Start Here

P1040146I write about learning to walk wisely, enjoy the journey, and find transformation towards wholeness, every step of the way.

History tells us that life itself is a journey, and that it’s the journey that is vital to our transformation.  Abraham was on a journey.  Moses?  40 years in the wilderness following the flame and the cloud and being transformed in the process.  David?  On the run.  Jesus? 40 days in the wilderness.  Paul?  On the road when he encounters the Christ.

In every instance, the literal journey is the backdrop for the soul journey each of us must take for our transformation.   All of us are invited, even called, to move:  from greed to generosity, lust to love, bitterness to forgiveness, despair to hope… and more.   What steps are we taking towards wholeness?  What steps do we resist?  How do we know when to move and when to stay?   How does money, sexuality, our relationship to our bodies, our vocations, our goals, enhance or impede our journey.

If the journey’s successful, we look more and more like Jesus.  If we get stuck wandering aimlessly, we look more and more like boredom, cynicism, and disengagement from the challenges of our time.

Because of all this, the theme of journeys, both literal and metaphorically, will frame these pages in hope that, every day, in big ways and small, each of us will hear the beckoning voice of Christ and take the next step….

There’s a hearing.  It comes to us in dreams, or songs, or after a conversation in the corner booth of a Tuesday night with the one we love, or maybe at a graveside or in a hospital, or in the wake of infidelity.  However it comes to us, we hear the voice calling, beckoning:  “Serve.  Give.  Reconcile.  Heal.  Embrace the challenge.  Risk.  Deny yourself.  Rejoice.  Celebrate.  Mourn.  Go. ” 

There’s a wrestling with what we’ve heard.  Was it the wine, or divinity?  The weakness that I’m easily dissatisfied, or the strength that I’m willing to risk it all, to shoot the moon, in pursuit of a better story?  Discerning between the Siren calls of temptation and the tug of the divine; having the courage to say yes, or no.

There’s a response.  Sometimes the response includes the creating of lists, naming the possible rewards and losses should we undertake the journey.  We pray.  We consult.  We listen to our dreams, more intently than ever.  Then we go.  Or stay.  Whichever way we decide, it will make all the difference.

There’s a preparation.  If we’re going, there’ll be things to do, so that already, before we step outside the house, our priorities have changed.  We’re reading up instead of watching TV, saving and buying what we’ll need.  Getting in shape so that we can handle it.  Learning skills, and finding our lives pruned, and richer for the less that it’s become.

There’s a leaving.  At some point, after we’re prepped and packed, there’s nothing left to do except walk out the front door, and whether it’s for a weekend getaway, or for last time, or for God only knows how long in between, this moment, this nano second of turning away from the familiar, is vital necessity, for though we’re told we can have it all, I know now that this is rubbish; know now that I can’t live in the new and hold on to yesterday.

Click.  The door is closed.  The Journey begins.

Our journeys define our lives because the best lives have movement of some sort – physical or spiritual, geographical or emotional, as we walk through valleys of doubt and grief, ascend peaks of prosperity and health, know the warmth of intimacy, the fog of isolation.  Through all of it, learning to navigate, take a step, move or stay put, and knowing when to do the one or the other, all this will change us forever.  In these coming days, I’ll be writing here mostly about the journey that is, or can be, each of our lives, told through lens of lessons learned as my wife and I prepare for, embark upon, and experience, our journey of a lifetime:  40 days of hiking in the Alps.

The themes of call, guidance, discernment, decision-making, preparation, focus, endurance, storms, carrying weight simplicity, encounter, beauty, fear, hope, rest, will fill the pages, just as they fill our lives.  And each post about  journey as a means of growth will be stored here.

A favorite author of mine says:

“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”  –

That’s what I plan to do in these next months.  Thanks for joining me!

25 thoughts on “Start Here”

  1. hi richard, i go to bethany, but we have never met. i really enjoy your blog and i have been comforted, inspired, challenged, and encouraged by your words. my husband and i are traveling all over the world, so it helps me feel connected to bethany. i am a words person, so thank you for sharing yours in sermons and your blog. i just linked to you on my own blog where i’m trying out blogging, too. hopefully your words will make it all the way to alabama where my friends and family are. grace and peace. shannon

  2. Dear Pastor Richard,

    Hope you have not forgotten the Tamangs in the whirwind of blgs, twitter and facebook.
    The simple message is still valid- God loves and wants all know him, repent and come to him.
    It is wonderful to know you are still with Bethany which means commitment to the congregation and toleration of the congregation! To be pastor of one church for a long time means the people there really love you and praise God.

    Be in touch

    Nicanor Tamang

    1. Ah, I get it. The title change came before the explanation. But does this not somewhat infer that transformation is predictable, even rational? I don’t think I completely agree with you on that.

      On another note, I like how you refer to yourself as “The Raincitypastor,” almost like the protagonist from some long bygone radio drama.

    1. Not me. I think there there is something glorious in symmetry and precision; I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it “divine” but glorious, nonetheless.

  3. Ohhh man. I thought I have been really following what you’ve been preachin’, but now? Hey,…I struggled with Math 099 and your talkin’ Fibonacci? Maybe I’m not gettin’ it?
    All things bright & beautiful brother! Keep preachin’ it!

  4. Richard,
    Greetings from Michigan.
    I think you would be interested in the work of an old art teacher of mine, David Barr. http://www.davidbarrart.com/ In addition to his global conceptual pieces, his sculpture and wall reliefs are all based on the Fibonacci series. Beautiful stuff.
    Thanks for the blog. It keeps my heart and memory open to meeting with you for coffee at the Greenlake Starbucks way back when.
    Jeff

  5. Hey Richard,

    Just wanted to say THANK YOU for introducing yourself to me at church and saying hi. I have been going to Bethany for over a year now, but I am definitely a passive attender. I am a student at UW and I have many other comittments to college ministries and younglife, so I haven’t really invested wholeheartedly in Bethany.

    That being said, I just wanted you to know that your sermons are such a challenging encouragement to me. I am excited at all the ways that I have been invited to be involved at Bethany.

    Your sermon today warning agains “spiritual consumerism” was a good reminder to me to actively seek out time to be in intimacy with Jesus, as well as others who know and love him. I know this can be a conscious choice we make every day, regardless of where we are in life/work/school.

    Thank you!
    In His Love,
    Katie

  6. Richard,
    I’m a past student and now full time staff member of Capernwray Harbour on Thetis Island we met briefly last fall when you taught here. i was the guy who helped you miss the float plane on the friday afternoon you were trying to get back home.
    Just a note to say how much your ministry has been apart of the Christ transforming power in my life. I read your book at christmas and attended bethany a few months ago with a group of Capernwray students on a missions trip. Your sermon was on Romans 8 and was one of the best sermons i’ve heard in years (especially with the hockey analogies). Since then i’ve been downloading the sermon podcasts and listening to them while i work here in the maintenance department.
    Thank you so much for your faithfulness it has been a really blessing and encouragement!

  7. Hi Richard, I work with youth in Monroe Wa and I really enjoy your podcasts and blogs. Obviously you dont know who I am but I wanted to ask for your help. We are trying to make Monroe a better place for teens by starting usic programming and we need people to vote for our idea. You can see everything at http://www.refresheverything.com/letteensrock

    Please, please please at least look at it and decide of you can help pass the word from there. Thank you so much for your time and consideration! I dont usually beg people but when its something you are passionate about its funny the things you will do!

    http://pep.si/bTt0lb

  8. Hi Pastor – question re: O2. In chapter on the Intimacy Invitation (or Invasion :-)): Prayer, you say that I can find more information on your blog about the practice of “silent” prayer – “focused on silence, sitting with the conscious awareness of Christ’s presence and listening for His voice.” (p169). Perhaps it’s on your blog somewhere, but I can’t locate it. Could you please provide the link or where I can find that resource? BTW – thanks so much for your powerful, timely messages. God has indeed given you a wonderful gift and you are using it to speak to us! Thank you and thank God!

    1. Thanks much for the encouragement and I’m happy to provide the “missing link” (and grateful we’re talking about prayer rather than evolution!). This article covers the essence of the subject well, though I’d suggest starting with five minutes or so, rather than 25! I’d also suggest that it’s possible to use longer prayers or passages of scripture, such as the 22rd Psalm or the Lord’s Prayer, matching phrasing with breathing and repeating.

      I hope this is helpful, and know that the broader American church, distracted as we are with pop stars, loud music, and glitter, desperately needs this simplicity. May you find joy in pursuing Him through this. PS – I’ve a new book coming in May, which I hope you’ll also enjoy.

      1. Thank you! – Sorry, I don’t see the link??? Am I not looking in the right place?

        We are on our second read of O2 and are very much looking forward to your next book! Thank again – dena

  9. Greetings Pastor Richard. Please consider publishing your blog on Kindle. It’s a very simple process that takes about 5 minutes to set up and then you don’t ever have to touch it again. It just picks up the feed from your normal blog and makes it available on Amazon for Kindle e-reader users. The only downside is that Amazon sets the price for the blog subscription ($.99/month), but I would gladly pay that for the convenience of receiving Fibonacci Faith on my Kindle. Here’s the link for setting up your Kindle Publishing account:
    https://kindlepublishing.amazon.com/gp/vendor/sign-in

    Thanks,
    Brian Barnes

  10. Richard,

    We met last summer at Forest Home. I work with Athletes in Action. We hung out a couple times during camp, we talked about ministry and how to be a better communicator. I have a super hot wife and I made fun of those crazy shoes you wore to the pool.

    I just wanted to let you know that I just received a copy of your new book. Thank you so much for thinking of us! I can’t wait to dive into it. I’ve also been listening to you via podcast over the last year. Very encouaraging to my soul.

    I still have you on my radar for people to contact when our football team (U of Arizona) comes up to play the Huskies this fall. Thanks again for the book!

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Moving towards wholeness and hope – step by step