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The Good Life…The Traveling Vagabond – Day 7


Our modern American theology has a few things backwards.  We have determined that God’s will is in full alignment with our desires of success, comfort and to gain the things we have our eyes on. If God loves me, and I am a pretty good person, this will equate to getting good stuff and everything working out in happy and easy ways.

If that is true, than God owes 10 out 12 of the disciples who died martyr deaths an apology.  If that were true, God owes the apostle Paul, who was frequently beaten for sharing the gospel, an apology.  If that were true, the many missionaries who gave everything up to share God’s love for their entire adult lives, yet saw few earthly results, an apology.

A dear friend, Wayne Harris sent me a word of encouragement today from the writings of Oswald Chambers.  One thing that stood out was: “His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself.”

Don’t get me wrong – I fully believe God has some cool plans for the Hopler family, and yours as well.  I just feel compelled to be cognate of a few things:

  • Get over any sense of entitlement, God does not owe me anything
  • Get over any control issues, my role is to be faithful during the tough times, and rest that God has my back – even when things are not making sense at the time.
  • Enjoy the crazy seasons where my normal forms of security and rhythms are all messed up – because God is working out His purposes in me

Trust me, being a 49 year old vagabond was not my plan for me and my family.  Yet I am learning to rest, because the good life is found in the cool things He is doing in my life.


There is a season…The Traveling Vagabond - Day 6

It is time to say goodbye to my three turtles. 

Every morning for the last two years I pretty much had the same rhythm.  Bring coffee to Terri in bed, to help her wake up.  Fill up Frodo's dish.  Then coffee in hand, Frodo and I went to the pond to feed the turtles.  Even that had a rhythm.  If I were to dump all the food in at once, the two bigger turtles would gobble up all of the food, before the smaller one even had a chance to finish chewing his first piece.  Coffee in hand, dog at feet, I would find myself in a meditative state as I slowly released the food from my hand, enjoying my three little pets.

A younger me would have felt silly for mourning the loss of this rhythm.  They are just silly turtles for Pete’s sake!!!  Just give them away and move on!  You got important things to do because you are an important man, right?  Yet wisdom has taught me to embrace the mourning process when it comes to loss, even if it is just a few turtles.

I find that when it comes to loss most people go to one of two extremes.  One is to wallow in self-pity and fight the change.  Others suppress the emotional impact, laugh it off and move on.  I have come to realize that both are dysfunctional.

It is healthy,  it combats inward dysfunction, to process and acknowledge loss.  King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, once said, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…  a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3)I know the Christianese answers: “Oh don’t worry, God has wonderful plans and will replace those old rhythms with new ones.”  I do know that, that is what gives me strength and hope for tomorrow.  As for today though, I stare at an empty pond, and the healthiest, most spiritual thing I can do right now, is embrace and acknowledge all of the feelings that go with that.

Lot of loss, and a lot of change going on now.  One day soon I will be blessed with the knowlege of what God has in store for His great adventure.  During the phases of transition though, you just need to embrace the moment.  




The Traveling Vagabond: Desire - Day 5

Do you want to change your life forever in just 15 minutes a day over the course a week?  

Sounds like an infomercial doesn’t it?  Sounds like a money making scheme or something from a prosperity preacher does it not?

Actually, I was being serious about my opening line.  I really do believe that if you were to take me up on this prescription, it will change your life.

For the next week, take 15 minutes a day and meditate on Psalms 37.  Some days you may choose to read it through 3 or 4 times during your 15 minutes, perhaps in different translations.  Other days you might just read it really slowly one time, chewing on the different parts as you read them.  Other days you may not get all the way through, rather taking a verse or two and really praying through it.

As you begin your time, pray a simple prayer: Lord open my eyes and heart to how you want to speak to me today.  Then close with a simple prayer: Lord, for the rest of this day choose one concept from this passage and have me reflect on it, applying it all day long

Honestly, I think it will change your life

From this passage I have a new prayer that I am praying every day: Lord orchestrate the desires of my heart, and then give me the desires of my heart (37:4)


The Traveling Vagabond: Hinds Feet Day 4


Jeff Porter gave me a wonderful going away gift.  He took my two boys and I an hour of off-roading on a path that leads half way up North Peak mountain in the Red Rocks.  From there we got out of his jeep and began hiking 2 hours up to the peak.  It made memories of a lifetime.

As I was walking, Psalms 18 kept coming to my mind, particularly vs 33:

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet,

And sets me upon my high places.”

“Hinds” are like gazelles, deer or mountain goats. 

Life is never a strait forward path, everyone has twists, turns and obstacles.  But we do get to choose as to whether we go to the low places or the high places.  What gets thrown at us we often have little control over, what we inwardly do with our daily reality is where our choice comes in.

The low place is always the path of least resistance.  The parent who constantly is found in self-pity.  The business person who’s gain was found, in part, by looking away of the moral implications of how that gain was achieved.  The twenty something who approaches life with a sense of entitlement.  The person who’s generosity is enough to feel good about oneself, but not enough to feel the loss in his/her lifestyle.  The low path faces life, yet is given to self-preservation.

High places are always narrow paths where you choose to do the tough inward work, despite the fact that life is already throwing you enough curve balls as it is.

The high places are beautiful, and they produce the kind of peace the Creator intended for life to have.  There is an inexplicable joy found up there.  Hope is based on a real confidence as eyes are wide open, rather than stumbling through life with eyes closed and fingers crossed.

Jeff, Caleb, Levi and I spent almost an hour on the mountain top in total silence.  We each took a rock that had a spectacular view and spent the hour taking it all in, meditating and prayer.  Technology hardly worked up there so even if the cell phone asked for attention, it could only last for a few minutes at best.  The path to get to this high place was long and treacherous, but the payoff was so big that we created memories that will last a lifetime. 

Earlier in the Psalm we read:

 “He took me to a safe place.

    Because he delights in me, he rescued me.” (19)

I learned back in college through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that our basic foundational needs are physiological (food and shelter), safety and security.  He would say that ultimate healthiness is to reach love, self-esteem and self-actualization. 

The older I get I have learned that worry and anxiety about the basic needs will never allow my inward self to focus on those higher needs. In life I get caught in a vicious cycle that keeps me in the low places. It is not a safe place. Personally I have found, and am finding, that God’s words are true.  If I trust in the Lord with all of my heart and lean not into my own understanding, He will make my paths strait to the high places. (Prov 3)


The Traveling Vagabond: The Middle Finger - Day 3

Fear is a voice that we give credit to, but it is most often not based on reality.  Never is that voice from God.  Never.  Scripture teaches that God is love and perfect love drives out all fear (1 John 4)  It would surprise some that “Fear Not” is the most common command in the Bible. To be certain, God does not want his children to be afraid.   Fear, anxiety and depression are frequent and should never be ignored, but it is never God’s strategy for your life.

As my family and I neared our vagabond era, we agreed as a family to work hard towards two things.  We don’t always get them right, and as a way of confession I will admit there are plenty of times I fail.  Nonetheless, we are striving toward them both.

The first is faithfulness.  For me that means being faithful to my current employer in serving them so well that I bring them honor in my departure.  It also means for me to be faithful in my job hunt, never growing complacent in my efforts.  It means doing what I need to do for this move.  It means reaching out to friends to let them know that they are of value to me.  Finally, it means to fight against escapism.  Anger, excessive hours on the internet, lust, excessive alcohol, self-pity – the list goes on as to what shape it can take for people.  We all have dysfunctional ways to avoid reality, I have mine.  Again, some days I am only going on one cylinder rather than firing on all four, but I am really working hard on being faithful to what is healthy and right.    

The second is to give fear the middle finger.  There is no place for fear, I need to not allow it to have dominance in my life.  One day I will write about how Mathew 6 is changing my life.  Unless the Lord wants me to write about something else tomorrow, I will talk about a Psalm that is influencing me.  Back to todays entry, I am finding that one of the greatest ways to fight fear is to have fun.  Terri teaches me this.  Wherever Terri goes, the atmosphere turns into a party.  When I am with her I am having fun, I find it to be a brilliant way to give fear the middle finger.  

Life is filled with the crazy.  About 90% of it is totally out of your control.  Be faithful to the 10% you have been given and roll your eyes in laughter at the other 90 percent. 


The Traveling Vagabond: Prayer Garden Day 2

If you have not read the intro yet: START HERE

I drove over to Fuller to spend a few hours there before I headed to Vegas.  I found myself thumbing through my dissertation in the library.  

As I randomly opened it up to the middle, I found what I wrote on meditation.  At its core, “Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word. It is that simple.” Thomas à Kempis defines meditation as a familiar friendship with Jesus: “The perpetual presence of the Lord . . . moves from a theological dogma into a radiant reality. ‘He walks with me and he talks with me’ ceases to be pious jargon and instead becomes a straightforward description of daily life.”  

There is a Hebrew word used in the Old Testament seventy-four times, seventy one of which are in the Psalms. The word is Selah. It means to stop and listen. It could also be said that it means: “Shut up! Pay attention!” The Amplified Bible translates it as, “pause, and think of that.” It is an invitation to become attentive to what God is up to.

Christian meditation is a way of experiencing God beyond what the ego can grasp or attain. God wired humans to have a deep longing for what is healthy and what is right.  Christian meditation is the process of being open, vulnerable and honest of areas of brokenness and to reflect upon what God would have to say about being reconciled in this area. For example, if a person wrestles with being fearful, it is clear in the Bible that God is love and perfect love casts out all fear (1 Jo 4:18). The problem is identified and the biblical context is clear. This identifies the problem and the final solution, but it does not identify the source of the anger. This is where meditation becomes helpful when building one’s identity in Christ. Meditation invites God to guide the follower of Christ to identify the source of the problem and navigate solutions towards the biblical principle.

Upon reading what I wrote for others, I realized that God had me write this a year ago, so He could use it as an instrument to speak to me in a California library on this day.

I went to Fuller’s prayer garden and spent a few hours meditating 


Day 1 The Traveling Vagabond - Laguna 

If you have not already: READ INTRO FIRST

Today I got up early and dove four hours to spend the day hanging out with Michael Bischof, founder of Soul Leader, in Laguna Beach as we simply talked life.  I decided to mark this day as the first day of my Vagabond travels, as I am standing on a west coast beach.  Each day I am asking God for wisdom and direction.  I will not always share all of it, but I would like to share some.  Some with be new, much will be reminders.  Some days I may write a lot, some days I may choose not to write at all.  For the first time in my life, I am literally making up each day, having very limited knowledge of what to expect that day or any day following.  God has put me in quite a position of dependency. 


A few of the things I found myself reflecting on during Day 1

  • The “do not worry about tomorrow” passage in Mathew 6 takes on a whole new meaning when you are positioned to be utterly dependent upon God.
  • God longs to grant the desires of your heart but first you need to let him transform the desires of your heart.
  • Deep river spirituality: God wants us to live out of the overflow, leading on empty is a dangerous trap many followers of Christ fall into.
  • To have your identity in Christ to be built, you have to let go of the roles you have chosen to identify with.
  • We have an empathetic God.  You are never alone  Jesus felt no need to give quick fix “christianese” answers, he told us to rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those that mourn



The Traveling Vagabond

I write this sitting on the west coast.  Yesterday I spent they day strolling Laguna Beach with Michael Bischof, a dear friend and wise beyond words.  He is the founder of Soulleader, a holistic leader coaching network.

Today I am at Fuller theological seminary.  Why?  I really don’t know.  Sure I had some books to return, but I could have mailed them.  I just wanted to sit in the place that changed my life so much.  Earlier I found myself in the library thumbing through my dissertation.  I then spent time reading though my Uncle Thom’s dissertation as well as his and his wife Marcia’s books. Currently I write this from the prayer garden. 

Over the next month I will drive across country and will eventually standing on the shores of Virginia Beach.  I will have the privilege of making this cross country journey by car with my son Levi.  Terri and Caleb will spend the bulk of that time in the Dominican Republic with Pastor Esdras Ellen and their family.  Santa Rosa / Bani is in the heart of the island and where we have done mission work for over 10 years.  We love them dearly.  When we first went to the DR, we were serving a mission trip.  Now it is just like visiting family

We are closing up our time in Las Vegas.  I have nothing but positive things to say about our time here.  The Crossing has been wonderfully supportive as we have been in search of where God has us next.  We are moving out of our home in a week and at that point we will become Vagabonds.  We have lots of family and friends that love us, God is using them to help us in this transition.  

I have decided to blog during this season.  I have asked the following things of God:

  • Transform the desires of my heart, then give me the desires of my heart
  • For God and I to be in active dialogue throughout the day, listening and to be in regular conversation.
  • That each day He will guide my steps, as I am highly dependent upon Him
  • Each day He would give me nuggets of wisdom
  • For peace that surpasses all understanding because of a rooted confidence that God is in control

As much as I can, I will share those nuggets of wisdom I gain with anyone who cares to read.

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