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The End of All Our Exploring is a book about trying to delve deeper with your friendship with God. From my personal and professional experiences as a psychologist and pastor, it investigates what it takes to create a relationship with God. You can have my book for free when you enter your email below and subscribe to my blog.

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Sep
26
2017

Often in my work, I hear stories of those who have fallen to unfaithfulness. In a four part series, I will be writing about some different aspects of infidelity: the statistics, the motivations behind an affair, the consequences of having an affair, and finally, ways to protect your marriage. I would love to hear your stories in how you have helped someone, how you have protected your marriage, or how you have been impacted because of unfaithfulness.

Some of the Statistics

First, in a recent Barna study, 4 out of 10 Americans believe that infidelity is morally acceptable. For Christians, that number was 1 out of 10. Perhaps this is the reason unfaithfulness is on the rise.

When reading research about those who have affairs, the statistics can vary greatly. Most researchers come to this general conclusion:

That over a third of married men will cheat on their wives;

That nearly a quarter of all married women will cheat on their husbands;

And that more than 50% of all marriages will be impacted by one of the spouses being unfaithful. Grim statistics if you think about them.

Here are some other interesting facts that we know:

Back in the 1960’s, it was usually the husband who was unfaithful. Today, researchers are finding that women are just as likely as men to have an affair.

Here is some more interesting data (Lampe, 2000):

  • 10% – “One night stands”
  • 10% – The affair lasts no more than a month
  • 50% – The affair lasts more than a month, less than a year
  • 40% – The affair lasts two or more years

Perhaps you are thinking, “This can’t be a problem in the church. Certainly the moral standards of Christians are higher.” There is growing evidence that infidelity is also a tremendous problem in Christian circles. While the research was done almost twenty years ago, one of the latest viable studies showed that 45 percent of Christians indicate having done something sexually inappropriate, and 23 percent were unfaithful (Anderson, 2000). These older numbers are not encouraging and are most likely higher now.

Here is maybe the most important statistic—a recent University of Chicago study discovered that a third of all marriages end in divorce because of an affair. A summary of this study: if you have an affair, it is likely you will lose your marriage.

It is vital that we understand how infidelity happens and effects individuals, marriages and families. Countless times I have sat with couples or individuals who been swayed into being unfaithful to their spouse and then have to face the ramifications of those choices.

And I am not immune; in my own life, I have experienced this same struggle and temptation. I too am bombarded by the message of my culture, “You are your own. You don’t have to answer to anyone. Go ahead…No one will know.” While I have been faithful up to this point in my marriage, I know that without being intentional in protecting my marriage, I also could just become another statistic.


In: Culture, Faith
Tags:
Sep
20
2017

This is my rendition of Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus which I completed in 2015.

A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.

Leonardo da Vinci 

I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them: Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden.

St. Augustine

Almost twenty-five years ago, shortly after becoming a Christian, I came across a remarkable painting. I was at my school’s library in downtown Chicago—Grant Park was right outside the window from where I sat. As I turned the page of a book, the 15th century Italian painter Michelangelo Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus caught my eye.  I was flipping through a bunch of books that I had grabbed off the shelves. I was just wasting time, waiting for a class to begin.  Immediately, this painting caught my eye, because it wasn’t your typical “religious” artwork. In fact, it was almost too non-descript, and at first I didn’t realize that it was a painting depicting anything sacred or religious—it just looked like a painting of a few guys eating lunch together. I’ve only seen this painting in art books, and one day, I hope to venture to the National Gallery in London and see it up close.

That day when I caught sight of this painting, it began for me a new way of seeing Jesus. Something was special about this painting, made up of nothing more than oils placed with some thought and skill on the canvas. As I sat and stared at it, I realized why it held my attention, and I recognized its uniqueness. It was how the characters looked. When I open up an art book now and flip to the painting, I realize that it depicts the friendship of God in an astonishing manner. Back then, you know what caught my eye? Simply this: Jesus looks real. Gone is the blond hair and blue eyes. He looks like a real Hebrew guy, olive skin and all. Caravaggio did something earth-shattering in his time as an artist—he painted Jesus like a real person; amazingly, he looked human and real to life. In fact, very uncommon for his time, most of Caravaggio’s models were peasants from local villages. Instead of painting the noble and the wealthy as his models for John the Baptist, Jesus or any other biblical character, he was painting the cobblers, fishermen and maidens of his day, and therefore, when it came to religious art, for the first time ever, his paintings took on a look that was authentic and true.

In this painting of Caravaggio’s, Jesus looks like a person, someone you could know, the guy next door. He seems approachable. This is the operative word—Jesus in this painting looks like a person. Before this, in the art world—for the artist, Jesus was never a person—he was just “God.” Most of the artists in this period were painting the “majestic Christ”—the unapproachable Jesus, the one on the throne, the one you needed to schedule by appointment. But none of this actually captured the biblical narrative, because as we know, Jesus really is a person, a friend, someone who is very approachable. With Caravaggio’s interpretation, you see this “friend” aspect come out onto the canvas. Jesus is just hanging out, eating a meal and shootin’ the breeze. When I saw this painting in my early years of being a Christian, this was the Jesus I wanted to get to know. You could get close to him, and this was what I wanted. Unlike other religious art I had seen up to that point, it captured Jesus as someone you would want to get to know. As a contrast, look at some of the artwork from this period or earlier, and you will notice that the characterizations of Jesus are oblong and uncomfortable. Let me illustrate some examples; you might have seen some paintings depicting Jesus like this:

  • Painting No. 1: Baby Jesus is pure white, and his face looks like he’s 59 years old—wrinkled and balding. He wears a smirk, a baptismal gown and a bratty look.
  • Painting No. 2: Jesus has his kingly pose, no smile, and wearied look. It looks as if he might want to think about getting a prescription for some Prozac.

Again, these portrayals of Jesus aren’t realistic. They don’t tell the story that the Bible tells. These works of art do not depict Jesus as he really is. However, Caravaggio was getting into it, painting as if he was there, sitting at the very table, and showing you something sacred and important. This is the Jesus we are going to try to encounter in this blog. The real one.


In: Spiritual Formation
Sep
17
2017

For those who are interested, I now have a second edition of my book The End of All of Our Exploring available for free. Simply sign up at the top of my web page at kellybonewell.com to get the latest edition of the book. The book comes in both Kindle and Apple formats.


In: Christian Faith
Oct
13
2016

Over the summer, I had a conversation with a friend who has 3 sons all under the age of eight. I told him about a type of poetry which actually can be fun to write – haiku. I asked him to have his sons to try it out and write a few. Since then I have been addicted to writing haiku (I haven’t written hardly any since I was in my twenties).

What is haiku?

  • The essence of haiku is “cutting” (kiru). This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images in the poetry.
  • Traditional haiku consists of at total of 17 syllables using only three lines of poetry – strictly using 5, 7, and 5 syllables on each line.
  • It often incorporates a nature motif or a kigo (a seasonal reference).

I don’t always use nature themes, but I keep to the syllable restriction. Here is one of my favorites from this summer. It is a triad haiku – incorporating one poem from three haiku. It is called The Sea is Mine.

 

dark pages, its dark

pages turning leisurely

invoking powers

 

4000 miles long

beyond the end which begins

turning and withdrawn

 

the language silent

wind, wonder –  I can’t describe

this grief and mercy

 


In: Poetry
Tags: , , ,
Oct
13
2016

I’ve been reading Solo: An Uncommon Devotional for quite a while. It puts things succinctly and simply. It gets at the heart of what it might look like to follow Jesus.

In a recent one I read – Walk with Me – there was a phrase that I   spent some time thinking about. It came in the midst of Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus is sharing some good stuff about following him and he says it is an easy journey (I have often thought – it’s easy to follow Jesus? I must be doing it wrong). But then there are periods of my life when it is actually easy. And this is where I listened to these words, meditated on these words, Watch how I do it.

How does Jesus do it? I wondered.

In this period of my life, I have come up with this phrase which I use every now and then when I am counseling someone, be it a leader in our church or a client. The phrase is simply Jesus most often leads with grace.

As I was thinking about that phrase, how does Jesus do it – that’s when it came to me. Jesus does it by leading with grace.

More to come next time about that word grace.


In: Christian Faith
Sep
03
2014

 

it is this
this morning
misunderstood
somewhere beneath sudden
with first words
outstretched
like stealth
strung by its
smooth-stilled legs

venet­ian silence
abreast
a blink
and undressed open
beside over under
fur­rowed whis­per
choir cer­tain
a vest­ment kiss
piece by piece

uprooted
savor of coral
of autumn reach
and another
gath­ered or beheld
imper­fect
side­step into twist
arisen touch
woven and
kept


In: Poetry
Tags: , ,
Mar
20
2014

I assume every atom invites our soul. It knows things we do not.

I lean observing a spear of the same grass blade and now hoping to cease from inadequate creeds and nature. Houses and rooms, the shelves honor and unaware—the atmosphere is wooden and naked.

The full noon rising from bed, so proud that it knows the meaning of its origin.

We shall no longer take things nor always look through books.

We shall not look to ourselves.

I have heard of the beginning and there was never any youth or perfection, out of the dimness always increase and identity, always distinction, always elaborate.

Here we are lacking not a thing, proven with each turn.

We think we are satisfied.

People we meet, we live with them—authors who invite us to dinner—these nights bend certain rest, come backward through the fog and spread limitless like a child laying outstretched in the grass.

Now it seems to us, here we are uttering in faint tongues that we wish we could with ease translate. How could we answer, I do not know.

I guess it means we give the same—understanding that somewhere, the moment life appeared we knew it, but somehow have much of it forgotten.


In: Poetry
Tags: , , , ,
Mar
11
2014

IMG_0220

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sky seems so uncertain

and on paper, the mountain is flat

or often when walking

I wonder how cities are named or why.

 

And I walk miles like circles or clusters

and applause goes everywhere

–drawings in the dust–

nearby music is playing,

it is the skin sane click of cars hobbling by,

the recusant water rinsing a basin

and a breath, a learning breath.

 

The Pharisees had come down from Jerusalem

the sweet kill and a pick-pocket

and I walk miles or I am leaning against this music

that is playing in the next room.

 

I have a forwarding address

the sky seems so uncertain

and on paper, the mountain is flat

or often when walking

I wonder how cities are named or why


In: Poetry
Tags: ,
Jan
21
2014

When I was in middle school, I loved basketball. I was always next door at the Egan’s shooting hoops with kids in the neighborhood or by myself. I was so dedicated and I have many memories of playing in the dead of the winter wearing out gloves my mom bought me.

My freshman year I went out for the team and made it. However, I was the proverbial bench player. When I did play, I was awful – my hands just didn’t work like they did when I was playing next door. After that season, I realized I just wasn’t very good at basketball, not at least playing at the high school level. That was a very deflating experience because  I thought what now? What do I do with my life now—I really thought I might be the next Dr. J…

That spring, I decided I would ditch basketball and take up tennis. Now this was different from playing basketball; right from the start I was fairly decent. While I wasn’t the worlds greatest tennis player, I did play on the team throughout my high school years and was probably good enough to play at the college where I went. There was difference in playing tennis versus basketball—it was natural for me.

This taught me an important lesson which I keep relearning in my life. When it applies to what you do whether it is your work or what you do for fun, you should:

  • Spend your time focusing on things that you are innately gifted at
  • Spend your time focusing on things in your life that are life-giving

Sometimes I meet people who do the opposite of this. They spend a lot of time doing things that they are not gifted at and most importantly, pursue things that are not life-giving.  Now granted when it comes to what we do for a living we sometimes don’t have a choice in these matters. However, what we do outside of that part of our life, it is vital that we focus on pursuits that are life-giving.

As one example in my life today, painting is very life-giving for me. While I don’t have the talent of a Van Gogh, I am also not too shabby. By putting this into practice, I’ve gotten better and most importantly, when I paint I get energized and it flows into other areas of my life. This is just one of those life-giving aspects—it is when you know that you are becoming good at doing something.

The other thing is this—doing these types of things also help me to connect in my relationship with God at a deep level. Essentially, painting for me is worship. It is a  time in which I can release the stress of the day. It is a time in which I can try to tune into his voice. Like many who might be into woodworking, knitting, running, you name any hobby—I am not only learning on how to do something well, this thing that I do also strengthens my relationship with God.

So what do you do on a regular basis with your free time that is life-giving?


In: Spiritual Formation
Dec
24
2013

One of my favorite assignments while in seminary was in a Systematic Theology class  where we had to write creeds and confessions. A creed or confession is simply a statement about some aspect of faith for an individual or community. Creeds are not intended to be comprehensive, but to be a summary of core beliefs and in writing them, it can help us fine tune what we believe. It is a wonderful and thought-provoking exercise to put down on paper in terms of what you believe about a certain issue. I highly recommend you try it. Below are some of my beliefs about God.

From the beginning, He shows us that he is the Creator; He created the heavens, the earth and all that lives. He made the seen and the unseen: ocean and wind; animals and angels.[1]  Most importantly, he created us, his masterpiece and child.[2] An important part of his nature is creativity as seen by all that he has uniquely made. God is an uncreated Spirit, and he is substantially more than any person we could imagine.[3]

God is holy and is vastly different from us and anything he created; he is dependent on nothing and no person, and indestructible from any power or person.[4]Everything separated from him has no life.[5] There is no place where he can not be found and likewise, there is nothing that can contain him.[6] God is always right in everything he does; not once has he made a mistake or been wrong in a decision. He is fair and full of mercy; nothing evil is found in him.

There is a security found in God. He does not change in his character; he is consistent and constant. He is perfect and good in every way. However, he must always reject anything opposed to the way he designed the world, namely sin. He is honest; he always speaks the truth and can not lie. At the same time, he can be deeply moved; just as with him, it is he who gave us our emotions.[7]

God moves the world in the direction of his purpose. He knows the beginning, the end, and most everything in between. But because He has chosen to make children rather than dolls, he doesn’t know every detail.[8] He is strong and able for anything; nothing can stand in his way.[9] Because of this relationship, God can be flexible in our relationship with him. By living in relationship with us, he sometimes changes his mind on account of us.[10] Though he is in control, he is not controlling. He can take charge, but he can also leave us room to move and grow. However, he does give us the choice to follow him or walk away;  if we do choose to walk away, we will experience our greatest loss.[11]

God is highly personal; His greatest passion is relationships and his greatest desire is to be in friendship with us, his most remarkable creation. He is close and involved because he wants to be known. Though he has no beginning or end, he enters time to rescue us, his lost children; he is not removed from the world and its brokenness.[12] He is not selfish or has his life centered on himself.[13] At one point in history, he literally entered our world to die for us and ransom our lives. He experiences the greatest loss so that we may live. He is friend to the unlovely and the lost; anyone who comes to him, he does not reject.[14] He is the most authentic love we will ever find.[15]

In the end, He will bring justice and perfection.[16] His creativity, which began with a purpose, ends with a purpose that is everlasting and focused on a relationship with those who come to him.[17]


[1] Genesis 1-2

[2] Genesis 1:26-27, 2:1-25, Psalm 139:14

[3] Luke 3:21-22

[4] Job 22:2, Acts 17:25, John 5:26

[5] Job 38:41, Romans 11:36

[6] I Kings 8:27

[7] Isaiah 63:7-9

[8] Jeremiah 18, Jonah 4:2

[9] Deuteronomy 10:17, Joshua 3:9-17, Proverbs 21:30

[10] 2 Kings 20:1-6, Jeremiah 26:19

[11] Matthew 9:9, RICH YOUNG RULER

[12] Deuteronomy 4:7, Jeremiah 23:23-24, Psalm 90:1-2

[13] John 18-19

[14] Psalm 68:4-6, Romans 4:17

[15] I John 3:1, Genesis 1:27, Ephesians 5:2

[16] Revelation 20

[17] Revelation 21-22


In: Spiritual Formation