This day in history

I’m terrible about remembering important dates.

One month after getting married, guess who forgot his new bride’s birthday? Yep.

One year ago today, on May 17th 2008, I rose from my bed and walked to the bathroom. I looked into the mirror and noticed something new. In numbers far too many to ignore were distinctly white stubble on my chin. I thought to myself, “It’s May 17th. This will forever be the day I got white stubble on my chin.”

For some reason known to no one, THAT date stuck.

Same old song and dance.

*A disclaimer of sorts:
When I clicked “Publish Post” after finishing this one, it felt messy and undone. I published it anyway.


I’ve been following Jesus for a while now.

Sometimes from a distance.

Somtimes it looks more like “Where’s Waldo”, when I get lost in the busyness of life’s demands and I just plain lose track of Jesus. Where He went, what He’s doing, and how I fit into it.

And in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, I’ll tell you that these thoughts you’re about to read were spurred by a blog I recently read. You can find it here. If you’ve got the time, read it and come back here.

You back? Good.

I recently had a great conversation with my boss. Now, to my knowledge, he doesn’t read my blog so it’s okay for me to say that I really like this guy, and its not considered brown-nosing. Right?

One of the things we were talking about was the Church. And just so we’re clear, when I say “Church”, I’m referring to the worldwide collection of Bible-believing, Jesus-following, counter-culture, blessing people wherever they go, children of God. And when I say “God”, I’m referring to the Creator of everything we see, every galaxy, every planet, every star, every tree, every mountain, every person. I’m referring to the God of Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and Jacob. The God they call “Yahweh”. That’s the God I love, serve, and live for.

The Church is God’s vehicle for His message of forgiveness to the world. The problem is, the Church has historically spoken from a pedestal. Therefore, the message has been discredited. Not less true, just less heard. The other day I was listening to a song by Casting Crowns called “What this world needs”. There’s a brief part in the song where a few different people speak. With their words, they lament the condition of the Church today. Their conclusion seems to be that Jesus wants to save the world, and the best thing the Church can do is “get out of the way”. While I appreciate the direction from which these words are coming and certainly the good intentions with which they were spoken, they represent a flawed theology, if I can say it that way.

As I spoke with my boss that day, I remember saying (and I still believe it) that if the Church (re-read defintion above) actually behaved the way we should, there would be no need to any other charity organization. No homeless missions. No Salvation Army. No Meals-On-Wheels. No World Vision. None of those organizations would have come to be if the Church lived out its Christ-given mandates to their fullest.

In case you’ve never heard the song I mentioned, I’m throwing it in for free.

The truth is, the Church IS the vehicle for God’s message of forgiveness, for grace, for unconditional love, for a movement of people who not only live to bless humanity, but will not allow that “silent witness” to be enough. And while the packaging might and should change, the content will never. The message of Jesus is the only answer that addresses the question that is indelibly asked by every human soul, no matter what their confession.

So, while “go to church” sounds responsible or nice or even “American” in some places, “be the Church God envisioned and instructed from its birth” sounds a lot more compelling. The thing is, there is not one without the other. There is no movement of God apart from the people God inhabits. And those people, those redeemed, we who are “called out” ought never to communicate anything but love, compassion, and mercy. Not judgment, not condescension, not malice, not hatred, not political correctness. We simply bless. First in deed, then in words. This was Jesus’ life and how He treated us. And so we must treat all people likewise.

Now, I don’t like it when people say “Now, I know what you’re thinking….” and then proceed to tell me what I’m supposedly thinking. So, I’m not going to do that. I’m simply going to ask what you’re thinking. Is what I’ve written here even worth responding to? What thoughts have surfaced in your mind as you’ve read this blog post? I’d love to hear them.

Spam….Please Reply!

In the past week, there’s been an influx of junk email in my office computer. I think the people that do our technical stuff made some adjustments to some thingy-muh-jigger and it has temporarily let in some spam.

Spam isn’t all bad. Well…most of it is. The only spam I think I like is the kind my Mom used to make, diced and stirred together with diced potatoes and fried in a skillet. Mmmmm. Spam.

But today I got a piece of spam email that just made me laugh; and the funny thing is I never opened it. The subject line read: “Spam, Please Reply!”

In just those three words, the sender let me know that they were sending me unsolicited garbage as well as a genuine plea to respond to it! Deleted.

Are we able to see the enemy’s schemes so easily? We should be able to, if we’re “walking by the Spirit” as Paul instructs us to do. But I’m continually saddened to hear about people falling for Satan’s pathetically predictable, and yet all too effective traps. They come in all flavors: dishonesty, pride, laziness, fearfulness, gossip, hatred, addiction, pornography, infidelity…the list goes on and on. But they all boil down to one thing: me getting what I want because that’s what I want.

But we’re told in God’s Word that not only can we escape the snares and traps of the evil one, but that we can live victoriously continually. What stops me? Vacancy. When temptation comes along (sometimes it seems non-stop), and it gives way to sin, its only because I have left room for it in my spirit. In one way or another, I’ve decided either instantly or over time to carve a niche for the devil to offer suggestions.

This issue used to be called “Lordship”, but I don’t hear that word much anymore. Giving Jesus Lordship means that He is in and over and empowering and guiding every area of my mind, thoughts, heart, and actions. Not in a robotic sense or in a way a puppeteer pulls the strings of the marionette, but in a way that is only brought about by my will fully surrendered to His will.

Surrender fully to God and Satan won’t have any room to work. He’ll try until he dies, but that’s only because he’s that stubborn. And when I’m that stubborn in wanting and living for my own way, I’m actually emulating the character of the devil. Yikes. Got to chew on that one for a while. That one’s tough to get down.

So, I pray that I’ll have the mind and eyes of Christ next time Satan dangles some bait in my face. I pray that we’ll be able to see it for the garbage that it is. And……deleted.

"And I’d like to thank the Academy…"

My son Crews got a new Bible last week. It was a gift from the church we attend; they give a new Bible to all the 3rd graders. Pretty neat tradition.
He had a Bible we had gotten him, but apparently favored his new one, so today he gave his “old” one to his younger sister. Again, pretty neat.

Tonight, while my wife was tucking the boys in bed, Crews prayed thanking God for this and that, and right in the middle of his prayer said, “And I want to thank myself for giving Macy my old Bible.”

What a kid.

Realizing you’ve done a good thing doesn’t take the spotlight from God. I think in many ways it can help us keep the spotlight ON God. And besides, I’d dare say that God is proud of Crews giving his little sister his used Bible. I know I am.

I’m thinking about a tattoo.

Take a look at the title of this blog post. Depending on how well you know me, you might be surprised to read those words. And while its true that I’m currently thinking about a tattoo, please note that I left a significant word out: “getting”. It’s what we’d call the “operative” word; and its missing. So, relax. Especially if you’re my Mom.

I decided to write about tattoos today because it came up in our most recent small group discussion. Normally I wouldn’t write about things discussed in confidence, but everyone there seemed pretty open and one person there (don’t worry Rob, I won’t mention your name) even suggested that I write about it on my blog. So here I am.

The questions ranged from “Are tattoos right for Christians?” to “What kind of tattoo would you get?” And the way I see it, there’s one word that answers both questions: painful.

The truth is, tattoos have been a painful topic of division among some Christians. I’ve had interns and volunteers alike that have been tattooed. I’ve had co-pastors that have been tattooed. And for the most part, they all love Jesus and follow Him closely everyday. No bones of contention from me, that’s for sure. But I also want to acknowledge that there are other Jesus followers who also love the Lord and would shout loud and long that a tattoo has no place on a Christian. Fair enough.

And if I were leaning one way or another (I’m not), I’d have to default to my background and upbringing. I was raised in what would be considered a conservative Christian home. Getting a tattoo never entered my consciousness; not even in my “rebellious” phase. The only tattoo allowed in my home was the short one that rang the bell and shouted “Da plane! Da plane!”

But still, one should never take for granted what one was taught/told/expected to believe. One should at some point (hopefully sooner than later) understand what God says about any given issue on one’s mind. Therein lies the bottom line.

So, is it right or wrong for a Christian to have a tattoo? The simple answer: Yes. Before I get into that, I’d like to create a side door out of this blog for anyone who might be done with it. Here’s a question to ask: Can someone have a tattoo and STILL love Jesus passionately, follow Him whole-heartedly, share Him with others unreservedly, and go to heaven fearlessly? My answer? Yes.

Okay, for those who are done, thanks for stopping by. Hope you’ll come back soon!

Now for those who want more, there are other questions to ask: After exhaustively reading what God’s Word says, can I get tattooed with a clear conscience before God? (Based on my study, God’s Word speaks to tattoos in the Old Testament in the context of pagan practices, and says nothing about tattoos in the New Testament.) Am I getting a tattoo out of a faith-filled desire to draw close to God or am I getting it to draw attention to myself? What is the evidence? How does my heart and God’s Spirit within me lead me in this decision? Will a tattoo cause a weaker brother or sister in Christ to stumble?

I also think its important to recognize 2 schools of thought here; that is, 2 distinct different types of Christians. I am not meaning to oversimplify, but just bear with me.

There is one group of Christians that would have their stance summed up in Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:23: “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” Essentially these would say “Lighten up. Jesus didn’t die for this argument. There are more important things to think about than tattoos.” And that’s true.

There is another group of Christians that would have their stance summed up in Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” And essentially these would say, “We belong to God, and so don’t have the right to mark ourselves up with ink, especially when it puts us closer in line with what the world says is okay. We need to be different in every way possible.” And that’s true, too.

I’m not trying to be diplomatic, but I’m also not trying to make a case. The truth is, tattoos are what we call “disputable matters”. For more on that, read Romans 14. But as for me, I’m going to simply ask this question: “What brings glory to God in my life?”

Starting a book

In these interesting economic times, there is a reported return to the library. Seinfeld once described the library as that pathetic chilhood friend you had that will let you borrow his toys if you’ll just be his friend.

I was meeting with my boss the other day and he suggested a book. And wouldn’t you know it? The good ‘ol library came through for me. And not only did I score a free copy (for a month) of the book I was looking for, but I got more than that too. (Have you ever gone to the library and walked to the check out counter with so much stuff in your arms that you wonder if they’re actually going to let you check out this much stuff?) I also found a documentary dvd on Bruce Lee. Did you know that Bruce Lee’s punches were so fast that filmmakers had to actually slow the film down in order to see them? When I heard that I wondered, “what else don’t I know about Bruce Lee?”

Another book I picked up is titled “The Big Moo”. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss, but it was actually in the leadership/business section. Which, ironically enough is right next to the “religion” section. Coincidence? I’ll be sure to ask Mr. Dewey next time I run into him.

So, I’ve got my books and a couple dvds and before even leaving the library I crack open The Big Moo and begin to read. Instantly enjoyable, my mind is engaged and I think to myself, “Wow, I can’t wait to get some time to read more of this.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve thought that and yet never finished the book…well….I’d probably have at least a dollar. And in today’s economy, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Case in point: When I was at the library last week I picked up “UnChristian”. I’ve gotten a ways into that one, but not even half way yet. It’s been days since I’ve picked it up. In fact, I’m not entirely sure where it is. You see? Starting a book is fun and exciting. Finishing a book? Well, that takes some doing. And then to finish a book with the same fervor with which you started it? That’s just downright rare.

I’ll try and remember to follow this post up with my opinion on the book I finish. Which book? Good question. Stay tuned to find out who held my attention for the long haul.


If you happen to be a “Fiddler on the Roof” fan, then the title of this post might mean something to you. If not…well, sorry.

Traditions are powerful things. Much of our society and daily life is based on traditions. Take clapping for example. When we’re in a crowd and that crowd sees something it likes or appreciates, they applaud. What I’d like to know is: when did clapping start? I mean, who first had the thought, “When I like something, I’m going to bang these two extremities together to show my joy.” Anyone know where clapping originated? It’s a funny tradition if you think about it.

One tradition in my family that we participated in this morning was cake for breakfast. Whenever anybody in our family has a birthday, we all eat cake for breakfast and have a party to start off the day. It’s a tradition that we all love and is there any better way to begin a day? And whoever’s birthday it is gets to pick where we go out to dinner. No surprise here…we’re going to Chuck E. Cheese tonight for some sub-standard pizza and mind-numbing games. And who decided that the tunnels and ballpits should be shrunk down to a corner of the restaurant and replaced with a sea of video games?!? I mean, c’mon! Chuck has lost his roots! But I digress.

Tradition is even a big part of most (if not all) religious practices. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a “religious” person; at least not the way the average person would define “religious”. But I do see that as followers of Christ there are “traditions” that we hold very dear, and rightfully so. Things like celebrating Jesus’ birth, revelling in His resurrection, and celebrating the Day of Pentecost, to name just a few.

All these traditions are great things, and ought to be observed to their fullest!

However, tradition can sometimes have a “down” side. But honestly when tradition turns to “rut”, it ceases to be tradition. Traditions help us keep close those things that we hold dear. Ruts are nothing more than repeating what has become meaningless.

Are there “ruts” in your life, and specifically spiritual ruts? Has going to “The Mixx” become a “rut” that you’re in? Are there habits that aren’t what God wants for you, but you feel stuck in them like a rut? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Thanks for digging deep!