Author: DwightClough

Why I value silence and solitude

Five years ago, I moved from a suburb to a quiet rural area about 45 minutes north of Madison. Our real estate agent was confused. “Why would you want to do that?” he asked.

Why indeed.

I notice something when I return to Madison. A certain aggression in the driving—fighting for one’s place in line at the next traffic light. A cold suspicion as people walk by one another in parking lots or on the sidewalk.

Anonymous disconnected humanity. Neighborhoods that once felt safe no longer do.

Not everywhere and not always, of course. But it’s there.

I ponder this.

Not that long ago in human history, you might live your entire life and never encounter more than 500 people. Now you probably see 500 people on your morning commute.

Years ago, the only way I could find out what’s happening in your life was to sit down and talk over a meal, or chat as we plowed a field together. Now, I see your photos in microseconds as they scroll past in social media.

This changes us in ways that I don’t think we fully understand. It has conditioned us to think of other human beings as disposable objects—morons who drive too slow or maniacs who drive too fast—idiots on the wrong side of the political divide, objects of ridicule and scorn.

And we can afford to scorn because people are replaceable. They’re not in short supply; they’re everywhere.

I can tune into my favorite news media and listen to them crucify people I disagree with, and think it’s okay. Because, come on, those people aren’t really human are they? Not like me. They’re disposable, expendable, cheap.

Not long ago, if I wanted to know something, I needed to find a teacher or a book. Now I can consume video after video after video. And when I come up for air, I don’t even remember what I watched.

I no longer need to think because others will do my thinking for me. I—I’m speaking for the mass of humanity here—no longer know how to think because every few seconds my phone dings and tells me what to think.

There must be an antidote for this, right?

I find it in silence and solitude. I find it as I’m washing my dishes, taking a walk along a deserted road, or sitting alone with my thoughts.

In the vacuum of silence, I’m forced to face all the monsters inside. My fears. My anger. My guilt. My doubts. My tangled up thoughts.

And, yeah, that’s a good thing…because it drives me back to God, and allows me to find healing.

Silence is to the soul what a good night’s sleep is to the body: healing, restoring, calming, strengthening.

I find that silence allows me to think—to connect one thought to another, and to see things that maybe other people aren’t seeing.

And then when I come back to the world of noise and people, I’m a better person. By the grace of God, I’m a little more patient, a little more kind, a little more loving.

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It’s been a crazy couple of weeks…

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

A friend asked me to drive him down to Florida. He’s moving; he doesn’t like to drive, and he doesn’t have a smart phone, so he asked me to drive his car with him in it and fly home. I was looking forward to the trip. On the way, I hoped to visit my friend Tyler Hames in Georgia.

As we were getting ready to leave, there was a hurricane and then I got sick. So we needed to scramble to find a place for my Florida bound friend to live. My pastor graciously allowed him to stay in his camper on our property.

Meanwhile, I went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with a variety of ailments including (to my surprise) a hernia. (At least I don’t seem to have cancer, so that’s a good thing.)

Somewhere in there, my wife Kim Rohrer Clough and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary.

We’re working on adding an apartment onto our home so my mom can live with us, so the concrete guy came along to excavate a space to pour the concrete. That was fun to watch.

Then I spent a day trying to navigate through airline and travel insurance bureaucracy to get my friend refunded for the airline ticket he purchased for me. Outcome: unclear.

I was on my way to meet with the surgeon when my daughter had an emergency. (I’m not free to share the details, but you could pray for her.)

My mom was getting rid of some old clothes, so I hung them out on the line to get the basement smell out of them before donating them to Goodwill. Then, at 7:00 one morning, a perfectly healthy tree broke in half and fell on the camper.

By the grace of God, no one was injured and damage to the camper appears to be very light. But when the tree guy came to safely bring the tree to the ground, it fell on the clothesline.

Then my wife started noticing strange sounds in her car. My mechanic neighbor took one listen and said, “Sell the car!”

You gotta just laugh. This is life. A kaleidescope of adventure, celebration, disaster, and setbacks. I feel fine, though it’s 4:30 in the morning when I was originally posting on Facebook instead of sleeping so who knows… Anyway, wherever you are, and whatever you’re facing, I wish you well. May the grace and peace of God be with you.

By the way, my son went to Florida in my place. Prayers for his safe return are appreciated…

And there’s this:

A few weeks ago, after torn and defaced pages of a copy of the Quran were allegedly found near a Christian area of Jaranwala, Pakistan, local mosques put out a call for revenge — a call amplified on mosque loudspeakers and through social media.

In an attack that continued for more than 10 hours, thousands of angry Muslims rampaged through the city. 400 homes were destroyed—with possessions looted and burned in the street. 27 churches were attacked. Multiple reports say police watched the ongoing violence rather than intervening to protect Christians. In the end, arrests were made including the arrest of two Christians accused of defacing the Quran.

I have a dear Christian friend who lives not far away. As you can imagine, this is terrifying.

To be a Christian in Pakistan is like being a person of color in South Africa back in the days of apartheid.

Christian organizations like International Christian Concern and Voice of the Martyrs are on the ground helping people rebuild their lives.

I don’t normally do this, but I would like to ask you to prayerfully consider helping these Christians get back on their feet. I’ve donated what I can and hope to give more.



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My life as a prophet

Hi, I’m a prophet…

Imagine saying that at a party, or putting that on your business card. It doesn’t really work does it?

Prophets have never been well understood, so I thought I would share this post to talk a little bit about what it’s like for me to be a prophet.

I’m a prophet. No, that doesn’t mean that I predict the future (although, honestly, it’s not that hard to see), and no, I don’t typically get a “word” for you (I’d much rather you get your own “words” from God).

Rather it means God has given me a message for my world.

I think of myself as a prophet of kindness. The message God has given me is not one of doom and gloom, terror and woe, but rather one of hope and healing if we will avail ourselves of it.

God has given me a message in the form of big ideas that aren’t that difficult to understand, but they force us to think differently, and they pull us out of our comfort zones.

For example, do you know that you have a wall in your mind? I would say most people have a primitive understanding of this, but 99% don’t know what to do with it—and, as a result, they cut themselves off from much of the profound transformation God offers.

Or do you know that it’s relatively easy to end poverty in the United States? (And, no, I’m not smoking something.) It really is. But doing so forces us to step away from our deeply entrenched political beliefs (Left or Right) and think outside the box.

The best thing about being a prophet is I get to hang out with God. I feel like God has become a really good friend—my best friend. I don’t know; maybe that sounds strange, but that’s what I like.

The worst thing? Knowing you have a message that could transform lives and transform nations, and seeing that message ignored, misunderstood, run over on the highway of cultural noise.

I’m a prophet. That’s the role God has given me in this life. What about you? What role has God given you? What do you like about it? And what do you find challenging about it?

Let me know…


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Another reason Jesus died on the cross*

Another reason Jesus died on the cross*

*and how it affects us during election season

Jesus died for our sins.

End of story, right?

I’m not so sure. I think there are several reasons Jesus died on the cross, and here’s an important one that’s often overlooked:

He took the place of sin.

Let me put that a different way.

What should have been on that cross?
My sin. Your sin. Our sin. Humanity’s sin. We should be actively crucifying everything within us that misses the mark, that offends God, that hurts others.

What have we done instead?
We crucified God.
God the Son.
God in the flesh.
Vulnerable God.
Hurtable God.

We found an opportunity to do what we as a species secretly wanted to do all along: Kill God. Rid our universe of Him. And we did it.

(But God is not so easily killed, is He?)

Ever since then, the cross has been a line of demarcation.

What will we crucify?

Will we crucify sin? Will we crucify all that has gone wrong—first inside ourselves and then inside our world?

Or will we crucify God? Will we crucify the people God loves? Will we hate? Will we smear? Will we slander? Will we look for their every fault?

This is one reason why I stopped watching the news years ago. The whole purpose of the news media has degenerated into teaching us to hate.

Do you know how you can tell if they succeeded?

We will become fully convinced in our own minds that the people we hate are the true haters. We will be blind to our own paranoia and contempt, and fully focused on theirs—real or imaginary.

This is why I go into mourning during the election cycle—because so much of politics has degenerated into character assassination and stirring up hatred.

And let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen on all sides.

Who or what will we crucify?

Our sin?

Or God in the form of the people He loves?


(Cross image by Diana Vargas on Unsplash)

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My story and how it affects you

It was 2:30 in the morning on a hot summer’s night. My wife was pregnant, and she woke me out of a sound sleep.

“Dwight, I can’t breathe!”

My mind was groggy and her words made no sense. What do you mean you can’t breathe? Just open your mouth and breathe.

My thoughts were interrupted when she threw off the covers, jumped out of bed, and ran down the hall.

I staggered after her trying to shake myself awake.

I found her in the living room with her mouth pressed up against our window air conditioner taking in great gasping breaths of air.

Weird, huh?

I thought/hoped it was a one off thing. But it wasn’t. It happened again. And again. And again. Pretty soon it was happening all the time. She couldn’t stay inside because it was too confining. She couldn’t go outside because miles and miles of atmosphere were pressing down on her.

Finally, we had the sense to go to the doctor. And he gave this thing that was happening to her a name:

Panic attacks.

Medication would help, he said.

So she took meds.

Trying to be a helpful husband, I recommended Bible verses. “Fear not for I am with you.” “The Lord is my light and my salvation. I will not be afraid.”

“Stand in front of the mirror,” I coached. “Say it like you mean it.”

Lucky for me she didn’t divorce me on the spot.

After a few weeks of this nonsense, God graciously gave me a panic attack or two of my own.


I see.

I understood now why Bible verses couldn’t touch that.

Of course, we prayed. Individual prayer. Group prayer. Prayer chain prayer.

But if my wife went off her medication for a day or two, she could think of no good reason to remain alive.

About then, an old friend sent us a cassette tape about a Christian counselor who had discovered this special technique for inviting Jesus into things like panic. He was getting amazing results.

We listened to this cassette over and over again. And we decided that if half of what he was saying was true, we needed to check it out.

So two days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, we sat in Steve’s office. I spent the first hour of our 90 minute appointment grilling Steve because I didn’t want him to damage my already fragile wife.

Satisfied with his answers, I stepped out.

I don’t know exactly what happened in the 30 minutes that followed, but I know my wife’s panic dropped almost to zero.

She was transformed. I met with Steve, and I was transformed. I shouldn’t really say we met with “Steve.” Yeah, Steve was in the room. But we met with Jesus.

And when Jesus walks in the room, everything changes.

Since then, I’ve been trying to find a way to tell you and everyone I know what’s possible when you really invite Jesus in. Most of the 30+ books I’ve written contain some variation of this message.

Whatever is going on in your life, Jesus really can drop the panic to zero, erase the shame, heal the hurts, reverse the rage, and replace try-hard religion with a beautiful journey of love, joy, and peace.

Be encouraged!

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Does Jesus want us to set up a theocracy?

(I posted this on Facebook today; thought I would send it out here as well.)

In Matthew 28, Jesus gives us our homework assignment. We are to go and make disciples of all nations.

How do you disciple a nation?

This is a very important question, and some people get very frightened when we discuss it.

Very frightened.

Some people use terms like “dominion theology” and assume that the ultimate goal of Christians (or some Christians) is to seize political power so they can set up a totalitarian theocracy with religious police like you have in Iran or Saudi Arabia—only with a Christian flavor.

Is that what Jesus wants us to do?

Anybody who knows Jesus well would laugh out loud at that suggestion. The problem is: most people don’t know Jesus very well.

So let me explain.


No, Jesus does not want His followers to set up an oppressive regime where people are compelled to follow somebody’s understanding of His religion.

That’s not how it works.

Yes, Jesus has a plan for every nation and for every culture. It begins with the transformation of people, and it continues with the transformation of cultures and systems. There’s a good version and a bad version of every nation, every culture. Jesus brings out the good.

How does someone become good? By knowing the God who is good. By experiencing His goodness and love. By being transformed by His presence.

A nation of good people doesn’t need someone to bully them into being good.

A truly discipled nation has little or no need for a government. Its people would all know God. Its people would have experienced God’s love and His goodness. They would love God and love one another.

In a discipled nation there is no crime, no poverty, no racism, no oppression. Everyone is safe. Everyone is free. Everyone is valued.

It’s critical that you understand this. Because if you don’t get this, you will always be afraid.

So yes, the Great Commission is much larger than getting people to pray a prayer that points them heavenward.

Fixing all these things that are broken in our world is part of it.

But not by top down “I-will-make-you-lose-so-I-can-win” tactics.

Rather it comes when we open the door to the God who is good.

Am I saying by all of this that Christians shouldn’t or couldn’t be involved in politics?

No, of course not.

I am merely saying that the purpose of our involvement has never been and should never be to compel people to do what they can only do voluntarily:

Love God.


Be encouraged!


PS. I haven’t forgotten about the series I started a couple weeks ago. I plan to get back to that eventually…

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Seven questions for Christians who aren’t afraid of thinking big (#7)


#7 Could we create a home for church refugees?

I feel like saying to the American church: “Give me all the people you don’t want.”

According to the 2015 book, Church Refugees, by Dr. Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope, church refugees are NOT people who are lackadaisical about faith. Instead, the people the church chews up and spits out are often the people who care the most, who work the hardest, who love the deepest.

Give me those people.

Please, give me those people.

I would love to gather together church outcasts and misfits because I think this is the group that could shake our nation.

According to Packard and Hope, church refugees:

  • wanted community and got judgment
  • wanted to affect the life of the church and got bureaucracy
  • wanted conversation and got doctrine
  • wanted meaningful engagement with the world and got moral prescription

(page 28)

Something inside me screams when I read that.

I want to find a way to put folks like that in a room and together create something better.

So that’s #7. #6 next time. The ideas are only going to get bigger.


PS. A few people on Facebook said they liked my new book. I wrote it for my four young adult children. It’s about developing a spiritual foundation and it has some fatherly advice about relationships, health, money, and so on. You can find it here.

Mountain photo: Kalen Emsley, Unsplash

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I’m writing this as a shout out to you if you are feeling the sting of rejection, if you’ve been pushed out, if you’ve been made to feel unwelcome.

A few years ago, my wife and I belonged to a small group filled with all of our best friends. We loved it and we loved them. But the group came to an end. Sad, but understandable. Everyone was busy. Then a month later, we discovered the group was still meeting—a different time, a different place, but all the same people with one important subtraction—us.

The “Not Welcome” sign has been waved in my face for many reasons over the years: the clothes I wore, the way I talked, my politics, my theology, my influence, and, yeah, to be honest, sometimes for my mistakes. I can think of at least three former “best friends” who today will have nothing to do with me.

Where does all that leave me? By itself, it would leave me feeling pretty low.

But for me, one thing above all others has made a big difference.

Jesus. The Bible describes Jesus as “despised and rejected by men.” It says He came to His own, but His own received Him not. The mass of humanity says, “We will not have this man [Jesus] ruling over us.”

I hang out with Jesus.

He gets it. He understands. He doesn’t need to be part of the cool kids club. He seems to like me. Despite my clothes, my car, my politics, even my mistakes, He still likes me. He likes hanging out with me.

That makes me happy.

Heaven is a place where all its citizens belong. And I spend a lot of time thinking about how we could create the same kind of arrangement here on earth. If that’s something that interests you, talk to me.


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Do you have dreams?

Do you imagine some kind of hopeful future for yourself, for your family, for a group of people? Do you want to build a home, feed the hungry, travel the world, heal the hurting, or whatever?

If you do have dreams, do you talk about them?

Is it safe for you to talk about them?

If you have dreams, but don’t talk about them much, I can relate. I don’t really feel safe sharing my dreams with most people. Sorry, I just don’t.

I’ve always hoped that the church would be a cultivator of dreams. We could share our dreams with one another and get ideas, prayer, help and a certain amount of cheer leading support. But that has not typically been my experience.

I believe dreams are God given. I believe God has dreams for each of us, and His dreams for us materialize imperfectly in our own minds and then get refined as we walk with Him.

But I’m writing this post mainly to ask: Do you have dreams?



PS. I want to add a footnote to my earlier post on issues I have with the church.

If you’re a pastor, please know that I have the deepest respect for you. You have an extremely difficult job, a job I could not do well. Most pastors are overworked, underpaid, under appreciated. I get that. Most pastors I know are wonderful people—loving, self sacrificing, caring human beings. While I do have issues with how the church does business at times, please don’t receive that as an attempt to devalue you in any way.

Photo: Armand Khoury, Unsplash

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Can you have issues with the church and still be a good Christian?

I’m going to say yes. Partly because I have issues with the church.

But first this warning and this disclaimer. This post might offend you. If so, sorry. Not my intent. I spotlight some issues because I love the church and want to see it restored.

This post is NOT an indictment on the church I presently attend. I like my church; I like my pastor. Rather I’m drawing from my experience of visiting, attending, and/or speaking in dozens of churches in multiple states over the last 55 years. I’m drawing on my experience of serving on church and ministry boards, and also from being kicked off boards and kicked out of churches. (I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.) I’m addressing what I see as the state of the church as a whole here in the USA.

The church has lost its moral authority in our culture. Because it has, it no longer nourishes the institution of the family. As a result, children give birth to children who are raised in chaos and arrive in young adulthood morally lost and filled with venom from the deep hurts they’ve experienced. This sets our culture adrift, with power crazed government circling overhead like hungry vultures. Meanwhile, because the church has lost its moral authority, many in government can no longer distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil. They understand only political power. Those who put them in office don’t know how to elect good leaders because they don’t know what a good leader is.

Instead of mourning these losses, popular culture celebrates them.

What went wrong?

From what I can determine most pastors don’t understand how the grace of God works in real life. As a result, they have no prescription for sin, dysfunction, and hurt other than “read your Bible, pray, and try harder.” And, in some churches, “vote for my favorite political party.”

On the whole, churches, Bible colleges, and seminaries don’t seem to teach how the grace of God works in real life, and we’re left to figure it out on our own. Some do. Most don’t.

Some pastors and church leaders are so confused about this that they get their moral compass from their favorite political party and their moral guidance from their favorite news media channel. They reinterpret the Bible along political lines rather than interpreting politics through the lens of the Bible.

Because many church leaders don’t seem to understand how the fruit of the Spirit is formed in someone’s life, they seem to have no way of measuring or even identifying spiritual maturity. As a result, pastors and other church leaders may or may not possess spiritual maturity. Often they do not. Instead, many church boards are populated either with the pastor’s buddies or with power hungry obstructionists who don’t comprehend what the Kingdom of God is or what role the church should have in our world. They have no vision. Instead, they treat the church like one of their business holdings.

And, news flash: Numerical growth is not a vision. It’s a business goal.

And yes, trying to get people to “pray the prayer” rather than “sheep stealing” is a step up. But so many churches don’t really have a good plan for what to do after someone “prays the prayer” other than: attend and financially support our church, and, of course, volunteer in the nursery.

The metrics used to measure church success are butts in the pews on Sunday morning and coins in the coffers. These are business metrics, but they’re not Kingdom metrics.

The financial priorities of many churches I’ve observed are: (1) the building, (2) the pastor’s salary, (3) local and world missions. In my view, that’s exactly opposite of what it should be.

The ministry priorities of most churches are: (1) the Sunday morning sermon, (2) the Sunday morning music, (3) nursery, kids church, youth group, (4) everything else. I’m not saying these are bad things. But this set of priorities does strike me as insular.

Because church leaders are treating churches as businesses, their focus is on the financial health of an organization rather than the Kingdom footprint of a congregation.

Tragically, people in the congregation who truly understand the Kingdom of God and are at work trying to make a difference in their world are at odds with the church’s agenda. These good people are ignored, marginalized, chewed up and spit out by churches. Leadership fears they will divert dollars and attention from the financial health of the church corporation.

What church leaders seem to prefer are homogeneous lumps on a pew who drop money in the plate and, of course, volunteer in the nursery.

To be fair, pastors who come into a church with a vision to make a real difference in our world are often beat up and thrown out by church boards and congregations who will have no part of that. Many pastors with high ideals are corralled into shape by business-oriented church boards who teach them the ways of the world.

Are there exceptions?

Of course.

Is there hope?

Of course.

I think it starts with church leaders sitting down and rethinking: What are we all about? What did God send us here to accomplish? How does the grace of God work in real life? What is spiritual maturity and how do you attain it? How can we strategically make a difference in our world?


Church image: John Cafazza,

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