30 August 2009

Life Raft

In Berlin the best place to watch people is in the subway. There it’s called the U-bahn.

When I lived and worked in Berlin, I’d step on the train and watch people jump on and off at each stop. The smell of pretzels and other pastries followed people through the metal doors and onto the train at certain stops. I miss it.

All those people, entering and exiting the train. All those stories. Coming from someplace, going somewhere else.

You look at a person, maybe into their eyes for a second ... an elderly gentleman, a college student ... and what do you really know about them?

This weekend I listened to my friend Richard speak publicly about the abduction of his six-year-old son; and Richard's two-year search until his boy was found.

When Richard told the story of their cheerless reunion, his son’s seeming rejection of him, the continuing difficulties, the hole in Richard's heart, it was hard to hold back tears.

What do we really know about the people we see every day? Many stories unfold hard.

Richard has such a solid, durable faith. It surrounds a fragile heart I think. He loves and clings to Jesus Christ like a man clings to a life raft.

John 3:17 teaches us that Jesus was sent by a loving Father not to condemn the world, but to save it.

What do we know about the people we see everyday? -- They need love, forgiveness, compassion, sometimes they need an endless supply of second chances ...

They need the Man who modeled and embodies all of these things. And, they need us to carry out His work.

. . . Father, thank You for Richard. Thank you for loving us. Thank You for life. Father, we cry out to you in Jesus name to mend broken hearts and broken lives. Command our spirits to never take a stranger for granted. They have a story and are Your children, too. In Jesus name we pray . . .

24 August 2009


As a parent I make mistakes all the time. Raising children is so hard.

At work and other places, when people tell me they hate Church I’ve noticed a phenomenon. Just five minutes into the conversation and about 90% percent start to rant about their parents or someone else who helped raise them.

I’ll politely interrupt and say, “Wait, you started by telling me why you’re mad at God, now you’re talking about your parents ... ”

Often they don’t notice the switch from one to the other. Their concepts of God-the-Father and others who have influenced them are completely enmeshed.


The other day I went into my youngest child’s room while he was asleep to pray for him. It’s nearly impossible to pray for my boys when they’re awake. They are usually bouncing off the walls, or the furniture, or our dogs ... literally.

Tristan is such a beautiful boy. His name is Tristan Elliott, which loosely translated means “Turbulent-Servant-of-God.” What kind of man will he be? How will his life, his spiritual life, be different because of me? These are questions I ask myself, about both of my boys, all the time.

Tristan, if you read this someday, I love you so much. Forgive me for my imperfections. You are such a precious child.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

Parents are imperfect. But, Jesus loves you perfectly. If you are looking for peace and rest, ask Jesus into your heart. He is unique and complete. He picks up the slack where parents fall short. He loves YOU so much, He gave everything for you … Amazing …

"Father, thank you for the gift of Tristan and Lucas. Thank you for the gift of the children in our lives. Father, we so much need Your guiding hand in our lives. Command our spirits to do Your will in the lives of those we have authority over. We pray to You in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus."

16 August 2009

Think Jesus

The first person I met who publicly attacked Christianity was an English professor at the University of Kansas. He was a likable guy, but whenever he quoted the Bible he made sure to call it Christian Mythology. He inflected his voice one octave higher and spoke slowly when he said the words Christian Mythology. No one challenged him. Everyone wanted to pass the course.

Later, during graduate school, I witnessed followers of Jesus ridiculed and intimidated in the classroom for their belief that Jesus is the only lasting answer to an ever faster collapsing humanity.

These were non-political, humble followers of Jesus. They were afraid. But, their faith and perseverance, all rapped in love, taught me so much.

Last week out of the blue, while we were climbing out of our van, my six-year-old son Lucas said: Jesus came into the world to show us what good is.

He said it like - Jesus can show us chocolate cake tastes great, or Jesus can show us waterslides are cool, or Jesus can show us birthday parties are fun.

Lucas said it like there is no way we could enjoy any of these things if it were not for Jesus.

The hair on the back of my arms stood up ... I knew Lucas was right.

The Bible teaches us that although our faith will bring us internal peace, we can expect to suffer at times for following Jesus. As one Christian writer put it, the people who attack us are not the enemy, but hostages to the enemy. People who persecute us are also God’s children.

In time some of them will come to recognize the author of everything that is good and the eternal truth Lucas unknowingly spoke about.

And, for some it will be the hope, the faith, and the love we reflect ... while we suffer for our belief in Jesus ... that will draw them home.

... Father, above all else, thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ. Father, thank you for little children who teach us big lessons about Your love for us. Father, we pray for those who do not know Your love and peace. Father, command our spirits to act in love, so that You are glorified. In Jesus name we pray ...

10 August 2009

Imperfect but Lovable

Martin Luther King is reported to have said, if you want to change someone, you need to love them first.

As a counselor I have conflicting thoughts concerning the suggestion one person has the power to change another. It seems I'm constantly warning married people, those frustrated spouses at their wits end, “the only person you can change is yourself,” which is true. Ultimately we only control our own actions.

However, I have witnessed powerful examples of how love, in the form of patience, kindness, self-sacrifice and above all forgiveness can transform relationships and marriages.

There have been times in my life where my own woundedness was really just hurt pride.

Self-pity, when indulged, is a form of narcissism. I’ve been there and it is a hard hole to climb out of without God’s help.

The Bible teaches that God does not simply employ love, but that God “is” love. (1 John 4:16). In other words the very essence of God is love.

This is how the Bible defines love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

Love can only exist in the context of relationships. God loves you with increasable intensity. God gave up quite a lot to be in a relationship with you, as you are, imperfect,but lovable.

This kind of love has the power to change everything.

I bet that is what Martin Luther King was talking about.

"Father, I want to pray for the people who are seeking love, Your love. Thank you for being a God who calls us Your children. Find us and keep us close during difficult times. In Jesus name draw us closer to You and hear our prayer."

03 August 2009

Sex God

Has anyone here read the book “Sex God” by Rob Bell? I haven’t, and I’m not sure that I will . But, when I found a copy on my wife’s nightstand, you might not be surprised to know I went to Amazon.com to see what the book is about ... What is she up to anyway? Maybe I should start working out again ... hmmm.

It turns out the book talks about the God of Abraham and human sexuality. It also turns out the book is highly controversial. I've always got a lot out of Rob Bell's Nooma videos. But, this book seems to be a little tooooo “relevant” for some followers of Christ. One reviewer wrote – Maybe Rob Bell should take a Bible class. – Ouch! Stinging criticism considering Rob Bell’s day job is being a pastor up in Michigan.

How are followers of Jesus, I mean the Bible believing variety, supposed to talk about sexuality and the world's empty promises surrounding sex? How do we contend with our hypersexual media and sex-addicted society we are a part of?

What we are doing now is not working.

How do we have a real conversation?

Do we talk about our own mistakes, our own mess-ups? There is a side of me that says ... not me, not here anyway ... my wife reads this blog ... you go first.

I read a study the other day that stated there are more men in America addicted to pornography than men addicted to alcohol. What?!

I’d like your feedback. Tell me what YOU think . . . In 200 words or less if possible . . . There are a lot of you out there . . . :-)

"Father, be with us, guide us, remind us of Your love for all of us. We are a fallen humanity and You provide the only lasting answer through Your son Jesus. In Jesus name we cry out to You."