Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I'll fly over phone lines, interstates, state lines, barricades. Anywhere you need to be safe.
-Charlie Hardin

If you think I've given up on you you're crazy 
And if you think I don't love you well then you're just wrong 
In time you might take to feeling better 
Time is the beauty of the road being long 

I know that now you feel no consolation 
But maybe if I told you and informed you out loud 
I say this without fear of hesitation 
I can honestly tell you that you make me proud 
-Blues Traveler

The last few weeks have been difficult and very stressful.  I'm under investigation by the FAA.  There were some reports that I was flying lower than I was supposed to be and the FAA has to investigate those reports.  I wasn't low, and I have proof of that in the form of voice recordings from Air Traffic Control.  However, I don't trust the FAA. They write the rules and then enforce them.  The whole system is under their control.  Everyone says they can't do anything and have nothing to go on, but I can't shake the feeling that they can do anything they want and I know from earlier experience that they aren't always concerned about whats right or fair.  They are only concerned with what they can do, and they can suspend my license.  I've been sick about it for weeks.  

This is the kind of thing you put yourself through when you forget who you are in Christ.  I probably won't loose my license over this, but if I did it wouldn't change who I am or how God values me.  My problem is that I believe what the world says about me.  I believe what the church says about me.  I loose sight of Jesus and believe what I say about me.  My worth is not found in jobs or licenses or small group attendance or what kind of husband and father I am.  I hope I get to keep flying, and attend every small group we ever have, and do right by my wife and kids.  I'm going to give those things the best I have.  I love all of those things so much and they are all very clearly gifts God is willing and happy to give.  They are great things, but they are not where my identity or value is found.  My life is wholly owned by Christ and my value is found under the cover of his blood and grace.  

Thousands of years ago God walked in a new world of his creation.  A creation alive with every kind of plant and animal that we know, and probably many that we don't.  A creation new and good.  Paradise, yet something was missing.  I'm not sure what form God took as he walked the face of his new creation and I don't really understand how the trinity plays out that way.  I imagine God the Father on earth must have looked a lot like Jesus, I've been told I look like my dad and that Carter looks a lot like me. I imagine God walking through the fresh morning mist admiring his new creation and thinking.  Thinking about what was to come and what it would cost.  I can see him squat down and fill his hands with new dust.  As his hand closes around it the future flashes before all knowing eyes.  I believe he saw me then, I believe he saw you.  He saw the heartache and death and hell we would bring to his new creation.  I see him sigh as he sees it, ordains it. And then the voice of his son from heaven, "Dad, I'll go.  I'll pay it.  They will bring you joy and glory.  I will make the way."  Through the blood of his son God sees us.  He sees that we are good.  Redeemed.  From the beginning he knew.  He chose.  He chose me and he chose you.  With unstoppable love and overwhelming grace God lifts that hand full of dust and squeezes his own image into it.  And then he raises it to his mouth and breathes.  Breaths his life into you and me.  

Years later religious leaders bring a woman caught in adultery to Jesus.  They asks him what should be done with her. She had sinned and the penalty for her sin was death.  What would Jesus do?  In John 8 we see God again reach down and get his hands dirty.  I don't know what Jesus wrote or drew in the sand, but I know he remembered that morning in the beginning when, with a hand full of dirt, the Father had set a plan in motion.  In Jesus' first words to the woman, I believe, we see the results of that plan.  "Neither do I condemn you."  She had value.  It wasn't found in her actions or social standing.  I was rooted in a hand full of dirt that God squeezed his image and breathed his life into.  It found its completion in the God before her whose love for her would drive him to the cross.  

I love the story because it is mine.  It is ours.  We are caught in our sin.  We are clearly guilty.  We expect the stoning because we know we deserve it.  This story is powerful because it reminds us that Jesus is not in the stoning business.  He's in the redeeming business.  Things are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them.  You see really ugly paintings sell for millions because they are valued by someone.  The fact that anyone is willing to buy it gives it value and that value is exactly equal to the price that is paid.  In light of what Jesus did do buy you back, what would say your value is?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Today - 4.5 Billion people live without Christ. Today - 1.5 billion people woke up and laid down having never heard the name Jesus. Today - 26,000 children died from malnutrition and preventable debases. Today - I did nothing.

This morning the word was wait. I was reminded by a dear friend to wait on Jesus. Rely on and rest in Christ. I believe that to be what God desires in our hearts. Reliance on and faith in Him. I believe we must guard and quiet our hearts so there is a place for Jesus. The work there is tender and slow.

Tonight the word is go. Quiet waiting is not God's desire for our hands and feet and check books. We are the Church. We have a mission. The stakes are high and the need is urgent. Tomorrow people will die and face an eternity without Jesus. Now is the time for action, today is the day of salvation.

I don't know what I can do tomorrow to make a dent in those statistics, but I better make damn sure I figure out a way to do more than I did today. The world cannot afford for Christians to live the way I lived today. The least and first thing we should do is commit ourselves to doing something, God has promised that if we are faithful to preach many will hear and call his name and be saved. Not enough is made of that promise. What are we going to do about that? It's way to big of a promise to be ignored.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, November 21, 2011

Scar Tissue

I don't like reading the Bible.  I know, it sounds terrible.  It is terrible.  I'm really worried about it.  I've thought for the longest time that this was just some kind of weird holdover from darker spiritual days.  I'm sure that it is, I spent years not reading the book, not caring what God had to say, and feeling like the more I learned about God the more uncomfortable I was with him.   

Please don't think I don't believe the Bible or don't have a desire to accurately understand what it teaches. I love the Bible. I love that I have it in 5 different versions right on my phone and IPad. I want to know God and his will for my life. I read as much as I can about God in as many books as I can get my hands on and I do read the Bible, I enjoy it when its directed study. When I'm reading it for answers to specific theological questions. I don't like undirected mass reading. I have a hard time understanding why. It's the greatest story ever told. It bothers me that I can read all seven Harry Potter books multiple times and then get bored reading scripture. J.K. Rowlings is not a better story teller than God. The Bible is more powerful and interesting and relevant than any book ever written and yet it's the most difficult for me to read. It is life and joy and peace and salvation and I'm bored by it. How can that be? It's very frustrating. I think I'm doing it on purpose. I distance myself from it's stories because I know they are mirrors. I am Thomas and Judas and Peter (I'm denying, sinking Peter, not walks on water Peter the rock). It's easier to create distance and be bored than to take a good look at what I am and how I live. I'm confident in who I am in Christ and I understand how God, in perfect grace and love, sees me through the blood of his Son. I know what Jesus accomplished on the cross and I know he did his work there perfectly. It's just difficult to be reminded of why it was necessary.

I'm in a better place spiritually than I have been in a very long time and I feel like I'm continuing to improve.  However, I'm constantly discovering ways in which my rebellion is still effecting  me.  I'm scarred.  The healing process is not complete, my recovery is ongoing. 

When it comes to the Bible it seems the scar tissue is thick.  It restricts free movement and makes any stretch painful.  I simply can't jog through the Bible with the same pace and enjoyment I can other books.  It's time I see it for what it is - rehab.  I want to do so much so quick, but it hurts enough to stop me before I really get started. 

The past few months I've spent a good amount of time studying scripture.  That kind of Bible reading I can do.  If I pick a topic and read to understand that topic the pain is minimized.  I look up what scripture deals with the issue I'm researching and read only that scripture and the text surrounding it.  I've read an awful lot of Bible lately, but I've done it to nail down one issue at a time.  I can't just open the Book and start reading.  It's like someone sneaking up in the dark and ripping a bandage off when you're not expecting it. I know these muscles have to stretched to be strengthened, I think I was just expecting the process to be less painful.  I've been surprised by the difficulty.

God has been as compassionate and kind and gentle as possible, some things are just going to hurt.  I watched my wife take a splinter out of my daughters foot a while back.  The wife was being kind and reassuring and gentle, the daughter was screaming like someone was trying to kill her.  I'm sure that's how this is going to be for me.  If, in the next few posts, it seems like I'm screaming you have one of two options: 1. Ignore it.  It will all be over soon and it's ok it you want to look away.  I'm afraid it might not be pretty.  2. Help hold me down.      

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Debate

This is about Predestination vs. Free will.  Calvinism vs Arminianism.  This is also the second time I've posted it.  The first time seemed argumentative.  It is difficult for me to address one without pointing out what I see to be flaws in the other. These ideas are often in direct contrast with one another.  To say you believe one on the basis of scripture is to say that you believe anyone who disagrees with you has misinterpreted the Bible.  It's going to seem like a big deal.  There isn't a way around it that I can see.  I've taken some of the most abrasive language out in an attempt to discuss my viewpoint without invoking a fight response from those who disagree.  I'm not a Bible scholar, a lot of people smarter than me have been engaged in this debate for a long time.  I'm simply trying to lay this out in what I see as a logical way and one that also is in line with scripture as a whole and is consistent with what I know and have experienced of God in my life.  I'm not trying to view scripture through the lens of my experience, I'm trying to do the the exact opposite.  However, God has moved in my life in very real ways and I would be downplaying some very obvious miracles if I didn't acknowledge them as real and powerful works of God.  Again, I'm not trying to piss anyone off or create tension or argument.  I really just need to get this out of my head a little.  However, I enjoy the discussion so feel free to comment.  Also I have made little effort to make this flow.  There are no transitions.  It's brain splatter. Disclaimer done.     

This is an issue that I have been struggling with since before I read the Rob Bell book several weeks ago.  It's come up in several conversations lately, but my current obsession with this issue goes back further than that.  Honestly, I'm exhausted from it. I'm putting my believes on the topic and their Biblical references here as a way of putting a tack in it for now.  I need to be able to think about something else.

This debate has driven me to the Bible in a way nothing else has.  I'm no Bible Scholar, but I've read  almost all of it in the last three months along with commentary and blogs and books and video from people on both sides of this isle.  It comes down to one thing for me; an overwhelming majority of scripture supports a mainly Armenian viewpoint.  I'm hesitant to use the term because of the way most people categorize it.  I think its overshot and exaggerated an awful lot.  I think the same is true of Calvinism.
I'm going to try and do this point by point.

Man can do nothing to save himself - Nothing.  There is no action or course of action by with man can secure his salvation.  I think the entire Old Testament makes this perfectly clear. The whole point of the law is to make us see that we can't succeed.  There has to be a sacrifice, one we have no power to make.  The most common verses I see quoted to make this point are Romans 3:10, Romans 7:18 and Colossians 2:13.  Here they are.

Romans 3:10-11 As it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understands, there is none that seeketh after God. They have all turned aside; they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one.”

This is a quote of Old Testament prophecy.  It also doesn't say that man can't, just that in this instance none did.  

Romans 7:18
18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

I feel this way a lot.  I believe is Jesus.  I am saved by faith.  I want to do what is good and right but I often fall short.  I'm still saved.  It's faith that saves, not works or doing good.  Paul wrote this as a converted Christian.  The flesh is weak and there is nothing good in it.  Thank God he has given us his spirit and allows it to work in and through us.  

Colossians 2:13. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses

We are separated from God by our sin. Death here refers to separation from God. Again, God has to reveal himself to man for us to be able to come to him. I believe he draws us all in some way or another. 2 Corinthians 11:29 and Romans 8:3 say that we are weak in sin.  Weak, not dead.  Any life we have is given by God.  Any draw to God is initiated by Him.  I've heard this called an initial infusion of grace.  I'm not sure if we are offered enough Grace to make the choice or not.  I'm not for limiting grace, I think grace is grace.  I think it's God's will for us to choose.  We can make the choice because we were designed to make it.
The idea of unconditional election seems to come almost entirely from Romans 7-9 along with Ephesians 1 and 2.  The issue here is the difference between foreknowledge and predestination.  Can God know what you are going to choose and not force that choice on you.  I believe he can.  Romans 8:29 (the most powerful and widely quoted scripture in defense of Predestination) begins with, "Those he foreknew he predestined."It seems pretty clear God knows what we will do, it's also pretty clear the choice has been given to us.  
Who did Jesus die for?  The overwhelming majority of scripture points to a cross that's work is perfect and complete and universal. I think Jesus died for all of us.  While we were still sinners Christ died for us.  All of us. 

 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

(John 3:14-17 ESV)

This is pretty clear.  I'm not sure how you can say that the work of the cross was any less than perfect and for the world.  I know that people say that Jesus is talking to Jews so this implies that some Gentiles will now also be saved and not that all men can.

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

Here John is writing to Christians.  This says to me that Christ died for the Christian and everyone else.  He saved the world.  Again, I know the argument is that John was a Jew and he was writing primarily to converted Jews, but I just think it's weak argument.  All the apostles were Jews, you can use that argument to dismiss any reference to the world.
19that is, in Christ God was reconciling[a] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  2 Corinthians 5:19

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.  Titus 2:11

Same argument. I believe this makes it clear that the work of Jesus on the cross allows all men to come to Him. I'm not suggesting universal salvation by letting the world mean the world and not just gentiles.  I guess I would be if I also believe in Undeniable Grace, which I don't. 

I think the idea that once God starts to work in you, you have no choice but to believe is also a break from what the vast majority of scripture to teaches.  Romans 9:19b says, "For who can resist his will?" Here we have to look at context.  Jewish Christians see the offer of Salvation to the Gentiles as God breaking the Covenant he made to them through Abraham. Paul is explaining that it was always God's plan to use the Jews as a vehicle to bring Salvation to all.  He goes on to say that they didn't complain when God used Pharaoh as a vessel of wrath in order to secure their freedom and bring himself glory.  They then can't be upset when God uses them to crucify Jesus thus offering Salvation for all.

(This brings up the idea of Pharaoh being predestined for Hell.  I'm not sure what to do with his story, but I know that Paul also refers to Pilate, himself, and Jesus as vessels of wrath.  I think this makes it clear that there will be people in heaven who were at one point described as vessels of God's wrath).

Romans 11:17-23
17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root[a] of the olive tree, 18do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.19Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.21For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.

Hebrews 10:29
29How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

Matthew 23:37
How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

1 Timothy 4:1 
1Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

Its clear that continued salvation is contingent on continued belief.  God begins the work, God is willing and able to continue and complete his work in us, we have to be willing to let him.  God will reveal himself to and draw all men to himself.  Some will reject his offer of love and life.  It is in giving us the choice that God receives the most glory.  The plan was predestined, set in motion at the foundation of time.  God in his infinite love created a way where there was none.  He sent his son to die for all men, knowing full well that some would reject his offer.  This does not undermine God's sovereignty or deny justice and much as it highlights love.  We only have a choice because he gives it to us.  I have done and can do nothing to create salvation for myself, it is a gift of God.  However, in his grace I was saved through faith.  God's will is being done because his plan is perfectly in place.  Nothing anyone does is contrary to his plan.  He is willing that none should perish, but he has given us the choice.  There is no distinctions between God's will.  There are not separate sovereign and emotive wills.  There is just God's will.  He created a way for all men to come to him, but in sovereign love created in us the ability to choose him. Everything happens as God has willed it. He does not will sin or death or hell.  He wills choice and love and freedom.

I hope I've done a descent job laying this out. It makes sense to me.  There are obviously things involved here that I don't understand.  I do believe that scripture interprets scripture.  Were there are things I don't understand I have tried to view those things in the light of scripture that is clear and more easily understood.

I was unable to discuss all the scripture I considered in making these decisions so I'll try to list some below so you can look at it yourself.  

Ephesians:  1:9-10, 1:11, 1:13, 1:19, 2:8, 2;1, 2:10
John 3:14-17, 6:37-40
Romans 3:11, 3:21, 3:27, 5:6, 5:1, 5:18-21, 9:30, 10:13, 10:20-21, 8:29-30, 9:13-25. Just read all of Romans. ch 3-10 in particular.
Acts 7:51
2 Cor. 5:14-15
1 Tim 2:4-6, 4:10
Hebrews 2:9, 10:29
1 John 2:2, 4:14
Psalms 135:6
Isaiah and Daniel.  These books give a great framework for understanding the way God moves.  It also helps to understand the references in Romans and Ephesians.  

Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Jn. 6:27; 2 Tim. 2:3; Heb. 12:7; James 5:11. 
Jn. 8:31; 15:9; Acts. 13:43; 14:22, Rom. 2:7; 6:1; Gal. 2:5; 3:10; Col. 1:23; 1 Tim. 2:15; 4:16; 2 Tim. 3:14; 1 Jn. 2:24.Gen. 4:3-7; Lev. 26:3-28; Lev. 26:40-42; Deut. 11:26-28; 30:17; Josh. 24:20; 1 Sam. 7:3; 12:14, 15; 1 Chron. 28:6-9; 1 Kings 11:11-13; Jer. 7:5-7; Matt. 6:14; 16:24-26; Jn. 8:31-51; 15: 6, 7, 10; Rom. 8:13, 14; 11:19-24; Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 2:1-3; 3:6,14; 6:4-8; 10: 26-31; 10:38, 39; 12: 7, 8; James 1:22-27; 2:8, 9; 2 Pet. 1:4-10; 1 Jn. 1:9; 2:3; 2:24; 3:7, 8.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Love Wins

I just read the book. Literally, just finished. I'm not sure I should be writing about it now, I'm still processing it.  I did want to say a few things while it is still fresh.  First, I owe Rob Bell and my friend Lindsay an apology.  When I first heard of the book and what it was about I dismissed it.  I didn't go all John Piper and suggest that he had somehow died or become a servant of Satan, or whatever other nonsense was involved.  I was less than graceful in the way I talked about it.  I assumed I knew what it would say and judged Mr. Bell and his book before I ever read it.  I'm sorry about that.  I owe Lindsay an apology because she likes and respects Rob Bell (as do I, more now) and I acted like she should know better.  Turns out she does know better, at least better than me.

I wasn't entirely wrong about what the book says.  Bell says he isn't a universalist, but then says everyone goes to heaven.  He is not a universalist in terms of how. He seems to be a universalist in terms of who.  As in Jesus is the only way to heaven but eventually everyone finds him.  He also says that heaven and hell both exist here, simultaneously, and we can choose witch party we attend.  He reasons that at some point everyone, this side of death or the next, gets tired of partying in Hell and decides to knock knock knock on Heaven's door.  I don't disagree that there is a lot of heaven and a lot of hell here and I don't disagree that most of that is a result of the decisions we make.  There is some grey area here for me in that he describes rape as being hell, but he doesn't explain how the rapist chooses hell for himself and his victim.  What about her choices?  Some people don't choose anything, some people get hell here because of the decisions others make.  The book doesn't try to explain this or tell us what to do with it.

As I said above, Bell suggest that even after death we continue to have infinite opportunities to choose Jesus.  To submit to God's rule and live within His guidelines.  In Bell's view hell is like being sent to your room until you are sorry and agree to do what Daddy says.  The fire of hell exist to refine not so much to punish.  What I don't understand, and what Bell does an inadequate job of explaining is how that works.  Does God decide when you are really sorry and just bring you out of Hell? Do you have to somehow get a meeting with him to explain how sorry you are?  Does he, like I do with my daughter all to often, let you out before you learn your lesson just 'cause you're so cute he can't wait another second to cuddle you?  The process just isn't explained and that makes it difficult for me.

That being said, I loved the book.  I don't know why really, but I loved it.  I think Bell comes across a little snotty and condescending.  I think his arguments are thin and weak and wonderful.  It rattles me to think a point that was not well made and I don't really agree with could so closely reflect the heart of the God I know and serve.  I'm not a theologian and I don't want to be, but I've read and continue to read the Bible and I've experienced God in ways that just a few years ago I would not have thought possible for me.  I believe in the finality and power of the cross.  I have experienced God's relentless pursuit and unstable love.  I light of that I don't know how I can say that love doesn't always win.  It has for me, why not everyone.  I don't know enough to say for sure.  I have a feeling that Bell is mistaken about some things, but I hope he isn't.

The book is compelling because I hope its true.  Love is powerful and grace is big.  Love has conquered death and the grave.  The cross is sufficient and Jesus' sacrifice perfect.  Jesus came so that, through him, the world might be save - all of it.  Might?  Does God not know?  The Bible says it is God's will that none should perish.  Does he not get his way?  Is his will not perfect and unstoppable?  Just after Jesus says he came so the world might be saved he says those who don't believe in him are condemned already.  Condemned to what and for how long?  Verse 36 of John 3 says, "whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."  I have a headache.  I'm going to have to wrestle with this some more.

However, I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it.  No matter where I end up landing on this thing I think one thing is clear.  We have a job to do now.  When we focus too much on the next life we start to ignore this one.  We trivialize or dismiss the pain of others as temporary.  Viewing our faith as a ticket out of hell does the world a disservice.  We are called to live and love here - now.  No matter how it ends or who is there, we have a responsibility to advance God's kingdom and message here in any way we can.  Heaven is having a little party and we need to make sure as many people as possible have the opportunity to experience it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No Acceptable Targets

I'm not in love with the term "social justice".  I love the idea (as it applies to the church.  It won't work as a economic or political model), just not the terminology. What is being given is not justice - its grace.

Since Jesus himself walked the earth the only entity with the power and authority to eliminate hunger and disease and death has been the church.  The extent to which those things continue to exist in our world is directly proportionate to our failure as Christians.  The only cure for fear and hunger and disease and loneliness is Jesus.  As Christians we fail when we deny love and compassion to any one for any reason.  If our buildings are not sanctuaries for the dirty and weak and hurting then we are wasting our time and resources.  We are called to love.

I have a small problem with some of what I've seen and read lately coming from Christian leaders on this front.  It seems that some have not stopped hating - they have simply chosen more socially acceptable targets for their hate and envy.  I've read some pretty nasty admonitions of wealthy conservative Christians.  I don't believe it is necessary to demonize people who fail to give and love like they should in order for us to give and love like we should.  I think a lot of really wealthy people need Jesus.  A lot of people sitting in pews of traditional conservative churches need Jesus.  A lot of people need Jesus.  When these people refuse to give, be it money or compassion, they are wrong.  It doesn't help for us to hate and judge them because we feel like they hate and judge others.  We can't be selfish with our compassion because we think they are selfish with their money. When we make the Southern Baptist or Wall Street the enemy we give ground to the actual enemy.  This is still definition by rejection.

Where there is hate and envy and judgement in us it has to be purged - not redirected.  We have to destroy those things in ourselves no matter what form they take.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Time can make more rubble out of dreams than anything.
In a quiet neighborhood where she's living without wings.
The boredom stirs a rage inside her soul
A rage that reaches out and takes control.

Everyone has questions, but no one wants to know
How far the rage inside someone can really make them go.
-Noah and The Whale; Wild Thing-

In this world there's a whole lot of trouble, baby,
In this world there's a whole lot of pain
In this world there's a whole lot of trouble
but a whole lot of ground to gain.

Why take when you could be giving?
Why watch as the world goes by?
Its a long enough life to be living,
why walk when you can fly?

When you spend your whole life wishing
Watching and wondering why.
Its a hard enough life to be living,
why walk when you can fly?
-Andrew Peterson; Why Walk When You Can Fly-

I feel a restlessness.  In my church and small group - among my friends.  There seems to be an expectation of bigger things.  I believe God is moving.  It is a whisper - a stirring call into deeper water.  I can hear it when I'm quite - feel it when I breathe.  God is doing something.  Isn't that exciting?  Don't you want to be part of it?

God is calling us to life.  He wants us to live.  We have dreams and passions - we want so much more.  Those things come from Jesus.  We were created to live big and love deeply.  We are called to leap out into the wide open.  To many of us are sitting on the edge watching life fly by.  You have been given wings.  Being afraid to use them will do nasty things to you.  You'll get bored and apathetic and angry.  I've been there.  It is so dangerous.  

If you are bored with life you need to spend some time with Jesus and find out what it is you are passionate about.  I believe we all have something.  For me its flying, for some its walking with High School kids or accounting (weird, I know) or photography or being a mommy.  I don't know what it is for you, but you need to.  You have a passion - you have dreams. In the name of mature responsibility you may have buried them, dig them back up.  Remember.  

If you know what your passions are but are afraid to pursue them I can confidently say that you are being called to let go of that fear.  The time for waiting and wishing is over.  It is time to for action.  The kingdom of God is moving.  Take hold of it.  It is difficult but it is life.  

You have a choice to make.  Do you want to sit and watch or do you want to fly?  I promise you can fly.

Note:  I hate this post. I almost delete it every time I think about it.  Its so inadequate.  I'm afraid it won't motivate - that is doesn't accurately convey what's at stake.  It needs to be more.  I feel it more than I can express.   I'm also struck by how bad I am at living it.  I'm not fully surrendered, I feel like when I do fly I'm afraid to venture too far.  I like to fly but the sky is deep and wide - there are unknowns.  At an airshow lately they were giving balloon rides, the problem with a balloon is that it is difficult to control.  You cut loose and the wind takes you were it wills.  They had the balloon tethered to the ground.  I remember wondering why anyone would want to fly like that - its not even really flying. Yet here I am flying tethered.  I trust so little.  

God, help us cut the tether.  Help our unbelief.  Give us courage.  Lead us into the wild blue places of adventure and love and life.  Take us with you.  Cut us loose.  Set us free.  

Monday, October 10, 2011


A friend wrote a short post on regret.  This was my response:
I know this going to surprise you, but I only half agree. Regret as a verb is impossible to live without outside the parameters you set, but I don’t think that’s how most people mean it. I that context I believe most use regret as a noun. That definition is:
1. A sense of loss and longing for something gone.
2. A feeling of disappointment or distress about something that one wishes could be different.
I think by that definition it is possible, if not improbable, to come to the end of your life and have no regrets. It is my goal to live my life in such a way that on my last night on earth I know that I have not been a slave to fear, that I loved and risked and dreamed and jumped. I’m a jerk, so I’m going to spend a lot of time being sorry for things I do and say, but I’m not going to live in that guilt. I’m going to have sex with my wife and play with my kids and smoke cigars and drink whiskey with my friends. I’m going to pray and play and fly. I intend to come to the end of this knowing that I lived the best l could. I’m going to know I failed and I’m going to rest in the unending grace of Jesus.

I guess its only fair to tell you that my response finds it origins in Noah & The Whale's album Last Night on Earth.  I love it, it been the soundtrack of my life lately.  This is going to get quote intensive, but hang in there because they are all awesome.  This is a selection from the first 3 songs on that record.

The night outside is five below
His heart is pumping blood
On his lips a perfect smile
His eyes begin to flood

The night outside is five below
The moon is in the sky
His heart is full of perfect joy
He whispers his goodbye

Because tonight's the kind of night
Where everything could change
-Tonight's The Kind of Night-

He took apart his own life, left it on the shelf
Sick of being someone he did not admire
Took apart his old things, set them all on fire

He's gonna change, gonna change his ways
And it feels like his life can start
And it feels like heaven
-Life is Life-

On my last night on Earth I'll look to the sky
Breath in the air and blink in the light
On my last nigh on Earth, I'll pay a high price
To have no regrets and be done with my life

I'm don't know what the writer of these words believes, but they sound like gospel to me.  They are about second chances and fresh starts.  They are about dreams and courage and opportunity.  There is hope here, where does that come from if not from Jesus.  We serve a God that loves -  that is in the business of restoration and rescue.  If we don't believe in fresh starts and second chances then we've missed it.  Jesus loves without limit and forgives recklessly and completely.  He is present and he his powerful.  He is compassion and hope and promise.  He removes guilt and shame and regret.  He is good and holy and he loves you.  Tonight's the kind of night where everything could change.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Heaven Isn't Too Far Away

I've been thinking a lot about the presence and will of God lately.   Two recent conversations and book I'm reading have combined to bring the idea of God's presence and will to the front of my mind.  I can think of little else. 

How do we relate to God?  What is his level of interaction in our lives?  Where is he?  What we believe about the answers to these questions determines how we make decisions, how we relate to ourselves and others - how we live and what level of joy we find in that living. 

The idea change that's had the most impact are my thoughts on where heaven is.  The prevailing idea is that heaven, where God lives, is a far off unreachable place.  Its in outer space at the closest.  Most assume its beyond our cosmos, outside the expanse of our universe.  I'm starting to disagree.  I think Paradise, like where all the dead Christians are, is probably somewhere like that.  I think its a place - a place we can go but not easily and certainly not a place we can visit and then return.  Its a place for another life.  Can you see how the idea that God lives there is destructive to our spiritual lives here?  It creates in us the mindset that our faith is about another life - a way to ensure our ticket to heaven.  If God lives in heaven and heaven is a place for another life then any real relationship or interaction with God has to be primarily reserved for that life.  It creates a framework by witch to live in this life completely free from any interaction with our God.  It makes God free living seem normal and practical.  The power of God in our day to day is undermined and his influence diminished. 

When you think of God speaking to people in the old testament, where do you imagine that voice to come from?  I've always imagined a booming voice from the sky.  I now think it may have been more like a whisper in the ear or friend across the dinner table.  The Lord called to Abraham out of heaven, called to Hagar out of heaven, spoke to Moses from heaven.  The nation of Israel experienced fire from heaven and ate manna from heaven.  In these stories heaven isn't thought of as far away.  Heaven in right here.  Jacob, while asleep, saw the earth and heaven connected by a passage.  He saw the Lord himself standing beside him.  When he awoke he proclaimed, "God lives here!"  The understanding of God's chosen people was that God is actually here.  He speaks to us and exists in the very air around us.  God inhabits his creation the way we inhabit our bodies. 

I am a spiritual being who currently has a physical body.  I occupy my body
and environs by my consciousness of it and by my capacity to will and to
act with and through it.  I occupy my body and its proximate space, but I am
not localizable in it or around it.  You cannot find me or any of my thoughts,
feelings, or character traits in any part of my body...  Yet I am present as agent
or casual influence with and about my body and its features and movements.  In turn
what my body undergoes and provides influences my life as a personal being.  And
through my body... I can make myself present to others.
-Dallas Willard, The Devine Conspiracy

We think of the air around us as empty space - nothingness.  We think we give it meaning - we fill.  We think what isn't us in our world is nothing - that we have to occupy space for it to have presence.  My job frequently takes me out into that free space.  Up away from our presence and noise.  By that understanding where I am should be lonely - void of any presence expect mine. I can tell you that it isn't.  God doesn't feel far away, he feels very near.  The I hear him best there.  When God calls to me from heaven I experience it very differently then I have imaged Moses did.  He is near, his voice is soft but his presence is not.  God occupies that space and uses it to make himself present to me.  Heaven isn't too far away. 

This has gotten long and I'm tired so I'll save the discussion of how this influences our relationship to God and how we find our place in his will for later.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I was reminded tonight of the power of story. I thought I'd tell one.  This isn't going to be a testimony, at least not specifically, I don't reckon anything I say is completely void of testimony.  I hope it isn't. If you do want to know my testimony you can find it here.

When nothing is owed, deserved or expected
And your life doesn't change by the man that's elected
If you're loved by someone you're never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it.
-Avett Brothers

I grew up around aviation.  My dad was a pilot and I spent a lot of time hanging around airports and riding in small planes as a kid.  My room had models hanging from the ceiling and airplane posters were my wallpaper. All I wanted to do was fly; when I was a kid.  It was Michael Jordan and girls that first pushed aviation to the back of my mind.  

We moved some when I was young so I didn't have any real friends.  It wasn't my favorite thing but I didn't mind it much.  At least I didn't mind it until I noticed girls.  Once girls became an issue I knew one thing, "this not being noticed thing has got to stop." I knew in the fifth grade the fact that I wanted to one day be a pilot wasn't going to get me far.  I needed something now.  I saw Jordan play ball and knew that had to get him chicks.  That was really all it took, that and the only friend I had at the time tried out for the team.  That was it.  I was hooked.  I loved basketball.  I love girls.  Made perfect sense.  I didn't actively decide to not want to be a pilot anymore.  It just happened.  Basketball was what I did, flying was what my dad did.  

I grew up, got married, got a job, had a kid.  I had a great life - a good job.  A job that made sense.  I would probably still be doing if if I hadn't started going to small group at church with a pilot.  This is one of the things I think God did intentionally.  Group was at this pilot's house so I spent a lot of time playing with his son's models.  The look of the their house, the language he speaks, the schedule he keeps, all very familiar.  It started doing something to me.  I thought at first it just made me miss my dad, which it did, it also made me miss aviation.  Two things happened that really awakened a passion for aviation and an appreciation for the freedom it can provide.  I'm not sure what order they happened in, but I know they were both powerful experiences.  

First, my buddy let me fly with him.  He flies corporate jets (I know its hard to detect sarcasm is writing.  Can you detect jealousy?  There may be a hint of it there).  I don't think anybody can ride in the cockpit of a corporate jet and not want to be a pilot.  I wanted to fly, I knew it as soon as the wheels left the ground.  

My job at the time happened to be across the street from his son's daycare.  Again, I suspect God's involvement.  One Tuesday I was walking to my car for a sales call and my buddy pulled in with his son.  He had just picked the kid up early from school and was gong to take him to feed the ducks.  In the middle of the day on a Tuesday.  When they told me their plans I apparently didn't get excited enough for his son's liking.  He leaned over to look me in the face and said, "hey, its fun for kids."  You know what isn't fun for kids?  Sitting at school while dad sales ads.  Neither is watching dad sit in his chair and drink beer because his day sucked so bad he "just needs a minute." I'm not knocking an 8-5.  There are a lot of things I liked and miss about it (I have a lot of respect for people who do the best they can to provide for their families).  I just knew that if I had to do it much longer I would need a beer and I would need way more than a minute for the day's suck to wear off.  I wanted to be a pilot.  I wanted the life, not the money.  I knew it would be financially tough - I knew it would be difficult - I knew I wanted it.    

I wanted it, I just didn't do anything about it.  I'm not sure why.  I just didn't.

Shortly after my daughter was born I got up in the night to feed her.  I didn't do that a lot, but I did that night.  I wanted to have the TV on for the noise and light, but I couldn't find the remote.  I turned it on and sat down to feed her.  Once she finished eating she was wide awake so I decided we should talk a few minutes before I put her back in bed.  (I try not to talk politics on here, but I can't tell the next part without disclosing some political feelings.  Sorry.  I hope you don't stop reading).  We talked for a while and then, like you do when talking to an infant, I ran out of things to say.  I looked up and watched TV for the first time.  President Obama was on.  Not sure if it was a commercial of a news story, but he was on.  I told her he would probably be the next president.  I told her what a president was.  I told her daddy didn't care for him much.  That I didn't agree with him on a lot of things.  Then I told her that the great thing about America was that we avenues to change to the things we don't like.  I told her that I didn't like having to wait four years, but that I was glad to live in a country where I had some say.  I told her that America is the greatest country ever.  I told her that great people had done great things to make that true.  I said, "The beautiful thing about America is that even though daddy doesn't like Mr. Obama, even his story proves that America is great. His story is proof that in America you can be anything."  I looked my little girl in her beautiful wide brown eyes and told her, "this is America and you can be anything you want to be. You can do anything you want to do."  I knew as soon as it left my mouth that if I kept doing what I was doing she would never believe it.  How could she believe that she could be whatever she wanted to be if I wasn't?  I had for some time that I wanted to be a pilot. I knew then that she needed me to be one.  That I had a responsibility to her to at least try.  

The above picture isn't anything incredible, I took it today because today is 9/11.  I flew an airplane today.  This picture is a reminder that this is America.  In America you can be anything you want to be.  A lot has changed in the last ten years, but America is still great.  A reminder that there are some things no one can take away from us - that great men and women have done great things and made great sacrifices to ensure it remains that way.  A reminder that we serve a God that is both good and in complete control.  

This is America, if you want to honor her, decide what to be and go be it.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tin Man

You can't be like me
but be happy that you can't
I see pain but I don't feel it
I am like the old tin man

I'm as worn as a stone
I keep it steady as I can
I see pain but I don't feel it
I am like the old tin man

I used to fill the sky around
with happiness and joy
I had news to give the wind
to keep my sails and heart employed

I felt people move around me
I felt loneliness and shame
back then everyday was different
now each moment is the same

Baby bring me life or something else

So it goes a man grows cold
some would say a man grows strong
they say life only grows short
I say the road only grows long

As long as there's a road
my feet will never touch the ground
if you won't give my heart back
I've no need to stick around
-The Avett Brothers; Tin Man

The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, His Zoe, into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.
-C.S. Lewis; Mere Christianity

I am becoming a real live man.  Its been a long and difficult process and I'm sure there is great work left to be done.

I'm afraid that it has taken so long because I had gotten to the point where I was looking for the something else.  I was aware I was tin and didn't like it.  I hated it so much I was willing to try the something else. The song is powerful because its the way most people live.  At the first hurt or disappointment so many of us "go tin."  We don't like the loneliness and shame so we harden, its only then that we realize we have lost the happiness and joy along with the pain.  Its difficult to come to the place where you welcome the pain if it means breaking the apathy and monotony that has begun to consume you.  Jon McLaughlin has a song where he says, "No one's intended to die with their heart still intact."  I believe that - for the most part - this side of Eden I think its true.  If we are not broken by our sin there is no repentance and no redemption.  We never know the life (Zoe) of Christ. 

I'm aware part of me hates this conversion.  Fortunately its less than it used to be.  The taste of life that has come is addicting - I'm becoming alive and I don't want to stop.  Part of me still wars against it.  The rest has seen enough to know it is good. I want the change. I need the wind.  This road is difficult but each step brings breath.  The tin in me is pushing back hard, but the man has tasted enough to know its worth the fight.    

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In the Den

I got all emotional in the car this morning.  I guess indirectly I blame my friend Lindsay.  She suggest I read Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel.  I wasn’t going to because, well, the title sounds stupid.  Anyway, I’m about halfway through it and I’d say its decent.  There are some places where I think Manning is brilliant and the writing is beautiful.  There are others where it feels like a chore to read it seems like an exercise in the obvious.  On the surface, I’d say the book is average at best.  The only problem with that review would be that I feel different.  I’m not sure how to describe it, something about it is working on me.  Its slow and subtle, but its working.  Something is changing.  
I’m more aware of my brokenness - constantly aware of how full of shit I am, and somehow I’m more comfortable.  I think I’m, for the first time in a real long time, able to live - at least for brief moments - in the truth of who I am in Christ.  Able to accept that he really does love and accept me for who I am - with all my shit.  I’ll write more on this when I finish the book, for now its enough to know I’m softening.  
In the car on the way to church today the daughter and I were listening to a CD my mom just got her.  It was a silly little song about Daniel in the Lions den that got me.  I’ve been in the lions den.  In a place so black and terrifying you don’t how you’ll survive.  In the dark - alone with lions.  Today God asked me to tell him when I was hurt and in what way.  How was I ever in any real danger?  The den is dark and terrifying, the kind of darkness and fear that hurts.  Anger and fear and hopeless hurt a person - they change you.  I felt harmed - I felt devoured.  I was not.  God had shut the lions’ mouths tight.  The fear and hopelessness that controlled and damaged me for so long was a function of my faith - or lack thereof.  The den was never dangerous, I just couldn’t believe it wasn’t.  God was there in the blackness whispering, “trust me, find me, I am shelter, I am protection.”  I was too afraid to move, like Peter sinking in the sea, I took my eyes off Jesus.  Thankfully, in my faithlessness Jesus remained faithful.  I was a afraid I rejected to truth he gave us in his word, I wouldn’t believe he is big enough to save me from anything.  A den of lions - like stormy seas and fiery furnaces - is overwhelming.  I go back to the question from my last blog, “How big do you think God is?”
He can save from lions, calm raging seas, and walk you through fire unburned.  He is in the business of saving.  Giants and floods - invasion and slavery God saves.  He pursues and rescues. Unemployment - Addiction - Divorce - Depression, God is bigger than your circumstance.  He went to the cross and defeated death itself.  I know it feels like you’re chin deep in your own shit.  I know you feel unlovable and afraid.  I do too.  God is not motivated by our filth.  He is motivated by his love.  Love that is unconditional.  Love that rescues.  Love that will not stop.  Love that has already washed you clean.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Now the woman was a uGentile, va Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her,“Let the children be wfed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and xthrow it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's ycrumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may zgo your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 3
Mark 7:26-29 ESV

This is an awesome story.  There is so much there, so many lessons in so few words. Its Jesus, what do you expect?  Preach talked about this passage for a while Sunday and we discussed it for an hour at group last night, I don't think we got it all covered, but I'm left with this question:  How big do you think God is?

The woman in the story had a problem, a big problem.  The kind of problem that overshadows every part of your life. The kind of situation that has to seem impossible - a problem with no good solution.  Well, as it turns out,one really good solution.  This woman's daughter was demon possessed.  Not had an ear infection, had a demon.  She was living with the kid from The Exorcist.  I can't imagine how hopeless and desperate she must have been.  She had to desperate, she was risking a lot - breaking a lot of rules to get to Jesus.  The social implications of this passage are incredible, the way Jesus confronts stereotypes and racism is always fun.  Anyway, she should not have been there.  Can you imagine.  She gets to the feet of Jesus, she has to know her daughter is as good as healed.  She has risked much, but she there.  I can understand the excitement of knowing that from that moment on everything will be different, better.  Then the unthinkable happens, Jesus tells her no - or worse, to wait.  Either way the response had to be devastating.  I love her response. She pushes a little more, she makes an argument.  Jesus says its not time to heal your daughter, my ministry has an order.  He told her that healing her daughter would have to wait, that there were things he needed to do first, other people to feed.  I love how well she understood the heart and power of Jesus. I'll wait on the meal, for now I just need some crumbs. 

She knew how big he was.  Her daughter being possessed was certainly the biggest thing in her life, a problem in size that few of us will ever experience.  She knew that a few crumbs from the table of grace was enough to change her life forever.  Just the crumbs and her daughter, her family would be restored.  Just crumbs - nothing would ever be the same.