Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011's Favorites

In chronological order:

This Must be Dealt With
I’ve used this one to end two different sermons. The power in it has been captivating to me. There are a few who want me to read it for a poetic reading (that’s a big maybe). I wrote it one cold January night when it was snowing. Looking up all the passages for this one was particularly fun.

I Believe, Help My Unbelief
Written in 2010 for a friend this post kept punching me in the brain. I finally posted it at the end of January and it’s one that still is running through my thoughts.

Quite Frankly
This one was a tough write for me. I’ve thought this for a while, but never voiced it until I wrote this post.

The Armor of God (Sermon)
This one is a favorite because it was the first time I’d ever had a manuscript for my sermon. It worked well for two or three, now I’m back to a half-note-half-manuscript deal.

Letting Go of the Faded Memory
Inception & C.S. Lewis collide. Enough said.

Getting Ahold of Happiness
I wrote this puppy after “AFTERdark” a Christian pep-rally some WSU students put on in early spring.

Common Error pts 1, 2, &3 & A Response to Myself pts 1,2, 3 & 4
These were quite literally me thinking out loud for the world to read. I had always had an issue with the term ‘common grace’ and if you read these you’ll see my reasons plus my own response to, well, me! O and these were written and posted in 2 days.

He is Here
This one is my hand at poetry. You have to be kind to read it. It’s a wee rough.

What is Joy?
The church I work for (Journey the Way) did a sermons series through Philippians and it was titled the ‘Pursuit of Joy.’ This was the ending of a sermon I had preached over the summer, which I thought applied rather nicely.

The Thinker's Thoughts on Thinking
This one still kills me.

A Little Spilled Coffee
This was the first of what I hope to be continuing posts. It’s observation with my own speculation. Watching people is apart of what I do and my mind tends to write a story for each person I never get to talk to. Others like this one are: A Coffee Shop Scene, Tragedy and Two Pairs One Table

Final Stress
This one was good for my heart to write, and my head. Ugh finals.

Christopher Hitchens
I really will miss this guy’s whit and cynicism.

The most popular posts of year:
1. The Hidden Hide
2. Christopher Hitchens
3. A Coffee Shop Scene

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Past

I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing lately. Remembering things I’ve done and places I’ve been in contrast to where and who I am now.

Typically I don’t look back. (but I may try to forget some things, but even those things are daring to be remembered too.)

Red Lobster, that’s where it began. Eating a lovely meal with grandma. Thinking, “Tables were never this clean in Egypt and food was never this good in Uganda.” Seeing, in stark contrast mind you, the difference from where I was and where I am.

That’s where many of my thoughts have been lately.

There’s a dirty and bland world out there. There are starving children and kids with AK-47’s killing each other and their families. There are women dying in the streets far away from their home. And a man with one hand no lips, no eyes, and acid burns on his face begging for money in a dank corner of a Ugandan market.

We’d consider it out-of-control, they’d consider it normal.

Egypt I loved, Uganda scared me, Israel was homely, Amsterdam was crazy, and Frankfurt was too short.

This isn’t a list of credentials to be read and envied. It’s not a look-at-me-I’m-better-than-you-cause-I-traveled list. It’s just a dude remembering how good we’ve got it here in, “no-where,” Wichita, Kansas.

We can drink the water in the showers, and brush our teeth from faucet water and not a bottle. We all (for the most part) have cars (no matter how crappy they are). Houses, safety, and pets we don’t have to eat.

No-where Wichita seems like a vacation compared to war-torn Africa. #justsaying

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Time-ish Thoughts

1) Case of Skittles... 'nough said.

2) I got to hang out at The Anchor for a little bit. It was a good Christmas present.

3) Are there any good excuses to leave my Christmas tree up all year long? ...other than being a redneck.

4) Does the world end at the beginning of 2012 or the end of 2012?

5)I bought The Hunger Games to read after I meander through The Lord of the Rings again. (Starting with The Simarillion, then The Hobbit, then LOTR) In other words I'll be in the realm of complete and utter nerdom for the first few months of 2012.

6) New vaccum! (You know you're grown up when this excites you)

7) Hey Wichita, if you add 50 to the highs these days, they still don't touch this summer's temps.

8) Gonna see The Civil Wars, again!

9) Hat Man Jack's andThe Spice Merchant.

10) Fight the good fight of faith.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Two Pairs One Table

They were father and son, the father near ninety his son in his sixties. Both bedecked in hats, the father with his bolo tie and boots, the son in a simple jacket.

The gentleman at the table next to them complimented the father’s tie; he said he got it from his wife for their 25th wedding anniversary and the ring on his middle finger she’d given him for their 50th anniversary. The son simply listened to his dad’s tale.

“She’s gone now.” Said the father, the son gently nodding in agreement. Neither pain, nor regret hindered his voice; just the simple fact that she’d moved on was all that could be read in his voice. Finishing their drinks they moved on because, “There are people to see and places to be.”

A few minutes later a couple took the seats at the same table. His salt and pepper hair was in stark contrast to the conversation they were having and the pictures she was holding. A sonogram, a little blip on the picture indicating a baby.

They launched into a discussion rather happily, both leaning closely over the little Starbucks table, of how to break the news to their family. “Should we do Christmas day or Christmas Eve, over e-mail or Skype?” His Scottish brogue said so nicely.

The little table heard & saw both pairs. With what might be the father’s final Christmas, and what is a baby’s first days of life. The discussion of a father and his son, the love between soon to be parents while the world whizzed by in the chaos of shopping, these moments will be remembered more than trifles and gifts.

While the father will lavish his great-grandchildren with presents and his son with the respect of age and the love only his tried wisdom can bestow; while the parents will prepare for the child to come with beautiful little trinkets. The relationships will never be as fresh as they are now.

For the chasm of death will separate both pairs eventually, but it doesn’t now. So conversations and memories are being made and one day the chasm will be no more and the bonds of fellowship will be picked up in perfection more vividly than they were five days before Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Thoughts

1) My cat uses echolocation to get around and likes coffee as much as I do.

2) Toys-R-Us has Twilight toys for preschoolers. Unacceptable America, unacceptable.

3) Christopher Hitchens died? Dang it. Read more here.

4) Sherlock Holmes 2 = success

5) Grace, grace, grace, it’s all grace.

6) I’m not sarcastic. Ever.

7) Do Christians really want to die on the hill of “Happy Holidays?”

8) The closer you are to a situation the less you see it.

9) I’d like to be in Bethlehem this time of year, or Scotland. Either one.

10) Grandma took me grocery shopping! Food, good food!


11) The Three Musketeers is teaching me a lot about myself. Read it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens

“Christopher Hitchens died today, he was 62.” This is what will be published in articles across the world. Many know him as a scathing writer. His books against the existence of God are well known; his speeches are all over YouTube. His calling Mother Theresa a, “Fraudulent fanatic,” is remembered well.

Cancer is what killed him. The incurable disease, the one science can’t fully fix. Irony, for the man who put his ‘faith’ in science to be killed by its failure at the end.

But to damn the man in a blog post is to affect nothing. Sure I could rant at his open disbelief in God, but I think that cowardly since he can’t offer a rebuttal.

No, I will call him a well-written man and a wonderful rhetorician. Causing all kinds of people to think and consider. Whether they were Atheist or Christian. I will pity his death; for I rather enjoyed listening to him speak.

But I will also say, there is more to life then being well written and a beautiful speaker. There is more to life than making people think. There’s more to life than all this life and death and tragedy and comedy. There’s love

Not the blind love of youth. Nor the love I have for Oreos. But the love of a Savior for his people, which causes faith in what is unseen.

‘Cause that’s all faith really is, believing what you can’t see to be. Hitchens’ had it in the power of words and our modern sciences; I have it in the power of words and the work of Jesus. While science astounds me it cannot redeem me.

But see, that’s just it; I feel the need of being redeemed from my sins. I feel the need for a Savior. Hitchens never did. It can’t be because his brain was more evolved than mine. Nor can it be that his studies revealed more to him than the studies of C.S. Lewis or Sir Isaac Newton.

Perhaps I’ve believed the lie. Perhaps he believed the lie. I won’t damn him, that’s not my place nor my job and he won’t damn me.

All I know is this; I will die for this Gospel, this Savior, this Jesus. Willingly and lovingly die. I proclaim until then His worth and Excellency and work. As Hitchens wrote so I shall write, as he spoke I shall speak. Yet the difference shall be this one thing: there is a God and He’s knowable.

So, I thank Christopher Hitchens for who he was, for his devotion to his faith and his bold proclamation of it. And I say this meaningfully, he will be missed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I got a cat. The Wichita Eagle had a classified add for, “Absolutely free kittens.” I called, went over with my sister and took one (his name is Luther and he’s at current intently watching me type while he lays upside down).

As we were leaving the place my first thought was, “These people are really going to let me walk out of their house with one of their pets? I’m not responsible enough for this! This has to be a crime.” But they did. (O and he’s litter box trained.)

Anyway, enough about the cat.

The point is responsibility, and knowing life isn’t about you. Sure you get a critter to love and nurture, but you also have to wake up to feed them, make sure their healthy, and clean up after them (it’s like an infant on an incredible light scale - but infants don’t have claws).

Learning to put others before you in a small way to begin with. Fighting your (my) sin of workaholic because there’s a creature at home.

Fighting sin to the glory of God should weigh in on many of our decisions.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Siren

The Sirens call our names. Calling us to the ‘freedom’ they offer, the ‘hope’ they can give and the ‘peace’ they’ll bestow. As we sail near their islands, their islands which dot every turn and point of our lives.

Yet we know, from devastating experience, these Sirens will kill us on their rocks. There is no island, there’s no hope, no peace, or no freedom, just some jagged rocks, which will do nothing but rip our souls to shreds and sink us in an ocean of despair.

It’s true to say that the valley of the shadow of death knows our names. We know its depths and we’ve seen its turns. We know how it affects our hearts and minds.

But a symphony of blood calls out; it speaks a better witness than the blood of Abel. It rolls back the clouds to reveal high noon in the valley of the shadow of death. All the Siren’s calls are shown to be faux and the despairs we’re in are shown to be nothing in comparison the one who shed the blood, which sings in our defense.

The sea we are in is a sea of grace; the valley we are in is a valley of beauty. We’re lost inside the grace of God. And his grace toward us is not in vain; it will never be in vain.

Friday, December 9, 2011

10 Finals Thoughts

1) Wait. What? Where am I?

2) Brain = Fried

3) Since when were we studying the weather on other planets? Thanks meteorology class.

4) 3 papers over 10 pages. I have no words. Profreading? Watch this.

5) My heartrate is through the roof. Stress

6) College Algebra. *Sigh* 3rd times a charm?

7) Can I just give a persuasive speech in Algebra telling them why I don't need algebra? Point 1: COMMUNCATION MAJOR

8) On Monday The Three Muskeeters started getting really interesting... Today, I'll pick it back up.

9) Coffee.

10) I wrote a paper like a story & had to talk myself out of putting it on here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Final Stress

Typically I’m not a stressful person. Usually things glide along rather well and the stress of it all is a, “whatever,” in my brain. That wasn’t me last night.

Many things accumulated to produce in my spirit such a discomfort and such a loathing of everything that I despaired.

The church changed location, multiple papers are due in multiple classes, tests, exams, finals in every class and on top of it all I spent all last week preparing for a sermon… I’m whining I know.

So what did I do? I took a 45min shower. And the whole time feebly sang Amazing Grace.

He saved a wretch like me; he will see me through Algebra.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years… This week won’t be the end of me.

Stress. It’s a stupid little word. St-ress. Yet we all resound with it’s pitiful call, we identify with it at the end of semesters or the nearing of deadlines. When worry becomes us and we think all shall be lost if things don’t go according to plan.

So let this little post do a work in your heart and your head as it has done in mine, quiet your soul and know that He is still God and you are still man. Though passing might not happen and much must be done there still is on the throne Christ whose plan is certain. And you, O student are adopted as his brother and loved as his sister, because he stooped to save us wretches from far worse than finals.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Narnian Church

I was talking with a good buddy this weekend after church and somehow (not quite sure how) we got on the topic of Narnia (‘cause all good conversations should digress into literature or theology). Yet while we were talking I had an idea.

We love the stories of Narnia, all of them, they’re beautifully captivating, children going to some other place and becoming kings and queens and animals talking. Romantic to say the least, imaginative, for sure, since we’ve all desired at some point or another to be royalty.

The kids in the stories go from reality to Narnia, and then in the end Narnia is what is made whole and beautiful.

This mirrors the Church.

We are able to go to the Church, to be apart of her and to love her, but she is not the place we’re going. Yet she will be made new (more beautiful and more splendid).

Worshiping together, fellowshipping with one another, marveling at our God. Will be new and better and more wonderful. The Church, the thing we love and rest in when the realities of the world are too much, she will be made wholly new and wholly perfect.

Because the Church we now know is just a shade of the Church that will be.

Because the worship we now give is hardly a drop in the bucket of the worship we will give.

But if you hate the Church, then this poses a problem. ‘Cause why would you want to spend forever with a remade Church?

My only response to this is, is this: be careful whom you hate (or strongly-dislike, or don’t want to be apart of… etc). The bride of Christ surely is not one to hate. To claim Jesus as your Savior but hate the people he saved is hate yourself.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Worst Christmas

"O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death's dark shadows put to flight.

Christmas time! What with all the trees, lights, gifts, family and friends is always an exciting time of year. As a kid dreaming of what might be in those boxes under the tree you helped mom and dad decorate. Bundling up like Eskimos to go to school. Sipping apple cider with a favorite book in your hand.

The dark mornings and the darker evenings, the cold nights and the freezing car rides (or at least until the heater gets going), singing the music of this time of year.

The music. It's always extremely interesting to me, I used to not like it, but now - after reading Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia - this music draws me to remember the moments leading up to the enemies demise.

The deep breath before the plunge of battle. When warriors courageously died for what would come if the evil one fell. When sword and shield were shattered and rattled in pursuit of freedom.

It’s right to see this time of year in this light. For from the beginning of time the prophecies, the promises, and the people of God yearned for the coming deliverer. One who would cause the stronghold of the enemy to shiver in fear, to quake at their final abolishment and defeat.

All the great stories take their bow to this idea, this theme:

“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.” (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)

Christmas is the worst thing that ever happened to the devil, thank God.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Love. We all want it; we all have it in some degree, but we still want more. Living downtown has taught me this of us. We long to be cared for, mostly because we see ourselves as the greatest thing the world has yet to see.

I was talking with a homeless man about another homeless man. The latter had come through the church a few times but never stuck and gave me the chills. When I asked this particular homeless guy about him he said, “O, man he’s crazy.” Which struck me funny.

Another man, arguably in the same situation mentally calling another man crazy, is this irony? Or is this man so diluted that even the others in his situation don’t want to be around him.

Yet my mind kept spinning, I imagined a story and it went like this:

A couple walked down a snow packed sidewalk. They’d just come from a party in some darker side of town. The booze had been flowing and the crack had been lined so neatly.

The inebriated couple turns the corner and headed toward a clunker car. The light of the street lamp reveals the woman to be heavily pregnant.

A few weeks later she gives birth to a small baby boy. He’s quickly taken away by the S.R.S. to be placed in better living conditions. The mother could’ve cared less where he went she was too bent over in pain from the withdrawals of being without her precious substances for the time it took to be in labor.

The boy is given to his grandma, an elderly woman whose fragility is only kept whole by the strength of her love.

At the age of five the boy’s grandma dies. He is once again handed over to the system to see what ought to be done with him. Foster home after foster home turns him away because, “He’s just too much.”

When he’s 11 he’s standing in a church in an ill-fitting suit looking into a casket with some tiny meth addict inside it. His mom. He’d always known who she was, but she was never around. They’d found her in the basement of a meth house, the needle still between her toes.

By the age of 14 he’d been arrested twice and by that same age he’d tried his first hit of meth.

Once he hit the ‘responsible’ age of 18 he’s living on the streets with a mind fried beyond aid…

And now, another homeless man is calling him crazy.

All this story in an instant; my mind trying to answer the question of how someone ended up like this. The lack of love, the absence of parents, compounded onto the unwanted crack-baby born. It’s a sad story, all tragedy and no comedy.

Love. We all want it. Yet a redeeming love, a love that transcends to such depths as this, is only found in Jesus. For no man or woman or child or mother or father could love one to salvation, only Jesus can.

Monday, November 28, 2011


“I am a whore I do confess, I put you on just like a wedding dress and run down the isle. I’m a prodigal with no way home I put you on just like a ring of gold and I run down the isle to you. So could you love this bastard child, though I don’t trust you to provide?” ~Derek Webb


Writers write of the ‘loss of innocence.’ Singers sing of it. People speak of it to their friends. But we’ve never been innocent.

If we believe Scripture to be true and foundational, there was never a time in our lives when we were pure, when we were right, when we were good (Isa 64:6; Rom 3:9-18). We’ve always been deserving of hell.

I know, this is a happy Monday post, right?

But we have hope, that tiny yet beautiful word, hope. We can be expectant of our Savior to be enough. Clinging to this hope. We hope on hope that our hope will not be put to shame.

It’s faith really, faith in the unseen. For how can we hope in what we see? How can we have faith in the things we know break or fail?

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Friday, November 25, 2011

An American's America

Reading by the candlelight, The Civil Wars playing in the background, sipping on some apple cider by all accounts relaxing. In and of itself is nothing to write home about or to blog about, but when compared to what the rest of the world gets, the ability to relax, to completely chill is profound.

But we whine about our small plights, or poor selves. Yet ironically enough the day after we give thanks for all we have we forego all sleep to buy more stuff. Who are we? What are we? A contradictory statement: having everything but needing more.

As Americans we’re free, right? Yet we’re still enslaved to stuff, and not our stuff, we’re enslaved to other people’s stuff. We want what they have. We’re a country of adulterous idolaters. Claiming to love One yet all the while going to bed with anything else.

What freedom is there in our society? The reply might be, “Freedom to do what we want,” freedom to be ruled by our animal self and all the longings of what we see? That’s not freedom. We’re still enslaved the difference is we just ‘like’ our master.

Don’t get me wrong I love my country, I’ve seen the world and I love living here. But a hundred years ago men worked to bring home the necessities and when they had no money they went without. It appears as though we’ve lost our reason (and by ‘reason’ I mean sense, ability to think clearly).

Self-satisfaction is the god, which rules our hearts. Self-appreciation is the worship song we sing. Self-worth is the highest possible virtue…

But we won’t change that. The master whipping our backs and sinking us into debt is what we call ‘freedom’ but freedom also means no hindrance of restraint, but we’re restrained by what we see in other’s hands, we’re restrained by the debt-collector. We’re locked up nicely in our plush cells – but their cell is nicer.

Stuff is nice, but if we have not a healthy perspective on stuff, stuff will kill us.

Bankruptcy, riots, and more because, “I want what they have, now.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful Gratitude

I’m usually opposed to writing about trending topics, but this Thanksgiving I’m making exception cause writing about being thankful makes me more thankful.

So here they are (order has nothing to do here) some things I’m thankful for:

1. The new/focused job. I went from Elder to Deacon, From Community Pastor to Communication/Connection Pastor, and I’m stoked about this. Someday there’ll be a series of posts chronicling the exact reasons for this change.

2. Family. If you’ve met my family you know why I’m thankful for them, their odd, quirky and deeply in love with Jesus. Plus they all speak fluent sarcasm (well… my sister may not, but she’s becoming, “culturally relevant.”)

3. Literature. Dracula > me (I couldn’t do it, too scary for my lil self. And reading scury stuff before bed was not a good idea) The Three Musketeers = Amazing (so far).

4) Writing. Having a blog is dang therapeutic for me.

5) Scripture. Without it there is no message, there is nothing to proclaim. For in it we know of Jesus and his Gospel.

6) Music. Yes, Taylor Swift is a favorite of mine. Her words get to me. And she is seems to be a rather classy woman.

7) Words. Without them I have nothing to say, nothing to write and no way of relaying my deepest passions. Shoot, I couldn’t even say ‘hello.’ Which means I should watch how I use words.

8) Friends. Who listen and care. Who stand beside me and proclaim truth with me.

There was a thought recently, one, which has continued to reoccur in my mind. In this thought I am an old man sitting near a fire recounting the life I’ve lived. Thinking back and being able to say, ‘I’ve done that.’ Not from a proud perspective, but from a humbled view. To be unworthy of the capability of doing what was done.

But, I suppose, the catch should be this: in our thankfulness and in our doings there should be little obligation but much gratitude. For none of this is deserved. Because God rains down mercy, for now.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Coffee Shop Scene

Their chairs were moved close, their eyes and attention where at and with each other. He held her hand, gently, their knees were touching as they sipped their coffees and chatted, infatuated with each other. His camouflage was in stark contrast to her jeans, his tan boots were immovable near her feet.

One would speculate he’d just returned from a far land, a war-zone, protecting this woman whose hand he now held. Putting life and liberty, pain and suffering on the line for her, not for the others in the coffee shop, not for the baristas or the infant in his mother’s arms, but for her, his love. The businessman in his suit and the pastor reading his Bible sat doing their mutual duties, but this warrior sat holding his love’s hand.

Doing a duty he was glad to shoulder, doing an obligation with such gratitude and such joy that to call it a duty would be to do harm to the image, for his love was for this woman, for her and her alone. It is no duty, it is, indeed love in the most real sense of the word.

The quote on the board read, “As we express gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. J.F.K” Sure, this solider had told his love of his gratitude, sure he’d expressed it a million times as he approached the plane to take him to war, sure, he’d said the necessary, but he now lives the gratitude. Expressing it with unwavering attention and the gentleness of holding her hand.

This has happened for us.

The Warrior came and fought the forces of the foe. He crushed the serpent’s head. He put to death, death. And now, he unwaveringly intercedes on our behalf. The love with which he loved us was immense enough so as to take him to the worst possible death.

The love for His Church, his bride was a reason for the death he died and the life he now lives. The Warrior triumphed and will one day soon gently hold the hand of his bride.

A List for Monday

1) I want to watch/read ALL The Lord of the Rings again (really, mostly this is an all-the-time feeling).

2) Twilight fans: watch this he has better reasons for not liking it than me.

3) "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes the only God?" John 5:44

4) As a single dude, I think being a loving father and loving one (1) woman for all of life is a thousand times more noble & honorable than gun fights, sword fights & church leading.

5) Thanksgiving! I will spend most of my days off reading this scary book... I have to read it when the sun is up.

6) I was bored half way through the latest Transformer movie. Like real bored.

7) New location for Journey the Way was *ahem* Saweet!

8) Literature is, for me, a gift of God to my over active mind.

9) I now have curtains at my house & if I do say so myself, they look wonderful. (I also steamed them to get the wrinkles out, does that make me odd?)

10) Coffee + pumkiny goodies with cream cheese iceing = heavenly.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts:

1) We had Thanksgiving dinner at my community group last night.

2) Said dinner was wonderful & the 14lb bird was "decimated."

3) My house only holds so many people before it starts to feel like a sauna.

4) More turkey & stuffing next week? Yes, please.

5) Martin Luther is currently punching me in the face.

6) I think these are stupid cute.

7) The difference between Christianity & any other religion is Jesus. Read this.

8) NEEDTOBREATHE is always playing in my head.

9) Taylor Swift is usually right in the mix next to them (go ahead judge, I'm ok with it).

10) Coffee.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Luther's Words for All Now

"Here then, I see, you suppose that the truth and the utility of the Scriptures are to be weighed and judged of according to the opinion of men, nay, of men the most impious; so that, what pleases them or seems bearable, should be deemed true, divine, and wholesome: and what has the contrary effect upon them, should at once be deemed useless, false, and pernicious.

"What else do you mean by all this, than that the words of God should depend on,

stand on,

and fall by,

the will and authority of men? Whereas the Sctripture, on the contrary saith, that all things stand and fall by the will and authority of God: and in a word, that "all the earth keeps silence before the face of the Lord." (Hab 2:20)

"He who could talk as you do, must imagine that the living God is nothing but a kind of trifling and inconsiderate pettifogger decalaiming on a certain rostrum, whos words you may if you be disposed, interpret, understand, and refute as you please, because He merely spoke as He saw a set of impious men to be moved and affected." ~Martin Luther

To overlook orthodoxy is to place Scripture in subjection to what one wants.

It is to misunderstand the Gospel.

It is to misunderstand God.

Just a Moment

You know those moments when multiple people are just silent in awe of a sight or a sound? When the beauty of a thing is palpable or so thick you can grasp hold of it? Those are wonderful moments.

Last night was one of those moments. The bar was silent, the singer sang his heart out and played his guitar with such gusto and passion, all were quiet, all were seemingly in a trance with the words he sang and the tune he played.

Now for the really Christian questions: Have you ever had that feeling with God?

They don’t come often, when you’re washed by the beauty of who he is, and they don’t stay long. Yet in the moment, the rapturous moment there is a solidity of eternity, quite literally a peace surpassing all understanding.

But mostly we try to run to these grandeurs, looking, searching in every place possible for the feeling. But a feeling searched for is faux. For how can a manufactured feeling replace what is real?

Thus we study and work and wait for God to move in our hearts to reveal the light of the knowledge of himself in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Professional Worrying

“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:5-8

We are society of professionals when it comes to the game of worrying. In fact it’s possible to worry us right into the hospital (which many people do). Whether it is our job, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, TV show or gas prices (or all of the above) we can, and do, worry about it.

There are a couple meanings, which I think would be beneficial to know about the word ‘anxious.’ It’s first and most simplistic definition is: “greatly worried,” however there is a second meaning which I believe is just as important and necessary of knowing as the first: “earnestly desirous; eager.”

We earnestly desire to see something besides God’s glory as true.

We are eager to look at small plights and see them as more dangerous than our sin.

This, in my opinion, describes our sin life to a T.

Rather than being satisfied by the Controller of the Universe (The Creator and Destroyer of everything) we’d like to live in the fantasy of faux control. Eagerly thinking us the captain of our own demise, the leader of our own life, the champion of whatever cause we deem worthy – but this is a far cry from belief and faith.

“… In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In Jesus we are hidden and safe, we are guarded from a pitiful and unreasonable worry (it’d be safe to call worry ‘stupid’). It is the reason our salvation is described as a helmet and our righteousness as a breastplate in Ephesians 6, Jesus is our salvation and as such is capable of protecting our minds, he is our righteousness and will guard our hearts.

Thus, we, you and I both, need and should and must eagerly desire to see our Savior as capable of seeing us through these hard times, these small worries.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Deism is not Christian. This is something I’m rather forceful about. Deism is not Christian. The happy-clappy huffy-fluffy religion associated with Christianity is not Christian. Let me explain the main major difference between what most would call “Christian” and what actually is Christian.

Deism has nothing to do with Jesus. That is the difference. Deism is the idea of a god creating all things and then actively (or passively) having no part of it. But somehow this idea of deism has been married with Christianity and there are many who don't realize that deism has absolutely no power to save.

Christians stake their hope on Jesus, not a list of good morals or the therapeutic idea of one’s own worth (moralistic deism).

Christians understand this life will be a continually war against their own natural depravity, not thinking themselves as naturally good people (thereapuetic deism).

Christians know God who is present in failure as well as victory, not some god who is disinterested in the lives of his creation (deism).

Christianity is nothing like deism. In Christianity God is vastly more beautiful and powerful than the apathetic god of the deist.

So what am I saying? I’m saying this heresy of moralistic therapeutic deism should be done away with. I’ll agree with Martin Luther, “I feel indignation against the matter also, that such unworthy stuff should be borne about in ornaments of eloquence so rare; which is as if rubbish, or dung, should be carried in vessels of gold or silver." So do away with speaking of a god who has no strength, grace or mercy and come to know the God who is devestatingly exqusite.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Notions

1) What you do with Jesus is the difference between life & death, paganism & belief.

2)How you know you're a Pharisee: when you hear truth are your first thoughts, "______ needs to hear this." or, "I wish ______ was here to hear this."? If they are, you're a white-washed tomb.

3)Does what I teach line up with my life?

4)The Gospel will always need to be applied to yourself.

5) Don't color people by their sin.

6) If He is worthy of "living for" than surely you think he's worthy of dying for (right?)

7) Monday... Monday.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Little Spilled Coffee

She had spilled a little of her coffee on his computer - but he was drunk so he could’ve cared less. He was more infatuated with the gospel music piping out of its speakers than the little bit of coffee on the corner.

Gingerly she cleared away the coffee with the sleeve of her yellow cardigan and went a little further to clean a portion of the screen where there was no coffee, just a smudge. He just sat there in his drunken stupor, seemingly unaware she was even there. She patted his knee and left. He remained intoxicated by both the alcohol and the music.

Everyone else walked by and stared, everyone else sat around and wished he’d turn down the sound. But she stopped and stooped to care just a little more than what was necessary.

She came back a little later, he still in his stupor, with a pair of headphones. Plugging them in and with the same gentleness she had cleaned his computer with handed the headphones to him. He took them, no gratitude or second thought; no hesitation or wonder, just took them.

As time wore on still more, a cup of coffee came and a breakfast sandwich appeared; this woman had bought him breakfast as well as given her headphones up and not a word of thanks was said just that he wanted to smoke a cigarette.

Compelled by who-knows-what she served a man who could’ve cared less. She loved one most considered unlovable, one whom most passed by and judged she considered and she stopped. To call her a believer or un-believer is not a judgment to be made, but to see her example and do similarly to the glory of God is no wrong thing.

The sick and destitute, the broken and forgotten of society are still creations of God, and still in need of being loved. Though it is not evangelism to clean a screen and spend a little money it is still loving to do so. Though it won’t save a man from drunken debauchery or hell it will, by the grace of God teach others to love those of the hideous underbelly of the world who live on our streets.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cloudy Day Thoughts

1) Driving with my headlights on during the day makes me feel nifty… so do suspenders.

2) I was asked to speak about Calvinism at my old high school (hahaha).

3) I want to read Dracula.

4) I like jackets but I hate cold.

5) Cloudy day music = Elbow

6) My generation talks in events, older generations talk in ages.

7) I’m glad I have a perma-scarf on my face (beard).

8) Matter of fact scarves mess up my beard-doo.

9) I want a Seeing Eye dog… So I can walk into restaurants and have him with me… I just want a dog, a big dog, like an Irish wolfhound.

10) I might love London’s weather if it’s cloudy a lot.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The 95's Relivence for Now

494 years ago today Martin Luther nailed his 95-Thesis to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. Today the whole list is still timely and relevant. For we have replaced indulgences with our legalism and we have sought to be made whole by all other means rather than the cross.

Here are a few of his thesis which I feel are worth being pointed out, the rest might be found here.

1. “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent’, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” It is, I fear, often the hope of many churches to have a ‘new-believer’ to sign the card after they’ve walked the isle. To not call for a life of repentance but rather to cushion their number of those they’ve ‘saved.’ (The notch in the belt, jewel-in-the-crown routine.)

32. "All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.” “I’m righteous because I prayed a prayer when I was 5.” Yet now they live like hell and all manner of sinfulness and un-repentance is the life lead. It is simply pure foolishness to place stock and value in your past action, if this is your reason of salvation.

60. “We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ.” Gospel, Gospel, Gospel. There is nothing more for the church to teach than the merits of Christ. Yet, there are many who teach much less than the merits of Christ. The term is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism; if Paul heard it he’d be furious, if Luther heard it he’d cuss them out. But we stand by and let the garbage flow from the mouths of ‘eloquent preachers.’ Either you teach about Jesus or nothing at all.

62. “The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.” If you want to hear something more than the Gospel of Jesus which brings the glory and the grace of God, then you don’t get (understand) the Gospel.

92. “Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ's people, "Peace, peace," where in there is no peace.
93. Hail, hail to all those prophets who say to Christ's people, "The cross, the cross," where there is no cross.
94. Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells.
95. And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.”

Fight the good fight of faith, put on the armor of God and stand firm in these dark times. Welcome to the Christian life, welcome to the war against the demonic and sin. Jesus bids us to come and die. He is our only hope.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ripped from the Journal: My Denial

Peter denied Jesus three times. I’ve denied him so much more, or been ashamed of him so much more. Failing to bear the punishment or disgrace he bore, not being reviled for the sake of Jesus’ name but rather because, “I’m right.”

Though I very well may be right it does not necessitate or mean acting or thinking myself a better or smarter person than the opposite (you know like the Pharisees). Rather it means I ought to speak the truth with and in love to the opposite.

Jesus was not or is not ashamed of me. He did not deny me; in fact he welcomed me in with open arms and brought me in by the shedding of his own blood and the brokenness of his own body. From gratitude I should welcome the scorn of his name; from thankfulness the reproach he endured.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. “ Hebrews 11:1

“This is faith: a renouncing of everything we are apt to call our own and relying wholly upon the blood, righteousness and intercession of Jesus.” John Newton

“...a man will be justified by faith when, excluded from righteousness of works, he by faith lays hold of the righteousness of Christ, and clothed in it, appears in the sight of God not as a sinner, but as righteous...” John Calvin

Faith, it’s a churchy word (just have faith!), it’s also a pop-Christian word (“O I just need more faith to choose between the Chris Tomlin album or the other pop-Christian artists.”), but more than these other two it is a biblical word. Often I marvel at the gravity of words, to take the biblical definition over the dictionary’s definition (for words folks that’s a big deal) and, by God’s grace, live it.

But how do we know we have faith? What makes our faith solid and true faith and not simple some popish thing which whelms us one day and is completely absent the next day?

Allow me to relay what we, as Christians believe. 1) God created something out of absolute void. 2) We jacked that creation up. 3) He sent his Son (who is one with Himself, yet different). 4) Through a women, there was no human dad, God was the Father. 5) This Kid (Jesus) lived a completely sinless perfect life (imagine a six-year-old boy not punching his sibling in the face… difficult?). 6) He was wrongly convicted of being sinful (basically he was too perfect). 7) He was killed (ya know like dead, without a pulse, ummm lights out). 8) He rose from the grave (wha?). 9) He ascended (floated up) into heaven to make intercession for those who have faith in him.

That takes faith to believe. So how do we know whether or not we have faith? “This is faith: a renouncing of everything we are apt to call our own and relying wholly upon the blood, righteousness and intercession of Jesus.” Because everything else is worthless in our eyes when compared with knowing Christ Jesus our Lord; because even though the facts seem ludicrous they make complete sense; because God loved us and made us alive together with Christ; because there is an assurance beyond reason and logic which presses us to know and love and die for this irrefutable truth.

“Therefore… let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Monday, October 24, 2011

The 'Ahhh' Effect

“Our wisdom in so far as it ought to be deemed true and holy wisdom consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” John Calvin

This is an extremely applicable quote. It is typically taught to have a high view of self, to have a good “self-esteem.” Yet this idea of self-esteem would run contrary to the biblical idea of being known or knowing yourself.

For self-esteem is, in a sense the idolatry of self. By definition it means: “confidence in ones own worth or abilities.” But biblically speaking we, you and I, are not worthy. So to see a worth that is not there is to make something it is not, namely to place self on the pedestal of supremacy.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying go around being a Debby-Downer nor am I implying your need to have no confidence. Confidence is extremely important, but not confidence in whom we are, will be, or have been, but rather confidence in the person and work of Jesus.

This wisdom we are given of God, this Bible we have to read doesn’t only teach us about God, it teaches us about ourselves. It is an infallible inerrable living document (and by living I do not mean changing) and is continuously showing us ourselves as in comparison to God.

Therefore it is crucial to know who God is to better understand yourself. I would submit that you may have a good idea of who you are outside of the knowledge of God but you will never truly know yourself unless you are pitted against your Creator. For in this God given action of knowing God there is the deep and abiding realization of your need for a Savior, the passion to be joy filled, and the hope to endure all things.

So to know oneself is to better understand God; to know God is the root of knowing oneself. Their intertwining is deep and the root of the two must eventually become one for the believer, it is, at least, the groaning we feel somewhere near our heartstrings.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Timing Fight

“Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:42

No time for training; no time for development; no time for baptism. He had no time for understanding the deep Theological nuances of the faith, no time to proclaim this gospel boldly to others, no time to read the Bible. Only enough time to die. Simple (and by simple I mean miraculous) belief was all that saved this man.

Just as Paul informed the Galatians as to the foolishness of their striving to be accepted rather than their striving from (or because of) acceptance so it is here. Nothing may be or can be added to this one unassailable fact: “It is finished.” Not it is finished but you need to do a wee more, not it is finished but you need to pray the prayer but simply and astoundingly just, “It is finished.”

And it remains so now for us. There has been no special revelation to the Church to begin to earn your salvation (and the likelihood of that happenings is zilch). As if the world full of iPhones and iPads and cars could change the message and reality of Jesus’ finished work.

Either there is belief or unbelief, belief being the understanding of the finality of Jesus’ work, and unbelief being the since of legalistic religion, trying to earn or gain the position of acceptance. On the one side is the understanding of striving because you’ve been loved the other side is to work for (to gain) that love – which is an altogether sad story.

Fight to believe the work as done. Cling to the hope that Jesus is sufficient for salvation. Strive to see the cross as wonderful. Press on to know this God of Victory. For, “My God has broke the serpent’s teeth, and death has lost it sting.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Literary Things

I finished reading the Harry Potter series over the weekend, and then I promptly began reading Dracula (you know just reading books pop-Christianity has damned at some point but are now classics) at the recommendation of a good friend. But back on the track of Harry Potter I wish to relay something, something that I feel, rather know to be truer than the weird legalism that tells people certain books send you to hell if you read them.

"Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, &, above all, those who live without love."

Love. We over use the word to be sure. In Harry Potter it is the only thing, which kills Voldemort (Ahhh! I said his name!). In The Count of Mounte Cristo love is the only thing that keeps Edmond Dantes from carrying out his revenge (Yea, the movie screwed that up bad). In A Tale of Two Cities love is what presses Sydney Carton to be executed in the place of Darnay saying, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” In the Christian narrative the thing that brings about the end of Satan, sin, and death is the love of God. “For God so loved the world…”

This ethereal thing, this love, is powerful, in literature it proves to be the downfall of the antagonist; in Christianity it presses God to save man; and in life we are pushed to give up dreams and fight for those we love. To sacrifice and compromise to see the good of another carried out.

But more than these nifty little things it must be highlighted that love is the reason God saves anyone. Yet we expect it to be love for us, when reality speaks to the love of himself being the cause for redemption. Egomaniacal? Yes, thank God. ‘Cause if God is to be God he must worship what is most worthy of worship and if God is most worthy of worship then he must worship God or prove to be in contrast to his own law of idolatry.

Pity those who live without love. Pity because there is no power, no hope, and no joy. Pity because there is nothing more exquisite than love. Pity because the love of God has proven, will prove, and is proving itself to be the end of the fall.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Legalism Vs. Discipline

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Galatians 3:1-3

This would be the Paul-getting-all-up-in-some-Galatian’s-faces passage. Twice he calls them foolish and twice he asks them a rhetorical question to help them further understand their ludicrous thinking as ludicrous (no, not the rapper). Yet more often than not these words rip directly into my heart, into my thinking, into my actions.

I would guess the majority of us struggle deeply with that fine line between self-discipline and religious legalism. Having our ‘lists’ so neatly centered in our brains so when they are transgressed by someone, anyone else we are appalled at their actions. Or the opposite, of fighting so hard against lists so when someone tries to dictate a certain truth to you your gut reaction is to punch them in the face rather than listen.

But before the ideals of self-discipline may come to bear on our lives we must first understand (and by understand I mean if we don’t get it the rest fails) it is the Spirit who enables faith and it is the Spirit who is perfecting (sanctifying, redeeming) us.

Now, in all our self-discipline if it is placed on the shoulders of others rather than left to being SELF-discipline we have made it a religious legalism. Also, when we start to see discipline in terms of ‘have to’ rather than ‘get to’ it becomes religious legalism. Lastly, when we start to see discipline as more important than Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection, we’ve made our discipline our functional savior… a functional savior to hang ourselves with.

Have we begun in the Spirit to now be perfected by the flesh? Did we receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? These are the questions we must ask ourselves often, though our motivations can nor never will save us our motivations must be thoroughly examined, indeed we must learn to have quick minds. For in the course of life, or even just a day, we strive (because of the work of the Spirit) to be found in Jesus to the glory of God. Because He is our joy, not our actions or our intentions, Jesus, He is and can only ever be the one who saves us, completes us, and gives us true lasting joy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hell & Heaven

“They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.” 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10

Do you have those verses you love but forget you love them until you read them again, or is that just me? This particular one, when brought up, I love to read then I’ll sit there and go, “how did I forget how much I love this text?!?” It, this verse, shows us a few many things.

First, the punishment of unbelievers, “They,” means, “… who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thess 1:8)” Inside this punishment is the constant continual action of eternal destruction. Which means it goes on for eternity (true story). This is not unclear; this is not guesswork on the meaning of a word. ‘Eternal’ means eternal and ‘destruction’ means Frick-this-is-hell. In modern vernacular, it’ll freaking suck! So arguing the semantics of the ‘end of hell’ is about as illogical as wondering if McDonalds is healthy for every meal.

Second, the part I love to read with vigor, “… When he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who believed…” ‘Glorified… marveled at,’ he’s not saving us because we are worthy of redemption; he’s not saving us because he is so head-over-heels in love with his creation; he is saving us because he loves himself and loves us enough to give us what is vastly more gorgeous than all things, he loves us enough to give us himself!

Let’s not mix any meanings here, there will be and is Hell, it’ll be eternal; it’ll be awful. But the juxtaposition is just as unimaginable, to glory in God and to marvel at Him, AKA Heaven. I say this all not to tout the I-want-to-scare-you-into-belief doctrine, but to simply go, we must deal with Scripture and when verses like this pop up we must understand them in relation to the whole Scriptural narrative. Hell (God’s vengeance on sin) is real, yet Heaven (Glorying in and marveling at God) is just as real.

“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thess. 1:11-2

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Victim Vindicated

“Somewhere in this wretched tale there must be line where the victim gets his way just one time.” (NEEDTOBREATHE)

The villain seems to be treacherously strong. Knowing that he’s beaten but seeing him destroy and attempt to usurp the throne he’s wanted for so long. Evil is everywhere. The days are evil, the times they are fallen. People seem to be falling at the edge of his sword with every glance in every direction.

Friends are consumed with substances and bottles; roommates strive to be made whole by a pitiful boy; students are herded through massive rooms and taught anti-truths that seemingly look like truth but won’t stand the test of reality outside the classroom. Deism is the new Christian. And Jesus is not the point of faith in many spheres.

So who’s the victim? Are we the victims in the sense of being the ones surrounded by the vast broken of the world? Is God the victim because his name is the one defamed? Are the people in these pitiable plights the one’s victimized?

I’d offer we are the victims, but nothing is technically happening to us. I’d say the people in the situations are the victims, but often times the reason they’re there is their own volition or their own provocation. I’ll submit that God is the victim and that is what is true.

“But if God is the victim then how can he be God? A weak God is no God. Christians are sorely inconsistent.” might be some thoughts (and quite frankly I wrestled with this as I wrote up there). Here is my reasoning: God is the one being directly ‘sinned’ against. While I see my friends suffer and while my friends suffer he is the one against whom the sinning is done, “Against you, you only, have I sinned
 and done what is evil in your sight.” (Psalm 51:4)

He will vindicate his name (Rom12:19). He will judge the quick and the dead (2 Thess 1:5-12). He will save the redeemed (John 17). He will put death to death and right all wrongs; he will catch the tear and uplift the broken. He will comfort the mourner and give his kingdom to the righteous (Matt 5:2-12).

The victim will get his way, the line in the tale reads, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Rom 11:36)”

Shakespeare Will Always be a Difficult Read (again)

(I repost this one - again - cause it gets me every time)

There is much I do not understand. Much that will always remain a mystery. Much that I will always marvel at with childlike awe; much that will consume my attention for an amount of time that I’ll never know because I am transfixed; much will always be unattainable for this mind to grasp.

But beauty remains there, even in the mysterious. It is rapturous, a sunrise or sunset. Though they’ve happened from the beginning of time we still marvel at them. Every night the sun goes down and the colors shock; every morning the sun comes up and the cool gentile radiance warms us. The stars circling in the heavens on a clear night and in the outskirts of Wichita they are nearly indistinguishable from each other. The smile of a baby, the warmth of a dear hug, the love of a mother, the tenderness of a good father, the smell of a new (or really old) book all of these things are beautiful. But even beauty I will never fully know.

I will never behold with my own eyes the depths of the seas. I will never see the sunrise from the moon. I will never fully understand the love of Picasso. I will never fully grasp the depth of Mozart and Bach. I will never savor the full goodness of French cuisine. I will never fully gain an intimate eloquence with the English (or any) language and Shakespeare will always be a difficult read. But I feel I know something.

Rather I feel I know some things. I concur with John Newton, “I know only two things, that I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” This is all I will ever know for certain. Though the constellations will change and the sun cease to rise and set in due time, this one fact remains completely unassailable. Jesus Christ came to save sinners.

All my ranting and raving and kicking and screaming will not change it. All my looking to something or someone else to save me will not change it. All my hatred of this idea of me being fraught with sin cannot change it. All the sophisticated ethical debates I can conjure up against this idea cannot change it. It remains completely the same and has so for centuries and ages and will for eternity (past and future). Jesus Christ saves sinners.

I feel that all beauty and all radiance and all splendors may be lumped together and it would be incomparable to the sheer beauty of these two knowable things that Jesus Christ saves sinners. Though tears run freely at this thought and though the stars shine for this one purpose and though the trees raise their arms for this one purpose and though the sun sets and rises for this one purpose it does not compare to the simple idea that Jesus Christ came to save sinners.

Though our sin runs deeper than we’ll ever know Jesus’ finished work runs deeper. Though our curse is our nature Jesus’ nature is our new nature. Though our righteousness is as filthy rags Jesus’ righteousness is given to us. Though we can never pay this debt back we are seen as paid for.

“I know only two things, that I am a great sinner and Christ is a great[er] Savior.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crazy Big Stuff

God is the gospel. It gets said a bunch around our church. It gets explained just as often. However, it is what we cling to – the gospel – and therefore we must press ourselves in every aspect of our lives to have a deep and abiding understanding and passion for this God who is our good news.

For as the illustrations of the life preserver was used yesterday so too is it applicable today (& not just cause it’s cloudy and drippy as I’m writing this). All our life and all our eternity depend on this one thing, this one bit of news. Yet we so often forget our hope, our joy and our God.

It’s a pivotal idea, really, to think that God saved us for Himself, not for our own good, but for Himself. Scripture is replete with passages speaking about God’s redemption of man for his own glory. (A personal favorite is Isaiah 48:9-11.) But more often than not we catch ourselves spiraling downward into thoughts of personal greatness because we’ve been redeemed (maybe that’s just me – but I doubt it.)

But here it remains; Jesus came to glorify the Father in the redemption of sinners (in other words, God came to glorify God in the redemption of sinners). We’re not the center of the universe, we’re not the center of the world, we’re not even the center of God’s plan, God is the center of God’s plan. He must be.

If God is to be God then He must worship that which is most worthy of worship, namely himself; if however He turns to worship man then He is not God and therefore cannot be good and thus must not be worshiped by us.

God is the gospel. He has wooed us and saved us to himself, for himself and by himself. So it is before this God we worship one who is so far above and beyond our thoughts so as to make us feel tiny in comparison, yet who stooped to love us and give us the greatest possible thing in all of creation (and out of creation), He gave us himself.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vacation Thoughts (pt. 2)

1. Breckenridge, Colorado will be the closest to heaven some people will ever get.

2. NorthFace, Chaco's, & the latest & best climbing gear will never save a man... Neither will his intentions.

3. God bring me a godly wife.

4. Rest, rest, rest God us in control, trust him, hide in him.

5. Hey Matt, Chad, & Dave, I finished my meal!

6. This time change crap is weird & messing with my eating habits.

7. From now on the warmth of the sun will & should remind me of the embrace of a loving Father.

8. The Church is an odd organism.

9. I'm ready to do my call.

10. One wreck can quite literally & effectively shut down a large portion of Denver.

11. Home has nothing do with the place, but rather the people.

12. My bladder can last one (1) full gas tank.

13. Kansas gives out free coffee when you cross the state line.

14. People with NASCAR stickers should always be driving faster than me.

15. I find the big pictures of (or about) Jesus on the side of the road creepy & ineffective.

16. I successfully navigated Denver & three other towns in the mountains, but Newton is a screwy little town.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Vacation Thoughts (pt. 1)

Just got back from my trip to Colorado. These are some of the thoughts that ran through my head while gone. I wrote them down 1) cause I write everything 2) cause they could be beneficial to others & 3) cause I'm odd like that. Some are serious most are random, enjoy!

1. Construction, you stupid

2. I can sing as loudly as I want... Wherever I want.

3. Small town folks stare at you funny when you have a deep v tee-shirt on.

4. I bought Funyuns with my subway sandwich cause no one will whine about my breath or the smell of them stinking up the car, ‘cept me.

5. My antenna killed a butterfly.

6. If I were a pastor in Western Kansas church discipline would involve high noon, a saloon fight, & six shooters.

7. There's a sign for a Denver Restaurant outside of Hays, Kansas further illustrating the void of nothingness in Western Kansas.

8. I crossed the state line... Where's the mountains?!?

9. Are those clouds or mountains?

10. To get to heaven (the mountains) you have to go through hell (Denver traffic).

11. I hate & love the word nostalgia.

12. The Civil Wars is great mountain music.

13. Bon Iver is perfect Harry Potter reading music.

14. If you speak sarcasm fluently you're accepted in Kansas, but everywhere else they just don't get it. True story.

15. People look at you funny when you're eating alone.

16. It's 45 degrees, time to put up your creepy napkin sized shorts. K? Good.

17. A babbling mountain stream will always be more beautiful than my most favorite guitar solos, singers, or banjo players.

18. Why is it that leaving helps you find yourself more in Christ than staying in the familiar?

19. If it wasn't for money I'd do this more often.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

5 Questions I Need Input On

This weekend I’ll be headed up to the mountains to do some lovely resting, relaxing and all around chillaxing! Thus, there will not be a post on the blog(inator) this Friday or next Monday, which means the 12 of you that read this will need to find some other source of entertainment for the five minuets it takes to read these puppies.

However, I’ve some questions, which might be beneficial for others to read and grapple with too. So here they are:

1) Is spiritual depression a sin?

2) Is one who suffers from Spiritual depression a, “very poor representative of the Christian faith? (Martin Lloyd Jones)”

3) When it comes to this matter – spiritual depression – what thoughts are given to Jesus being, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief?”

4) What about the prophets? What about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? What about David and Solomon? Did they deal with spiritual depression?

5) Mountains or beach?

Now, I’m serious when I say, I want your answers if you’re willing to give them. So either leave them as a comment (anonymous if you’d like) or e-mail to me here:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stingless Death

“My God, how many are my fears
How fast my foes increase
Conspiring my eternal death
They break my fleeting peace.
Arise, Oh Lord, fulfill your grace
While I your glory sing;
My God has broke the serpent’s teeth
And death has lost his sting.”

Death is unknown to us, and reasonably so, for none who has traveled it successfully has returned to tell of the subtle nuances of it. In many respects it is the final journey. Faced alone. “Alone into the unknown.”

But imagine this, for those who are believing the gospel, the burdens shouldered for their entire life will be finally removed on those other shores of eternity. The weight of sin rid of completely. The thorn in the side ultimately eliminated.

The fears and the foes, which increase, those conspirators of death, usurpers of peace have been beaten back to the gates of hell, and will be forever locked in the depths of their ‘kingdom’ for the serpent’s teeth are broken and death has lost it’s sting.

Though the flesh may fail our Jesus did not. Though the heart might faultier our Rock remains firm. For God will give the poor in spirit his Kingdom; comfort to the mourner; the earth to the meek; righteousness to those who thirst for it; mercy for the merciful; himself to the pure in heart; & his kingdom to the persecuted. He is & must forever be the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. He is enough. He is good. (Ps 73:23-26; Matt 5:1-12)

“But you my glory and my strength
Will on my tempter tread
Will silence all my threatening guilt
And raise my drooping head.”

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ripped from the Journal: One

“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” Luke 21:17

Hated for the sake of Jesus, for his name’s sake. Too often we’re reviled as believers not because of Jesus’ name but because we’re judgmental prigs or Theological throat cutters.

We’re hated because we’re jerks. Rather than living lives of love we’re living lives of I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong-and-going-to-hell-for-it.

Hell is real and important but as finite individuals we’re not capable or are we ever commanded to damn anyone or make definitive statements about other people’s salvation. It’s a big enough deal to, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” rather than trying to work out everyone else’s too.

But in the end, whether you’ve been believing since you were five or just started believing at 55 or are far from belief the fact remains true, we all need the gospel. The message will not or should not change. What is effective at saving dead men is effective at feeding the living.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Hidden Hide

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’” Psalm 91:1-2

I was at a conference last week where one of the speakers spoke (odd, right?) about hiding in God. At first thoughts it sounds like a cheesy Christianise statement, some cliché thought up for the Kindergarten Sunday School class in 1992. But the depth of it is mineable, so mineable in fact that one could mine the aspect of hiding in God for one’s life and never run dry.

At least that’s the thought.

For the flight back I had bought “A Greif Observed” by C.S. Lewis (because the only seventh Harry Potter book the store had was a hardback brick and errbody know my arms are little) wherein he begins to talks about the door being slammed and double bolted in his face when he needs God most.

I’ve felt that, have you? Even though I don’t believe God to ever be silent, I’ve experienced a seeming utter silence. When shouting only compounds the void.

Lewis goes on further in the book to recount the locked door again by saying it was his own cries that drowned out the answer, his own forceful hammerings that caused the small whisper to be lost.

That might be true. But it may be as simple as we don’t want him to answer. Even in our desperate need, with as many pure motives as possible there is still sin. Sin which reviles the shadow of the Almighty because, “I don’t want to live in anyone’s shadow.” Or, “I don’t need to hide, I’m a man.”

Which leads me to the verse I want emblazoned on everything everywhere, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Climbing Tree

I have a tree and no it’s not the one in my front yard. It’s my, “Climbing Tree,” tucked away nicely in Riverside Park, it’s a big birch tree (and now that I’ve told you, you can’t go steal it, ok? Good.).

Perfect for climbing or sitting at its base and thinking. I’ve been finding myself there often lately. It’s a true statement to say the tree has seen me cry more than most people. It’s also seen me laugh a whole dang lot (my mind is kinda odd… if you didn’t already catch that little factoid).

Which brings me to my point. Suffering or pain or misunderstanding whatever vocabulary you’d like to chuck its way. And on top of it joy, ‘cause I think joy is misunderstood to mean happiness. But I don’t think joy means feeling happy, no; I don’t believe that by any stretch of the imagination.

What I mean is this: In the midst of misunderstanding the circumstances I am in complete understanding (and more than that, believing) the reality of the gospel. So in loss recognizing the vast gain found on the treasure of the gospel. Or in pain realizing the comfort found in the refuge of Jesus.

Joy is understanding your eternity is secure. Not as seeing your circumstances as painful. Oh though they might be more painful than you’ve ever felt before, and all the crushing weight of fear and the unknown come washing over you like some torrent of needles… Joy is planted in the heart so firmly so as to be the roots of faith.

But these lyrics ring true, “Soon shall close the earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days, hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.”


Broken and dirty,
Bare and laid out,
Everything inside us is filthy and tainted by the profusion of our sinful hearts.
We’re unable and dispassionate,
Shattered by the fall we need you.

We need you to be Creator,
To create new hearts within us;
We need you to Promise,
To covenant with us;
We need you to be Listener,
To hear the cries of our affliction;
We need you to be Priest,
To perform our religion;
We need you to be King,
To reign in our hearts;
We need you to be Prophet,
To declare your Truth;
We need you to be the God-Man,
To bear our penalty;
We need you to be crucified,
To bear your wrath;
We need you to live,
To be our intercessor;
We need you to be Avenger,
To conquer our enemies;
We need you to be Warrior,
To slay our adversaries,
We need you to be our God;
This is what we will need forever and always.

More than self-help, self-awareness, self-efficacy, self-pity, self-confidence, self-glory, or any other hyphenated self-word you can toss out,
We need God to be God.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ripped from the Journal: Crying Stones

"I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out." Luke 19:40

Their very redemption was at hand. The stones could feel their purpose riding by; knowing their groaning had been heard by their maker & they were soon to be remade. Renewal from corruption; freedom from sins; the curse turned upon it's head and the world to be right once more.

It is the same for those who've heard their Master's call. The once stone hearts have become living flesh and are singing the glories of their King. The very stones are crying out in adoration to the Redeemer.