Cartography- a word that gets you where you need to be like Steve Thomason

Cartography- a word that gets you where you need to be- like Steve Thomason


I didn’t know what a cartographer was until I looked up the word ‘mapmaker’.  Cartography (from Greek χάρτης khartēs, “map”; and γράφειν graphein, “write”) is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.

I’ve always thought of life as a journey. God has moved me around a lot, I’ve been scattered and gathered. He’s called me out then shown me the way to go. His word is our map and His Spirit our compass. But often it’s God’s people who help explain the directions.

This year God connected me to “cartographer” Steve Thomason.  His visual art-theology website was like mousing into Disneyworld. Where do you go first? It’s wonderful. It’s deep yet simple. It’s thought provoking teaching from a authentic and vulnerably courageous voice. I’ve learned so much from Steve.  He is a map-writer that communicates spiritual direction effectively. And he’s not afraid if you see things differently – he loves Jesus and he loves God’s people.

Like a map, Steve Thomason points to the direction of exciting things.  Look, over here at what the Bible Project is doing at this video on HOLY.   Or like a Scout he lets you into his personal journal to read his journey notes on the current scenery of how his PhD dissertation-Missional Spirituality in the Suburbs– is going – I can’t wait to refer to him as Dr. Thomason-so cool.  He even lets you into the ‘situation room’ that place we see in the White house on the TV dramas where the top secret stuff is happening. He’s brave enough to let us know he’s ‘living with disagreement and mapping out that conversation’.  Someone pointed him to Brene’ Brown’s TED talk and he put “the power of vulnerability” on the map for me.  Thank you Steve.

We all want maps. I hate wasting time and getting lost, don’t you? We want to know where to go, which way to turn, what’s a seriously dangerous dead end or an exquisitely glorious lookout.  And YOU’VE been somewhere I want to go. We all need to Map-Write more. We all need to be spiritual Cartographers who model ways that communicate the truth of Jesus Christ and the journey of spiritual transformation in Him and tell about the practical places to find it in God’s word or through God’s teachers.

Don’t keep the good news to yourself, be brave and share it.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:14-15

PLEASE, post a comment if you have something to point us to.


FURY Book Two ECHO by JL Kelly
FURY book two ECHO by JL Kelly

Now available.


ABIDE. Day 19 of Lent. Christ final lesson.

ABIDE. Christ Final lesson.


John 15 records Christ final lesson to his dearly loved disciples.  They like many of us, still think God does His transforming work through our efforts and on our terms.  I believe these men were frustrated, confused, and even resentful that the Messiah was not living up to their expectations of becoming King and overthrowing the oppressive rule of the Romans to give them freedom but instead was talking about service and sacrifice. I think many Christians have the same look on their faces today.  Living this Christian life has turned out differently than you expected. You’ve tried so hard but freedom from habits and sin hasn’t been found.  Maybe today, if we can step into John 15. Be there in the vineyard. Hear, with spiritual ears, the Lord’s teaching of what is required of his followers we might find ourselves in that sweet spot. The Great Ah-Ha Moment that fans into flame a paradigm shift of the soul.  May God’s Spirit in this moment speak to your spirit in a way that you can grasp this truth.

I give the honor of the presentation of this message to one of my favorite teacher/pastors, Steve Thomason.  He is a gifted artist and his visual imaginative teaching of this passage is phenomenal.


NEW. Day 15 of Lent. To understand NEW we have to get the OLD.

To understand NEW, we have to get what happened with the old.

New day 15 of lent
In Genesis 3 one event with 2 significant impacts occurred when Adam/Eve ate the forbidden fruit. The couple walked away from the tree not realizing what they had set in motion for mankind. They knew something was NEW, different. Because Adam tried to become his own “Source” of life – to be like God as the Serpent suggested 2 things happened-
Adam and Eve were disconnected from the Source of life.
Adam and Eve had connected to a NEW, different, and completely ineffective source.
They now were connected to themselves- battery charged by the knowledge of good & evil, let’s say. They now looked at a source of knowledge other than God. They now chose the energy of self-reliance- taking the knowledge of good & evil into their own hands, which literally meant that it was now up to them to figure out what was wrong and up to them to now make it right.
NEW Adam was now reliant on himself for power-life.
And if his power-source got low, he couldn’t siphon power off himself to re-charge, and eventually his life-power would run out causing a physical death.
NEW disconnected Adam & Eve immediately began to feel “EMPTY”.

Their way of life changed; their way of feeling alive; that ALIVENESS they’d experienced connected to God was gone, their way of understanding, way of taking in and knowing truth was now formed by knowledge instead of given through the wisdom of a relationship with their Creator. They had a sudden AWARENESS of Shame-the universal ‘something is wrong with me’ that uncomfortable, painful, terrifying sense of being disconnected that feels stark and lonely-the experience associated with death. It changed their way of relating to each other (blaming) & even their way of relating to themselves (used their limited knowledge of good and decided they ought to hide-so they hid then they began to cover up with fig leaves) & awareness caused them to begin to take on a ‘personality’ over their essence. Hiding, hiding, hiding is our response to how empty we are and the beginning of our ability to LIE to ourselves and believe it which is now our NEW instinct.

It would have been like taking a computer and disconnecting it to power and reconnecting it only to a data cable. Data alone can’t sustain power-life, but if data is all you can access, you will try to start to draw power from it.
Man felt dead and empty. Gone was ALIVENESS and FULLNESS Christ speaks of that represents the Kingdom of God. (see day 7 of Lent blogs) This universal disconnection is called SIN. When Adam & Eve rebelled against God and ate from the tree of knowledge, they weren’t just guilty, they were disconnected. SIN in Spanish is defined as “Without”. Literally we are without our connection to our Life Source God and Creator. Sin is a condition before it becomes a behavior. We chose to disconnect from Life and reconnect to knowledge/self and the sinful things we do are a result of emptiness. We want to feel alive. This is the OLD problem.

Understanding what changed with Adam & Eve is important when trying to understand spiritual transformation-renewing our mind to be NEW. Unfortunately a critical thing that changed with the Fall was UNDERSTANDING, man’s way of learning. It’s difficult to see when you can’t find your glasses, it’s even hard to find your glasses when you don’t have your glasses on…in the same way our ability to see accurately is unfocused by the problem we want to solve so bad as believers. We are born into the likeness of Adam, disconnected from the ALIVENESS and FULLNESS of the Source of true life and we have been connected to our SELF, our knowledge of good and evil as our source of life since our physical birth.
The knowledge of good and evil does this, it leaves a world of Empty people that are trying to find the solution for feeling Dead. People who think they see what’s wrong and people who think they KNOW what can fix it- just START DOING this and STOP DOING that.
SELF EFFORT won’t fix the problem. Trying as hard as you can, won’t fix the problem. Self-discipline, spiritual disciplines, and religion-a system of faith and worship, that you PRACTICE out, won’t fix the problem. It plays out like this:
QUICK FIX- I don’t like the way I feel & I don’t like the awareness that something is wrong with me- so I REASON out the problem isn’t me but something else- it’s you, it’s this marriage, it’s my environment-anything besides me- now I feel better.
Or I feel empty- if I just… get married, have kids, get that job, take that bible class, I will be fulfilled.
Or I feel dead inside- let me numb that feeling with a moment or two of false aliveness and use sex, alcohol, material things, working out (vanity), gossip, food.
Or I can do good and feel better, I can be religious, serve and give.
Your quick fixes fail, again and again only to be repeated, again and again. And then condemnation sets in because self-effort won’t fix this OLD sin problem. But this feeling of disconnection=deadness and emptiness-is so strong and painful we’ll do anything to make it go away- blame, hide, lie to ourselves- which hurts others and our self.

The Old problem is we disconnect from God our Creator and life, and reconnected to ourselves who are empty and dying.
Death is in us. We are dead. We are stuck being Us.

The Old problem is unsettling at best and overwhelming at worst.
We are perpetual sinners. Remember sin is the condition of being separated from God and any ‘fix’ we turn to in order to fill the absence of God in our hearts is simply a symptom of sin lived out in a transgressing behavior-some look really good, others really bad. Both are motivated and driven by emptiness.
How do we free ourselves from us? From this Old Problem?

We have to re-connect with God.

Jesus died to exchange the life in Him for the death in me.
Jesus died to forgive me for who I am not just what I’ve done.
Jesus sets me free from who I have become and not just the habits but the mindset of the knowledge-connection to what is good and what is evil of our self-effort.
Jesus makes a connection to the Source of Life possible.

“There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”  Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”
“How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”
Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
“So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.
…This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. (John 3 MSG)

We can be born again. The NEW birth. Born again we are born from the breath of our Father God and not the womb of our mother. Born again we are reconnected, not just restored to the family, but reconnected to the Source of Life and made spiritual men and women again. We are alive. Given New Life.

New Life lives differently, sees differently, thinks differently.
New life shifts from doing (self-effort) to being (God abiding).
New life changes its focus off behavior problems-the START DOING this and STOP DOING that cycle, and onto the power source of transforming behavior- Christ.
New life is lived by faith, which comes from hearing the word of God.
New Life is a restoration of the intended life God had for man connected to Him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Cor 5:17

“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”                Ephesians 4:22-24