Thursday, December 17, 2015

Moving my blog

I'm moving my blog over to WordPress and dividing it in two:

Far, far better things - a blog on my thoughts about God and being a believer

A Dad's Misery - a blog dealing with the loss of my son, Caleb.

I think having these two themes separate will be really good for my writing process. There are obviously huge overlaps - as all life and death are in God's hands - but the tone of each will be separate.

So feel free to check them out. Thanks for reading.

Be blessed,

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Quoting Jesus

Starting November 2015, I will start quoting Jesus in my FB journal. This shouldn't be a big deal, but I think it is. 

Jesus is a difficult person to deal with. 

He's both compelling and repelling at the same time. 

I guess God should be that way. I want to get near him, as he's the source of everything. I want to stay away from him, as what he asks of us is really challenging, even frightening.

After Israel saw God speak to Moses, giving the ten commandments, they didn't want to get near him:
They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” 
Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” 
The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
I don't see myself as any different. I can easily quote authors like Lewis, Chesterton, Keller. Moses, David, Peter and even Paul don't pose anything that makes me so uncomfortable as Jesus. It's easy to keep him as a concept, not a person with words.

So I'll spend a while in the "thick darkness".

Friday, November 6, 2015

Three Years

It's been three years today since Caleb died. I miss him every day. It seems like it's been so long - a lifetime ago.

I'm so proud of Becky, Josh, Sam, and Nathan. Each of you have faced all of this openly, and tried to make some good come of it. I see compassion, commitment, and bravery all the time. As far as I'm concerned, you embody true faith and spirit. My hope is to always love you unconditionally, for who you are today, and in some small way to be like God.

I have found no healing or resolution in trying to understand why all this happened. I think it's good - and really hard - to explore my own guilt and contribution to it, but it doesn't seem to help me come to terms with anything.

For me, the only solution is to try do good to others with what I've learned.
I've learned God is there, right in the middle of the evil and the good. 
I've learned he cares a lot - about everyone, not just me. 
I've learned that his priorities and mine are not the same. I'm not even sure about what all of his are, and I'm still figuring out my own. 
I've learned that forgiveness is the only path that leads forward. Forgiving myself, Caleb, everyone around us - and God himself. 
I've learned that people are God's solution to most things. We are here for each other.

To all those who have walked with us in this - so many of you - I offer these words of Jesus as a form of appreciation:
Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, 
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in, 
I needed clothes and you clothed me, 
I was sick and you looked after me, 
I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 
“Then the righteous will answer him, 
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
(The book of Matthew, Chapter 25).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fighting Writing

I have had the desire, but no energy to write for quite a while. The committee in my head is in a constant argument about it - and I've finally decided to get back at it.

A. W. Tozer: Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.

What I really need to write about is grief, loss, survival, bravery, the testing of faith - all light and energizing topics. It wears me out to think about doing it, let along actually writing something. But I feel called to it, that there is purpose in it, good in it. I believe God is in it. 

This isn't what I would have chosen to spend my time on - it was chosen for me. I feel a little bit like Jonah, asked to go to a place he didn't want to go, so he ran the other way. Running the other way seems very attractive, but I'll try not to do that.

Jesus said: The Kingdom of God will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Great Trees

C.S. Lewis: They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.

Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived - the things God has prepared for those who love him...

What will we be in the future life?

I think we will be like great trees - and here we are only seeds.

We now only hold the essence of who we will be, in the same way a seed holds all the DNA of a giant redwood tree.

I think I'm often in error in the way I consider life in "heaven" (the harbor, the garden, a place of safety). Mostly I think of it as small, as limited, as flat, as black-and-white. In reality, it's huge and complex and endless - and I will grow to embrace it more and more throughout eternity.

For now, I'm just a seed that's cracked open, buried in the ground - trying to reach the surface. In the next life, I will spring to the surface and grow to be a great tree. At present, I can only feel God's light from below ground, through a shell. I will grow, "spread out my leaves", and absorb his presence millions of times beyond what I do now.

God, I look forward to the day I break through the ground into the light.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Forgiveness, Again

C.S. Lewis: The real trouble about the duty of forgiveness is that you do it with all your might on Monday and then find on Wednesday that it hasn't stayed put and all has to be done over again.

For me forgiveness isn't an event - it's a practice, a discipline, a religious routine.

At the core of my need to continually do it, is the realization that without focus and care, my soul is constantly subject to decay. Anything I achieved in my spiritual life yesterday is just that - in the past. Jesus said each day has enough trouble of its own - I'm finding that to be true at many levels.

St. John Chrysostom: Nothing makes us so God-like as our willingness to forgive.

Jesus was really blunt about the requirement to forgive: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

I've posted about this before. I regularly think and pray about it. It makes me unsettled, even anxious sometimes - which may have been Jesus intent...

Matthew Chapter 18

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Rather than try to explain away the teaching of Jesus, I hope to continue to struggle with it, and embrace it.

I hope to always forgive as He forgave me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Doing What God Wants

Pay attention to the people God puts in your path if you want to discern what God is up to in your life.
- Henri Nouwen

Sometimes I think I know what God wants, other times I'm not so sure - and sometimes he writes it on the side of a bus and runs me over with it...

I got an email from someone yesterday. He said he needed my help - one of his employees had a son that died of suicide a month ago, and the man was having a very difficult time (who wouldn't?). He asked me if I would meet with the man to talk. I said I would.

I met with the unfortunate man today during lunch - and I saw myself two years ago: totally blindsided, in a dense fog, terrified of what will happen next. Every word, every thought, the smallest interaction hurts beyond description. Can't sleep and always tired. Immensely concerned for his wife and kids. Wanting to do something that makes sense. Not attempting to avoid the pain. He has entered hell, and there is no getting out of it any time soon.

Our sons both died on the same date - Nov 6. Go figure.

After we talked, I came home, sat on the couch and stared into space for a couple of hours. I cried for him, for me, for our sons, for the whole mess. I had entered back into my own fog for a while - its like a flashback. It wears me out.

After just meeting, I hope we become friends. I think it would be good for both of us.

One of the hardest parts of grief is the loneliness you feel most of the time. It won't be very long before most people will just look down at their feet when he mentions that his son died. They will think that they don't know what to say, so best just to stay quiet. What a terrible thing to think and do - to take an opportunity to connect, to build someone up, and instead leave someone feeling more isolated. I did that until two years ago.

When he tells me about pain and death, I will look him in the eye and ask him to tell me more. For just a short time, I will reenter the fog and maybe relieve his loneliness. I can't fix any of his problems - I don't expect him to want that. I can only suffer a little while with him. I can listen and let him know I care.

For me, maybe I can add some meaning to my own loss. Maybe I can do him good by just being around and talking once a week. I honestly want my grief to count for something - to hopefully make a difference in someone else's life. I've spent too much of my life being greedy with my spirit, not realizing it can't grow while I protect it.

So I think in this small area, I'm doing what God wants.

About three thousand years ago, the prophet Micah wrote: The Lord has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

I'm not very good at any of these. God help me.

Wednesdays | God is in control – My influence is weak 
- Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
- Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth

Sunday, November 30, 2014

No Defense for God

I believe that God is characterized by the "Omni's":

Omniscient - all knowing
Omnipresent - being everywhere at the same time
Omnipotent - unlimited power

I think everything is laid out before him - the largest galaxy and the smallest bug. I believe he knows our futures, our thoughts, our intentions.

So where is God when evil and disaster come? If he is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere - whether he "allows" something to happen or he "wills" it, it seems to me to fade into a useless argument.

In my view, we - I mean western christian culture - have tried to civilize God, to make him acceptable to "seekers", to make him approachable in hopes people will pursue him. While I think the intention might be good, I think trying to "clean him up" or edit his character is wrong. I see a civilized God as weak and not in control.

He doesn't need my protection or polishing. He doesn't need me to make excuses for what we would consider unacceptable behavior. He doesn't need me to defend him.

As I've said before, I'm not his peer. He owes me no explanations. I will not someday get the chance to ask him to justify why he allowed something or didn't take action. He is almighty, and I'm his creation.

I believe during the holocaust, the killing fields, the inquisition, the crusades, earthquakes, tornadoes, death, deformity, abuse, slavery, he is right in the middle of it. He has the power to stop all of it with the slightest inclination, and he chooses not to. I don't see him as a passive participant, ready to run in with comfort after the disaster. I see him as active in the terrible things as in the good.

He is not a weak God, unable to stop the horror. He intentionally lets it go on. If you look at the creation story, he instituted scarcity, pain and trouble.

His priorities are for the most part not my priorities. His ways of doing things are not the way I would do it.

All of this makes him to be a scary, even crazy supreme being from my point of view. When Jesus said to be afraid of God, I don't think it was intended as a euphemism.

So what is the justification for all of this? I'm not sure - but I believe this: He will stop at nothing to get our attention and connect with us. He will use everything - good and bad - to reach us for our eternal good. He used both the disciples - John and Judas - in his efforts to get us to see and hear him.

After God organized the death of Job's family, the destruction of his property and the injuring of his body, here was his response:
The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him! 
Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy - how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer - twice, but I will say no more.” 
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?
Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at all who are proud and bring them low, look at all who are proud and humble them, crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave.
Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you."
After quite a lot more instruction from God, Job gave his final answer:
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

For me to say I want nothing to do with this version God, is also to say I don't want anything to do with his love, compassion and forgiveness. He isn't made in the image I want, it's the other way around.

I see him as a compelling God, one that is powerful and in control. This God may give me things tomorrow to make me incredibly happy - or he may sacrifice my life for a greater purpose. I accept that. He is to be loved and feared - not just one or the other.

For me, this God is worth pursuing.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Two Years

Today, two years after Caleb died, there are so many things I could possibly write about. Where the first year was a year of misery, I think this past year was one of weariness of being very tired all the time.

I'm choosing to focus on my weekly prayer for the past two years. I pray about these things every Tuesday, as all this happened on that day. I actually set this process in motion a few weeks before Caleb died, not knowing what was coming - and I see the hand of God in it. (The original post about it)

This is what is important to me...

God, father in heaven - you are awesome, great, holy. Bring your kingdom here - connect with us, allow us to know you, see you, hear your voice.

Blessed are those who mourn - this is me, this is my family. Be with us.

God, bless Becky, Josh, Sam and Nathan. Forgive them for anything they have done wrong. Forgive them because you're a compassionate and loving God, not wanting to hold anything against us. Lighten their load if possible - take away any burdens of guilt and worry.

Thank you for Becky, her heart, her strength. She would do anything possible for our good, she is my example.

Thank you for Josh, his friendship, his honesty. He is a source of strength to me.

Thank you for Sam, her compassion, her goodness She is an encouragement to me.

Thank you for Nathan, his commitment, his insight. He brings me hope.

God, be kind and compassionate to them. Reward them for the good they have done to me and others. Reach out to them - I hope they can see you.

I hope only good comes to them. I hope their lives are filled with happiness, friendship and success.

If bad must come, I ask that it comes to me instead. I don't begin to understand how all this works, but if possible, I would take any pain and trouble from them on to myself. If that's not possible, be close to them in all they must go through.

Forgive me for all I've done wrong to them. Show me where I fail them - I hope I have the courage to change. Remind me often to be kind.

God, I miss Caleb every day. If possible, please tell him I love him, I miss him, I forgive him for all the pain, and I look forward to being with him again. Also, if possible, tell him I need his forgiveness for all I've done wrong. God, bless him - he sees you face to face.

As a family, give us the compassion and strength to reach out to those who are also in pain and loss. Make our home a place where people can come with their fear and doubt and be comforted. Make us like you.

Thank you for all the people who have been good to us, who have chosen to walk with us, not avoid our pain. I see you in them. There are too many to list here. I hope you reward them.

God, you are all powerful and all knowing, and you still chose to let death and pain enter into our family. You have also brought goodness and help. I don't understand most of this - but I have learned one thing: all this happens so that you would be known, and that we would reach out to you. To me, my family, our friends, those we have touched - make yourself known.

Tuesdays | God is building a people – My relationships are broken

- Your kingdom come

- Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

No Adjectives Left

Every so often I get to teach a kid's Sunday School class. I fill in for people when they can't make it, which works well with my schedule.

I have to admit I love teaching the kids. I like the prep time we get with the other teachers before we start, I like the lessons they teach the kids in "big group", and I really like the challenge of trying to communicate things out of God's word that will make sense to them in "small group". I often learn as much from the kids as I hope they learn from me.

For the past number of years I have tried to do these three things in class:
- Tell them that God loves them, and He wants them to be with him forever
- Tell them that I care about them and they are worth my time
- Have fun and laugh

I have added a fourth thing...

One Sunday about a year ago, I noticed I was having a difficult time explaining how much larger, greater, better God was then we are. Some of the kids were looking at me with that "I don't think you know what your talking about" look.

I tried something. I said to them, "Repeat after me, God is awesome." They easily repeated, "God is awesome." I then said, "... and I am not." About half of them repeated it, a few were quiet, and couple said, "that's not true, I'm awesome too."

For a couple of minutes, a 9 year old was trying to convince me that he inspires "awe" in those around him. 

So I tried, "God is great, and I am not." - and again I got mixed results, with an "I'm kinda great too." thrown in. 

God is wonderful...
God is fantastic...
God is infinite...

I didn't have any of the kids try to convince me they were infinite, and to be honest, I doubt they grasped the meaning of it.

Ever since then, when we pray at the end of class, we get on our knees, and I start with "Repeat after me: God is awesome, and I am not." And every time - no exceptions - I get some objections.

So what's the big deal? 

I think we have taken those adjectives - those concepts - reserved for the One who is infinitely far above us, and we have decided to apply them to ourselves. I think it directly correlates to being the richest, most powerful, nation on earth (for the moment).

Language is a powerful thing. If there are no terms left that separate our capacity from God's, then I guess there isn't really any compelling reason to reach out to Him.

Maybe I worry too much about these philosophical points. Then again, maybe not.

So for the record:
God great - I am not
God is awesome - I am not
God knows all things - I don't and never will
God is infinite - I'm a finite, created thing
God is all powerful - I have little control over anything
God is perfect - I fail
God is faithful - I am often not reliable
God is always good - I am often evil
In the book of Revelation, Jesus says this to one of his churches, using cryptic language:
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
God, help me to see things as they really are.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Genesis: The Fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

I often find myself reading three areas of the bible over and over again: The Creation Story, The Exodus and the sermon on the mount. At this point in my life, these sections seem to give me insight into how God thinks (at least a little bit).

The creation story is anything but simple. I think it's good to simplify it for children, but as adults, I think there is a lot more there to consider.

In the story of the fall, Adam and Eve are tempted to eat the fruit from the one tree that God said not to - and they fail. They seem to go through this testing period, where God is absent, the Serpent (Satan) is there trying get them to disobey, and they are "new creations" - naive and could easily become victims.

There are all kinds of questions I have asked about this story:
  • Where was God? Somewhere else...
  • Who let the Serpent (Satan) in the garden with them?
  • Why did Adam stay silent in all of this?
  • Why did God put the tree right in the middle of the garden with no protection?
  • What about the Tree of Life right next to it? It seems to get ignored - go figure.
I could go on all day, (sometimes I drive my poor family nuts.)

For the moment, I'm going to focus on this idea: Once they came to the realization that they really wanted the fruit, even at the risk of death, what were they supposed to do then? 
Continue to have this enticing, deadly thing in their living room for eternity, driving them insane?
Move to a different area of the garden to get away from the temptation?  
Maybe chop the tree down and burn it?  
Stare the thing down every morning an build some spiritual super immunity?  
 What was God's ultimate end-game on this situation?

Did God give them any indication there there would be some resolution to this? I think he did, but this is purely speculation on my part.

In the scene before this one, God made Eve out of a rib from Adam (kind of crazy).

God took Adam though a pretty elaborate exercise to get to Eve. He brought each animal to him and told him to give it a name, and I think he also asked, "so is this one suitable to be a mate for you?" And in each case, Adam said "No!". I envision a long, tedious, weird and even comical process. I am going to assume that by the end of it (thousands of animals) that Adam was petty beaten down.

I think in this whole scenario, God created a huge desire in Adam for a mate. But Adam seemingly did well, went through the process with God. In the end, he gave him something beyond any animal he saw - and he had to give a piece of himself for it all to work.

So by the time they were faced with the temptation of the fruit, Adam had a chance to see how God functioned. God creates us with desires, and takes us through some "adventures" to test us - so we come to a better understanding of him and ourselves - and He fills those desires.

Back to the fruit...

What did God want? Patience and some fortitude to not be tempted? Sure. Maybe the choice to stay far away from it? That would probably be a good idea.

But what I really think he wanted was for Adam and Eve to talk with him about it. To be honest about their desires and the struggle they were going through. I think he wanted them to ask, "if you won't give us that fruit, can you give us something better? Something that we would desire even more and also makes you happy as well?"

Here is where I speculate that the Tree of Life comes in. At the very end of the bible, it says:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.
I think Adam and Eve where so wrapped up in their desire, they didn't even notice the Tree of Life, sitting right in front of them. Exactly how it all played out is beyond me - but I'm almost positive that God want them to ask for that fruit. I also believe he would have given to them, and we would all be children of Eden.

So what does all this mean to me? Hopefully this is more than a 51 year old college-educated man spending too much time contemplating ancient myths.

I need to talk with God about my desires - all of them. Nothing should be off the table. I should also be assured that he will give me more than I desire, if I'm patent. I'm in no way thinking about him making me prosperous with stuff and money - but in those things that really matter: Love, friendship, relationships, significance, eternity. 

I often try to hide my desires from God, since I know they can be small, petty, even evil at times. It's embarrassing to verbalize some of things I want, even when it's just me and God. It sheds light on problems with my ego and motivations, it exposes my fears and things about me that I never want anyone to know about.

I want to be able ask him for everything. As always, God help me.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

Jesus said: Blessed are pure in heart, for they will see God.

I've discovered that if I want to be like God, I can't avoid other people's pain. I can't even just tolerate it - I have to engage with them in it. It take's a lot work and isn't natural for me.

Henri Nouwen wrote:
Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
In no way do I think I'm "pure in heart" - but I know that previously my heart was often closed to others. I wasn't willing - or seemingly able - to empathize and enter into another person's misery. After going through my own anguish and seeing others engage with me, I think I'm at least a bit more open. I hope I have the courage to continue on.

I had somehow convinced myself that an antiseptic, intellectual, moral faith was acceptable to God. I wanted to be strong with the weak, encourage those who mourn, and tell those in pain that better things would come - and I felt righteous in now what know to be disobedience and ignorance.

Jesus said:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
God - help me.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blessed are the Merciful

I see the blessings or “beatitudes” as the essence of the rest of the sermon on the mount. The second three blessings are for when we have come into the light, when God expects us to pursue good.

The second of these is for those whose relationships are turning to good.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are those who are willing to reach out and forgive others, who aren't looking for justice, who love people beyond their behavior. Jesus said it often: if we want mercy and forgiveness, we will show mercy and forgiveness. 

Blessed was Paul, when Ananias had mercy on him and restored his sight. Ananias had misgivings about Paul because he had Christians killed - but he obeyed God anyway, went to him and healed him.

Blessed was Peter when after denying Jesus at the cross, Jesus shows him mercy, accepts him back and says "Follow me." This was the first thing Jesus said to Peter when he initially called him.

Blessed were David and Bathsheba when God was merciful to them and gave them another son, Solomon, after their first one died. 

Blessed was Jonah when God sent him to declare his mercy towards Nineveh. 

Blessed was Israel in the wilderness, when even though they abandoned God and worshiped a golden idol, God did not destroy them. He had mercy on them and kept them in the wilderness for 40 years to learn how to be his people.

Blessed was Job, when he challenged God. God did not punish him further, but was merciful and instructed him, explaining who He was.

Blessed was Noah when God promised to never wipe out all living things again. God established the rainbow as a sign of his mercy.

Blessed were Adam and Eve when God was merciful and said they could not eat from the Tree of Life and live forever disconnected from Him. He gave them a way back.

Blessed was creation on the fifth day when God filled it with the first living things - birds and fish. These were the first things that could feel effects of his kindness and mercy.

Blessed was Jesus, spending a lot of time early in his ministry healing people, being kind and merciful to them.

Finally, blessed am I when I'm merciful to others. When I pray for people, when I reach out to them in friendship, when I forgive them if they have done something wrong to me. I hope - with God's help - to always forgive, to never hold grudges or anything against anyone. I hope to see peoples needs and be kind, merciful and giving.

Blessed as all of us when we are merciful and forgive. If none of us ever did this, we would be a world of isolated, disconnected people with no friendships or love.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

I see the blessings or “beatitudes” as the essence of the rest of the sermon on the mount. The second three blessings are for when we have come into the light, when God expects us to pursue good.

The first of these is for those whose hearts are turning to good.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are those who want things to change for the better, who want right to be done, who want to do good, who are willing to change. Blessed are those who when they themselves can't do good, ask God to do good for them. Blessed are those who finally align themselves with God.

Blessed was Paul when he fasted for three days, sitting there blind, waiting for God to give him direction.

Blessed was Peter when Jesus accepted him back and asked him three times, "Do you really love me?" He made it clear to him that not only he was forgiven, but he would be feeding others who were hungry for God's kingdom.

Blessed was David, when he fasted, pleading for the life of his child. God did not allow the child to live, and David accepted it as God's judgement. 

Blessed was Jonah, when he was inside the fish and after three days finally cried out to God to save him. God listened to him and had the fish throw him up on dry land. 

Blessed was Israel, hungry in the wilderness. God listened to them and fed them manna. 

Blessed was Job, when he sat in silence with his friends, hungry to understand what was happening to him.

Blessed was Noah when that water receded and God told him that all animals were now food for him and his family, as well as plants.

Blessed were Adam and Eve when God told them that they would not longer eat of the trees of the garden, but from the plants of the field. God said it would now be difficult to obtain food - He introduced hunger.

Blessed was creation on the fourth day when God started to fill it - beginning with the sun. moon and stars.

Blessed was Jesus, when he was baptized - embracing the mission the Father had for him of saving all of us - and then fasted in the wilderness. After 40 days, he became hungry, was tempted by Satan, and stood his ground in righteousness.

Finally, blessed am I that God has put a hunger inside of me to do good. I want to become more like God.

Blessed are all of us, that God instills in us the desire do good, become better, do right. God gives us plenty of everything to live and thrive, if we work at it and use it correctly.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Beatitudes: Going from night to day - part 2

Before I go on to consider the rest of the Beatitudes, I want to write a little bit more about grace, faith and doing good.

I see two extreme positions:
  • I need to do enough good things to be accepted by God, to pay my debt to him. 
  • I don't need to do anything - God's grace is it, all I have to do is say "yes, I accept it".  Nothing good from me is part of the equation. 

I find both of these positions ludicrous. God has given us infinite amounts of his grace, and he requires finite responses. I can't bargain with him, as I have very little to offer - and I also can't sit there self-satisfied that I have no obligations in my relationship with him. 

The best quote I've read on this is from St. Isaac the Syrian (700 A.D.): Be a herald of God’s goodness, for God rules over you, unworthy though you are; for although your debt to Him is so great, yet He is not seen exacting payment from you, and from the small works you do, He bestows great rewards upon you.

Do I need to respond to God's goodness to me by doing good? Of course I do...

Jesus said: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Later on, Jesus elaborated on his teaching in the parable of the unmerciful servant:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
If I truly believe in God's love and forgiveness toward me, I will show love and forgiveness towards others.

I don't think by any means I have all this figured out. The point for me is to wrestle with it. I will always take the direct words of Jesus - God himself - as my main input, above anything else.

The next three Beatitudes are about doing those good things God desires.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Beatitudes: Going from night to day

I think the first three blessings Jesus gave where for the "night" - when people are chaos, in trouble, or causing trouble. I see this as the essence of grace: God comes to bless us when we don't deserve it, and maybe can't even ask for it.

I also think the next three blessings are for the day, where God expects obedience from me. He expects my heart to change, my relationships to strengthen, and my influence to be for good. I have come to life, and he requires me - it's my obligation - to live and grow. It's the only sane response.

This to me is the essence of faith - to see what God has done, how he's come to me when I was (and often am) in chaos, and act appropriately.

I see those who followed Jesus, the Apostles, trying to communicate this concept throughout the new testament...

Paul said: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

In this section of Ephesians, Paul talks about being dead and coming to life.

James said: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

If I don't work to meet my obligations to God, I have no faith - it's just a fabrication.

John said: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Jesus reached out to me, so I'm obligated to reach out to others.

Peter said: Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Titus said: But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

All of these men who started the Christian faith conveyed the same message: God's goodness came to me as a gift, now I must do good in response. God gave me new life, now that life must do something.

This rightly raises all kinds of concerns about how good does good need to be? I think some of the answers are in the rest of Jesus's sermon.

God, help me to live in the daylight.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Blessed are the meek

I see the blessings or “beatitudes” as the essence of the rest of the sermon on the mount. The first three blessings are for when we are in darkness. 

The third one of these is for those whose influence is in chaos.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (the land).

Blessed are those who have no power or influence for good - unable to change things, fail in the their efforts or in their work, are oppressed, have been sidelined in their churches, have no control over their circumstances, are trapped, have misused what they have been given.

Blessed was Paul the Apostle when God blinded him on the road to Damascus and told him he was using his power for evil. 

Blessed was Peter the Apostle when he was hiding with the other disciples after Jesus was killed.

Blessed was David when confronted with his misuse of power to take what was not his.

Blessed was Jonah when he was in the stomach of the giant fish, unable to escape.

Blessed was Israel when they were trapped between the Red Sea and advancing Egypt. God gave them a corridor of dry land as he parted the sea. 

Blessed was Job when he lost his health, his money, his reputation.

Blessed was Noah when he was waiting on the ark for the water to recede. 

Blessed were Adam and Eve when God cursed them, reducing their influence over the earth.

Blessed was creation when God established the dry land and set the boundaries for the water. 

Blessed was Jesus as a child, who with his parents had to flee the land of Israel for Egypt - refugees. 

Finally, blessed am I when I'm unable to do the good I want to do, unable to change my circumstances, when things don't go as I planned, when I'm humbled, when I'm trapped, when I have no power or influence. 

Blessed are all of us by the boundaries and limitations God sets on us. It's our lack of influence and power that prepares us for the good God has in store for us to do. I believe this beatitude signifies the last stage of the night where we can't see and make our way. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Blessed are those who mourn

I see the blessings or “beatitudes” as the essence of the rest of the sermon on the mount. I think they contain the core of everything Jesus meant to teach that day. 

The first three blessings are for when we are in darkness. The second one of these is for those whose relationships are in chaos.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are those who have broken and damaged relationships - failed at friendships, had people close to them die, can't communicate. constantly fight, walk-out, split-up, been abandoned.

Blessed was Paul the Apostle when he walked away from his religious community to join one where he was branded as a murderer - likely rejected by everyone.

Blessed was Peter the Apostle when the man he put his faith in died on the cross and left him alone.

Blessed was David when he had a good man put to death so he could take his wife. 

Blessed was Jonah when he jumped into the sea, preferring death to doing what God asked,

Blessed was Israel, when the destroyer came and killed the first born, and they left Egypt.

Blessed was Job when Satan killed his family.

Blessed was Noah when almost everyone one he knew, his culture, his world, was destroyed in the flood.

Blessed were Adam and Eve when they experienced spiritual death and hid from God, not wanting to be seen by him.

Blessed was creation, when God pulled it apart, creating a void between the waters.

Blessed was Jesus as a baby, when the government wanted him dead, and killed all the babies his age in hopes one of them would be him.

Finally, blessed am I when filled with sadness and loss over losing one of my sons, when I have failed as a husband and dad, when I have not been a good friend.

Blessed are all of us - not because of the separation and loss, not because of whom we've destroyed, not because of what others have done to us - but in spite of it, in the midst of it.

God doesn't seem to stop the darkness, but rather comes to be with us in it, to experience it as well, to give us comfort. Others come to help us walk through it, and in a small way get the chance to become like God. 

The only way I make sense of it: He uses it to develop us into something much more than we could possibly be beforehand - not only for our own good, but for the good of all. I don't claim to understand this very well, and I think I'll spend the rest of my life here wrestling with it.

Tuesdays | God is building a people – My relationships are broken

- Your kingdom come

- Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted

Blessed are the poor in spirit

I see the blessings or “beatitudes” as the essence of the rest of the sermon on the mount. I think they contain the core of everything Jesus meant to teach that day.

The first three blessings are for when we are in darkness. The first one is for those whose hearts are in chaos.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are those who are in chaos, those who are lost, those in darkness. Those who hate, gossip, are selfish, abandon their families, lie to get ahead, abuse others, take whats not theirs, murder.

Blessed was Paul the Apostle when he was persecuting the church and having people killed.

Blessed was Peter the Apostle when he denied Jesus.

Blessed was David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and planned her husband’s murder.

Blessed was Jonah when he ran away from God.

Blessed was Israel while in slavery to Egypt.

Blessed was Job when God pointed him out to Satan as a worthy target.

Blessed was Noah, surrounded by evil.

Blessed were Adam and Eve when they failed the test and ate the fruit.

Blessed was creation, when it was formless and in chaos.

Even blessed was Jesus, born in a cave to an unwed mother. Although fully obedient, looking immoral in that culture.

Finally, blessed am I when I'm filled with doubt, being selfish, and hiding from God.

Blessed are all of us, since God pursues us while we are his enemies - when we hate him, when we want nothing to do with him. We are citizens of his kingdom only because he loves us.

Mondays | God is great – I’m in chaos

- Our Father in heaven, your name is holy

- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The First Teaching by Jesus

I have been reading and thinking about the first recorded teaching by Jesus, called "The Sermon on the Mount", for the past couple of years. I'm currently working on memorizing it, so writing my way through it seems like a good idea.

The sermon is fairly controversial. Did Jesus really mean what he said? Was it just hyperbole to capture peoples attention? Is it humanly possible to do what he said? 

Jesus covers a range of topics, but I don't see it as a simple "laundry list" of things he wanted people to consider. I see it as a cohesive structure that in a small way reveals how God thinks. That is going to be my approach to it in the coming weeks.

Here is the setting...
Jesus went throughout Galilee (Northern Israel), teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.  
Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
Jesus had created a following. He was teaching that God's "kingdom" had come to them and was healing people to prove it.

He didn't go to Jerusalem, the spiritual, cultural and economic capital. He started teaching near where scholars think he grew up and worked in construction for a number of years. The only thing it might have been was the center of was agriculture. 

Sundays | God will set things right – I want to join him

- For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever

- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Possible and impossible

The other day I was talking to God about all sorts of things, and I believe I heard him say, "You take care of the possible, I will take care of the impossible."

I have two things I often struggle with: Focusing on things that I know I can't change, and not doing the good things I know I can do. I waste tons of energy on the impossible, and pass right by the possible.

So I have decided to purse the possible to the best of my ability. To be kind, love, encourage, give - do good where I can. I hope to actually see the needs around me and act on them. 

I think my assumptions about God have been way far off the mark. No matter what common sense tells me, I still go back to the false idea that God needs me somehow to take action. He is immeasurably far out in front of me on anything that is good. He wants me to follow him, do good where I can, and grow from it. 

Paul wrote this to the Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I think he's saying, "Don't worry, instead let God know your concerns about the things you can't change - the impossible. You focus on doing good things, and God will be with you."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My God, why have you forsaken me?

While on the cross, Jesus cried out: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 

In other words:
Where are you?
Why have you left me?
Why have you abandoned me?
I think for those who followed Jesus, this could have been the most terrifying and sad thing he could have said. I can imagine them thinking:
Was he just a man after all - not God?
Was he crumbling in midst of pain and death?
Have I put my faith in nothing, a lie?
To yell this out seems very out of character for Jesus. Up this point, he was resolute about going to the cross to die. I would expect that he would at least say it silently to himself in his agony. 

He made sure people heard it.

One thousand years before, King David wrote a number of songs that the Jews sang during the time of Jesus. One of those songs (Psalm 22) starts this way: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 

It describes the crucifixion of Jesus, and states that God is in control. It says people from all over the earth will turn to Him...
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.

But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him - may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him - those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
If I were there, maybe hiding nearby like one of the disciples, I would hope to hear something that would reassure me in my doubt. Jesus crying out the start of this song would prompt me to remember the rest of it: This is was the way things were supposed to happen, and people had been singing about it for a thousand years.

It's very easy for me to question my faith - I often do. I think God expects that, and he provides things like this to reassure me that I'm not a fool.

He has done it!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Life is too Long

I often say to myself that life is too short...
Too short to let small or trivial things affect me. 
Too short not to spend time with people I care about.
Too short not to do the right thing when I see it. 
Too short not to spend time alone with God.
It struck me this week that life is not too short - it's too long.

Life is infinitely big and long and important. C. S. Lewis said:
Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live for ever.
When Jesus was talking about being generous, he said:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I think he is saying, "Life's not short, life's long. Live like it's forever."

Believing in a short life leads me to focus on whatever I can do or experience now. The "bucket list" fad seems to be an artifact of the belief in a brief existence. I believe in a long existence - infinitely long.

Jesus told a parable that's actually a bit disturbing, where he commends cheating now to gain a better destiny. It's starting to make a bit more sense to me...
Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg - I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’

“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

“‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.

“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’

“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’

“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.

“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
Life is too long...
Too long to let small or trivial things affect me. 
Too long not to spend time with people I care about.
Too long not to do the right thing when I see it. 
Too long not to spend time alone with God.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


A friend of mine left his wife recently. It's a terrible thing - for her, for the kids, for him. It's a slow-motion train wreck that I have watched happen, and I seem powerless to help stop it.

I'm not here to diagnose why it happened or suggest a way to resolve it. Those kind of topics are way out of my league.

I'm trying to understand my obligation to him, to God, to myself.

What does my friend want from me?

He seems to be OK with me praying for him and sending him notes once in a while. He's not interested in meeting face-to-face. I can't tell if he want's me to continue or stop. I don't know if he can articulate it.

So, if you are reading this, and you are my friend, and you are a married, I would appreciate you providing some clear instruction on what you want me to do if you choose to leave your spouse in the future. I'm asking you to write it down or tell me before you head down that path. If not me, consider confiding in someone else.

If you send something to me, I will keep it, and I promise to follow-up on it. I will be loyal - and I will honor your request:

- To be left alone
- To be listened to and understood
- To be pursued

I would like to think I'm the guy that would never leave. Unfortunately, I've come to the point where I realize I'm at much at risk as anyone else. I've spent many years considering myself better than others - not very smart.

So here is what I want...

Pray for me, that I would be faithful. Remind me of it from time to time.

If you sense something isn't "right", be quick to ask me what's going on. Don't think "something isn't right" and fail to say something. Ask me questions that get to my heart. If I answer with surface, theoretical, theological - whatever dodge I come up with - don't accept it. Keep digging.

If I say I'm thinking about leaving - pursue me. If I ask to be left alone, don't do it. Don't give up on me. Gang up on me.

If I finally do leave - side with my wife, side with my kids. Stick this post in my face. Remind me of how this is hurting a wide range of people. Acknowledge my misery and if possible, make it worse.

Remind me of God's grace and forgiveness - extend it to me. Beg me to repent. If I do, forgive me and help me put it all back together.

Love me enough to never give up on me. Please be loyal to me.

We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. - G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, March 16, 2014


A guy I work with has come up to me a couple of times in the past few months and said, "We should go to lunch sometime." I've answered "OK", but I haven't really intended to spend any time with him. My reason: before I lost my son, we had started to get to know each other, but afterwards he wouldn't come near me.

Maybe he was afraid.

Maybe he didn't know what to say.

Maybe he had a similar loss he wasn't willing to revisit.

I honestly don't know.

I know this happens to a lot of people experiencing loss - they have some "friends" that just don't show up. When trouble comes, they disappear. 

I'm lucky, I've had a number of friends that have hung in there with me. That being said, I've been trying to decide what my response should be to this guy.

I have to admit, my first thoughts have been along the lines of not wanting to waste my time with him. I've considered telling him he might work on being a better friend to others in the future, hopefully with some kindness on my part.

There is only one problem in deciding what I should do: I have done the same thing myself.

A few years ago, a friend of mine lost his wife - a good friend - and I didn't reach out to him for quite a long time. Why? 

Maybe I was afraid.

Maybe I didn't know what to say.

I had never experienced a similar loss.

I honestly don't know - I failed.

How has he responded to me? He's said nothing, only continued to extend friendship. No questions, no embarrassment. He give me time to gain the courage to be the friend I should have been all along. Until recently, I didn't comprehend the grace he'd given me.

It's an ongoing challenge to not think of myself as better than other people.

Jesus said: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I guess I've figured out my response.