giving grace


“When you’re trapped inside a social system where you constantly have to work for your own superiority and can slip into inferiority in a moment, you are inevitably very insecure. That is the honor/shame hierarchy. God doesn’t participate in such a system.” Richard Rhor

How do I tell you my friend, my neighbor, my wife, my daughter, my brother, my sister that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, forgiven, accepted, brought in, empowered, loved?

For that is my calling. That is primary what God wants of me: to pass on to you what He has given me – to pass on truth and grace. Once you understand, then that’s your calling too.

Many times I don’t know how to do it and I feel so helpless. I don’t feel smart enough to figure out how to get beyond your resistance. Sometimes I am lost in my own insecurity and am afraid to try. But in my heart of heart I so want to. For when I meet you there in that true place of worth and forgiveness, acceptance, brought in, empowered and loved, it is like being in the light and we have true connection with one another and for that moment I am living with you in the real, not in the dark.

What I found is the only way I can fulfill such a duty is by letting my brokenness lead, the brokenness He has reached in deep to meet me there, to reduce me and inso freeing me.

Sometimes grace is wonderfully terrifying.

I hope to meet you there.



“Oh I will show them through this drill. They will get it.”
“Oh they didn’t get it. Got to try another drill. Then they will get it.”
“They still didn’t get it. Why didn’t they get it. Ok try something else.”
“Argh! They still didn’t get it. They will never get it. Why try something else. Just accept they won’t get it.”

This same internal dialog can occur for the counselor, teacher, mentor, pastor, and even parent. It is the frustration of someone who thinks they have the ability to control the outcome of another’s development.

Coaching, like teaching, mentoring and even parenting can seem like a course of futility. I am reminded that such frustration is not the issue of the one I try to coach. It is my issue of control. “If I do this, they will do that.” That is a control issue.

Coaching is a matter of serving. It is a matter of coming along side in the journey of learning. It is giving perspective, guidelines, encouragement and structure. But we don’t use those to control, thinking we can control the outcome. They may not get it.

But by grace, they do get it. Not of a work of the coach no matter how clever and wise but in some moment of mystery it happens. They develop because it is in the divine design of human development. That development will not happen without an environment that gives structure and support. But we delude ourselves if we think we with the right structures and supportive actions will make the results we want in a young person’s or anyone of any age’s life. So as coach or counselor or pastor or mentor or teacher or parent, we only act out of serving, cooperate with and have faith in the Grace Designer and stay the course because we are responsible to lead and called to care and remind ourselves that we are not in control of results.

Trust and Obey as the old song goes.


As I was running errands I drove down a modest street with just a few isolated shops. There were not any people outside that I noticed at first (it was fifteen degrees out). Then from the corner of my eyes I notice a lady who appeared to be stuck between some piles of snow at the end of a crosswalk. I pulled over and ran to her. She appeared to be a woman in her fifties, but a frail fifty-something, and pretty shaken up. I think she was there for several minutes before I came. The snow turned icy on that small section of the corner and she had fallen. As I helped her up, she found it difficult to get her feet under her and even had difficulty, it appeared, using her knees to boast herself. I was worried that she may had injured herself when she fell. She was thankful for the help. I helped her get to the dry cleaner. She was carrying some clothes to bring there. Once in the store, she appeared no worse for wear.

In the meantime she gave me several hugs of gratitude and was so relieved I was there. She told me she just had Chemotherapy and was weak. She realized she shouldn’t have tried to walk alone to the dry cleaners. I asked how she was getting back home and she told me a friend was picking her up there. I told the owners of the cleaners what had happened and they assured me they will watch over her until her friend came to pick her up.

A few more hugs from her and I left.

I was deeply moved.

Anyone of us can be in a fragile and helpless place.

And at anytime there can be a moment of deep connection.

Even with a stranger.

As I am making myself available to do retreats and conference I wanted to post some thoughts of what I have done or can do. I am hoping for opportunities. If you know of groups and churches that may be interested, please pass this on. I hope too add on video clips of past examples of my speaking. My wife, who is much more savvy at that, will be working on it.

If I did a four day conference where I lead all the sessions (given grace to do it) this is my schedule:

Morning sessions: Grace Overshadows Shame…Always
Hiding and Shame: Jesus and the Man with the Withered Hand
Deconstructing our strengths: Jesus and Peter’s ego
Beauty out of Brokenness: Jesus and Mary M’s despair
Leftover Shame: Jesus and Paul’s thorn in the flesh
(See prior post for details)

Afternoon workshops: How To Lead People Into Grace (leadership track)
1. The Power of Presence
2. Giving illumination, Stirring the Pot and Strengthening the Resolve: First three stages of Grace
3. Walking Through deconstruction, Waiting for Empowerment and Celebrating Freedom
4. Leading Out of Your Own Brokenness

Evening Sessions: Knowing What His Grace is Doing in You Right Now.
1. Stages of Grace and Transformation -the process of grace
2. Examining Resistance – the opposition toward grace
3. Experiencing Brokenness – the need for grace
4. Practicing Spiritual Disciplines – the means of grace

This model can be adapted to suit the context of where I may speak. It can act as a menu for groups to consider for their next outing. There are several other tracks I have done for more specific groups such as marriage and men’s issues but this gives a good idea of what I am passionate about and uses much of the thoughts and ideas of the book.

This is my basic bio:
Education: BA. Moody Bible Institute, MDiv. and MA. Psychology at Trinity International University
Experience: Pastoral work -15 years and Professional Counselor 24 years, Founded and Directed Asian American Christian COunseling Ministry, speaker and Author of Resisting Grace

my classic headshot:Jon_Warden

This recent picture of Pope Francis embracing a man who was disfigured reminded me of this story I read of St. Francis of Assisi kissing the leper.
May the work of grace work so deeply in all of us, first starting with me.

One day while Francis was praying fervently to God, he received an answer: “O Francis, if you want to know my will, you must hate and despise all that which hitherto your body has loved and desired to possess. Once you begin to do this, all that formerly seemed sweet and pleasant to you will become bitter and unbearable, and instead, the things that formerly made you shudder will bring you great sweetness and contentment.” Francis was divinely comforted and greatly encouraged by these words.
Then one day, as he was riding near Assisi, he met a leper. He had always felt an overpowering horror of these sufferers, but making a great effort, he conquered his aversion, dismounted, and, in giving the leper a coin, kissed his hand. The leper then gave him the kiss of peace, after which Francis remounted his horse and rode on his way. From that day onwards he mortified himself increasingly until, through God’s grace, he won a complete victory. 
Some days later he took a large sum of money to the leper hospital, and gathering all the inmates together, he gave them alms, kissing each of their hands. Formerly he could neither touch or even look at lepers, but when he left them on that day, what had been so repugnant to him had really and truly been turned into something pleasant.
Indeed, his previous aversion to lepers had been so strong that, besides being incapable of looking at them, he would not even approach the places where they lived. And if by chance he happened to pass anywhere near their dwellings or to see one of the lepers, even though he was moved to give them an alms through some intermediate person, he would nevertheless turn his face away and hold his nose. But, strengthened by God’s grace, he was enabled to obey the command and to love what he had hated and to abhor what he had hitherto wrongfully loved. In consequence of this he became such a friend to the lepers that, as he himself declared in his Testament, he lived with them and served them with loving eagerness.

Misusing Humor
Too many times in my history I in all foolishness said things trying to be funny and instead I was offensive.
Too few times I was confronted on it.
Even fewer times did I receive well and non-defensively.
In time I learned.
I just wish I didn’t take so much time.

The idolatry of Humor
I sweat when I am not funny and I was trying to be.
Humor is the god I seek to protect me when threatened.
It is the god whom I seek to give me power among the people.
Why would someone mess with my god?
“It was all done in humor can’t you take a joke?”
Being funny is in high demand in our world. Because it entertains. And people will like us. We all want that. That’s why we can get all defensive at first.
The question is, “do we dig our heals in deep or do we take a step back and listen?”.
Was Jesus really funny?
Does it really matter?
Is any rationale that he was just a means of rationalizing our own misuse of it?
I am not writing here to identify godly humor vs ungodly humor.
Just want to consider the idolatry of it.

Shame remnant
I get these shame farts once in a while. These are memories of things I regret that seem to come into my consciousness out of nowhere. Not talking about memories of the huge, life-changing mistakes I have done. Many of those have been dealt with between me, God and anyone I might have offended. But rather I am referring to little farts that are embarrassments way in the subconscious, hidden until they bubble up out of my bowels (have you read the research on synapses in the bowels and the reconsideration of all thoughts and feelings are not from the brain? but that is for another blog). Sometimes they are just one of the top ten most embarrassing moments. No need to attend those until I am asked in an ice-breaker to name one. But others come out of regret and guilt. Mistakes I have made. Sometimes they are things I have done that have hurt another. Boy, I got away with way too many. I am thankful for the grace of God that covers all of these. I am grateful for opportunities to make things right. And in hind sight, I am thankful for those brave souls that confronted me about my stuff.

Looking back, I think what was most damaging to my own soul and perhaps to those I offended was not the initial mistake or wrong doing I made but in the ways I stayed on defense.

I hope I am a much more approachable man today than I was in my youth. By the grace of God I hope I am getting better.



Lot of talk about true apology and true forgiveness these days in churchland.

so this is what I think giving grace to someone who offended/wronged me means and it is just like my daughter’s fourth grade life.

One. Kids say and do things that hurt one another and are wrong and offensive.
My word to my daughter: Address it to them and give them the grace to apologize and rectify.

Two. Kids are quick to either be defensive, give an excuse or grudgingly say “I am sorry” because they want their parents off their back – and they think that should be enough. “I said I am sorry… what more do you want?” But saying it is not.
My word to my daughter: So either be gracious and accept the act even if the reality isn’t there, knowing the child is not developmentally ready to go any farther (this is hard to explain to a fourth grader) or clarify the hurt and give them another chance to apologize and rectify. That is grace again.

Three. Kids get it, express genuine remorse and desire to make things right.
My word to my daughter: I ask my daughter to give grace and forgive and let the restoration begin.

Everything I needed to know…. I told my daughter while she is in fourth grade


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