Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas on the Farm

Playing Joseph in my church's "Christmas on the Farm" this weekend surprisingly had quite an effect on me. I know the Christmas story inside and out. Since I was a little guy, I've always seen Jesus as the focal point of Christmas – as He should be. Last night was something new though. No, there was nothing different about the setting. It was rather typical – stable, donkey, sheep, shepherds, straw bedding in a wooden manger, a beautiful Mary, a borrowed baby doll, and a chilling wind that ignored my multiple layers of tunic clothing and went straight for the marrow.

There was something new though.

Although much of the ten minute presentation became repetitive, one portion did not. Just as a gentle song began in the background, Mary gently handed me the baby Jesus, wrapped in soft white cloth. For the next few moments, I was no longer acting. I looked back into those incredibly lifelike eyes and an involuntary smile spread across my face. A lump formed in my throat as I held the Child who would soon die for my sins and the sins of the world. Fully God and fully man, Immanuel, God with us. The creator of the universe nestled against my chest. My heart exploded with awe and thankfulness. As the smell of the animals' dung filled my nostrils and the frigid air attacked my body's warmth, I thanked the Father for sending His Son to such a disgusting world. Jesus emptied Himself, became of no reputation, took the form of a lowly servant, and ultimately suffered for a world that rejected Him.

My mind doesn't comprehend such love but that's alright. I'll continue to be dumbfounded day after day, Christmas after Christmas, as the Lord continues to remind me how much He loves me and how much it cost to reconcile me back to Himself. The word Gospel means "good news." It's true. It's so very true.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One for the Books

One of my favorite assignments from high school was a simple English project in which I picked a painting and a quote and mounted them on professional matting. No rules on subject matter, just rules on dimension and material. Ms. Freedman said mine was her favorite in all her years teaching. Neat old Jewish woman. I never once heard her use my first name. It was always a grumbly Greenfield!. So anyways, my project was pretty cool. I let Ms. Freedman keep it upon her request. It consisted of a painting of an old man with a little boy sitting on his knee. Together, they were playing a guitar. Just under the painting were John Lennon's famous words "all you need is love."

Is it true? Is that really all we need? Usually, I would say no. On any other day, the logical side of me would explain that we need much more than love. We need air, food, water, clothes, warmth, security. Not tonight though. What good is air when my chest struggles to gasp for a single breath? What good is food and water when my stomach has some painful mass of dull steady emptiness? My closet reeks of memories that further intensify the heartache. The down comforter and numerous pillows adequately contain my body's warmth but yet I still sense an icy cold on the inside. The neighborhood may be safe tonight but I still feel robbed and vulnerable.

But it's not just that..

My old man is still chillin under the bathroom sink. After all those years of hearing him talk and talk and talk (freakin telemarketers), I'd love to hear his voice just once more.

I brought my mother dinner tonight. What a sweet woman. As she happily munched on the pizza with her favorite toppings that I know by heart, she rambled about something on TV. As usual, it was difficult for me to even make eye contact. The oxygen tube running just beneath her cheek bones, the walker adjacent to the recliner, and the constant slur of words were all just reminders of how much I miss my mom. I miss the mom that she used to be.

I also saw my puppy tonight. My 16 year old puppy. For a pet hater, I sure do love my Rascal. Sometimes I wonder if he'll actually out live my mom. They're both getting closer by the day. Rascal will likely get a more formal funeral with more tears shed than my pops. Funny how things work out.

Brian Nichols' life was spared tonight. After being found guilty on 54 counts of various crimes including four murders, we somehow had a hung jury: 9/3. Because three jurors didn't sentence Brian to die, he will live - by default. My heart has been broken and re-broken again and again over the past three months of this trial for the families that lost loved ones on March 11, 2005. How could we possibly have spared this man's life? Judge Barnes' wife won't have her husband for yet another Christmas. Same goes for Julie Bandeaux's daughter, Sergeant Teasley's mom, and Agent Wilhelm's mentally handicapped brother. Justice? 5+ million tax payer dollars for this trial and much more for a lifetime in prison. I don't know. I just don't know.

So what is my conclusion tonight? Hell, I don't know. The love around me is severely tainted. My family is a mess, my country is a mess, my life is a mess.

Tomorrow, I'm trading toiletries for toiletries. It's really just an excuse for one last moment together before we allow our broken hearts to start letting go and moving on. In time, we won't look at each other the same. How I wish I could just grab her up and run far away. Throw caution to the wind and go. My love, my companion, my inspiration, my comforter, the very object of my passion. A terror lurks deep within that I'm passing up my soul mate. Either way, we did have a great run and a beautiful romance. One for the books. I'm a better man and a deeper lover because of it. Even picked up a couple dance steps – whaddayaknow.

All you need is love, eh? Sounds rather plausible tonight. All I can do is encourage you and encourage myself to keep loving. Let's not grow cold and callused, serious and cynical: dreary old pessimists. Let's love people even though our love is sadly lacking in consistency and selflessness. Let's keep receiving love even though it sometimes comes with ulterior motives and strings attached. By all means, love until you're bruised and bloody and then love some more. Never forget that, when all else fails, you've got a Savior that loves you unconditionally and gave His life for you. If I know anything about anything, I know that's absolutely true. Although I'm feeling a crippling loneliness tonight, my Savior is closer to me than I realize. His love is perfect, complete, and unchanging.

If you do have someone to love during the holidays, don't get caught up in the hoopla of the shopping frenzies. Just love them. Figure out how to love them and then smother them in love. Be their hero and lavish them with your affections. Don't take them for granted. For many of us, this will be our last Christmas with certain folks. Even if the endings aren't perfect 10's, we can surely do our best to love with everything we've got. You have the ability to make each of your relationships "one for the books." Declare your love, display your love, act your love, commit your love. Life is too damn miserable any other way.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Did God create evil?

Have you ever heard someone ponder how a loving God could allow sin/evil to be in the world? Recently, it was suggested to me that God actually created sin so that He could show just how gracious, merciful and forgiving He is.


But it got me thinking..
Before just attacking a stance that I disagree with (which I did – whoops), I should step back and see what the Bible has to say on the subject.

"And everyone who has this hope in Him [God] purifies himself, just as He is pure. Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:3-6, 8)

Ok, so I get that. God is pure, holy, and absolutely without sin. This passage defines sin as lawlessness, which is having motives and behavior contrary to God's law. God's law in Exodus 20 is a reflection of His character and this 1 John passage clearly states that there is no sin in God.

The 1 John passage explains that sin came from the devil. God created Satan so does that mean that God created sin? No. Check this out – "You [Satan] were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you." (Eze. 28:15) Ok, so now we're getting somewhere. Satan was created perfect but then became flawed later. Satan rebelled at some point in history (see Isa. 14:12-15) and that's when he started being a sinful being.

But if it's true that God created everything, isn't it logical to reason that sin, by its very existence, was created by God?

Think of it like this. God didn't create dark. He created light. You can't make dark. Dark is simply the absence of light. Same thing with cold. Cold is the absence of heat. Or silence, which is the absence of noise/sound.

Here's the key. God created beings, both angelic and human, as creatures of free will. God could have created robots that were programmed to automatically love Him and obey Him but that wouldn't be true love, right? True love is only love when there's choice involved. After all, forced love is merely rape. So, God decided to create beings with the capacity of free thinking. When created beings choose to disobey and rebel against God, the rebellion by definition is Sin. God didn't create sin. God created Choice. Choice that's contrary to God's character of sinless holy perfection is defined as Sin. God didn't cause Adam and Eve to sin, nor does He cause any of us to sin. James wrote, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.'" (James 1:13)

Adam and Eve decided on their own to rebel against God and this is how sin entered our world. Rom. 5:12 explains this concept.

Although it was a well-meaning Christian that posed the erroneous idea that God created sin, I've heard atheists argue that the existence of sin/evil in the world is proof that God doesn't exist. It goes like this:

1) If God exists, he is omnibenevolent [totally good].
2) If God exists, he is omnipotent [can do anything].
3) An omnibenevolent God would not permit evil to exist.
4) An omnipotent God would have the power to prevent evil's existence.
5) Therefore, if God exists, evil does not exist.
6) Evil exists.
7) Therefore, God does not exist.

The problem is point 3. The Bible teaches that God is totally 100% good but that He still allows evil to exist. Allowing evil to exist does not mean that God is responsible for it, nor ok with it. When I was a child, my mother often asked me to clean my room. I usually didn't obey. My rebellion against my mother's instruction did not mean that she was responsible for my sin, nor that she caused my sin.

Sin is serious stuff, Folks. Sin is what separates us from God. When I look around this screwed up world and see all the evil that has poisoned it, I don't blame God because it's not His doing. God has allowed the evil to exist but only temporarily. He is showing tremendous patience with mankind so that everyone will have many opportunities to turn from their evil ways and turn to Him. One day soon, however, God will put an end to evil. I'm thankful that God has showed His incredible love for me though. He paid the penalty of my personal evil as He shed His blood on the cross so that I could be in a right standing before Him.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I saw Lane Seabolt at my favorite little coffeehouse last night. One particular song is really moving me and I’d like to share the lyrics with you in a moment.

Broken love, crushed dreams, lingering memories. I've heard that our most vivid memories are attached to specific scents. Interesting. A smell recently triggered a memory that violently shook me to the core of my being. Do we realize how much we hold onto the past? Do we realize that our present actions will soon become memories that will only be relived as secondhand experiences? Like a thrift store, I peruse the rusted shelves of my former romances. Not really in the mood to buy anything. Just looking around, taking it in. Remembering how the broken toys used to light up and play music and how the tattered worn dresses used to sparkle like new. Perhaps a small part of me wants to grab a dress, throw a tie around my neck, and dance down the isle one last time. However, those dresses are vacant now – long ago forgotten.


Anyways, here's the lyrics to the song..

"Anything" by Lane Seabolt

i dont know if there was
anyone else who was
standing there
watching you
moving as if it all
mattered but we both know
nothing means anything
anymore anymore anymore

far below
there's a room
where i keep all that you
left in the pantry
and under your pillow
i know it's juvenile
but when i close my eyes
i still remember
your smell in the morning
when all was calm
all was new
all was good
but for you
hiding your face in your pillow

dont tell me what to do
i'm still in love with you
you're still a part of this sad situation
you can move on
but you'll never move past
all the words that were spoken
with only your eyes

long ago
we both knew
you for me
me for you
i still remember it like it was yesterday
i dont know if there was
something between us but
you've taken everything everything everything

so they say
it takes two
now it's just him and you
dancing and dreaming
and moving as if it all
mattered but we both know
nothing means anything
anymore anymore anymore

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Meals

I had my first post-childhood McDonalds Happy Meal tonight. They actually have a big kid size - six chicken nuggets, small fries, small drink, and a toy. It was surprisingly good and the perfect size. I did feel a little awkward reaching towards the drive-thru window to grasp the colorful cardboard container. Oh, and I almost got in a wreck on the way home playing with the little toy. It's this penguin looking guy that is riding a vehicle of some sort that shoots dual torpedo thingies. Some people send txt messages while driving or play with the radio. Not me. I play with Happy Meal toys. Four bucks well spent.

Stop Labeling

I read an interesting article on Zen Habits today ( Of the 11 ways suggested to bring out the awesomeness in life, #2 is particularly interesting. It's got me thinking - what is a label? when are they necessary? when do they complicate? is a truth only as solid as its label?.. hmm... thoughts?

"2. Stop labeling. It’s amazing how much we think we’re experiencing life, but we’re really just thinking about it. I want you to try a little exercise with me. Take a look at something around you. Maybe it’s a photo, a plant, or your keyboard. Our normal state of mind is to think about the object we’re looking at, to conceptualize it in our mind and place labels on it. Now look at the same object and don’t think about it. If this is difficult for you, that’s okay. Relax and just look. Let go. Notice a difference? That’s because when you’re not thinking about what you’re things, you’re actually experiencing life directly. The labels in our mind are simply abstractions, they’re not reality itself. Try doing this more often: when you’re in line at the grocery store, walking your dog, listening to music, etc. You’ll start to enjoy your experience much more."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How do I figure out God's will for my life?

A hot topic among Christians is “how do I know the will of God for my life?”

.. ..

Before plunging into this topic, let me clarify that this is only for those who have given their hearts and lives to Jesus. If you’re not a believer, go read the Gospel of John and ask God to speak to your heart and show you how to respond.

.. ..

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” ....Rom..... 12:1-2

.. ..

People often think that God’s will is something that has to be found – like it’s lost or hidden. Not so. God’s will is not tough to discern. Paul writes the simple formula for knowing God’s will.

.. ..

1. Give your body to the Lord

.. ..

When I read this, I realize that my body is far from “holy and acceptable.” This discourages a lot of people. They think that they’re disqualified. They say, “Until my body is holy and acceptable, I can’t give it as a living sacrifice to the Lord. I struggle with sin constantly. I better get my act together first.” The first eleven chapters of Romans that lead up to these two verses explain that God sees us IN Christ. God sees our bodies as holy and acceptable already. You and I see the mistakes and shortcomings but, simply put, God does not. He sees you and me hidden IN Christ and sees the righteousness of Christ wrapped around us like a robe.

.. ..

What’s this idea of a living sacrifice? In Gen 22, Abraham was told to take his adult son Isaac up on a mountain and sacrifice him to the Lord. You may know the story. Just before Abraham’s hand plunged the dagger into his son’s chest, the Lord stopped him. It was a test and Abraham passed the test. Centuries later, God would offer up His Son Jesus on the very same mountain as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. That’s a living sacrifice. But, how does that look for me personally? Well, I become a living sacrifice when I climb up onto the altar and say, “Lord, I’m yours. I love you more than anything or anyone. Have your way with me.” The problem with being a living sacrifice is that I have the tendency to climb off the altar and go do my own thing. I squirm and regularly escape! That’s why it’s important for me to continually return back to the place where I say, “Lord, I’m sorry. I’m tired of trying to figure out where I should go. I’ve done my own thing, tried my own way, and failed miserably. I’m tired of steering the car. I let go of the controls once again. Take my life..”

.. ..

Once you’ve given your body to the Lord and opened up your life to His complete control..

.. ..

2. Keep your mind on the Lord

.. ..

Avoid being squeezed into the world’s mold. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The word “transformed” comes from the Greek word “metamorphoo” which is where we get our word “metamorphosis.” It’s a radical change. This same word is used to describe the change that Jesus experienced in Matt 17. He was talking with Moses and Elijah about his death (hint, hint – living sacrifice) and started shining and glowing. Just as radical as a caterpillar metamorphosizing into a butterfly, my mind is changed and renewed as I keep my thoughts on the Lord.

.. ..

So, give your body to the Lord and keep your mind on the Lord, and you will know what God’s perfect will is for your life.

.. ..

Sounds good, right? The question is – how does that actually work for me today in my situation?

.. ..

John 14. Jesus was telling his freaked out disciples that He was going to leave them in order to prepare heaven for them. Jesus told them not to be worried or troubled. He then said “where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas replied in John 14:5 “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

.. ..

Here’s the key to this whole “how do I know God’s will” thing:

.. ..

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

.. ..

See, the disciples were trying to get instruction, direction, information. Jesus basically said, “I’m not going to tell you the way. I AM the way. It’s not information I give to you. It’s who I’ll be for you. It’s ME.”

.. ..

We keep saying, “Lord, tell me what to do. Give me instructions. Give me directions.” The Lord says, “I never said I would tell you the way. I am the way.” All I have to do is (#1) Give my body to the Lord and (#2) keep my mind on the Lord, and I’ll end up in the right place without struggling at all. I’ll stop trying to figure out what to do and just hang on to the Lord. It’s radical. It’s Jesus – day by day by day.

.. ..

Not only that but ....Col.... 3:15 says that the peace of Christ will rule in my heart and Heb 10:16 says God’s will will be written on my heart. God is simply going to change my heart. I don’t have to struggle and wonder what He wants me to do or where He wants me to go. Hey, if my heart’s desire is to do this or that, I can go for it. I don’t have to agonize over it. If I make a mistake, the Lord will shut the door and open a different door (see Rev. 3). All I do is rest. I keep my body open to Him, keep my mind on Him, let His peace rule in my heart, and let Him put His impressions on my heart.

.. ..

Ps. 37:4 – As I delight in the Lord, he gives me the desires of my heart. I climb onto his shoulders and go along for the ride. Suddenly, I find that the desires I have in my heart constitute his will for my life. It’s that simple. Just like Augustine said, as I love God with all of my heart, I can do whatever I want. Vocationally, romantically, physically, emotionally, spiritually, practically – I’ll find myself in the center of God’s will.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jesus Loves You, Fluffy..

Hey Guys -

Found this recent public announcement for a local church (Christian Church - Disciples of Christ denomination). Any thoughts or opinions?..

BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS - Pets should be brought on a leash or in a suitable carrier to the gathering, which will be held on the front lawn of the church. All pets are welcome, but photos of pets also are welcome. The service will include readings, prayers, music, a blessing for all living pets, as well as for those pets who are no longer with us. There will also be an opportunity for the individual blessing of pets.

Thoughts? I have a reoccurring discussion with a close friend of mine regarding animals/pets, their spiritual state, etc. This friend tends to believe that pets will be in heaven but there is no scriptural backing for this and I personally don't believe that animals have eternal spirits whatsoever. As far as this gathering that is being advertised, I'm undecided as to the validity of blessing animals..

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Messy Life

My life is messy.

As I self-reflect, I realize just how ugly my issues are. Blood stains my hands. I’m covered in shame. The charades sometimes fool the people around me but I know the truth. Disgusting past. Horrific secrets. Ulterior motives. Double standards. Guilty conscience. Spotted. Tainted. Unworthy of love. Undeserving of breath. Messy life.

How does my Savior love me so? He is beautiful, I am ugly. He is strong, I’m a wuss. He is loving, I’m a jerk. How could He possibly pursue me with such a passionate heart?

My Savior sings to me – “You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you.” (Sgs 4:7)

He sees me robed in His righteousness and beauty. My Savior doesn’t see my ugliness. He doesn’t see my shame. I’m not guilty anymore. The spots are gone. My conscience is clean. My heart is washed in His forgiveness and acceptance. My sin will never exceed His grace.

May He remind you of His grace that covers your sin. May you realize that your heart has been made clean and whole. Let the words of His song sing to your spirit: “You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you..”

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Response to Rob's question about Christians and tattoos..

Good question, Rob. I'll give you the nutshell answer but we can talk more if you like..

First, I’ll note a very important distinction in the Old Testament. We refer to “the law of God” and “the law of Moses.” The law of God is for all peoples at all times. The law of Moses, however, was given directly to the Israelites for that time in history. Chapter 19 of Leviticus begins by directing the content to the Israelites. Notice that just a couple sentences before the text that you mention. It forbids from shaving around the sides of your head and also forbids from wearing clothes mixed with linen and wool. Interesting. Today’s Christians are not held under these laws because they were not given to us. We study about them, learn from them, and apply their spiritual principles to our lives.

Next, it’s important to understand the context of what was going with the Israelites when this law was given. The Israelites weren’t getting butterflies and tribal designs tattooed. They were actually tattooing idols onto their bodies as a means of idol worship. They were also cutting scars into their bodies in an attempt to stay connected with the dead. This is why God forbade this practice. Tattooing in our modern culture spans a broad range of intentions and purposes. If a Christian tattooed his body with a Buddha, I’d be a bit concerned. However, a Christian tattooing his body with a beautiful peace of artwork that represents a spiritual truth in his life is different. As Christians, we are no longer under the laws of the Old Testament. Rather, we are under “the law of love” and we have freedom in Christ to enjoy that.

At the end of the day, I would never argue with a guy that believed tattooing was Biblically wrong. I’d just tell him “fine, don’t get a tattoo.” However, I would argue that the Christian that doesn’t have an issue in his conscience with getting a tattoo has the freedom in Christ to do so. Many verses in the Bible back that up and I’d be glad to expound if you’re interested. (Guess that was a big nutshell!). Hope that helps.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It’s just ink. I’m not dangerous. I won’t cut you.

Recently, some older folks that I spent some time with had serious issues with my tattoos. It wasn't the meaning behind the tattoos (they didn't ask) but just the fact that I have them in the first place. They categorized me as "one of those kind of people" and wrote me off. A verse came to mind as I was thinking about this reaction.

The prophet Samuel made a similar mistake as these older folks did. A guy called Eliab was the good looking strong eldest son of Jesse. Samuel figured that this was the guy that God was choosing to be the next king. Here's what God said in response –

"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Sam. 16:7)

We all seem to judge people so quickly based upon how they look, what they wear, their accent perhaps, where they live. It's an easy trap to fall into. If the prophet Samuel did it, surely we're all prone to it. We see a punk with funny colored hair and a face full of piercings and jump to conclusions that his life is messed up and he should be avoided. Then, we see another guy wearing nice clothes and driving a decent car and assume that he's got his act together. WRONG. God sees straight through the external appearances and into a man's heart. We don't look at the heart because we simply can't. Only God can.

The people that have concluded inaccurate assumptions about my lifestyle and character based upon my tattoos have actually indirectly been used by the Lord to convict me of the same error in my own way of thinking. I'm so quick to assume that I know a person's life story within the first five minutes. Folks, we've gotta stop doing this. The next time you're overly confident about seeing a person's heart, remember what we read about our own hearts –

"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9)

Hey, we can't even truly know our own hearts! Our hearts are jacked with ulterior motives and hidden agendas. Even when we think our intentions are pure, they oftentimes are not.

The solution to this is simple. We must cease our efforts to judge other people by their outward appearances OR by assuming that we can see the intentions and motives of their hearts. We should just love them the way that God loves them: unconditionally. Don't worry about what the external looks like and don't try to figure the degree of sincerity and authenticity. Leave it to God since He's the only one that can see the heart anyway.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello...

So, it's the end of another season of my life as I move into June tomorrow. These "seasons" usually don't have such distinct starts and stops. Usually, they just sort of blend into each other. Not this one though. My father died on February 3rd, 2006. I met her the same week and thus began the season that I'm finishing today. What's significant about June 1st? Nothing. Actually, everything. My Savior has graciously granted me yet another fresh start. His unconditional and passionate love for me mystifies me.

My goodbyes never seem to stick. I don't know how to say goodbye to the people I love. Just ten minutes ago, I moved my old man from under the bathroom sink to a moving box. That's cardboard inside cardboard - interesting. I'll throw the moving box with his crushed bones, alongside with bottles of cleaner and toilet paper, into the back of my truck. We'll take a little ride to my new place. Here ya go, Pops. Meet your new resting place for the next while. I hope this bathroom sink treats you as well as the last did. I know I promised to shoot you off in some fireworks but I just haven't gotten around to it. Miami is a long drive and gas prices have risen. Ya dig? Cool. Actually, I kind of like having you around. I remember you every time I reach for some shaving cream or mouthwash. I also remember you every time I eat a bite of sushi, see a beautiful blonde stroll by, listen to the Moody Blues. I remember you every time I stop by Havana Sandwich Shop, get an unwelcome whiff of cigarette smoke, buy a mango. You'd be pleased with me I think.

I'm saying goodbye to this bedroom I've rented for the past couple years. My roomie left a note on the dining room table today (ooo, I have a crazy memory about that table.. hmm....). I may not see him again. I feel like I should take him to dinner or shake his hand. I feel like I should tell him that I'll miss him and that he can call me anytime he wants to hang out. But wait – I won't miss him. I haven't hung out with him in a year. Where does this stuff come from? Why is it ever-so-slightly difficult to say goodbye to him? Dunno. So long, Captain. I hope Iraq goes easy on you next year. Oh, and I'm sorry about the green stain on my carpet. Nyquil stains white carpet like you wouldn't believe.

I said goodbye to her today. Again. This time is for real – trust me. It took some serious drama for her and I to finally part. And yet, my heart that has re-broken countless times in the past year weeps for a love it never truly wanted. What's up with that? Seriously. I don't get it. I said the L word for the first and last time today. A bit late, I'm sure. Maybe it was a bad idea but I would have regretted NOT saying it for the rest of my life. It was typed and not spoken but my heart has spoken it through my smiles, embraces, and conversations to her all along. At least she knows for sure now. And to think, I could be planning the beginning of our lives together right now. Do we realize the magnitude of the impact of our decisions? Definitely not. I'll never see on this side of eternity even a glimpse of what that single decision affected. Bye, Hunnie. I'll miss you. You were great. We had a good run and gave it our best shot. I do love you. My life will forever be touched by our year together. The man that finally snatches you up will be one lucky fella. I hope he loves you more passionately than I could and treats you like the princess that you are.

So, it's the end of a season. I enjoyed some of the most colorful memories of my entire life. I loved with all of my heart. I screwed everything up. Oh well. The season is over, I'm licking my wounds, and there's a new start waiting for me tomorrow. It's times like this that familiar idioms seem to have more meaning. There's no use crying over spilt milk. Roll with the punches. If you fall off the horse, get back on. Yes. I'll do just that. Falling off the proverbial horse hurts like no other but the rush of the wind in your face and the feeling of the powerful gallop against your body is reason enough to try again. I'll love harder next time. I'll give more of myself away next time. I'll risk even more and go for broke. Our love, I think, is meant to be given away.

Goodbye, Hunnie. Fare thee well, Pops. Take it easy, Roomie. Thanks for making this a wild season. Thanks for inspiring me to be a better man. I hope you'll forgive my mistakes over time.

Hello, June. I've never been so excited to see you in the former twenty-five times we've met. You snuck up on me before. This time will be different. I thought you'd never get here. Welcome back! I'll kiss you thirty times from my gratitude. Treat me well. I'll do my best to make all of you count. I'll allow my Savior to romance me again. I'll try to learn from my mistakes. I want to make you proud this time.


Here we go..

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Better than a fortune cookie

"The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion." Ps. 111:2-5

There's plenty of stuff you and I have to complain about today. If you think about yourself long enough, you'll get utterly depressed. We live messed up lives in a messed up world.

But catch this..

God is at work! He's working in YOUR life right this very minute. This Psalm describes the works of the Lord as great, honorable, glorious, and WONDERFUL. Take heart, Friend. Your God is full of compassion and totally into dishing out grace. He's not frustrated or ticked off at you today. The Father is going to do wonderful things in and through you. Just hang in there! Lets study the works of the Lord and take pleasure in them. Stop sniffling and complaining. Nobody likes a crybaby. Choose with me today to be thankful for what God has done and excited for what He's getting ready to do. Listen, I promise you that you won't be disappointed if you'll just be patient and let God do his thing in his timing.

Hey, speaking of "wonderful" ….

"And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isa. 9:6

Jesus is Mr. Wonderful for cryin out loud!! Perfect love casts out fear. He perfectly loves you so don't freak out. Do a little dance or something. Wonderful things are coming your way. Just stick close to the source of wonderful-ness.

Friday, April 4, 2008

God is a surfer

I went for a jog on the beach this morning. While my lungs filled with fresh ocean air, God filled my spirit with fresh mercy and joy.

Joy is an interesting thing. It's very different from happiness. Happiness comes and goes depending on external circumstances in life. Sure, I'm dealing with some heavy stuff. Really heavy stuff. It's all good though because I know the source of joy that satisfies my soul regardless of emotion.

"He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea." –Job 38:11
"You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, You still them." –Psalm 89:9
"But I am the Lord your God, who divided the sea whose waves roared – the Lord of hosts is His name." -Isaiah 51:15

Ohhh, how this warms my heart. The same God that shapes and controls the waves of the oceans holds my life in his hands. I've got nothing to worry about. He loves me so deeply. The same God that spreads out the heavens opens his arms in a welcoming embrace for me. I don't deserve it. I can't earn it. I can't even explain it. I just accept it with a smile on my face. The only thing I can do is respond by loving him with everything I've got. I'm all in. Why don't you tell your savior the same thing. Love him today with reckless abandon. Let his waves of mercy wash over whatever is bugging you at the moment. Just love him. Push all of your poker chips to the center of the table. Lets be ALL IN today.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hold Fast

Just being a bit vulnerable at the moment –

It's been a season of freaking out. Issues, complications, problems, heartaches, contentions, drama, and lots of other really scary stuff. I feel like I'm ready to come apart at the seams. The Lord showed me something just a few minutes ago in this passage:

"And Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.'" –Ex. 14:12,13

The Israelites were probably freaking out more than me. After all, they were about to get slaughtered by the pissed off Egyptians. Outnumbered and cornered, they shook to the core with fear. Moses straightened them out though. It was no Braveheart moment. Moses didn't get them all pumped up to fight in a blur of rage and glory. Nope, he told them to just stand there and watch the Lord fight for them.

Um, seriously? You want me to just stand here with my back up against this wall and watch? Shouldn't I get my sword ready or something? How am I supposed to make myself chill out and not being afraid? I'm about to die, Man. This is it. This is really the end. My family is looking to me for protection and they're scared, too. Your religious pep talk is fine and all but your timing is way off.

Hmm. That's what my initial thought would have been I think. Actually, that's what my thought process has been similar to lately.

Sure, there's a time to fight. But sometimes, God's Spirit speaks to us and tells us the same thing that Moses told his people in the passage. Where does my fear come from anyway? I'll tell you – it comes from a lack of trust in God. Period. So, what am I to do?

Stand still. Stop freaking out. Cast my burdens and cares upon Him (1 Pet. 5:7). And then the cool part happens. As I'm watching, trusting, waiting, I will actually SEE the salvation of the Lord in my life. The Lord will fight these emotional battles for me as I hold my peace. He'll provide escapes from impossible situations that I never would have figured out on my own. Salvation, I believe, is a three-part thing. I HAVE BEEN saved from the penalty of sin; I AM BEING saved from the power of sin, and I WILL BE saved from the very presence of sin. This "Salvation of the Lord" thing is not just a distant concept that took place during some altar call. It's being worked out in my life daily as I witness God fighting my battles for me. Just like David fought Goliath on behalf of the Israelites, I have a Greater-than-David, the Son of David – Jesus, who fights for me.

If you're dealing with crap today, I do think that you'd be wise to consider what Moses told his people about standing still, having peace, and trusting God to fight on their behalf.

It's true that the Israelites survived after God miraculously parted the waters. They wrote a song of praise and victory. However, wouldn't it have been awesome if they sung praises of victory and triumph BEFORE they knew how God would save them? That's the real deal. Let's praise God IN ADVANCE for delivering us and rescuing us. That's real faith. Hey, I know it's hard. Let's choose to do it anyway. God is true to His Word. Jesus is in the boat with me as I weather these nasty storms. At the appropriate time, the waters will part and I'll cross through on dry land. When the time is right, Jesus will stand up in my boat and shout, "Peace, be still!" I don't want to be a weakling anymore. Against every fiber in my being that is trying to panic and run, I'm going to hold fast, fix my eyes upon my Savior, and ride this storm out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Dinero. Dough. Moolah. Cheese. Bucks. Bread. Cash. Beans. Chips. Benjamins. Bones.


"No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather." – Michael Pritchard

Have you ever stopped and thought about the concept of money at length? It's a peculiar thing really. I understand the barter system perhaps but money is an obscure idea to me. Removing physical currency and replacing it with bank accounts and debit cards only adds to the ambiguousness. Yet, the pursuit of it seems to run our society. As of late, the topic of money keeps popping up in conversations. A buddy of mine recently presented me with a business opportunity that would lead to a six-figure income within five years (but I would have to pay to join his company of course). The promise of getting rich quick with a passive income method drove the sales pitch. Amongst the verses I shared with him came from 1 Timothy 6: "Godliness with contentment is great gain." By the reaction on his face, I could tell that my response was not the one he had anticipated or prepared for!

It's a revolutionary way of living. The idea is that you and I can actually be content with who we are, where we live, how much money we make and what we're doing TODAY. The world chases after the next big thing. Solomon was the richest man to ever live on this planet. The guy had EVERYTHING. Solomon got to the peak of absolute power and financial prosperity just to say that all of it was utterly meaningless. VANITY OF VANITIES Solomon said. Think about soap bubbles. They're pretty and shiny as they softly float through the air but reach out to grab it and POP there's nothing of substance at all. Go try it. Figure out how to get a soap bubble into your pocket. You finally get "the next big thing" but the newness or novelty soon wears off.

Don't be a dope. Store up your wealth and treasures in heaven so that it'll all be waiting on you when you arrive. This world is passing away. What difference will it make in eternity whether you drove a Maxima or a Mercedes? Be a good steward of the resources you have but don't fall into the lie that just a little more [fill in the blank] will bring satisfaction or happiness. If you want a deep satisfaction and a lasting peace, pursue a romance with your Savior. Look for ways to invest that pay eternal dividends. Your check registry is a direct and tangible reflection upon where the passions of your heart are.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

God is not in a hurry..

..but I sure am sometimes.

Two sisters were in a hurry once – and for a good reason, too. Their brother was deathly sick and needed nothing short of a miracle to save his life. The sisters sent word to the man whom they knew could heal their dying brother. Time was of the essence. There wasn't a moment to lose.

"Too late. So sad. Sorry, Sisters. Jesus just arrived into town but we buried your brother four days ago so there goes that idea."

I would have been pissed off if I found myself that day in the sandals of Mary and Martha. Jesus was late! He took his sweet time and showed up four days after Lazarus died. You may know the story. Jesus actually wasn't late at all. He purposely allowed Lazarus to die so that an incredible miracle could take place. Lazarus was raised from the dead after spending four days rotting in his grave. Amazing.

I want you to know something today. God is not in a hurry. He works on a time clock that's a bit different than yours and mine. But sometimes we panic..

"God, where are you? Can't you see what I'm going through?! Lord, hurry! What's the deal?! Don't you see what's happening??"

You feel that same panic at times. Maybe you're wondering why you haven't gotten married yet. Perhaps your current situation is totally different from what you imagined it would be previously. Are you stuck in a job that has nothing to do with your passions? Has a relationship recently turned sour?

I'm glad that Adam waited for God to bring him a wife. If Adam had taken matters into his own hands, he may have married an ape or something. Adam waited though. No eHarmony. No singles cruise. What did Adam do? He took a nap! What a treat to wake up, after resting in total peace, to a lovely woman that was created just for him.

There was another guy called Zacharias. This fella was a priest and a righteous dude. The problem was that his wife Elizabeth couldn't have children. Their prayers had gone unanswered for years and Elizabeth grew into old age without a child. One day, Zacharias was just worshipping God at church and BAM an angel showed up and said that Elizabeth would have a baby. God's timing was very different from Zachariah and Elizabeth's timing BUT it was all good because they raised John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah.

Hey, I know it's sometimes hard to wait on the Lord and to trust that He's truly got this whole thing figured out. Check out this verse that has been rockin my day..

"No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly." –Psalm 84

Are you walking uprightly? If not, get back on track right this minute.

For those that are walking with God though, you have an incredible promise to hang your hat on today. God will not withhold ANY good thing from your life. What do you think you're missing? A husband or wife? The job you've dreamed about? A lifestyle that you just don't have enough money to live? God is NOT in a hurry. You don't have whatever "it" is today because it's not good for you to have today. Simple as that.

Ok, last verse for today's rant…

"Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ." -Philippians 4

Chill out! Don't be anxious or panicky. GOD IS NEVER LATE. You get to be thankful today and then let God know what you want. Then, DROP IT. Trust that your God will not withhold any good thing from your life as you're abiding in him. You'll discover a peace that doesn't make any sense. Notice that this peace doesn't come FROM understanding but rather SURPASSES understanding. The people around you will marvel that you have an unexplainable peace in the midst of difficult circumstances. Relax. You have nothing to worry about as you abide in Christ today. Let the weight just slide off your shoulders and allow God's peace to saturate your heart. It's all going to work out beautifully. Guaranteed. Don't freak out and marry an ape. Trust the Lord. I promise you that he won't let you down. He'll come through right on time.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Beer and lions

I bombed out Friday night. One beer turned into several and I acted like a total moron. I spent the weekend frustrated and defeated. On the way home from the office, I stopped by the bookstore to just sort of lose myself in some books. Perhaps it's my version of cable TV. You've seen those huge coffee table picture books that are always on sale at bookstores, right? Well, I spent an hour in this book about lions. Lions are such beautiful creatures.

God suddenly spoke to me through the pages of lions. This photograph of a lion eating a gazelle started to move. The lion spat the gazelle's liver out of his mouth and then started talking to me right there from page 67. ACID TRIP. Just kidding.

A verse hit me like a sumo man hits the Chinese buffet (err, Japanese buffet. Whatever.) Check it:

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." 1 Peter 5:8-9

Woahhhhh. Isn't God so clever? He knew I was down in the dumps. God used the random book about lions to speak to me. It blew me away.

Satan wants to gobble you up. Me, too. Yes, it's true that I'm going to heaven and Satan can't mess with my salvation. However, he sure can depress, discourage, and tempt me into doing stuff that nullifies my witness and destroys my character. What does Peter tell us to do? BE SOBER! Although Peter is referring to the idea of being careful and watching out, it also applies to my example of drinking too much on Friday night.

Peter doesn't say to run away or freak out. He advises us to RESIST. James agrees: "resist the devil and he will flee from you." How do we resist? Paul talks about spiritual armor. There are spiritual defenses as well as spiritual weapons. The entire body is covered and protected except for the back. Why? Because we aren't meant to freak out and run away.

You've heard the roar. Really, you have. The roar can be absolutely intimidating and deafening.

"Roarrrrr, you suck. Roarrrrr, you're a failure. Roarrrr, you blew it again. Roarrrrr, stop fooling yourself. You're nobody. God can't use you. Give it up…"

Do you hear that roar and get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach because it rings true? Do you get discouraged and start giving in to the temptation? Maybe you just throw the towel in and stop fighting. Simply ignoring the reality of the temptation or trying not to think about it will only lead to defeat. However, if we battle by going directly to the Father in prayer every time there is a roar of intimidation and temptation, we'll be turning the enemy's weapon back on him. What will happen? That roaring lion will realize that his teeth have been kicked out!! According to James, he'll take off with his tail between his legs. How did Jesus fight his temptation? He fired right back with Scripture. So, too, you and I can use the same tactic. It's true that the lions often attack the sick gazelles and zebra that are hanging out on the outskirts. Stay spiritually healthy by eating the Word everyday and living in the center of the pack. Surround yourself regularly with likeminded believers that will encourage you and pray for you. Keep your "sword" sharp by meditating on the Scriptures. Talk to the Father in the heat of the battle which will strengthen your shield of faith. If you're just chillin and doing your own thing alone, the lion will sneak up and devour you – he'll devour your day, chomp on your mood, and rip on your character.

Be sober. Watch out! Be careful. Resist. Fight! Be steadfast in the faith! When you do, when I do, that toothless bully will run away like the old wimp that he is.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's the Year of the Rat. Lucky us.

Here on the rightcoast, it's 75 minutes into the New Year. Don't you love fresh starts? I'm sure we all do.

My 2007 was quite a year and full of many incredible and awesome experiences. Although I dealt with my share of problems and issues, the year drew to a close on a wonderful note of God's faithfulness and mercy.

In the past year, I said many goodbyes. I said goodbye to my best friend of nine years. I said goodbye to the first woman I ever truly loved. I said goodbye to my credit card debt once and for all. I said goodbye to many habits and traits that hindered me from running well in the race. I said goodbye to my dad.

Reflecting on those goodbyes is bittersweet. My heart aches for those I've said goodbye to but the memories are sweet and put a smile on my face. This New Year will be full of rich new experiences and fresh revelations of God's unmerited favor upon my life.

The word "new" appears 173 times in 153 different verses in the Bible (NKJV). Let's check out a few…

"Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy." Ps. 33:3

"He has put a new song in my mouth-- Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord." Ps. 40:3

""Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Jer. 31:31, 33

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. " Lam. 3:22-23

"Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh," Eze. 11:19

"For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Mat. 26:28

"And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;" Mark 16:17

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." Jhn. 13:34

"Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us." 1 Cor. 5:7

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Cor. 5:17

"Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:24

Far out. You and I both have a New Year sitting in front of us today and that's awesome. I'm thankful to be alive and excited to see what's in store. However, I'm much more excited about the new stuff going on in those verses. I have a new song in my heart. I'm living in the new covenant life! I have a new spirit in me upon which God's laws are written. There are new words of life that I can now speak. I have a new commandment to love others around me. The old crap is being purged out so that a new work can be done. By God's grace, I've become a new creation and a new man.

Perhaps you have a resolution or two for '08. I have plenty. It's healthy to strive for improvement in our lives. The only resolution that I actually kept all year from 1/1/07 was flossing. Go figure. Well, at least my dentist is proud of me.

Here are the only resolutions that really matter though:

a) love God more passionately, authentically, and transparently

b) love other people around us consistently and sacrificially

c) reach out to the lost and bring them to Jesus

2007 is over. You and I can't go back and change it or relive it. However, we have 2008. Resolve with me to make it a great year. Seek the Lord. Love Him passionately. Learn what it means to actually love other people – especially the jerks (like me) that you want to punch in the throat. Homies, bros, chicas, friends, folks, people, LETS GO FOR IT. We've only got one shot at this year and then it's finished. Renew your vows to follow the Lord with all your heart. It's a fresh clean slate today. It's time to be all in or all out. It's nice in coffee but let's not do the half-and-half stuff in our Christian walks anymore. Are you guys with me? Let's follow Jesus for real this year.