We all know how life has a way of layering us with the tyranny of the urgent often resulting in the neglect of what really should matter most.

We also know how tragedies have a way of bringing many things into sharper focus. Regular readers of my blog are aware of how death has touched our family and friends in recent weeks. Dealing with this has given me pause to unlayer a bit- that is- to try to see more clearly what really is important.

My thoughts first go to family. All kinds of layers can complicate family relationships creating hurt and even estrangement. What a pity. Life is too short for these kind of layers. Forgiveness can unlayer. Love can heal. I understand that some layers may never be completely removed, but harboring pain and nurturing grudges helps no one. Life is fleeting. Unlayer family complications as much as possible, bury pride, let go of the anger and cherish your family while you can.

Layers are also very evident when it comes to church also. So much seems to get in the way here sometimes. Church folks occasionally add layers of self-righteousness, of harsh condemnations, of unhealthy pretense, of fruitless arguments and of selfish preferences. Forgotten in all of this is the call by God to love and accept one another in Christ and to be the light of the world. Unfortunately these layers often end up in bitter dispute and devastating division. As a result our Christian witness suffers. It is past time to unlayer here. According to the Bible the church is the beautiful bride of Christ but these layers often diminish that beauty. Lifting up God’s amazing grace will begin the unlayering process. Demolishing pride will continue it. Loving each other as God loves us will complete it. Church is a place of refuge and of safety from the harsh layered world. Let us work to really make it so while we have the opportunity.

Finally I think of how we layer ourselves with our work. Career is such a high priority among us that we often spend a disproportionate amount of our time and energy becoming “successful”. Preachers are not immune from this. We often measure ourselves by church size and speaking engagements. (Never mind that some of the very best I know among us faithfully labor away from the limelight) But whatever our careers are we may need to unlayer them- to free ourselves from these demands in order to focus on the more important matters. We can literally “work ourselves to death” and miss the real joy and blessings of life.

Remember the call of Scripture to “be still and know that I am God”? It is about unlayering.

The time to do this is now.

10 Responses to Unlayering

  1. Royce Ogle says:


    Great stuff! What a great discipline to peel away everything that is superficial and somewhat meaningless compared to the parts of our being and living that really matters for time and eternity.

    Thank you.

  2. Donna says:

    I have thought about this a lot this last week…getting down to what is important. The stresses of my job seem trivial. The time with my family seems precious. My hunger for that church community seems intensified. Funny what it takes to help us focus.

    I am gald you are going to be with John & Maggy today. Give them a hug from me.

  3. Edward Lee says:

    well said, danny.

    I’m a simple person. I’m a simple minded-person.

    As I get older there’s less and less I feel I need to know, to possess, or to do.

    I don’t like complicated things.

    Whether they be in my relationships, my job, my life, my flesh. Whatever the case.

    My job usually puts me in touch with lots of complicated people and their complicated issues, and i find that most of the time they do it to their complicated selves.

    And yes, the time to unwind, unlayer, and uncompicate is – NOW. The power is living in the now.


  4. Adam G. says:


    Good thoughts. The part about work and preachers trying to be “successful” sounds familiar to me. In Brazil as a missionary I always felt inwardly pressured to “be successful” by getting people into the church. This was important, of course, but my focus was off and I could feel it. In ministry in NM I was inwardly and outwardly (from members and the elders) to perform by bringing people into the church. It proved to be too much for me.

    I’ve watched people I know hop up the ecclesiastic version of the corporate ladder, going from supply preaching to youth ministry to pulpit ministry to staff at a large church and heading towards senior minister, or else go along a similar path but get into teaching at a Bible college instead of senior ministry.

    I dunno. There is definitely a place for prepared ministers in the church. I just wonder if our CEO/corporate approach in the West is missing the mark and more difficult for full-time ministers and their families.

  5. I have Psalm 112 printed on a piece of cardboard and taped to the left side of my monitor. It is a great summation of the experience of what it is to be an optimal man of God. Knowledge and hope. Movement and serenity. Faith and works. It’s like the ocean. You can measure its depth but not its content.

  6. preacherman says:

    Wonderful thoughts brother.
    Thank you for this great post.
    I hope you have a blessed weekend.
    Kinney Mabry

  7. Jim says:

    Faith…family…friends….a little fun mixed in. How much better could it be? Usually we remember this after all are suffering.

  8. I’ve read this post several times and all I can say is WOW! Great post and oh, so true.

  9. paula says:

    Very good post and very good suggestions.

  10. ben overby says:

    One thing that might help is if we pull off the layer which imposes the layers, or the categories in our live. Reading this, as well as the comments, it’s evident that we chop our lives up into chunks–career, church, family, hobby, devotional, etc. We fragment, seeing ourself with a variety of hats, or labels, that define us at a given moment depending on what we happen to be doing (secular work, church stuff, family time . . . ).

    What if we could constantly live at the level of the most fundamental “layer?” What if our work wasn’t a layer that needed to be peeled back, but a part of kingdom life that we embraced for God’s sake? What if our family time felt like the stuff we do on Sunday morning so as to see it as fully spiriutual–episodes of deep worship? What if, rather than attempting to peel the delicate skin off the tomatoe we simply ate the whole thing? What if we centered ourselves daily, in Christ, so that He lived in and through us no matter what hat we were wearing at the time? What if we stopped “doing” and started “being?” What if the question “what am I doing with my time,” could be replaced with “who am I in this moment”? What if the things we did didn’t change at all, but who were were in those moments was a reflection of the kingdom of God rushing in and through us? What if our fragmentation was healed with the one, congruent love of Jesus? What if we became whole?

    Just thinking out loud.


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