Friday, June 10, 2016

I Think I'll Believe

Faith is a difficult thing for me. Faith in the unseen in the face of the unknown comes very slowly for me. I get frustrated when what I've prayed and hoped for hesitates in coming. I want to give up. I want to throw in the towel. I want to but I can't give up just yet. 

As I write these words today I realize that I so understand Peter's rhetorical question to Jesus when he said (in John 6:68), "Where else can we go?"  When others ran away and the situation seemed confusing as Jesus spoke of things they couldn't yet grasp, Peter realized that staying was easier than going and that believing was easier than doubting. 

There are days, there are moments when I really want to give up but what else is there for me to do?  Do I give up on the possible in the face of what I believe to be the improbable?  Do I turn the energy and effort I draw on to walk in faith into energy that cultivates negativity and doubt? Do I work to feed belief or do I work to nurture unbelief?

Oh yeah, you may not realize it but it takes work to be skeptical. It's exhausting to always see things as hopeless and to live defeated and dejected.  It saps away energy that could be used for more positive ventures to let our minds walk in the dark back alleys of fear and worry.  It's without a doubt overwhelming to see only roadblocks, to dream only nightmares, and to live our lives under the misconception that life isn't really even worth living. 

Yep, it's hard work being hopeful but it's even harder being miserable - I know because I've tried!  Faith requires work but so does doubt and worry.  And it's in the middle of the dynamic tension caused when belief collides with unbelief that I've found myself asking God a question. "What else is there for me to do?"

I think I'll just believe. 


P.S. It occurs to me that a thirsty man doesn't care to argue whether the glass is half empty or half full. He's just happy to have a drink. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Still Have Something to Say


"It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me."  Daniel 4:2


I still have something to say.  Or at least that's what my faith propels me to proclaim.  That's my declaration of hope when it seems that everything points to the contrary.  I simply must believe that I have more to say.

Even when it seems that the heavens are brass to my prayers – I still have something to say.

Even when there’s not a pulpit or microphone or even a congregation to hear it – I still have something to say.

Even when sickness and disease sap life, energy, strength, and ability from my body – I still have something to say.

Even when relationally there’s no one who wants to listen – I still have something to say.

I still have something to give.  My life experience hasn’t been for nothing.  My ministry experience hasn’t been a waste.  My triumphs and failures, my joy and my heartache, my ups and my downs have produced a gift yet shared with a voice still to be heard.

I still have something to give.  To the kingdom of God and the body of Christ.  To my family both near and far.  To my friends.  To those I’ve met and to those with names yet to be learned.  I still have something to give.

I simply have to believe it.  It’s all that I hold on to at times.  It’s the hope that keeps me going.  I cling to the promise that’s found in the Bible in I Peter 1:6-7, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

I still have something to say.  My failures have given me a perspective that only I can share.  My wounds have produced insight that I’m uniquely qualified to give.  My journey has instilled an overcomer’s song that only I can sing.  My story isn’t over – there’s still so much to be written and so much left to tell.

I still have something to say.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Life with Diabetic Neuropathy


I’m 43 years old and I have diabetic neuropathy. 

I’m 43 years old and I walk with a cane. The diabetic neuropathy has robbed me of the sensation in my lower legs below my knees, my feet, and my toes. It dramatically alters my sense of balance. I can barely walk more than a very short distance without resting and I certainly will never run again. Falling is a regular occurrence. Stairs are a nightmare; I’ve managed to fall up AND down them many times. Gone are the days of church softball leagues and touch football games on Saturday afternoons. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy.

I’m 43 years old and I can barely dress myself. My wife and daughters tie and untie my shoes and button and unbutton my shirts for me. The diabetic neuropathy has robbed me of the sensation in both of my hands so it’s incredibly difficult and painful to do even the most mundane of tasks with my hands and fingers. My strength is limited. I can’t open a jar of pickles – one of my favorite late night snacks. I can’t clip my own toenails. I can’t write or type for more than just a few moments at a time. I’ve played the piano much of my life and now I rarely am able to play as it’s just too painful and nearly impossible to play with precision. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy.

I’m 43 years old and I can’t work anymore. I’ve been very active and have worked hard to care for myself and my family all of my life. But now my entire day is filled with incredible pain. I stumble instead of walking. I fall instead of standing. I drop what I should be holding. Burning. Stinging. Aching. Stabbing. Exhausting. Overwhelming. It’s hard to work when these are the descriptive words I use now throughout my day. I’m completely dependent on the support of others. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy. 

I’m 43 years old and my life is filled with doctors’ visits. There are trips to the family doctor. The endocrinologist. The neurologist. The podiatrist. The ophthalmologist. There’s now an ear, nose, and throat specialist because the neuropathy has now progressed far enough and is severe enough that it is affecting my hearing. I’m also about to add a new doctor to the list: A urologist as it seems the neuropathy is beginning to affect my bladder. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy. 

I’m 43 years old and I’m a walking pharmacy. It seems every other moment throughout the day I’m pricking my finger to check my blood sugar, stabbing my side with one of the six doses of insulin I require, or taking one of the dozen different daily pills I take to control my diabetes and to limit (often unsuccessfully) the pain and discomfort from my nerve pain. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy. 

I’m 43 years old and my life is filled with an endless list of “I’ll Never's”. I’ll never run with my daughters through a field while flying a kite. I’ll never play tag with them or chase our puppy with them. I’ll never hear them giggle as I lift them up over my shoulders as far as I can reach. I’ll never play softball or golf again. I’ll never enjoy a walk without the fear of falling. I’ll never run. I’ll never climb. I’ll never throw and I’ll never catch. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy.

I'm 43 years old and I smile through the misery because that's what people need from me. I laugh for others when my body is screaming in pain. I do my best to pretend everything is going to be okay when the reality is I know it won't be. The only certainty is that it will get worse. Only my family knows the depth of my suffering. And I'm not sure that even they can know what it’s like to be me. And it's all because of diabetic neuropathy.

I’m 43 years old and can’t imagine living another 43 years like this. Dear God, please don’t let me live that long. I’m 43 years old and I have diabetic neuropathy.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

How Can You Move Mountains When You're Tripping Over Pebbles?

"Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” Mark 11:23 (NIV).

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? I’ve heard all of my life that if I’d only believe, my faith could move mountains. But how do you move mountains when you’re tripping over pebbles? The truth of the situation is, at least for me in my experience, that sometimes the big faith comes easily while the little things cause such faithless uncertainty. 

Let me explain. You see it's never really been the demons that frightened me. It's not been death and disease that have staggered me. I've never had trouble getting out of the boat and walking on water. But sometimes it seems like I sure can't get out of my own head. I’m learning that the bold proclamations of faith can sometimes come too easily. Unfortunately, it's the honest confessions of confusion and struggle that we don't often share that come with such difficulty. What do I mean?

We proclaim, “I am more than a conqueror through Christ,” when we really want to say, “It seems like this struggle will never end.” We lift our chin and stick out our chest and say with confidence that, “No weapon fashioned against us shall prosper!” when the truth is we want to weep and say, “I don't think I can take even one more blow.” We sing “Love Lifted Me” while we are really drowning. We rejoice and know that “Nothing can separate us from the love of God,” all the while struggling because life is kicking us in the teeth right now. 

I’m learning something about the duality of our condition as believers. We are flesh and spirit. That’s not a bad thing. It’s the way we were created by a tender and loving God who is also just a bit wiser than any of us are in this life. We are flesh and we are spirit – together at the same time. And out of that duality often flows two realities. 

He's my healer - I know that to be true. But I'm also diabetic - I know that to be just as true. He rescued me but I sure am lost right now. Yes, I'm a citizen of heaven but I'm also living in a hell on earth - I'm meant for the palace but right now I'm stuck in the reality of the pig-pen-like pit. All too often we are stuck functioning in only one reality and the ignored truth of the other reality becomes a pebble that we keep tripping over. 

The sad thing is that the duality of our reality often makes us wear a mask. We are “Composed Christian” on the outside and “Broken Believer” on the inside. The Christian community around us, our friends and our family, often make us feel as if we must be Super Christian at all times and so we hide the truth of the other reality that we all carry with us at all times. We rarely are faster than a speeding bullet. Hardly ever are we more powerful than a locomotive. And I don’t know that we will ever leap tall buildings in a single bound. 

So, what’s the answer? How do we move mountains and pebbles at the same time? First, we have to take the masks off. That’s the single most frightening part to many of us. If we take off our masks people might actually see who we really are and they might judge us, ridicule us, or reject us. It’s overwhelmingly intimidating but we cannot truly walk in faith in both spirit AND flesh until we drop our guard, bring down the walls, and take off our masks.

The next step is simple. We embrace the duality of our reality. Please understand that this isn’t about the unstable double-minded ways of the man in the book of James (we’re not talking about temptation and sinful things). It’s about accepting the fact that God chose to allow us to live this way. We aren’t the first faith-filled people to have to face the duality of our reality. Take a look at the book of Psalms. Look past the poetry and the melody. Did you know that only about 30 percent of the Psalms are songs and writings about praise, worship, and thanksgiving? What about the other 70 percent? Those are what we call songs of lament. They are words written by hearts who were worshipping through their wounds; words written by hearts lost in the wilderness of life. They embraced the duality of their reality. If you don’t believe me take the time to read Psalms 22.

The last thing that I think we need to do is choose which reality will be the one that defines us. I’m convinced that we must remove our masks and live somewhat honestly and transparently (even if it’s only with those closest to us). I’m equally certain that we must embrace the duality of our reality – that we are both spirit and flesh – and find balance and beauty in that duality. But I’m also confident that we must decide which truth will be the truth that is our testimony. Will you worship in your wounded wilderness or will your wounded wilderness rob you of your worship? 

Lest you think my premise is silly and lacking in Biblical foundation, let me share with you the words of the Apostle Paul, a man who continually wrestled with the duality of his reality, in II Corinthians 12. “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

So how do you move mountains when you are tripping over pebbles? Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you can’t. That’s one reality. But the other reality is pretty sweet; you know Someone who can. And so let yourself off the hook. Cut yourself some slack. Embrace the duality of your reality and move on.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Believe in Magic


I have a confession to make.  I believe in magic.  There.  I've said it.  I believe in magic.  No, I’m not talking about witchcraft, spells, and potions; nor the conjuring incantations and hexes that fill our hearts and minds with fear.  But, yes, I do believe in magic.

I believe in the magic of a pregnant possibility; you might call that hope.  I believe in the magic of a dream dreamt just before dawn – you might call that a fairy tale.  I believe in the magic of a playful tickle and the magic of a tender touch.  I believe in the magic of a sensuous kiss and the magic of a meaningful glance.  I believe in the magic that lives in the comforting relationships of our lives and explodes in the whimsy of our hearts and minds. 
  • I believe in the magic of friendship even when I can’t find it.
  • I believe in the magic of love even when it hurts unimaginably.
  • I believe in the magic of laughter even when I am crying.
  • I believe in the magic of sunshine even when I’m standing in the rain.
  • I believe in the magic of spring even while I’m gripped by the icy chill of winter.
  • I believe in the magic of morning even when it seems the darkness of night will never fade.
There was a time that I would simply tell you that I’m just a kid at heart.  And there was a time that the simplicity of that statement was true.  But it’s not anymore.  I’m all grown up – inside and out.  Life will do that to you, you know?  Heartache has a way of changing us.  Loss has a way of maturing us.  Sadness has a way of hardening us.  Failure has a way of jading us. 

The miles pass.  The moments tick by.  The experiences become less whimsical and all the more devastating.  And for a moment - just for a moment - life pushes you to the edge of despair.  And in that moment you have a decision to make.  Do you give up or do you believe?  And in the face of the gut-wrenching reality before you the only real thing to believe in is… You guessed it.  Magic.

Hope.  Dreams.  Faith.  Fairy tales.  Whether it’s a wish list written with child-like longing to Santa or prayers whispered in child-like faith to God.  I choose to believe.

Yes, I do believe that I believe in magic.  Do you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

He's God - Even When I Don't Believe

The writer of Hebrews inspires us with the simplicity of faith with the words, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  We read on and learn that it is by faith that we are able to see that God created the heavens and the earth.  We learn that by faith our spiritual forefathers learned of God and that by faith they lived in a relationship with God.  

We learn that their faith sustained them.  We read of miracles.  We read of victories won and giants slain.  But we also come to know of the heartache and loss of the believers who hoped against hope for something better.  And we learn that “all of these were commended for their faith, yet none of these received what had been promised.”  We learn that faith can bring about mountaintop experiences and that faith can also leave us with the haunting shadows that come with passing through the valleys of our life.

It’s hard to stand on shifting sand,
It’s hard to shine in the shadows of the night.
You can’t be free if you don’t reach for help,
And you can’t love if you don’t love yourself.
But there is hope when my faith runs out,
‘Cause I’m in better hands now.

But what happens when faith runs out?  What happens when there is a cataclysmic collision where hope meets hopelessness and fear meets faith?  What happens when anticipation and expectation turn into heartache and despair?  I know that this all sounds a bit depressing and down but I implore you to stay with me just a bit longer.  I promise I’m headed somewhere positive. 

I’ve spent the past few years trying to figure out what happened to God when I needed Him most.  I’ve looked for lightning bolts.  I’ve hoped for help and holy thunder.  I’ve cried out for intervention and I’ve longed for rescue.  I hoped and I believed but nothing happened.  And now my faith has long been exhausted.  It feels as though my faith has been depleted and dried up like an ancient river that long ago ceased to exist.  

And so where does that leave God?  Is He a fairy like Tinker Bell that only exists because little children believe?  Is He like the Greek gods of legend that are only empowered by the prayers and petitions of the penitent?  Does He only live in great examples that are evidence of His power, majesty, and might?  I used to think so; but I’m learning more and more that the greatest demonstration of His existence is when it looks like He is doing nothing. 

I am strong all because of You,
I stand in awe of every mountain that You move.
For I am changed - yesterday is gone,
I am safe from this moment on.
There’s no fear when the night comes round,
I’m in better hands now.

I’m learning that God is God whether I believe it or not.  I’m learning that when I stop looking for lightning and when I stop listening for thunder that it is then, and only then, that I can best hear His voice.  Many years ago I shared during a sermon that, more times than not, God chooses to take us through something rather than around it.  My insides flip over and do jumping-jacks as I type those words today because I’m learning that His power is best demonstrated by letting me experience Him through my situation.  His power and His deliverance would impress me.  And certainly His touch would make all of this easier.  But truthfully, it would not change me.  And that’s what I need most.  I want to be rescued but what I need more is to be transformed.  It’s true that I don’t want to suffer but it’s also true that I don’t want to live another moment of this life without letting Him be what He already is; He is, in spite of me, still God.

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down,
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground;
So take this heart of mine, there’s no doubt,
I’m in better hands now.

I don’t understand things any better today than I did yesterday.  My scars are still fresh.  My heart still hurts.  My failure still stings and my dreams still haunt me.  But with or without my faith, He is still God.  And as I let that simple truth take root in my spirit, I feel something so very small and tiny.  It’s about the size of a mustard seed.  And if that teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy, ever-so-fragile amount of faith can move mountains, then I think I’ll be okay.


*********

The song lyrics sprinkled in my ramblings today are from the song, “In Better Hands” by Natalie Grant.  Those words as well as the words below from CS Lewis’s “The Boy and His Horse” have truly impacted me in incredible ways.   I hope they encourage you to know today that even when your faith runs out, He is still there.


*********

Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. "There," it said, "that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows."

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, however so long it was since he had had anything to eat.

"I do not call you unfortunate," said the Large Voice.

"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?" said Shasta.

"There was only one lion," said the Voice.

"What on earth do you mean? I've just told you there were at least two the first night, and--"

"There was only one: but he was swift of foot."

"How do you know?"

"I was the lion." And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you."

"Who are you?" asked Shasta.

"Myself," said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again "Myself", loud and clear and gay: and then the third time "Myself", whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.

Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

It Ain't Easy Being Me

I am quite certain that this may come as a complete surprise to many of you.  You probably don’t know it but I’m something of a quirky guy. I know, I know; you thought of me as calm, cool, and collected.  I’m sorry to turn the world upside down with this revelation, but:  I am not normal.  But I’m learning to be okay with that.

The truth is I have spent my life knowing that I’m a round peg trying to fit into a square hole.  I’ve always felt like I was an odd-ball or an outsider of sorts because I was different than everyone around me.  I’ve wanted so badly to fit in.  I’ve wanted so badly to be like everyone else.  I’ve wanted so badly to be the David that everyone says they needed.  I’ve wanted so badly to be loved for who I am.  And to some degree I was able to do a little of that for a little while; but I can’t keep it up anymore.

You see, my brain doesn’t work like everyone else.  I view things differently.  I experience things differently.  I value things differently.  I love deeper.  I soar higher.  I fall harder.  I hurt longer.  I laugh louder.  I cry more.  I think too much.  I rush in when I should hesitate and I hesitate when I should rush in.  I get it wrong more times than I get it right and I’ve lost more than I ever gained.  And, as you are learning right now, I am entirely too transparent at times.  But that’s who I am; shouldn’t that be okay?  Before you answer, let me give you a few examples of the chaos that is “Dave.”  

First of all, color matters.  No, I’m not talking about race and ethnicity.  I’m talking about M&M’s.  I spend the entire year avoiding M&M’s.  I just don’t care for them – except for during the Easter season.  I know you’re going to think I’m seriously off my rocker, but my brain is convinced that the pastel version of the sweet treat is so much better than the traditional colors.  I think they are milder tasting and are much more pleasing to my discerning palate.  Every year my wife and daughters buy me bags of pastel colored Easter M&M’s to enjoy because color really matters.

To understand me a bit better, you also need to know it’s all about pie.  No, I’m not talking about coconut cream, apple, or lemon meringue.  And I’m certainly not talking about the numerical value that makes mathematics tick.  I’m talking about pizza.  It simply drives me batty when pizza is cut like a square.  It seriously does.  I am quite certain that the manna from heaven was shaped like a slice of pie.  And what you may not know is that some ancient translations of the Bible tell us that when Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana, He also turned the square pizza slices into triangles.  Everyone should take this one thing away from this blog today:  Pizza tastes better when it is cut like a pie.

There’s another quirk that’s best summed up with these three words:  Lost in translation.  Yes I know that was the title of a hit movie in recent years.  But I’m not talking about movies.  I’m talking about the goofiness of my brain.  They say that when you turn a shark over on his back he goes into something of a coma.  I have that same response to anyone with an accent.  You are probably thinking I am making something simple significant to entertain you today.  That’s not true.  If you want to see me become catatonic, try to get me to order in an ethnic restaurant.  It won’t happen.  And it goes even further.  I want to travel to see ancient places around the world before I die.  I just have one caveat.  The native tongues of the places I visit have to be English.  It’s miraculous that I can even live today in the south as there are few accents harder to understand than hillbilly slang.  I truly am lost in translation.  

The story is told of an old west legend by the name of Wild Bill Hickok.  He was famous for a lot of things.  He lived hard and died even harder.  It was said that he would never sit with his back to the room or a door.  He had to sit where he could see everything.  He only made an exception once in his life.  And that was when the bullet entered the back of his head.  He didn’t make that mistake, or any other for that matter, again.  It’s one of my oddest quirks.  I’ve been laughed at and questioned more about this personality trait than any other.  I cannot sit with my back to people or my back to a door.  If you don’t believe me, invite me out to lunch and see.

I’ve tried to be lighthearted as I’ve shared today something that is so life altering to me.  Truthfully, it’s been an exhausting experience living my life knowing that people don’t value my quirks.  It’s heartbreaking to learn, time after time, that people don’t want to be in my life, or can’t love me because of the beautiful madness that makes me, “me.” 

I cannot begin to number for you today the passionate and tear-filled prayers I’ve prayed in my lifetime as I have cried out to God to change me and make me like everyone else.  I’ve begged God to make me normal so people would like me, and maybe even love me.  I spent much of my life hoping to finally fit into that square hole.  But God has chosen to ignore my pleas.  I’m still quirky.  I’m still odd.  I’m still on the outside looking in.

Do you want to know something?  There are many times I want to give up.  There are days when I would give anything to trade different for normal.  And there are even days that I wouldn’t change a thing.  Sometimes it seems hopeless.  Sometimes it seems exciting.  Some days I’m liked and maybe even loved.  There have been days when I was celebrated and there certainly were days that I was criticized.  

As I launch into the uncharted waters of my future, I want to make a choice to live every day with the reminder of these famous words:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. 

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. 

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. 

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sometimes You're The Windshield, Sometimes You're The Bug

I’ve been thinking a lot about life and what it all means.  I remember hearing someone explaining once that when Jesus said we would have abundant life, He was really saying we’d have abundant ups and abundant downs.  Life really is a roller coaster.  The highs are great and the lows are powerful.  It all comes down to this in life; sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug.

I’m realizing the truth of another quirky saying; the only thing constant is change.  While life is full of ups and downs it’s also all about change and how we roll with it.  We become emotional wrecks (or at least I do) when life throws us a curve ball.  We become indignant and can’t believe it’s happening to us.  But it’s not just us.  It’s happening to everyone.  Why?  Because life happens.  Life happens big (abundantly).  Life changes.  Life changes big.

I’ve also learned through personal experience that normal is relative.  If everyone is broken, then broken is the norm.  If every home is dysfunctional, then dysfunction is the norm.  We compare ourselves and our situations to standards that really aren’t very standard.  If we would take a minute and really look around us, we’d learn quickly that our lives are more normal than we think.

Frank Peretti once wrote that life is all about where you are standing and how good the view is from there.  I’m seeing the significance and truth of that statement more and more with each passing day.  It’s so easy to say, “If it was me, I would do it like this…”  We’ve become a society that sees more value in Monday morning quarterbacking than truly walking a mile in the shoes of our fellowman.  But you can’t say exactly what you would do when you are watching from the safety of the sidelines.  It really is all about where you are standing and how good the view is from there.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that life is best experienced from the first person point of view.  You can’t live it for me and I can’t live it for you.  Life is full of ups and downs.  It’s full of change.  It’s silly and scary and even a little crazy.  Some days you win and some days you lose.  And there are even some days you do a little of both.  Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What If...

I've been hearing bits and pieces of this song a lot lately on the radio and haven't been able to fully digest the message; until today.  I think this is the soundtrack of my life right now.  

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

I'm sure I'll comment more in the coming days about what this means to me, but for now I just thought I would post a Youtube clip of Laura Story singing the song live during a radio broadcast.  You can also scroll down and see a brief clip of her explaining the story behind the song.



'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near


What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy


And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise


Monday, April 2, 2012

It's Friday But Sunday Isn't Coming...

It’s something of a rough day for me today.  Believe it or not, there are actually brief moments here and there that I forget who I used to be.  There are small reprieves from the memories of the failures and follies of my past.  Unfortunately, today that’s not the case.  Why?  Because Easter is just a few days away.  Why? It’s Friday and Sunday isn’t coming.

As a Pastor, I really loved Easter.  I loved the beauty and simplicity of the gospel.  I loved the expectation and hope that an empty tomb instilled.  I loved the moment when at the close of the service I could say, “For God so loved YOU…”  I absolutely loved telling people that even though it seemed like Friday, the truth was that Sunday was coming.

But all of that has changed.  It’s changed forever.  It’s never going back.  There won’t be anything encouraging or special about this Sunday.  There’s no more expectation and hope.  I won’t see my family.  I won’t be in church.  I won’t be singing or sharing.  And I certainly won’t be hearing the words, “For God so loved…”  It’s my new normal.  It just doesn’t feel very normal to me.

Today I was looking through some of my Easter sermons from over the years.  I found that on Easter I often referred to one of my most favorite Psalms - Psalms 40.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.  He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”

I read the words and tears fill my eyes.  I read the words and I remember what it was like to hope.  I read the words and I want to sing a new song again.  But that was the old normal.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Someone To Believe

I remember listening to the words of this old Michael W. Smith song a long time ago.  But like most things, we forgot about them until our life experiences stir the pot of our memories and bring them back to the surface of our mind.  

I've been through a lot in my life in the past few years.  I've lost more than I've gained.  I miss things that most people take for granted.  I regret so much.  I'm proud of so little.  I've stopped more times than I've started. But I want to change all of that; I just need someone to believe in me.

I remember in my life, when I couldn't seem to find ,
A reason in my heart to believe in me;
Any little circumstance, would tell me not to take a chance,
On what was in my heart, of the person I could be.
I lost my fear of failure when I came to realize,
That I was still a special treasure, in the Father's eyes.

Just when I needed love, to reach in the heart of me,
It happened because someone believed;
In the person I am inside, the one that I tried to hide, 
I needed to know someone believed in me.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You Cannot Avoid This!

Helen Keller once said, "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  The fearful are caught as often as the bold."

I'm at the onset of something of a therapeutic review of who and what I am - a performance assessment, if you will, of my life up to this very moment.  And it is very uncomfortable for me.  I am wrestling with who I want to think I am versus the Me everyone sees (and I see in the mirror when I'm all alone).  I'm struggling with the dynamic tension created by two possible outcomes of this time of self assessment.

First of all, I am keenly aware there is the distinct possibility that I really do have what it takes and that I truly am a man of honor, integrity, substance, and faithfulness.  Truthfully, this possible reality scares me the most as I have royally screwed up the first time I lived as this guy.  Can I do it a second time?  Can I rise about the stench  of the pig pen and find the courage to be an upright man?

Secondly, I am also aware that there is a distinct chance that I have missed my moment.  There walked a giant of the faith in the generation of our grandparents by the name of Leonard Ravenhill.  He once said that, "the opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity."  What if I had a moment to strike and to live for the gospel; what if I had a moment to stand and be the man that God, my family, and the body of Christ could be proud of...  What if I had my moment, and I blew it away?  I reached and then let go. So I find myself wondering what if I search my heart, study who I am, and find out the best me is who I used to be?

I read a daily meditation this morning that included the words, "There is an overwhelming tendency to call passivity as "patience" and to crown inaction with virtuous justifications like "letting go" and "turning it over."  The truth is that no matter what cliched title you put on it, it really all comes down to avoidance.

I realize I am rambling just a bit but give me a moment longer and I will try to tie all of this together.  You see, I truly am an avoid-er.  I avoid things.  I've taken the high road many times but still many more times I have taken the path of least resistance.  I've avoided doing this very self-assessment that I am committed to now for quite some time.  I am an avoid-er.

I avoided being the husband that Tammy needed.  I avoided being a man she could be proud of in every situation of life.  Tammy I truly am sorry for that.

I've avoided being a dad to my two beautiful daughters.  I have avoided being there at every waking moment. I want to be more than a part time dad.

I've avoided being the Pastor and Servant that the  body of Christ needed.  To Freedom Fellowship and to our friends in Beloit, please know that I carry a devastating guilt for the crushing defeat and rejection that my sins brought on your and your family and the ministry you were endeavoring to perform.  I am broken and sorrowful. I ask you today to please forgive me.  Please allow my words to start a healing in all of our hearts right now.

I've been an avoid-er.  I'm talking to that scruffy looking man staring back at me from the mirror as I say, "Oh well.  What can I do."  You know what he answered back?  "You can always try."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Learn With Every Goodbye

So much is said about first impressions.  We make such a big deal out of hello's when the truth is it's how we say goodbye that defines us.  This morning I first read the words to the poem, "Learn With Every Goodbye."  I've shared it below without any additional commentary; I think it says enough on it's own.  It really doesn't matter how you start; it's all about how you finish.

After a while you learn the subtle difference,
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul.

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning,
And company doesn't mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts,
And presents aren't promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats
With the grace of an adult,
Not the grief of a child.

And learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans.

And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight,
And after a while you learn,
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden,
And decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure,
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.

And you learn...
And learn…
With every goodbye,
You learn.

A New Morning; A New Story

"Then Aslan turned to them and said, "You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be." Lucy said, "We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often."

"No fear of that," said Aslan, "Have you not guessed?" Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them. "There was a real railway accident," said Aslan softly, "Your father and mother and all of you are--as you used to call it in the Shadowlands--dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the new morning."

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion, but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever. In which every chapter is better than the one before."

A new morning.  A new story.  Wouldn't it be amazing if it could possibly be true?  Wouldn't it be astounding if we could wake up to learn that the wounds of the past were healed, the failures of the past were forgiven, and the fears of yesterday had yielded to the faith and fact of tomorrow?  What if God really meant it when He said that He could make all things new?  It would truly be grand and magnificent if we could be changed overnight and become new creatures in Christ.  It would be amazing.  A new morning.  A new story.

It seems that I have been locked in a nightmarish story written by my failures and insecurities. I have chosen to accept the fate that my fears produced.  But I've grown weary of this same old story.  I've become frustrated with the same routine.  I am truly ready for a new morning and a new story.

I hope I can change.  No; I believe I can change.  In fact, I am certain I AM changing.  I believe that there is a new story for me.  I'm not entirely sure who the supporting characters will be.  It's yet to be seen if it's a story of romance or maybe a story of restoration.  While I hope it will be a story of victory, I'm sure there may be a few defeats sprinkled in as well.  I don't know the details, but I know I am ready.  And I don't know where the story will take me - I just know it starts in my heart.

And so as I write this today my heart leaps and a wild hope arises within me.  I just have to believe that people do change, wounds can heal, and that faith restored means a new morning and a new story.

Now to get out of bed and get going!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Seven

They say that seven is the number of perfection.   The Bible teaches of seven virtues and seven deadly sins.  God created the heavens and the earth and rested on the seventh day.    There are seven wonders of the world.  There are seven continents on our planet.  There are seven colors in every rainbow.  There are seven days in a week.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot; they also say that seven is the number of completion.  So I guess it’s no wonder that I find myself sitting at my computer right now contemplating the past seven months of my life.

In case you are joining the story a bit behind the rest of us, let me catch you up.  Seven months ago I did what I am told I do best.  I ran away.  I jumped ship.  I gave up and I gave in.  A switch flipped inside of my brain and I somehow convinced myself that the fire was far better than the frying pan; I decided that the hell I could see was better than the heaven I couldn’t.  And in just over forty-eight hours from that decision I traveled the depth and breadth of misery to find myself clinging to life in an ICU bed.

The crazy thing is (yes I fully understand the significance of the word crazy), I had been here before.  I’ve read about the phenomena where those who have been incarcerated for a very long time simply cannot exist outside of their prison.  I guess that happened to me.  No, I was never in a physical prison but I most certainly had been locked in one in my mind.

The past three years have been excruciating for me.  I have found myself trapped in some sort of sadistic repetitive (e)motion experience.  I think my brain has developed carpal tunnel syndrome.  I have been there and done that so many times that my closet can’t contain all of the t-shirts.  And yet I keep repeating my mistakes over and over and over again.

But as tough as the past three years have been, the past seven months have been harder.  I have endured loneliness.  I have experienced ridicule.  I’ve been tormented by nightmares and been tortured by my own memories.  I thought I lost a lot three years ago; seven months ago I lost even more.  I have memorialized and solemnized this monthly anniversary to the crushing point of surrender.  It has to stop.

I was thinking of the words to a Justin Bieber song this week.  Before you laugh hysterically you have to understand that he is my six-year-old daughter’s boyfriend (according to her); so his words are ever present right now in my life!  He sings in “Never Say Never”:

I never thought that I could walk through fire,
I never thought that I could take the burn;
I never had the strength to take it higher,
Until I reached the point of no return…

I am trying so very hard to understand what lessons I need to learn from my journey.  I am tallying up the sum total of the experiences of the past seven months to try to understand where I need to go from here.  I want more than anything to be able to quantify and label this phase of my existence.  There is a deep need within me to make it all make sense.  But I just can’t; and maybe that’s what I need to learn most. 

I can’t fix it.  I can’t control it. I can’t work it all out.  There are an incredible amount of “can not’s” that I could string together to sound eloquent.   And there aren’t too many “cans” to balance out the equation.  But there is one pretty significant positive – I never thought that I could walk through fire and I never thought that I could take the burn; but I did.  I made it.  I’m alive.  And all that it took was for me to find my point of no return.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not standing at a point in my journey where I can say “I get it.  It all makes sense.”  I’m not at a point where I can say this is all easy.  I don’t know why I do the things I do.  I don’t know why it takes me so long to learn from my mistakes.  I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to fully recover; but I do know that I’ve learned that I can make it through just about anything – and that’s enough to keep me going for now.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Language of the Heart

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things that move and motivate us. I’ve been thinking about what it is to communicate with one another “as deep calls out to deep.” I’ve been thinking about the language of our hearts.

Before you say there is no such thing, ask yourself: “What moves me?” Go ahead and think about it. What are the themes that touch you? What are the words, that when woven together into the tapestry and melody of song and story, that really move you?

It’s the intimacy whispered between lovers, the hopes shared between friends; the dreams given life in the familiarity of family. The language of the heart is more than just words. It’s a feeling. It’s a stirring in the depths of your heart that awakens the most ancient of emotions within you.

It’s not found in emoticons and Emails. And it’s certainly not hidden in texts, chats, and Facebook posts. No, it’s so much more than that. It’s spoken with a tender touch. It’s carried on the most moving of melodies. It’s shouted in shared laughter and it’s whispered in wonderful whimsy. The language of the heart is the key, that when found, opens the innermost places of our souls. And it’s something that when lost, leaves us tragically incomplete.

The language of the heart allows a wink to speak volumes and a smile to rival a sunrise. It allows a look to say what words cannot express and what a thousand I-Love-You’s will never convey. When you hear the language of your heart you know you’re loved. It says that you are home. It says that you belong. It says that dreams do come true and hope is worth having. When you hear it, you know all is well and everything will be okay.

And now we come back to the question, “What moves you?” As you think about that for just a moment, let me share with you what I have learned about the language of my heart.

  • Mine is whimsical; it’s the language spoken in the land of “Just Because” (you know you’ve arrived there when you ask, “Why did you do that for me?” and the answer is, “Just because…”).

  • Mine is full of laughter. Not the ‘shoot milk out of your nose’ kind of silliness (but that’s funny stuff too!) but the ‘I can’t believe life is this good to me’ kind of joy.

  • Mine is romantic and sensitive and yet strong and full of passion. Do you want to know a secret? I’ve learned lately that I really like chick-flicks. Crazy, huh? But a good story really moves me and I love to watch the dance of others as they learn the language of their hearts.

  • Mine is also full of music. My heart soars with the lyrics of a soulful ballad. If you really want to speak to me, use a song. If you really want me to grasp what you want to pass along, put it with a melody. My heart speaks in the form of music; I can’t help but catch on if my heart can sing it.

  • Mine thrives in friendship. I’ve never been wounded in my life as much as I have at the hands of friends. But I also have never been loved quite like I have been by the hearts of friends.


Sadly, I believe that we are living in a time in which the language of the heart is a dying language. In linguistics, the definition of a dead language is one that is no longer fluently spoken. We have learned to speak logically and contemplatively all the while forgetting how to speak passionately and poetically. But we can change all of that if we will just take the time to listen, to share, and to love with our hearts.

And so I encourage you today to think less with your head and more with your heart. Take a deep breath. Smile more. Laugh longer. Rent a chick-flick. Listen to some music. Cry a bit and love a lot more. Your heart will thank you.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Must Move On

I felt the Spirit of God speaking to me today in church.  These are the things I heard Him whisper into my heart today.

  • "You ask for manna and yet you do not start your day with My Word...
  • You want to see water turned into wine but are not willing to spend time with Me each day...
  • You ask for My protection and yet you do not clothe yourself in My armor...
  • You ask for My provision and yet you do not give Me your resources as I have asked...
  • You ask for the extraordinary but only as an escape from being ordinary.
  • You ask for the miraculous but do not see all that I have done for you in your life.
  • You ask Me to heal you and restore you but you do not move on; let Me move you."


And so this is the response of my heart as I expressed it this morning...

"I choose Your way.  I choose to move on.  I am ready for cleansing and renewal in my life.  I am ready for all that You have in store for me.  I choose to follow You.

If that means I am single for the rest of my life, I will still move on.

If that means that I never see and live my hopes and dreams, then so be it, because I must move on.

I am compelled and driven by my thirst.  I must have God.  I must move on.

I move on so that others around me can be whole.  I move on for everyone in my family and in my life.  I move on for others so that others can be free; but, more than any other reason, I move on for me.

I choose You, God of the Angel Armies.  I choose to move on.  I choose to move forward; I choose to position myself near You. 

I choose Your manna.  I choose Your armor.  I choose your miracles, your provision, your protection, and your price:  All of me.  

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tell Me I Belong

A song about our search for a place to belong. I started writing this almost two years ago; in fact, you can see the lyrics of the song by looking back through my blogs (the ones tagged as songs). Hope you enjoy!



Monday, September 13, 2010

Quickly. Suddenly. Abruptly.

I was sitting in church yesterday morning and just felt the following prophetic word explode within my heart.  I started scribbling in the back of my Bible these words...

For the ones who would say that God is not a God of suddenly's let me tell you of empty tombs by taking you to an empty ICU bed in May of 1999.  The doctors said I was dying.  I did not.  The doctors spoke of months and years of recovery.  God did it in days.

We could journey back more than twenty years ago to a head-on collision at more than 65 miles per hour.  I walked away with scratches as God did a suddenly kind of work and protected me when all that I could say was Jesus.

We could stroll through hell and see the place the enemy prepared for me but it is a place I will never see because God is a quickly kind of God.

We could talk of the mighty things I have seen throughout my life.


  • I can tell you of blinded eyes that were opened.
  • I can tell you of demons sent screaming at the mention of the name of Christ.
  • I can tell you of cancer destroyed and tumors dissolved.
  • I can tell you of the lame laying down their crutches and walking and running in the presence of God!
  • I can tell you of marriages restored.
  • I can tell you of physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial miracles.
  • I can tell you of an empty womb filled three times.
  • I can tell you of death cheated more than a dozen times.


I can tell you all of these stories and more; not because I heard them but because I have lived them.  These are my stories.

And if you don't believe in a God of suddenly's, GET READY because He is about to show up and show off.  He is a God of quickly's, suddenly's, and abruptly's!  Don't close your eyes, or you just might miss what He is about to do!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Here I Am Again

Please ignore the fact that I have had the flu! This is a song I wrote (with Billy Walker) two years ago. It's words have never been more appropriate for my life than right now. I thought I would share it so I can 'seal' what God is doing in my life.