Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Suffering Does Not Mean God Hates Us

Last night we made a trip to the store, and Max was going crazy in the store. No matter how many times I asked him to calm down and just walk, he just kept running and dancing around.

After a while of this I told him that he had lost his Pokemon cards for the next week, and if he kept it up he would lose them for another week.

As often happens when I punish Max, he quickly turns from happy to say that we don't like him because we're punishing him or he tries to blame his sister. Some how he can always find some way to try and blame her no matter what he's done.

This morning I was reading in Jefferson Bethke's book Jesus>Religion, and came to a section on suffering and how we react to God when we suffer. He talks about how none of us can know the reasons for our suffering and pain, it is not because God doesn't love and care for us.

I realized that we often act the same way as Max towards God when we suffer. Rather than seeing that God is right beside us suffering and crying with us, we yell at Him and blame Him or others for what is happening.

Most of the time there is no reason we have to suffer. But the good news is that God can and does use our pain and suffering to teach us things and to bring us closer to Him.

The amazing thing about God, is that we can also scream at Him and ask Him why, and, while we may not get an answer in this life, He can take it.

That's one of the reasons I love the Psalms so much. In it you can see David cry out to God, yell at God, and bicker with God. But at the end of the day David would still realize that God loves him no matter what happens to him.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Honesty without grace and love is just hateful words and bullying. It builds nothing and tears everything down.

I know starting a blog with a line like that might seem odd. But I couldn't think of a better way to start this.

I've been thinking about that for a while now. It seems that everywhere I look I hear people talk about how honest they are. They try to defend their actions and words by saying they are just being honest and the truth hurts sometimes.

But more often then not, this form of honesty gains nothing.

If I were to walk up to someone on the street and yell at them about all of the things they are doing wrong, it would achieve nothing. More likely it would only bring out hatred on their side and the whole thing would escalate to violence.

There is definitely a place and time for truth and honesty. But it must come from and with love and grace.

If a person I know, respect, and love sat me down and told me they thought I was doing something destructive, I would try my best to listen and to take their words to heart.

There is also a place for disagreements. But discussing things with out love and grace easily becomes an argument and all to often a fight.

While I was thinking about this, I realized that this should also apply to the way we talk to ourselves.

A lot of people would say that I am honest with myself and those around me about my shortcomings. But one of those shortcomings is that I tend to let the hateful voices in my head take the lead. When I point out the things that I'm not good at or not doing right, I do this out of self-hatred not self-love or self-betterment.

It's a little like bragging about how humble you are.

So, let's try to keep love and grace in our truth. Let our words be like honey not poison.

Monday, October 17, 2016


I’ve been having a little bit of a crisis lately. That may sound a little melodramatic. But that’s really the only way I know how to describe it.

I can’t really even figure out what’s going on. I just know that I’m not doing good. I can’t seem to shake whatever funk I’ve been in for the last month or so.

Maybe it’s the same thing that seems to happen to most often around my birthday, which was a month ago.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m just whining. I just needed a place to put some of these thoughts down.

I feel like I’m lost.

Like I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing anymore.

Maybe it has a little to do with Chloe now being in preschool three days a week.

Maybe it has to do with having a plan for the free time that I would have those three days a week and then hurting my heel and not really being able to do much of that.

Whatever it is, I know that I’m not doing well right now.

I have blog posts that I’ve been meaning to write and that have been brewing in my head for this whole time.

I have things that I need to get done around the house.

I have these goals that I’ve set in my head and I haven’t followed through on any of them.

I feel like I’m falling deeper and deeper into this hole that is my mind and don’t know if I can get out.

Friday, August 19, 2016

When I'm Gone

This post may be a little strange and not like most of my usual posts. But it's what I feel like writing today.

I've always had a very weird sense of my mortality. While most teens and young adults live like they think they'll never die, I didn't see myself living out of my 20s and I was OK with that.

I was even asked by a friend how long I wanted to live and I said 10 more years and then I was done. I didn't want to get old. I didn't want to be middle aged. I saw no real point to life after about 28.

This actually led to a minor breakdown when I actually turned 29.

Anyway, that's just some background. I love living now and have many reasons to be alive.

But last night as I was putting Chloe to bed, I was praying for her after she was asleep.

I do this every once in a while if I'm with my children after they are asleep. I put my hand on their back and pray that God would bless and keep them. That they would get a good night sleep and that they would know that I love them.

But last night seemed different to me. As I was praying I realized that this time I was praying for a future Chloe. That God would take care of her when I'm not there. But my phrasing actually sounded like I thought I was going to die soon.

Part way through I heard a voice in my head say that if I keep going the way that I am, with my weight ever expanding and general health going downhill, I probably won't make it much longer.

For the first time in my life, the thought of dying youngish broke my heart.

I don't want to die and leave my family.

I don't want to die and have my kids not have a father.

I don't want to die.

But in so many ways, I don't know how to live anymore.

I've let myself go so far that it's hard to even start in the right direction.

I don't have any answers and I'm not going to say that everything will change from this day on. I'd only be lying if I said that.

I just know that I want to live.

For my wife.

For my kids.

For me.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Let your speech always be with Grace

"Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." Colossians 4:5-6 NASB

These words hit me pretty hard in church last night.

We live in a day and age where people think it's ok to say whatever comes to their mind as soon as they think it. We don't think about how the words we say may effect those around us. And, more and more often, we think it's their fault if they are offended or put off by the words we say.

I'm not saying that there isn't a time and a place for a strong rebuke or for friends to call out friends or to tell it like it is.

But when you care more about saying what you think than you care about the people you are talking to, it leads to angry words and closed doors.

I love how the New American Standard Bible translates the verses above. It specifically talks about how we talk to outsiders. That would be the people that are around us that may not agree with us.

It doesn't tell us to shove our beliefs down their throats.

It doesn't tell us make them believe as we do.

It doesn't tell us to yell our thoughts and keep yelling so they can't get a word in.

It says to use wisdom and to make the most of each opportunity.

It says to fill your speech with grace and seasoned with salt.

The interesting thing about salt and it being used here, is that it is a preservative. That means we are to use our words to preserve those around us. To build up and fortify relationships with those placed in our lives. Even the ones we don't agree with.

As I was thinking about this last night in church, I realized that just before this passage, Paul gives us the way to help us make this true in our lives.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak." Colossians 4:2-5

Paul calls us to devote ourselves to prayer. It is through praying that we will learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Then we will be able to make the most out of any and every situation we find ourselves in. Keep in mind this was written by a man who was in jail for preaching the Gospel. He doesn't ask for prayers to be set free. Just that God would be able to use him right where he is.

I pray that God will help me to keep my speech full of grace and to let me use the wisdom He gives me to build up those around me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


I've been feeling like writing this post for a while now. Which by no means will make it easy to write or easy to hit the publish button.

The issues recently involving race have brought up some memories for me, and I feel one of the best ways to overcome some of our issues is to openly talk about our issues.

So, here goes...

When I was growing up I remember thinking that black people were cool.

I listened to rap music.

My favorite basketball player was Michael Jordan.

My favorite actor was Will Smith.

My favorite baseball player was Frank Thomas.

The last thing I thought I would be was racist.

I even had a friend in one of the places we lived that was from Jamaica.

It wasn't until I went to college at MNU that I was really confronted with race issues.

While we were singing during one of our first choir practices, I felt an arm go around my shoulders. I turned and there next to me was a big black man with his arm around me singing.

I'd like to say that I wasn't scared. But I was.

I'd like to say that I would have felt the same if it was a white guy. But I can't.

I later came to be friends with the guy and he was one of the ones that helped me get over some of the feelings that I didn't even know I had.

Later that year, I remember going back to my room and seeing three black guys hanging around my door.

Once again, I'd like to say that I wasn't scared. But I was.

I'd like to say that I would have felt the same if it were white guys. But I can't.

It turns out they were just a bunch of guys talking with one of my roommates. That year was just after Napster came out and my roommate and I would download music and burn it onto CD's with my computer. It was a nice way to make a couple bucks.

These guys would end up coming around every once in a while to say hi or ask for another playlist that they wanted burned.

I can't explain why these memories stand out so much to me. But maybe it's because it pointed out to me, that even if I thought of myself as open and caring to all people, I found out I wasn't.

Then I found out that black people are really just people.

Skin color doesn't matter.

Your upbringing doesn't matter.

We are all just a bunch of crazy humans riding along on this planet together.

If more of us just got together and talked to each other as human beings, we would find out that we are the same.

I'm not saying that race and upbringing doesn't play a factor in who we are. More that it shouldn't change the way you treat someone.

We are all in this together.

We are all created and loved by a wonderful artist.

Each of us has our different parts.

But that's what makes us beautiful.

Friday, July 8, 2016


I generally try to stay out of things like this, but I don’t think I can hold it in anymore.

I spent most of the night watching coverage of the shootings in Dallas, and I can’t help but feel this sense of dread and hopelessness.

What is happening in our world that we can’t go a day without hearing of some killing on the news?

It seems like our whole world is going crazy.

My heart breaks for all of the people in our world that have to go to bed tonight knowing that someone they love has been killed.

To me this has nothing to do with race. I know that race has played a big part in a lot of the killings in the news lately. But I don’t care what race you are, if your loved one was shot and killed, it’s a tragedy.

I haven’t really wanted to say anything on this, because I’m a white middle class man. Which in this country, means I’m pretty safe.

No one is threatening my life on a daily basis.

I don’t have to think about things the same way as african-americans do.

I don’t have to tell my son to be extra careful in public or he might get shot.

But I don’t know what to tell my kids anymore.

Of course we try to keep as much of what's been going on from them.

But how can I continue to tell them the world is a great place when people are getting killed everyday for pointless reasons?

How do I explain that black people are being killed by the people I’ve told them they are to trust?

I don’t even know what to do anymore.

No matter race or creed or religion, my brother’s blood is calling out to me from across the world.

I’ve thought to pray about it, but all I can get out is, “Lord… why?”

I don’t have any answers.

Tonight I’m in a hotel room and my kids are sleeping with my in laws. I’m awake in the middle of the night because I can’t stop thinking of all of this.

At the end of all of this all I want to do is hug my kids and never let go.