Saturday, December 5, 2015


I find myself struggling to know how to respond to our current situation in the world. The problem with ISIS, the Syrian refugee crisis, gun control, any number of political issues, climate change, etc... Everything that comes at us through social media or news coverage seems to want us to react out of fear.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

That statement is way easier said than done. One thing I didn’t see Jesus do was react out of fear. He said the night before being crucified, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) After praying this the authorities come to take him away and Peter, a close follower, pulls out a sword and hacks a guys ear off. Peter has chosen the way of violence. Jesus scolds him and tells him to put the sword away. “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”

Could that be restated in our modern times as “He who lives by the gun dies by the gun?”

Jesus acknowledges that if he wanted to he could have a whole legion of angels at his side immediately defending and saving him from the hands of his enemies. But he doesn’t do that. Instead he gives himself over to those he knew would kill him. Not only does he give himself over, but he prays for them while they are killing him. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

How does he do that? How can he pray for the very people who are nailing him to a cross and actually mean the words that are coming out of his mouth? This is the example we’re to follow? Who can do this?

My wife and I started doing foster care in 2011. When we started I thought I’d be disgusted by the parents of these kids for the horrible things they had put the kids through. In most cases it was neglect brought on my drug addiction, but in other cases there was domestic violence involved that the children witnessed. The girls we have now were witness to horrible acts of violence by their father who was also a crack addict. He took the stand in his own defense at the final trial to determine if the kids would be taken away from him permanently. On the stand he said some of the most atrocious things I’ve ever heard a human being say. “I believe in a marriage it’s normal for a man to slap the woman around a little bit, and if she’s the kind of woman who would call the cops well then he doesn’t need to be with her...” He said this like it was normal, like we all knew it to be true. I wanted to be mad at the guy for the things he did to these girls’ mother, who had since passed away... I wanted to be mad at him for what he’d put the girls through. The lying, the drug use, the violence and lack of taking responsibility. But something happened in my heart towards him.

I pitied him. He genuinely thought that in a normal world this is what life was like. You survived by being the biggest, meanest brute you could be, and that you got what you wanted by physically dominating other people. Show your strength, induce fear in those you mean to dominate, and finally get what you want by domination and strength.

I wasn’t mad. I pitied him, and then even deeper... I loved him. I felt for him because he was beat as a child. He was not shown love, and so he never learned love. He didn’t learn compassion or empathy. He only knew power, control, manipulation, fear and anger. So I didn’t want to hate him, rather I wanted to love him and see him made new.

So the man I thought I’d hate or who would be my enemy, became the man I prayed for even though he had done terrible things, not to me directly, but to the girls I now call daughters. But the real question I face is this... What would I do if someone was attacking my family?

I had this dream the other night that my family and I were eating dinner all together at Applebees. I love that place. I don’t care what you think of me. In the dream we’re all having a great time until a rather large, drunk guy comes over to our table and starts threatening to hurt my kids and wife. Dreams being what they are I can’t remember the whole thing, but I remember being faced with this question... what am I going to do here? I realize I’m either going to have to watch this guy take down my family, or I’m going to do something to stop him. Also, in the dream I didn’t get the sense that this drunk brute was the type of guy to be bargained with, nor was he going to let it end until one of us was no more. I woke up before any of that happened and the question still faces me.

In the situation where those I love are endangered what do I do? On the one hand I’m told to “love your enemies and pray for them...” On the other hand I’m told, “True love has no other than this... to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

I am trying to resolve myself to never react in fear, but to always give my reaction time to figure out what reacting in love would mean. But if in an instance it was forced upon me how should I respond? Kill or be killed?

I can’t imagine not defending my wife and children from the attack of any brute or bully who came after us with intent to kill. I’d do anything I had to do I think to take this guy down. I wouldn’t want to, but if it came down to it I’d defend them to my death. Is this not inline with the teachings of Jesus? If Jesus had raised a family and they were threatened, what would he have done? I can’t imagine him standing by while they were slaughtered. I’d imagine him laying his life down for them.

Because that’s what he did. He laid his life down for his children. He laid his life down for his wife, the Church. He let the violence take him, but not at the expense of his children or his wife.

I guess all I’m saying is that this is a hard thing to work through. The Christian left would say absolutely no violence whatsoever, but the Christian right seems ready to go kick ass and take names... or kill them all and let God sort them out. I find that the rest of the world operates more closely to the Christian right... Violence begets violence. With Christian university leaders encouraging students to carry weapons so they can “end those muslims”... This can’t be the way either can it? Train us for violence...? However going to the left too far seems a mistake as well because are we not supposed to help the helpless? Are we not supposed to save the weak and those who are bullied, marginalized, persecuted, murdered... whatever it may be.

These Syrian refugees, if we were to send them back to their home in Syria, stand a good chance of being killed by either Assad or ISIS. Syria is not the only place with an issue like this. People the world over live in danger of others who have too much power. Are we supposed to just stand by and let that happen? I’ve heard we could cut off money or support to these groups in different ways... Will that really do the trick? Will they slowly fade away into the history books?

I don’t know the answers. I’m mostly just thinking and typing. I lean more towards defending those who need defending, and giving myself up to do so. Does that mean I need a concealed carry permit just in case it happens when I attend the movies with my family, or go out to dinner? I don’t know anymore.

I think as a Christian I am called to give myself up for those whom God loves. I’m called to lay my life down in the hopes that Christ will take it up again. God loves us all though... so you see my issue.

God help me to never react in fear. Help me Lord to always react in a way that is reflective of how you would respond. God save us all... God have mercy on us, sinners each one... God redeem your world.

Come, Lord Jesus...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Somewhat Random Ramblings

I sat with the family around the dinner table tonight. In observance of Advent as a family we lit the first candle representing hope.

Hope… in the midst of losing Nicole’s grandmother last night at 6:42pm.

Hope… in the midst of an email from a friend whose wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Hope… in the midst of a flood of text messages letting me know that a close friend with a heart condition received 4 shocks from his pacemaker and is being rushed to the ER.


Isaiah 42:3
He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.
He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.

My two adopted daughters sat on my lap most the afternoon either drawing pictures, or typing on my computer, or playing games on my phone. I pretended to be busy on my computer, but I was really just watching them. It must have been 3 hours that they were in and out of my office just wanting to sit with me and be together. I can’t come up with words to describe how it made me feel. There was a sense of love for these girls that I don’t always feel, but the intensity of it was overpowering. 

After dinner I watched a movie with my 3 oldest. Half way through the movie I went up to tell the 3 younger kids goodnight. Like every night I prayed with each of them. Tonight as I prayed with the three younger I was holding their hands and I felt the smallness of it in my hand. I felt how delicate it was in my hand.

The girls kissed me on the cheek in their usual fashion which is to mush their lips against my face leaving a bit of their spit on my face that I have to wipe off afterwards. Also, each one refuses to kiss the same cheek as their sister so I have it on both sides of my face. Tonight I took their kisses and left them on my face without wiping. I prayed for them like I usually do… “God thank you for Nevaeh and Mya. Thank you for making them my daughters. Keep them safe and give them rest."

God made them my daughters. I love these girls.

Then I went to say goodnight to Brock. He was reading a book about the Incredible Hulk, his favorite super hero. I bent down and took his hand and I prayed, “Dear God, thank you for my son Brock… Keep him safe tonight and give him rest. Thank you for making him my son.” 

God made him my son. I love this kid. 

I went down to finish the movie with the three older kids. I had to get after Jack quite a few times because he always has a problem just watching movies. In fact Nicole and I had to get after Jack a number of times the entire day. After the movie I sent the 3 older kids to bed. First I went to Jack and had a talk with him about how many times I had to say things to him and correct him today. I know I probably sound like a broken record to that kid, but there is this ache I get in my chest for him. Probably because he is most like me, in all my worst traits, of all the kids. Insecure, fearful, unsure of himself… But he is strong beyond what he knows. I want so badly for him to realize that. I prayed with him… “Thank you Lord for Jack. Thank you for making him my son. I love him so much. Help him to realize you do to…” A prayer for my son. A prayer for me.

God made him my son. I love this kid. 

I went downstairs to pray with Grace. Grace my daughter basically has me wrapped around her finger, and has since the day she was born. She has always been so beautiful to me. As she gets older her personality and characteristics start to jump out at me. She is strong, independent, funny, and unwavering in what she knows to be right. She hugs me like I’m her favorite person in the world. I held her hand tonight, hugged her and prayed… “God thank you for Grace… I love her so much. Thank you for making her my daughter. Give her rest and a good nights sleep."

God made her my daughter. I love this kid. 

Finally, I prayed with Derek. My first born son and one of the coolest kids I know. I feel our relationship in the beginning stages of transitioning from father / son to father / friend… In my most stressed out moments when I am about to absolutely lose control, he is there to make me laugh. Knowing he is almost 13 scares me… Those 13 years went so fast and in another 13 he could be married with his own kids and a home and all the worries of the world strapped on this his shoulders, much like his father. I prayed, “Thank you Lord for Derek. I love him so much. Thank you for making him my son. Give him rest tonight Lord and keep him safe."

God make him my son. I love this kid.

I walked upstairs with the weight of the world wearing me down. I went to the fridge for a glass of whiskey to help quiet the noise in my head. Nicole walked over and hugged me and we just stood there in our kitchen for a moment. I think about our 16 years of marriage, the 6 kids we have, the jobs, homes, cars, tragedies and triumphs that have come along the way. I think about her grandmother passing. Her grandmother had less then a year ago lost her husband after many years of marriage. I think about my friend Rob and his death at the young age of 17. I think about my friend rushed to the hospital tonight with heart issues. I think about the email we got earlier from the friend whose wife had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. All sorts of beauty and brokenness rushing into my head at the same time. 

I’m so thankful for life. Even in it’s difficulties. I find myself despairing at the thought that I could lose this. At any moment, this could all be gone. I could lose a child. I could lose my wife. My kids and wife could lose me. I could lose my parents… my sisters, my friends… 

I wish I was better at living. I wish I was better and just seeing every moment like this. Like a precious gift from the hand of our Maker. I wish I was better at living every moment like it was my last. I wish I could see every moment for the gift that it is. 

I have trouble believing I should look forward to some afterlife that is better than this. What I want is my life… and my life lived to the fullest without my inadequacies, fears, worries, stresses, anxieties… I want to walk in the garden with my God, while my kids play around me, and my wife walks with me hand in hand… I want freedom from this body of death…

Do not break me Lord… I am the weakest of reeds.
Do not snuff me out Lord… I am the weakest of candles.

Somehow the death of Christ on the cross is a victory over all that is broken. God help me to cling to that. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Furious Love Of God

So a couple years ago I had the idea that I would write a book. In typical fashion for myself I never finished it. In fact I only got a chapter done. Just for fun I thought I'd post it here. The main idea of the book, in fact the title, was going to be Ground Christianity. A way of living out the Christian life in the real world so to speak. The first chapter was on fear and love. Hope you enjoy!



“... and as I passed the fire I did not know whether it was hell or the furious love of God”
From G.K. Chesterton’s essay “The Diabolist"

“Mighty God how I fear you, and I long to be near you...”
From the song “The Reckoning” by Andrew Peterson

I remember the fear.

I was young. Probably around 7 years old. I’d wake up in a cold sweat, shaking and crying. It was late at night... usually between 11pm and 1am. I couldn’t feel it. I was told that once I made this decision everything would be different. Everything would be ok.

I was not ok. 

Depending on the time my dad would sometimes be sitting out in the living room watching television after having arrived home from his 2nd shift job at General Motors on the assembly line. My dad is and always has been a hard working man, short, with a muscular build and a stern face, but a comical side that often betrays him to the point of laughing uncontrollably at an inappropriately timed joke. My dad would often wake me up late at night with his riotous laughter at a joke from a late night talk show host, that is if I wasn’t already awake struggling with fear. My dad isn’t afraid of anything, or at least if he is, he’s never let on. So when the fear hit me and the anxiety and panic ensued I went to my dad.

Stumbling down the dark hallway and into the dimly lit living room I’d stand in the living room just behind the couch until my dad noticed me or heard my whimpering. The general conversation would go something like...

“Ricky... what’s wrong buddy?”

“I don’t want to go to hell daddy... I can’t tell if I’m saved... How do you know?”

“Have you prayed and asked Jesus into your heart?”

“Yes, but I just don’t know if anything happened... I can’t feel anything.”

“You’re saved and you have nothing to fear buddy. Go back to bed ok. Things will be better in the morning.”

With that my dad would give me a hug, do his best to comfort me and send me back to bed.

The power of fear. My dad had underestimated it. We all have. We all do.

A year or so before the late nights and the fear and trembling I was in a Sunday school class at the baptist church I grew up in. My family was pretty consistently in about the 10th pew from the back on the far right side every Sunday. I was young enough at this point not to have to sit in the adult services. One particular Sunday I remember the teacher talking about hell and what a horrible place it was and that by simply accepting Jesus into my heart I could be saved from hell. It seemed like a simple solution.
Hell is bad. Jesus is good. Say a prayer and you’re all set.

So when the teacher said, “would any of you like to accept Jesus into your hearts? Raise your hands if you would and Ms. Smith will take you into the other room to lead you through the prayer.” (I can’t remember actual names so let’s just go with Ms. Smith for now)... I raised my hand and went into the other room. Ms. Smith said to repeat after her and then began the prayer...

“Dear Jesus, I know I’m a sinner. I believe that you died on the cross and by believing in you I can be forgiven and have eternal life. Please come into my heart and be my Savior.”

I repeated the prayer and that was that. We walked back into the other room and life went on. Sort of... The thought of hell terrified me still, and I couldn’t shake it. I was told when I said the prayer that the Holy Spirit would fill me and I would be changed. I couldn’t feel any marked difference. I went home and over the next few years I must have said that prayer over 10,000 times, although it grew more desperate over time. “Please Jesus! Please come into my heart... I don’t want to go to hell! I’m sorry. Please forgive me!” Over and over again I said this prayer. I was scared to death. 

Should we be drawing people to God by scaring them to death? Let’s go beyond that... Once a person has made the decision to follow Christ with their lives should we be trying to keep Christians “in line” by using fear?

A popular topic the Christian community right now is evangelism. Now don’t hear me wrong, evangelism is incredibly important. People need to hear the word preached. Christians need to be taking the Word to the world. The last thing Jesus Christ said to his followers before ascending to Heaven was to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) But the way it is being preached right now comes across very works oriented. In a nutshell, “if you aren’t out saving people on a regular basis then you may not be saved, and you know where unsaved people go right?”

Don’t we have any better ways to communicate the saving work of Christ? Do we have to resort to terrifying people to get them to come to Jesus, and to ensure that they stay there?

Fear was used as the singular motivating factor to drive me to God. I was not given a healthy, grounded view. One that spoke to both the fear of the Lord as well as to His amazing love for me. I grew to think God was constantly watching me and waiting for me to mess up. He was not a loving father. He had become a dictator in my life.

How do we achieve this balanced view of fear versus love? A couple thoughts come to mind. First a story...

The Van

When I was around 13 I had a brand new basketball hoop in the driveway. Everyday during the summer I’d get up early and play basketball for hours, but first I’d have to move our GMC Safari minivan off the court. My parents had begun allowing me to grab the keys to the van and back it off the cement court myself. One day the van was parked on the side of the court closest to the basketball hoop and as I backed the van up, for whatever reason, I had decided not to shut the door to the van. So as I was backing the van off the cement with the door wide open, it caught on the basketball hoop and bent in ways that it was not mechanically designed or engineered to bend. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Tommy Boy” with Chris Farley, picture the part in the movie where he backs up Richards car at the gas pump and bends the door completely backwards. That is exactly what I did to my parents van.

Like I said earlier, my dad had a stern face and I had grown to fear my father in a somewhat unhealthy way. I don’t know why that was. He never really gave me reason to fear him that badly. By all counts he was an amazing father to me. I, however, was convinced that he was going to kill me. So after realizing what I had done and having no way to fix it really I shut the van off, ran inside and hid in my room. My mother noticed the door and came into my room to ask me what happened. I was a blubbering mess. I was terrified of what I had done and how my father was going to react. I was certain this was going to be some sort of horribly painful punishment or torture. My mother simply said, “well you’ll have to talk with your father when he gets home.” It was about 10am and at this point in life dad was working first shift so he’d be home around 5pm. I stayed in my room the entire day hunkered down in bed crying. I was terrified. I was ashamed. I knew I deserved whatever punishment he would give me.

I heard my dad step in the door just after 5pm. He had noticed the van door as he passed it in the driveway. With my door closed I could hear him walk into the house and in a very shocked voice ask, “what happened the van door?” I heard my mom talking quietly with him, but I couldn’t make out what she was saying. After she had finished saying whatever she had to say I heard my dad simply say, “ok”, and then I heard a sound that sent chills down my spine... He was walking towards my room.

I expected the door to crash open and for him to charge in pointing his finger and yelling all sorts of obscenities, and after the verbal lashing I fully expected some sort of physical punishment. Again, I had no reason to think this. My father had never been anything but loving with me. I got a spanking here and there as a young child, but nothing more really. I simply feared my father because he was my father and I didn’t want to disappoint him.

Much to my surprise my dad knocked on the door and asked if he could come in. I contemplated saying no, but thought that may be really pushing my luck. He opened the door, walked in, and sat down calmly on the bed next to me. He didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Then he simply said, “Son, I know you didn’t mean to do that. It’s ok.” I began to tell him through tears how sorry I was and how it was an accident and I’d help pay for it... to which he said, “It’s ok son... I forgive you.” He placed his strong arms around me and gave me a huge hug. I’ve never breathed a bigger sigh of relief.
I learned something that day about my father’s love for me. I was more important to him than that van.

Love and Fear

What we miss is this view that yes our Father in Heaven is to be feared because He is God almighty, but His love for us is a furious love that would go through hell to save us and be with us. Literal hell.

Jesus told a story once about a son who decided he wanted nothing to do with his father anymore and asked for his share of the inheritance so that he could get out of there and go be his own man. This was the equivalent of telling his father that he wished he was dead and wanted nothing to do with him. But because the father loved the son he fulfilled the sons request and gave him what he wanted. The son took the inheritance and left without looking back. He ran as far as he could and began to live the good life with the inheritance his father had given him. Drinking and woman and wild living... sex, drugs, and ancient Jewish rock-n-roll... or whatever type of music the kids listened to back then... Quickly though he wasted it all and ran out of money to live on. The only work he could find was to go work for a local pig farmer and feed his pigs. Since he had no money he couldn’t afford to buy much food and he grew hungry. In what has to have been his darkest moment he starts contemplating eating the food he is feeding the pigs. Suddenly he has an awakening and realizes that back at his fathers estate there are all sorts of servants and people there that are fed well and taken care of. He decides that asking forgiveness of his father is his only chance at survival and he begins the trek back home. All the way home he’s rehearsing exactly what he’s going to say. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.” He has the speech ready and he means every word of it.

As the young man comes over a hill, the father, who is apparently watching for him, spots him off in the distance. Without hesitation the father runs out to meet the son and before the son can even get out his apology the father throws his arms around him. His son has returned and he’s overjoyed. They embrace for a moment and the son attempts to deliver the apology, but the father doesn’t even acknowledge it. The father sees that the son is sorry in the very action of his return and he welcomes the son back no questions asked and throws a huge party. So while the son was fearful that the father may not accept him back, and at the very best would hire him as a servant, the father actually surprises him and brings him back with honor and a huge party. The love of the father calms the fearful, repentant son. Read the whole story in Luke 15.

We see this type of interaction over and over again in the scriptures. An individual encountering God is struck with absolute terror, but then God steps forth to comfort them. Look at Isaiah 6 when Isaiah the prophet has a vision of the throne room of God and he falls on his face realizing he is a sinful man, and then an angel comforts him so that he won’t fear. In Luke 1, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is terrified when the angel Gabriel shows up to tell her that she will become pregnant and give birth to the savior of the world. Gabriel comforts her though by saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” In Matthew 17, Jesus takes a few of his key disciples up on a mountain side where he is transfigured and it says “his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light”, and then they hear a voice from heaven. Struck with fear the disciples all fall on their faces, but then Jesus gently touches each of them and says, “Get up. Do not be afraid.” The apostle John in Revelation 1 is in exile on Patmos and has a vision of Jesus in all His glory and the word says he “fell at his feet as though dead.” Jesus again comes to John, places his hand on him and comforts him and says, “Do not be afraid..”

Freedom In Love

1 John 4:13-18 speaks to love and fear when it says...

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

So while fear is a natural reaction to the very real presence of the Father, we see that His desire is to calm our hearts and express His unimaginable love for us, His children. The first step is still repentance. We all need to repent. Just like the son who walked away from his father, once he realized what he had done he turned, or repented, of his actions and lifestyle and came back to his father seeking forgiveness. But he didn’t return out of fear. He returned because he was sorry for what he had done and he longed to be back with his father. There was some fear in not knowing how his father would respond, but there was also a strange draw back to his father. He may have feared his response, but he longed to be back with him. If this story and the story about my own father are among the best we have, how could we possibly think these stories of flesh born men would trump the all loving Heavenly Father? How could men out love God? As it says in the verse from 1 John 4, “God is love”.

Once we can sit in this realization that our Heavenly Father loves us beyond what we can comprehend, and we can let that truth seep into our bones, a new found freedom will begin to take root deep within us. The freedom of a child who understands that their father is not to be trifled with, but who also understands that their father loves them furiously and would do anything for them.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Transcendence Of Brian Regan

As I was growing up I was somewhat indirectly trained to place people into one of two categories. These two categories would function as filters for my world. I made a valiant attempt at shoving everything and everyone through the eye of one of those two needles, the openings of which were never large enough to filter anything but my own concepts of right and wrong, safe and unsafe, or good and bad.

Christian. Non-Christian.

Is this music Christian? Is this movie a Christian movie? Has that person accepted the Lord as their Savior? Are they Christian? The obvious implication of each question being that the music, movie, or person may not be Christian. Subconsciously, the filter of non-christian was equated to unsafe, wrong, and bad. I couldn’t listen to non-christian music because who knows where that would lead. Probably sex and drugs and everyone knows sex and drugs are bad so that's definitely off limits. I couldn’t watch non-christian movies because that would allow the world in and the world was bad. I couldn’t hang out with other non-christians too much because they’d lead me astray, and if I did hang out with them I had to be trying to witness to them the entire time.

My young mind was like water being poured into a glass, shaping itself to the container of someone else’s worldview. Now in my mid 30’s the water seems to have found too many cracks in the glass to remain inside it. The rumors of a place called “the ocean” have it longing for home.

Yesterday I took my nearly twelve year old son to see Brian Regan. If you don’t know who Brian Regan is then you’re missing out. He’s a comedian known for his goofy facial, or rather full body expressions and the uncanny ability to take the everyday situations we each face and make them hilarious. He can find the absurd in the common and accentuate it to a point of clarity that makes me wonder how I didn’t see it before. He also makes me cry laugh to the point of nearly peeing my pants. My son and I sat through the seventy five minute set and laughed non-stop the entire time. Brian Regan is considered a clean comic. He said “hell” maybe twice the entire night and not one of his jokes even hinted at anything sexual so I had no moments where I felt regret for bringing my son along at his young age. He could understand the jokes as well as I could. It was a great time of father & son bonding. What I began to feel in the crowd though was something I hadn’t experienced before.

The performance was held at the Wharton Center in Lansing, Michigan and the auditorium was packed to capacity with people of every background just wanting a night out to relax and get a laugh. As Regan worked through his set I watched the room. With every punch line I felt closer with the people in the room. The volume of laughter at moments was deafening. What began as a night out with my son to watch one of our favorite comedians turned into a transcendent moment shared between a few thousand people.

Everyone person in that room was different. Each had their own beliefs, backgrounds, and past experiences that had shaped them into who they were. I knew nothing about anyone else in that room, but I knew everything about the people.

We were one. There was no Christian or non-Christian. One more crack in the glass. If I’m honest, the glass isn’t holding much anymore. I didn’t see anyone in that room as Christian or non-Christian. I saw each of us as the beloved. We shared a moment in the comedy of our humanity, and in our humanity we found the spiritual that bound us all together. We are human. We are connected. We are all loved.

I can’t put words together which capture what I felt completely. It was like we were all innocent kids just having fun. Free of trouble. Free of pain. If only for a moment. All to the glory of our God and Father. He loves us all, and through the skill of one of His children we felt it for a moment. All of us, even the ones who wouldn’t have fit through the eye of my non-Christian needle got to have the experience, if only for a moment, of being fully known.

This isn’t a theological discussion. This is a discussion on our humanity. My heart grew for humanity when I felt our connectedness. I wanted each of those people to know our Father. Like the water escaping my cup and pouring into rivers and streams, restless till it finds the ocean, we are each restless and seeking our home. He is our home. We belong to Him. Can you see it? Our humanity is our connectedness. Our humanity is the spiritual thread that ties us. The spiritual isn’t just the unseen. It is flesh and bones. It is right before your eyes. We can touch it with our hands and see it with our eyes.

We are loved.

How’s that for a review of a Brian Regan comedy show?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dear One

Today we attended the funeral for the 1 year old son of some close friends of ours. As I sat in the ceremony words started to formulate in my head so when I got a chance I tried to capture them best I could. Here is what came out of it.


Dear One

Yes, dear one it is true.
You have left us deep in want.
We love the former so, but can not call it home.
We long for the latter, and ache within our chest.

That the days would not tarry.
     That the promise would be fulfilled.
That all things would truly be made new.
     "That all things sad would come untrue."

Even the most innocent of us must face the lonely road of death.
Even the smallest form is but a chrysalis hiding the truth.
Even the youngest of ancients is delayed but momentarily.
Even, you dear one, though your life was just new.

As Buechner said,
     “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
          Don’t be afraid.”

So till the day when faces meet…
When hands are for holding and lips are for kissing… 
When legs are for running and lungs are for breathing…
Till the day when our arms lock round each other…

I will not fear, dear one.
I will bathe in the beauty.
I will breathe through the brokenness.
I will hold to the promise.

Dear One. Be Near.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Christ With Me Always

I’m just sitting at my computer. Struggling with wanting to look at stuff I shouldn’t look at. Wanting to get just completely hammered drunk. Somehow able to stumble away from these stumbling blocks and avoid them, but just barely. I can feel the whiskey seeping in. It’s a close friend these days. The only one that seems readily available… that is as long as I have the $15 it costs to purchase this cheap friend. Listening to this Andy Gullahorn song “I Will” and feeling strangely connected to the man through his lyrics. The last verse..

The truth is we’re all gonna take a last breath 
That’s not the only sad death 
We are meant to feel 
If you need a friend to 
Do some dying with you 
I will

I need a friend to do some dying with me because I can feel the ache of pain, loss, loneliness, rejection and death all the time. It’s always present. I’ve lost many loved ones. I’ve felt the pain of unfulfilled desires and dreams. I’ve been lonely and felt rejected. I can only imagine that Christ experienced this and saw it coming. He’s in the garden that last evening of freedom praying to his Father and hoping for some other way around this… He knows he’s about to be arrested. He’s about to be abandoned by his friends and rejected by the people he came to save. He’s about to die a lonely death on a Roman cross. He knows our ache more than we give him credit for. 

When Lazarus died, Christ cried. This is incredible to me. He knew exactly what was going to happen and what he was capable of doing. He knew that Lazarus was just about to rise again. However, before doing that he sat in the ashes and cried with his friends. He felt the pain and loss. 

This life is pain filled and Christ knows that. He knows our temptations and our weaknesses. Can we trust him? Absolutely! He knows all of the pain and ache of life more than we ever give him credit for. He is not a far off uncaring deity… He is the friend who sits in the ashes with us and cries. He holds us up and he dies with us. More than that… he died for us. 

I look to the right of where I’m sitting and my Bible is laying on the desk. This strange feeling comes over me of desperation. This is all I have. This book. This Word. This little love letter from the only Love who has ever known me completely and loved me more than I will understand. I’ve spent my life reading this letter over and over. Part of me fears it’s wasted time… But there is something deeper in me that says, “No… He hears you. He sees you. There is pain in the night, but joy will come in the morning. Don’t turn away. Stay here in the silence. You’ll find Him here even now."

I sit in solitude. There is a sense of loneliness.
I mourn the ache. I loathe this sense of separation and loss.

Christ sits with me. He mourns the ache with me.
He senses my loneliness. He sits in the ashes with me
Someday there will be beauty for ashes.

Hope comes from a lack… We hope because something isn’t…. 
Someday it will be. Someday hope will be unnecessary because
there will be no lack.

Christ with me in the ashes.
Christ with me in the absence.
Christ with me always.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ache & Absence / Passion & Presence

How does one go back?
To find what your heart longs for, and quickly realize
You can’t have this all the time…

It’s sacred. This ground you stand on is holy.
This dry, cracked ground is the soil of inspiration.

The passion you feel in it’s presence
will only serve to magnify the ache in it’s absence…
And when it returns the ache of absence will
glorify the passion of its presence…

You must have them both…
The passion and ache.
The presence and absence.

Otherwise, your will song will be a bore…
You must have the dance and the dirge…
You must have the dissonance and deliverance…
They are the melody and harmony of all great compositions.

So sit quiet in the absence and let the ache envelop you
In doing so, you will realize that passion is far more present…

A perfect world would not be perfect
without some measure of imperfection…

So let the songs you sing, the poems you write,
the sculptures you craft, and the paintings you paint
deliver a message…
Ache and absence.
Passion and presence.