Monday, December 5, 2011

A Good Moment

When I was in high school it became un-cool to decorate the tree with my family. It was an event to be endured, not so much enjoyed. Added to the pain was the type of the ornaments that went on the tree. My mom insisted on putting our school pictures from each year into small frames and displaying them on the tree. From all objective standards our tree was packed and gaudy. As I grew older, I began to be embarrassed of the multitude of reminders of my dorky past. One year, I was into sweat bands and prominently displayed a wrist band for a school picture. What was I thinking? Decorating the Christmas tree with my family became simply an obstacle to doing what I really wanted to do, which was, uh, nothing really.

Last night I watched my children decorate the tree with a great amount of joy. Sometimes these moments do not live up to the hype. Children have a way of arguing about things, but not last night. Last night was harmonious and joyful as we decorated the tree. They were polite to one another, they helped one another, it was truly a post card moment. It was one of the good moments of life. It was a beautiful time.

I was enjoying moment, but also reflecting back to my own memories. It made me regret some things in my life. I began to wonder at what age my children would think it is un-cool to decorate the tree with mom and dad. I began to feel sorrow for not leaning in to my parents more when I was an adolescent and teen. These moments, the truly great ones are fleeting and sometimes we forget to really enjoy them.

I guess I just want to say to my mom, “I am sorry that I did not enjoy those family moments more. I hope that I did not ruin them for you.” I also want to say, “Thank you. If it was not for your love and hard work, I would not have been able to enjoy that moment with my children last night. I wish you could have been there. I think you would have been proud of me. I laughed with my children, I took pictures, and I danced with my wife. It was perfect.”

The lesson I take away from this is to try to remember to lean in. Lean in to the ones who love you. Lean in to ones you love. These moments, these truly beautiful moments are short, enjoy them for all they are worth.

Monday, October 31, 2011

One Christian's Response to Some Pressing Political Issues - Abortion

Let me state first and foremost that I have not decided who I will vote for and I am not trying to endorse a certain candidate. I frankly would probably never “endorse” any candidate. Elections have become troubled waters for Christians of late. In the past most Christians were single issue voters and this issue was surrounding abortion. Abortion is rightly a high priority for Christians voting in this country. It is nothing short of the murder of human life. I believe one of God’s highest values is life (John 10:10). A candidate’s stand on this issue is important. I do not know that America will ever do away with abortion. Our best hope is to deal with the underlying causes that lead to abortion. Instead of asking a candidate if he or she is for or against abortion, let’s ask candidates how they will decrease the number of abortions. This is the goal after all. Making abortion illegal will not do away with the problem because the problem is much deeper than Roe v. Wade.

These causes are routed deeply in sin. Not just the sin of the individual, but the sinful state of the world around us. But how can we as Christians combat this sin, and still be loving? This is indeed a tough question. Instead of yelling at people for aborting their babies, why don’t we adopt those babies who were not aborted? I have not adopted as of yet in my life, but I have many friends who have. I praise God for these people who are battling abortion and poverty 1, 2, and even 3 kids at a time. You know who you are and I thank you for picking of the slack. Please do not let us forget to do our job.

There are other ways to battle this problem. Hospitals were originally founded largely by religious organizations. The Catholics, Methodist, Presbyterians, and Baptist all have names that are associated with hospitals. It is with great sadness that I remind us that many hospitals that bear these names are complicit with the abortion problem. These institutions are driven much more by money than they are by helping people. Some people claim to have abortions because they cannot afford the cost to have a baby. Having paid out of pocket for our last child, I understand this concern. It is ridiculously expensive to have a baby, especially if you do not have insurance. Are we as Christians going to let children die because there is not money available to help bring these children into the world? Are we? Are we going to go joyfully on buying our iPads, TVs, cars, and houses while children die? All the while blaming the government for allowing this to happen, it is time to take responsibility for this. We as Christians must repent before God and man, ask forgiveness and BE part of the solution. We need to work with these hospitals to provide for people to be able to have children.

As we listen to the candidates speak on this issue. Listen to the nuanced response. A candidate may say something like, “I am pro-choice, but have an active plan that I hope will reduce the number of abortions significantly.” Someone else my just say, “I am pro-life.” Instead of giving our vote to someone just because they are pro-life, let’s require them to show us a plan that will help alleviate abortions. Let’s raise the level of discussion about this issue to something greater than just a sound bite. We are smarter than that, aren’t we?

The next phase of this is that we as the Church must be prepared to care for the children born. We must not let them exist in poverty, for this reveals no value for life either. I will post later on some of the other issues facing Christians, such as the faith of the candidate, poverty, social programs, war, defense, and other issues.

I believe God hates abortion and I do as well. We need to be in prayer about this. We need to repent, and we need to be a part of the solution instead of being angry and vindictive. Please pray, but be ready to act as well. We must act in love, not violence or hatred.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Brief Response to the death of Osama Bin Laden

I confess that I have mixed emotions. I remember very clearly the morning of September 11, 2001. I remember the outrage and the hurt. I remember the endless video of the fall of the World Trade Center. An enemy had struck at the innocent heart of America. Justice must be served. The guilty party must suffer. I remember those days as if they were yesterday.

The conflict in me arises when I consider my faith in Jesus Christ. While I do not wear a WWJD bracelet, I do often think and wonder how Jesus would have responded to the recent news. Most of us have lived long enough to realize that the world is truly a complicated place. There are no easy answers or easy solutions to problems like terrorism, war, and poverty. The problems are largely systematic; they are a symptom of a fallen world that does not function as it should. Would Jesus celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden, I would guess that he would not. Many of us would decry that justice was finally served and after all God wants justice. Really, we want justice to be served. Grace filled Christians really want justice?

We hear people say that New Orleans and Haiti got what they deserved because of the evil that exists there. Most rational people understand that this response is completely inappropriate and moronic. As if humanity knows the will of God. As if all humanity does not deserve annihilation for its deeds. Does the death of bin Laden fix or provide justice for the loss and pain that was experienced on 9/11? For me the answer is: no. Not even close. Now, the day of justice for all humanity was when Jesus carried the sins of humanity on his shoulders. Once and for all, period. That was the type of justice that God dished out. The sacrifice had been made and justice had been served and we have now been saved.

Proverbs 24:17 reminds us that the wise person does not rejoice over the fall of their enemy. Jesus in Matt 5 further states that we are to love our enemy. Paul reminds us in Rom 5 that we were enemies of God. We often forget that when Jesus went to the cross, WE were his enemies. It was not just the Pharisees, the Romans, the Jews, it was all of humanity. Jesus died for us while we were his enemies. I have heard people say that it is OK for us to dislike our enemies, but still love them. This argument is so ridiculous it is hardly worth discussing. The Greek word behind this love in Matt 5 is agape. It is a godly love. Jesus’ godly love for his enemies did not stop at toleration but moved to complete sacrifice for the ones who would openly oppose him and abandon him in his hour of need.

Now if Jesus is our master and we are his disciples, then we are trying to be like the master. Right? So now I ask you, how would Jesus respond? I think his crucifixion answers the question emphatically for us. He would forgive them. Luke 23 reports that right after Jesus had been crucified, he forgave. Jesus forgave. Wow, on his worst day Jesus is better than I will ever be. However, it is usually on our worst days that our true character is revealed.

Forgiveness is often times the missing part of agape love for humanity. We do not truly forgive. Even though we have been forgiven so much, we do not truly forgive others. However, this day I will not celebrate or revel in the death of another human being. This unfortunately is not the end of war or poverty. This is not the day when all those who are in the bondage of slavery both physical and spiritual have been set free. No, this is not that day. When that day comes, I will celebrate, because victory will finally be won over the corrupt systems and structures of this world. Order will be restored. Death will be gone forever. That is day I will celebrate.

Finally, this is a quote from a Reuters News Article (

Watching the flag-waving on television in New York, Donna Marsh O'Connor, whose pregnant daughter died in the Sept. 11 attack, said she saw little reason to celebrate.

"Osama bin Laden is dead and so is my daughter," she said. "His death didn't bring her back."

There was only one death in the history of the World that would ever bring life again. That is the death of Jesus on the cross.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Standing over the edge of 2011, I sense that my toes are peeking out over a high precipice. The fear of heights is overtaking me. Why am I here? What am I doing? I must be an idiot. I seek to blame, to doubt, to avoid. Yet I sense also a promise. I sense something that I cannot see. The clouds are thick and the sky is dark. There is something out there; I do not quite know yet what it is. This could be the year when I fall to my ultimate doom. It could be the year of restoration. It could be another year of struggle. I do not even know if I am at the top of the mountain yet. Where will I go from here?

Slowly I realize the self-centeredness of this all. The “I” is way too prevalent in my life. My love for the Lord seems directly correlated with what He does for me. If this is the year when I am laying in broken pieces at the bottom of the cliff, if I am in valley of peace, or if I am bearing the burden of more climbing, my reaction will not change. I am going to praise the Lord. Not for what He has done or for what He is going to do, but for who He is.

My praise and adoration need not be linked to my life circumstances. I will praise the Lord because He is worthy. I praise Him because of who He is. Come what may, I will praise Him.

The song of my heart which was written over 335 years ago:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.