The practice you just described is a way to get your head away from...

It's almost like you're living in a different place, you know. It's almost like you discover that all of these attitudes and emotions that troubled you all your life are optional; they're inevitable but they're optional; they are quenchable. You know people just assume, well, all my life I'll be a worrier. That doesn't have to be true. There's a way to drink from God's presence so much that worry begins to dissipate. For all my life I'll be a bigot; my dad was a bigot, my granddad was a bigot, so I'll be a bigot. Well, you know, that doesn't have to be true; there can be a change that takes place.

Much of what you talk about is a version of eastern spiritual practice, which says you have to stay centered.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Practicing the presence, is the phrase. That was a phrase I picked up a long time ago, "practicing the presence of God."Something jumped out of me as I was reading the book; it said in essence that people have an easier time accepting the cross than they do the Holy Spirit. And to be honest with you, I don't feel that way. Tell me more about that. Do you hear that a lot from your congregants?

It could be that we come out of more of a legalistic background where we understand that the Holy Spirit is such a mystical concept. Maybe you're more inclined in a wonderful fashion to understand the secrets and mysteries of the Holy Spirit. My mind is more logical; somebody had to die for me? Oh ok, that makes sense. It's beautiful, powerful, and hard to believe, but I can comprehend it. But the idea that there is the living God inside me, enabling me to do everything that He calls me to do, that to me has been a mystery all my life.

And you hear that from your people?

I do, I do. I may have over-generalized the end of the book. My hunch has been that we Westerners tend to have more difficulty understanding this than people who grew up in a culture that was more inclined to spiritual and discipline.

I also was interested in the chapter about facing death.

Well, again, that's one of the works we can receive from Christ and his victory over death. So when I say, receive the work of Christ on the cross and in the resurrection, as long as I am afraid to die, then I really don't live because I'm always living on the defense. The fear of death can take away the joy of life; the Bible talks about when you were slaves to your fear of death in Hebrews. I think people are like that. If we can understand that death is not the end but is really a transition into the next life, the great part of life, that frees us up into receiving God's courage and his help.

So people in your church say to you, "Gosh, I'm afraid, I know I need to face this, but I'm not ready."

Yeah, and I see that in our culture; our culture faces death at arm's length. When she died, my grandmother's body was in the house of my father. There was a time when there was a wake, when people were brought near to the body--and now we seem to keep it at arm's length. Consequently, I've noticed in doing hundreds of funerals through my ministry that death sobers people, it just sobers people. And if there's no hope, they don't have any explanation for death, that just takes a lot of joy out of it.

One of the greatest gifts we can give people is the hope that their death is nothing to fear--you know, not that it has no fear in it, but the promise of scripture is that God will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.So that promise gives almost a daily prayer.

Yeah, exactly. If I receive that on a regular basis, you know, in my prayer, in the back of my mind I'm thinking, Lord, I receive your work today, your work on the cross, your work in the resurrection. That means your resurrection is proof and preview of my own and so I don't have to live in fear of death. Imagine the load that lifts off of me. If I'm afraid to die that means I'm afraid to drive, I'm afraid to fly, I'm afraid of what I eat, what I breathe.

I'm not talking about an irresponsible life but a life that trusts the sovereignty of God.