknowing with the Book of Privy Counsel, a new translation by Carmen Aceveo Butcher (soooo excellent!); John Main: The Expanding Vision, ed. by Laurence Freeman and Stefan Reynolds, Prayer, Abhishiktananda.

The key is to simply practice what you know. Too many of us spend too much time reading and casting around for help when the help is as near as the beating of our hearts, close as our next breath. The ego doesn't want to admit that though and will keep disturbing you. Your chief work is to simply learn to step around the ego through contemplative practice. It'll learn to relax and "stand down" eventually. But it must learn, first that your serious and second, that stepping around it (the ego) isn't about its destruction, but its salvation. The recitation of the Name, along with the breath, will bath your ego in love and over the long haul it'll learn to trust that it doesn't always have to be in charge [smile].

Blessings your life and ministry, brother.


Dear Chris;

I have simply devoured your eBook. In my imagination, and feeling similarly spread rather too thinly like butter over toast (wonderful metaphor!), I accompanied you to the Wadi Natroun, to Iona, and finally Oxford; each places of great significance and interest to me. I have not yet read Merton, though I am aware of him through other writers. I am learning from your journey that the spiritual journey is a shared one, even though the physical one may never be a reality for me. You reiterated in your email that the key was realizing that the answers were as close as "the beating of our hearts, close as our next breath." And you are so right about the ego, with its clamouring voices, as one intentionally sets about cultivating contemplative practices. This is precisely my experience too.

Regards, and God bless you.


Continued from previous posts: So, when you come to the Wall, you will need to cooperate with the crisis as a gift of grace, as painful as it may be, as demonic as it may seem. For behind it (while not necessarily orchestrating it) is the Hand of God, guiding you to a new awakening to your life in Christ.

Again, as in Stage Four (in fact, all the higher or deeper stages), you will need guidance, spiritual direction from a competent friend, counselor, or pastor---someone who's not threatened by your questions and frustrations, who won't try to fix you, but who knows there's a mystery at work within you and who can hold you in faith as you journey forward past your fears into the newness of God. But here at the Wall, it's your spiritual practices, especially interior prayer, meditation, and contemplation that will see you through to the new you that awaits you on the other side.

When you emerge from this confrontation stripped down, leaner, cleaner, and more open to love---and if you have found a way to release your need for control and to play God---you will be able to say: "What I thought, I needed I don't really need. What I was sure I couldn't live without, I can live without. With God alone I am content." You will be able to say with Jesus, "Lord, not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22.42), and with Mary, "Let it be with me according to your word" (Luke 1.38). This is true spiritual freedom and readies you for the new outward engagement with mission and ministry that is Stage Five.

Facing the Wall doesn't mean that you're now free from the impediments and distractions, the temptations and seductions that hinder your relationship with God. But it does mean that you now know how to face them when they come.

to be continued . . .

Continued from previous posts At some point, usually initiated by a personal crisis or some other challenge, you will be brought face to face with a confrontation between your will and God's. Some have called this experience, "The Wall" (see Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich in their book, The Critical Journey).

In this confrontation, a subtle idolatry is exposed---an idolatry you've been able to cover up until now, that's remained hidden from your eyes, thought you've been bumping into it for quite some time. The idolatry is this: you want God so long as you can have God on your terms, so long as you really don't have to change in the deep places of your life, so long as you ultimately remain in control. This is, in St Paul's words, "Having a form of godliness but denying its power" (2 Timothy 3.5). It is the avoidance of the Cross of Christ. You can believe in all the Cross teaches about sin and salvation, but mere belief isn't what the Cross is all about. The Cross aims at your salvation, your transformation, your death and resurrection spiritually. You must experience the Cross yourself.

When you hit the Wall spiritually, the Cross is no longer an idea or doctrine, something that happened to Jesus long ago. You are united with Christ in his death, and you---if you walk the way of the Cross---will be united with him in his resurrection. Here you release your ego, your false and fallen self, which has tried to play God for too long now. And if you do, you will awakened to a face of God that you've not known up to this point, a depth of intimacy you've only longed for.

to be continued . . .