love is... love?

 Lots of talk about #love. Have you noticed?

Awesome. Truly. Love in its intended form is an incredible, breathtaking pure thing. Yet we all know that love is often skewed to what we want it to say or mean.

So if it helps, here's a great definitive Source on this. Even if you don't know or agree with the Author, I'd encourage you to be a slow reader:

"Love is patient..."

Right off the bat, we see love is not described by personal urges that must be met without question, but considerate health that examines the greater Story. Even if we may (or others may) argue, "I'm just a black-and-white kind of person, and call it like I see it no matter what," we're dared to consider that that love isn't about our feelings, but about how we cause others to feel. Granted, feelings are not meant to be anyone's god, right? We know that. Otherwise we just assume God put those there and we have no choice but to act on them.

"love is kind..."

What if the people around you didn't steal life from you, but you felt genuine compassion, empathy or joy simply by being around them, as if they intended for you to receive that from them as a gift? This is kindness, and not only is it what you're looking for from them... it's what the people around you are looking from you. It's often seen and felt in simple things. What are some of those simple things you can be kind in?

"It does not envy..."

Envy is wanting what others have and being mad when they seem to take something from you. "How come the extended family is doing the reunion there instead of here?" or "Why doesn't my kid get to ______ when every other kid gets to ______?"

Do you really need to ask "What about me?" as often as you might? What if you instead became willing to become willing that others could/should be preferred before you... not so that you become a doormat, but so that you can become a party host, connecting those around you to opportunities in front of you meant to bless them, even if it didn't directly bless you?

"it does not boast..."

Another way to translate this is "It does not parade..." - meaning, we don't need to seek applause for whatever we're "floating" (pardon the pun), but can live to give without flapping for clapping.

"it is not proud..."

Pride means "I will do or be as I please, and if you disagree, walk away or expect to be unfriended." That smells like good self-actualization, but it is dangerously nearsighted. It removes all humility and says we are not teachable to being wrong. Love, on the other hand, says, "I sense this is who I am, but if I am wrong redirect me. My actual health comes before my perception of happiness." Isn't that why we all need doctors who will not say what we think but tell us what is and isn't actually right?

"It does not dishonor others..."

I'll be honest - I struggle with this as much as I know you do. It's hard to disagree without coming across as dishonoring. So what do we do with this? Never speak up? Not say something true in a world ready to jump on anything that isn't done "right?"

Where I've landed personally is to not making winning the argument the goal, but to create winning friendships. I have many friends who don't see life as I do, yet (from at least my end) that doesn't mean I need to slam them. Instead, I'm all in on a real-deal, life-giving, iron-sharpening-iron encouraging space where we help each other take the steps that matter. And when you/we disagree (as you/we should), you/we fight fair with high ideas versus stereotyping each other with low blows.

"it is not self-seeking..."

Our quick thought on this may be, "Be selfless." The larger value is to not live with a self-focus.

Do you see the KAPOW in that?

Imagine trying that in today's culture where we're told to be whomever we want to be without restraint or correction. Again, that smells like good advice, but what if who we want to be is misguided? Love is not about me trying to get what I want, but me living in the Largest Narrative possible, even if it runs against the grain of what I think I want or am. My ideas and urges are just a starting point to asking a better question, and not concluding I already have the answer.

"it is not easily angered..."

Keep all of the words in this sentence in mind. There is a time when anger is appropriate, but not usually when we want it to be. We all find it easy to be provoked when someone pokes at us or our values or our loved ones... but will we let ourselves be checked on this not by the people who always agree and like our ideas, but also by those whom we disagree with?

And when we're ready to quit something, or fire someone, or make a fist... will we first seek to reengage something, get fired up for someone, and make a handshake?

"it keeps no record of wrongs."

Many misunderstand this, assuming it means we're supposed to lose our memory of hurt. Rather, the idea here is that we give someone an intentional gift every time we see them or think of them or hear of them. It goes like this, "Instead of thinking of the hurt in our past, I'm going to try to see who 'you' are 'today.' I'm going to choose to not let what happened define us, but refine us."

Look beyond the spreadsheet you've been keeping on someone. You know, just like you'd like someone to do for you.

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."

I wish this wasn't overlooked. I so, so wish this wasn't overlooked.

We can't affirm someone who takes part in something that is wrong. Otherwise, one of two things happens... (1) We begin to believe what we know is wrong somehow now isn't wrong, because that person is so, so important to us. (2) They begin to believe that what they are taking part in isn't wrong, and they never consider becoming right.

Note, though... the avoidance of rejoicing in evil isn't the only thing mentioned here. We have a huge, huge opportunity to celebrate what is actually, always right versus what is culturally perceived as currently right.

"It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Love has confidence in the future versus insecurity in the relationship. Instead of being led by fear that the absolute worst is going to happen, it's convicted in faith that the absolute best is possible. And it does this not out of optimism, but out of action. We choose to not wrestle against each other, but against the actual darkness at work in this world that likes to disguise itself as light.

"Love never fails."

Love is permanent. Meaning, don't use that word unless you are willing to take on everything previously mentioned. And likewise, if someone tells you that they love you, don't assume it means they're locked in to marry you or that they have to tolerate your nastiness to them without practicing healthy self-care. Their declaration of love to you doesn't mean you're the definer of their love as if it came from you.

But the deepest idea here is that love outlasts any other gift. Every Christmas or birthday gift you give will one day turn to dust that suffocates, but love is the breath of life. As this passage from 1 Corinthians 13 that I've quoted reveals, love is a choice.

Which means... despite what you may have heard... love isn't love because "love is love" but because Love is *all* of these things. Otherwise, we're just using one word to define itself, which is like an eye doctor trying to accurately write his own eye prescription, and assuming he sees clearly in doing so.

Maybe that's why so many people keep bumping into each other.

Lots of talk about #love. Have you noticed?

Awesome. Truly. Love in its intended form is an incredible, breathtaking pure thing.

resurrection. changes. everything.

Resurrection. Changes. Everything.

There is an insane weight to many of our lives.

Men and women are looking for hope and answers. Couples need fresh perspective. Kids are trying to make sense out of a broken childhood. Teenagers and young adults are doing quick things with more long-term consequences that they see in the short-term. Families are trying to figure out tension that they've pinned on one person, right or wrong. Households need to find their financial footing (again, and again).

It always feels this way, doesn't it?

That's why I'm especially intrigued that Jesus kept the scars from His crucifixion even after He rose. They represent the most horrible evil, and yet are embedded into the most breathtaking good. He didn't want to ignore the harsh reality, but He also couldn't ignore the miraculous transformation.

Resurrection. Changes. Everything.

Yes, doubt can loom. You're in good company if you have it. Even when Jesus rose from the grave, the Bible honestly records the struggle of the disciples trying to take it all in.

"And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted." (Matthew 28:17)

The idea that a risen, scarred Jesus stood before them was was inconceivable for the first disciples, just as it some days it feels impossible for many of us to grasp today... in our lives, in our circumstances.

And yet it happened. And it still can happen. And it is still happening.

Resurrection. Changes. Everything.


This weekend I watched people in our Easter services at Riverside Church tell their own story of transformation. I was also able to be with them behind-the-scenes as each prepared themselves to step forth and share the ache of one side of their story, before flipping it to share the victory of the other side. Each is a real example of Jesus at work, and each is also an example of Him not being done working.

Resurrection. Changes. Everything.

Wherever you're at today in this process, of doubt to decision... feeling conquered or conquering... know that you are loved and pursued by a Savior who didn't just die on a Cross so you can feel your sin on Him, but a Savior who also came back so you can feel His victory on you.

Resurrection. Changes. Everything.

#HeIsRisen #Easter #Resurrection

the hardest part of easter

Today may be the hardest part of Easter weekend.

Because most of us here have seen a Cross before.

You’ve maybe looked at one in a church building, or as a piece of jewelry. Perhaps you've felt ashamed every time you see one. Or it could be that you've taken the radical approach of being snarky about it.

You might even be so familiar with the fact that Jesus died for you on a Cross that you end up overlooking how special it is.

That's why one of the greatest miracles on the day Jesus died may have been that it didn't look like a miracle at all.

Instead of legions of angels swooping in to rescue Him, they let Him rescue us.

Instead of the Father snubbing us for all the times we snubbed Him, He subbed in His one and only Son to sub in our place.

Instead of Christ skipping over the pain and jumping right into the Resurrection, He walked through the pain to let us know He'll walk with us through whatever pain in life we face.

Instead of Jesus dying for only certain people, He died for all (including the ones who literally killed him).

"When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" (Luke 23:33-34)

Today may be the hardest part of Easter weekend.

Because most of us here have seen a Cross before.

Or.... have we?

experts and easter

I'm noticing a lot of "expert venting" online this week, especially about hot topics. Shoes and Singers. Freedoms and Flags. Trials and Testimonies. Vacation and Viruses.

I didn't know we all knew so much about everything and everyone.

Meanwhile, I'd like to offer... that it's Easter weekend.

For some, this means tradition - Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Silent Saturday, Resurrection Sunday. It could be seen as a time to be nostalgic and traditional for a moment, but "let's not get carried away."

For others, Easter means nothing. Except maybe for the fun stuff, like candy and baskets. I mean, who doesn't like another excuse to eat a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup (shaped like an egg)?

And for even others, this weekend means everything... because Jesus lived, died, and then suddenly... wait, what? Even people who didn't follow Him historically noted His Resurrection. But it was more than historical, wasn't it? Because even today He's truly changing lives among those who say "Yes" to Him.

Pardon me if you're not in that last category. I'm sure you're shaking your head at what I said, and that's okay. You likely have an opinion, and would say I do, too. We can try to top each other and have a good go at it. We've all given that a shot once or twice, haven't we? (High-five)

And yet, here's the thing... there is a Reality about Jesus that trumps whatever you or I think about Him, isn't there? As the once-atheist C.S. Lewis observed, Jesus is either a lunatic, a liar, or Lord. He either was a madman, or a manipulator, or... more-than-a-man. So, what we'd conclude doesn't change that reality. We can each, though, conclude in Him personally, and that does change your reality.

Back to this week...

Like many of you, I also read up on several of the stories that everyone's weighed in on. On any given issue, from Lil Nas X ("Who?" some would ask), to things happening in schools, to a trial that some hope will offer "justice," we've all attempted to be "experts," if not "experts" about the alleged "experts."

"Those silly people. Ugh. Why don't they just think like me?"

This is part of the human experience, right?

I've likewise watched well-meaning arguments from people who attempted to solve all the tension claim that Jesus would be "okay" with "______" or "not okay" with "_______." Such arguments seem credible, especially when they're liked by others online. "Liking," by the way, does not account for those who remain silent on liking / hating / tearing / wowing the post because they're afraid of being attacked online for picking the wrong emoji (maybe Facebook needs to create a non-emoji for that?).

I'd like to chime in, but not as an expert. Or a critic of the experts.

I'd like to offer... that it's Easter weekend.

This week humbles me every time I get to it. I wasted so many years treating it like a holiday.

What I've realized over time is that the events of each day *this* week have the ability to reset the events of each day in *any* week.

Think about it. If Jesus really did rise from the dead, I mean... wow. Shoes and singers don't matter, and yet they do - especially when I consider there is a flawed and lost young man trying to make a name for himself, who is influencing others/youth, and comes from a family he felt he didn't fit in, which means that he has parents who mourn for him, and... wow... wait, did that topic suddenly deepen and widen?

When it comes to freedom and flags, is Jesus our politician? Can we find a handful of verses (at the expense of others) that paint Him to be a Republican/Democrat/Conservative/Liberal who is for/against __________ and would hug/shoot ________ because they _________? Can we call Him "love" and not call Him "holy" so He's just okay with everything? Or can we call Him "holy" and not "love" so He's just against everything? Or is He maybe both? And... wow... wait, did that topic suddenly deepen and widen?

(Insert "Trials and Testimonies" and "Vacations and Viruses" here. Play along at home.)

Might everything we're shaking a fist at actually be an opportunity to slow down, bow our heads and reach up our hands in humility?

I'd like to offer... that it's Easter weekend.

Practically, yes - I'll somehow keep engaging all of those above mentioned topics (or whatever the topics are next time), and yet I won't. Because what happens in our ordinary lives is an on-ramp to the Extraordinary Life, if we pay attention. The people around us are... well... *people* around us, if we pay attention. The opinions we fight with are a sign that we know a Deeper Truth exists, that is much deeper than we even realize, if we pay attention.

*** Yikes, this post is long, It breaks some social media rule about our attention span, I suppose. And yet, here we are. ***

What's next?

I'd like to offer... that it's Easter weekend.

The empty tomb says, "Take a moment, and notice that Jesus isn't always where we expect to find Him, but He is where He is."

You'll either ignore this and construct a "Jesus" who agrees with you, or wrestle with this because He doesn't feel the same way about every issue that you do or make an argument for, nor is He a genie whose job is to grant you wishes so life makes sense.

He is a Savior... who enters into our sin (yes, while calling it sin) so that we can enter into His family (yes, while calling us family). Life after you meet Him changes. He calls us out of where we're at and into an adventure filled with mystery, clarity, frustration, breakthroughs, confusion, wisdom and more.

If you doubt, it's okay... you're in good company. If you embrace Him, it's okay... you're in the Best Company.

"Then the angel spoke to the women. 'Don’t be afraid!' he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen... then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him—but some of them doubted!"

If I may be hypocritical at the end of this long post, I'd invite us all to listen. Not at the expense of speaking, but because only by first listening can we tell how to deepen and widen who or what appears to be shallow, and realize they/it were already much deeper and wider than we'd realized.

But then, speak... by all means speak. For Truth is waiting to shine, but it must first hit us and reflect, lest we simply blind people with our flashlights while we stand in the dark ourselves.


even them?

My family and I have been reading through a devotional book called “For I Know The Plans.” Today’s “January 20” devotion, written two years ago, seems to fit the transition of power and Inauguration events of today rather well. I’ve included it below.

Whether you’re deeply sad, deeply excited, or not sure how you feel today, there is some perspective to mine here. Remember, politics are clothing… don’t turn them into your backbone. Our Savior is not anyone we elect or have elected, but Jesus alone who chose to make it possible for us to receive Him.


“Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.’ And his servant was healed at that moment.” (Matthew 8:13)

These verses can easily be ones that we pass right by. “Great! Another person put their faith in Jesus for something; that’s how it’s supposed to happen.”

What we might also want to notice is the word “centurion.” This is the “enemy” – a soldier from the Romans. The Romans, particularly the soldiers, were infamous for terrorizing the Jewish people. And now, Jesus has the audacity to not only have a conversation with this man, and not only heal the man’s servant… but he also later praises the man’s faith.

Do you ever have those moments when you see the people that seem least deserving of something, somehow get something good? It causes you to wonder, “Even them?” with great surprise.

This is what Jesus does… He rattles our perceptions, and starts throwing curve balls.

As you reflect on your day, might there be interactions with people with whom you don’t normally interact? Are there people in your life that you would rather just write off? When Jesus interacted with the Roman officer and healed his servant, He’s acting out of His own principle to love one’s enemies. This is hard to do because it messes with our plans.

As you continue to grow in your faith, God may continue to shift you around in ways that call you to reach out to others who seem least deserving. It’s helpful when you reflect on just how undeserving we all were of God’s love and yet He extended it to us in Jesus. We are called to the same kind of action, no matter where your plans take you.

“God, help me understand that no matter what my plans are, I’m still called to love my enemies.”

Who would you normally consider an enemy?

digging out the fifty dollar bill

It's a weird time to wonder about what's happening in the world, let alone how to talk to people about what's happening in the world. 

There are people who I deeply, deeply care about who are "stuck" on a new type of political fervor, instigated in the past four (or more) years in either an extreme agreement with or an extreme struggle against President Trump as a candidate and official. It felt like whomever the alleged political "savior" was that there was a sense of an abusive relationship, where the phrase "Well, everyone has their faults..." is used to justify the venom, while "...but everyone also has their strengths" is used to justify any perceived positive. 

When I'd ask, "Would you apply that same criteria to the 'other' party's leader," the answer from my loved ones was always rather sheepish and hypocritical. 

The challenge is this is a concept that both the Republican and Democratic party have been wrestling with. While Mr. Trump is a brash target, there is a subtle, cultural "yes-ism" that shows up in moderate to liberal circles whenever someone pushes back on whatever the crowd is nodding about.

For example, what would happen if I were to say that abortion is _________ or homosexuality is __________? What are the "correct" blanks, according to the Democratic party? What will happen to my career or reputation if I don't parrot back what the common vote or vibe proclaims to be "truth?"

Again, this is true of supporters of Mr. Trump as well. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged and possibly punished by shunning.

Perhaps the bullying dynamic between these two parties is more blurred right now because we're still in the heat of President's Trump tantrum. He lost, and no evidence has been produced to prove otherwise other than memes that try to say otherwise. Even his own party has recognized he's displaying a blast of horrible leadership at the end of his presidency where his grumbles can turn a rally into a mob. Maybe when the microphone is no longer required to be in his face, he'll buy his own "microphone." Meanwhile, the Republican party to "reset" will likely/unconsciously/consciously pick a lesser-Trump who appears to be calmer, but will be just as flawed... and take us toward yet another broken-down cruise.

Likewise, my guess is the Biden-Harris platform will sometime this year show that its "Camelot" has its own Lancelot/Guinevere slipping about, somewhere within the castle. While "today" things might theoretically appear to have a calmer round table, "tomorrow" it will have to realistically address the ugly inside and outside of it. After all, it can't do what only Jesus can do.

Which brings to mind something I've been wrestling with...

If you're genuinely walking with Jesus, you will genuinely not fit into any man-made category, party or movement. You will surprise conservatives, and you will surprise liberals. You will even surprise yourself at times.

But, hang on.... you'll have blind spots, too.

You will be tempted to mistake your flawed Christianity for something more than it is, and something less than it is. You'll wonder if you fit into Church, even though you always will; you'll wonder if it's better to invest into the inside or outside of the four walls of a local church, even though you always will; you'll mistake the finding of people who agree with your version of things as meaning you're the new revolution... versus the one Jesus invented twenty centuries ago that is still very much alive. 

No matter how all of this plays out, let's be honest... 

We are digging for a 50 dollar bill that's been dropped into a toilet filled to the top with excrement, and the only tool to scoop it out is our own hands. 

Thankfully, as Christ-followers we have access to the One to Whom "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We have access to the one who has crap on His own hands, and won't stop diving in "while we were yet sinners."

I wish I could tell you how it ends. Instead, I can only tell you how it begins.

Keep digging.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:4-7)

the possibility of change

Nothing has changed about the possibility of change.

A new year *is* before us. Hope *is* real. Progress *is* possible, and not tied to sarcasm, politics, opinion or debate.

So pause, breathe in this Truth, and humbly accept the opportunity you have today to wrestle with being humble.

Nothing has changed about the possibility of change.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. (James 1:19-21)


Be careful...

Often the "noble" prayer we pray

“Lord, here I am. Send me”

is actually

“Lord, get me out of here.”


Try this:

"HERE... I am.

Send me (even into HERE)."


God may want you to go nowhere

to deepen your soul everywhere.


contagious belief

Believe in people so strongly

and so genuinely 

that other people will join you 

in believing in them, too, 

even if you never ask them to do so.

timely embarassment

Embarrassment is a timely teacher.

But only if you let humility
turn you into a permanent student.

Even in a cancel culture,
there is power in
solely own your faults
versus doubling-down
on your pride. 


sexy greatness

Greatness always looks sexy.

BUT the pathway to greatness hardly ever looks sexy.


Think about it. 

And this... 

"Sexy" is circumstantial and temporary. 

BUT caring sweat is #beautiful and births life. 

Think about it.


Your failures will either become... 

excuses you camp out on 


foundation you launch up from 

(Guess who gets to decide that?)

Things can always gets better.

"Just not fast enough," we think.

Some things feel like they'll never change.

But better to try than write it off altogether. 

(Guess who gets to decide that?)

babying anger


It is not a baby to be fed.

So many people nurse their wrath so that it keeps its color...

so that it stays warm.

But doing so causes you to bond with it...

to raise it...

to parent it...

until it buries you.
"In your anger do not sin." (Ephesians 4:26)

3 words that can change your life

It's a rather unique Easter weekend.

We're all navigating what's familiar with what's different. That's actually a good thing. After all, Easter can get "repetitive" if we're not careful. "I know how it goes, and how it ends," we're tempted to think. It's easy to just seek and settle for tradition, isn't it?

This is why every year I look for a new perspective... something that I've either forgotten and need to remember, or something I need to discover.

This year is no exception. As a pastor, I've been frustrated that I can't fully see the fruit of everything I'm doing. I've been serving people within all the limits around me, including the strengths and hurdles of online ministry. That means that even when I work really hard to put something quality out that people may not share with me about its impact. Or, they may treat it like entertainment to critique versus inspiration to take in.

I get it. I'm human and have those same temptations.

And so maybe that's why this Easter I'm drawn to three words that Jesus said before He died: Three words that can change your life, too.

"It is finished." (John 19:30)

  • He said this without everyone in front of Him having placed their trust in Him. 
  • He said this while being misunderstood. 
  • He said this without seeing what His efforts would produce. 
  • He said this even though his disciples give into their own discouragement in the moment. 
  • He said this, after having been fully faithful Himself anyway.

You can do two things with those 3 words:

1) Receive "it is finished" as a gift.

Picture this: Jesus looks at the Cross. Then He looks at you. "You're worth it," He says.

That's the spirit of what He meant. And it's a joy you're invited into. It's Easter, and if you haven't yet placed your faith in the One who died on the Cross for you, why not today? Why not now? Pray and receive Him into your life beyond your traditions... it's one thing to believe, and another thing to receive. Right now, pray this:

Pray: Yes, Jesus. I choose to begin a relationship with You - the One who loves me and died on the Cross for my sins. And Who rose for me to show me that you truly are my Savior and Lord. Come into my life, and help me come into You. In Your Name, Jesus, I pray, Amen.

2) Live "it is finished" as a release.

There is freedom in doing what you know you "can" do without knowing how it "will" play out. It's called faithfulness... which always flows best out of that personal relationship with Jesus Christ - the "author" and "finisher" of our faith, who endured the Cross and trusting in the joy on the other side of it.

You're not going to be able to know if everything your doing in life is having the impact you hope it does, but you can keep doing those things. Because you really are in a place of influence, perhaps now more than ever before. Make the most of every opportunity, even if you're not sure if it's doing any good.

Because it is. It absolutely is.

"How?" you may ask.

Hmm. Perhaps I could say more, or try to list it out for you, but that's up to you to look for and see. As for me, "it is finished." :)


P.S. My son and I compacted our full book into a 31-day highlight version that we're giving away for FREE! If you or a friend are looking for some hope, find that download here through our publisher. It's our gift to YOU!

inner bullies

We all struggle with thoughts and fears that want to bully us. 

Talk to yourself 

instead of just 

listening to yourself.

Ask the question, 

"What is one thing I can do to make the situation better?" 


do that thing, 

whether tiny 

or huge.

arrows to the heart

Tragedy makes us real.

We otherwise live in a residual self-image, projecting ideas of ourselves/life we assume are true.

But feeling heartache,

noting decay,

owning sin,

prompt us to release the glow-in-the-dark stickers we assume are light...

so we can finally look for Light.

Our arrows to the heart are arrows to His heart.
“For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life” (Psalm 56:13)

reflecting on reflecting on the super bowl

There are no shortage of opinions are the Super Bowl halftime show.

On one hand, it was sexual. 

Do we celebrate that or critique that?

On the other hand, it was cultural.

Do we celebrate that or critique that?

Metaphorically speaking...

Antifreeze has water in it. I can "celebrate" that. But serving antifreeze to people to drink in the hopes that they appreciate the water... is serving poison.

Putting antifreeze into their cars in the right reservoir, though, is great. Context matters.

Sex has a context, too. Let's support keeping it in its God-gifted/intended context. I'd hope we wouldn't applaud a movie focused on sex because they had a "diverse cast," and in doing so ignore the content of what was presented.

Poison is poison in any language...

water is water in any language.

Shall we as missionaries to the world clap for what is blue to the Lord, or shall we dig deeper cross culturally by building real wells that actually refresh people?

Sure - you could find a way to extract water from antifreeze and serve it to people. But let's be honest - how often do we take the time to do that with antifreeze? To be speculatively candid, I believe you or I more regularly buy guests water versus antifreeze we spend time chemically purifying, correct?

But... I'd also guess you'd allow spiritually poisoned guests who don't know they are spiritually dying into your home for that water. In doing so, you likely admire what they are doing "right" in life, but not at the expense of addressing the poison.

Yes, let's enter the world. Yes, let's redeem what is the Lord's. Yes, let's have compassion and point people to Christ.

Let's also be clearer about it, lest people think our straddle into the darkness is an endorsement of it.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. " (Romans 12:2)

ponch and john

Once upon a time, there was a man named Erick Estrada.

He may actually still be alive. If so, whomever around him is having a great time, likely on the dance floor.

Because there was a time when the guy was everywhere. We're talking guest starring on The Love Boat, popping into the Tonight Show, handing out statues at awards shows, cutting up the floor on Dance Fever, making jokes on Hollywood Squares, doing special appearances on Bob Hope specials.

(Some of you reading this may not know what any of those are. Hang with me.)

Erik Estrada was most famous for a role he played on an iconic TV show called CHIPS. He was a police officer named "Ponch" and hung out with his partner "John." They both liked wearing dark sunglasses by day and polyester shirts while out with the ladies at night.

The actual actors never really got along, though. To add to the rub, an insider behind that show once shared that the producers thought Larry Wilcox would be a bigger star than Erik Estrada. They had approached him and asked what he wanted financially.  He responded, “I just want one dollar more than my co-star.”

Later when the show took off and Estrada’s smile stole the spotlight, the contract held up. Every pay increase Estrada made. Wilcox made one dollar more. Even when Estrada was given a truck as a gift from the show., Larry Wilcox also received a truck… with a dollar in the glove box.

That’s either a great anecdote for your next party, or it’s a sobering gut check on our temptation to try to constantly top someone else (or even ourselves) in our work. It may be one of the biggest challenges to occupational health.

When you’re young, success is usually about a trophy – be it a literal trophy you pursue through sports or the arts, or something figurative like a hot boyfriend or girlfriend on your arm. For some it’s what shows up in your grades or college pathway, while others gauge success via locker room lies we’ve invented to “prove your manhood” or “establish that you’re now a woman.”

Some of that changes as we get a little older, as success becomes about professional achievement or family nesting.  The “trophy” is now a nice vehicle we constantly shine as a status symbol or us finding the “perfect person” we can have the “perfect wedding” with to inspire a “perfect marriage” that creates “perfect kids” who grow up to be “perfect versions of us.”

We all need an anchor beyond our circumstances or others around us to help us focus on what matters most. In my experience, God’s voice is much more reliable to trust than what the people around you think.  I’ve been trusting in Him since I was a teenager and have learned how to pay attention to the nudges He places inside of me… which is the essence of faithfulness.

"God’s grace has been given to me. So here is what I say to every one of you. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you should. Be reasonable when you think about yourself. Keep in mind the faith God has given to each of you. Each of us has one body with many parts. And the parts do not all have the same purpose." (Romans 12:3-4)

Here's a reset for you:
  • Be careful to not trade the power of love for the love of power. 
  • Instead of competing with others, invest into others. You may not get everything you want, but you'll find there is more than you need.
Whomever the "Erik Estrada" in your life is, give that guy or gal a "dollar."

how can I help you be offended?

How can I help you be offended today?

Maybe you'd offer all I need to do is bring up a handful of hot topics and blindly tell you that you're wrong on where you land on them. Sure, we can have a passionate debate. In the end, one of us will get exhausted and claim the "agree to disagree" line or sign off with "SMH" to then block the other online.

I'm not talking about that, though.

I'm asking can I help you be offended today?

The answer for us has changed since a decade ago.

I'm not trying to be an alarmist... just think about it, though. From news headlines about yet more violence, to absurd acts that world leaders do, to natural disasters that devastate entire towns we're losing the ability to be shocked.

The "once-unthinkable" has become routine.

Today while exercising with my son, a group of nearby guys were occasionally swearing as they worked out. I usually practice grace before I say anything. My first thought is, "Maybe he grunted that out without realizing he's in a public place." After I sense a rhythm, though, I typically speak up.

Surprisingly, the guy I confronted was caught off guard that I might ask that of him - despite it being a posted value all over the community center, and kids of all ages walking about. He did end up editing his language from that point on, but made it a point when he left to loudly say what a "friggin' great workout" he had.

Supposedly, swearing in public shouldn't matter anymore. But why not?

After all, movie posters frequently use profane words and images that young kids have access to simply walking by on their way to see a family movie. We shouldn't mind, right? The Electric Company used the word "crap" as a rhyming word in a segment on how to use language. No big deal, right? Plots in film, TV and books tell us what we're supposed to tolerate everything and everyone without ever raising our hand. Don't say anything, right?

We're supposed to just think "this is the way things are now."

Why? Really, why?
  • Being offended is really good for us. It reminds us that what is common isn't Normal, and what is Normal isn't common. (You may need to reread that.)
  • Being offended can nurture empathy. We shouldn't expect people to have our same values on everything., but we can expect is that others are different because they are human beings. The point of being offended isn't to demonize others or feel we're better, but for you and I to prompt awareness in each other of how Truth does exist and we can strive for something common and righteous together.
  • Being offended can clarify your convictions. We often say we are for/against things, but it isn't until we're in an awkward situation that we have to own if we are/aren't. 
  • Being offended can create courage. It'll cause you to dig deep and share wide what often gets buried in a culture of dirt-slinging.
  • Being offended can reset another person. Maybe by speaking up we can help someone rethink why they say or do what they say or do... and maybe  next time they'll pause before grunting out whatever they commonly grunt out.
Hang on, though. Don't just be offended to be offended.
"Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense." (Proverbs 19:11)

The key in this? To be on a journey of transformation yourself where you allow yourself to become offended at things in your own life that you've grown callous to.

You may need to reread that, too.

Being offended doesn't mean you're right. It means you're aware of something that seems off. The question is if it is. That's why the more you're willing to be transformed and humble yourself the more you become clearer on what's foggy.

I hope I've offended you.

And if I haven't, dig deeper.

notice what you notice

Some people are like slushies.

Others are like nachos.

I share this after having noticed that the place I exercise at sells slushies and nachos. I can also watch the Food Network while I'm on the treadmill, trying to burn off calories.

I have yet to order a slushie or tray of nachos, though. And I don't think I'll be getting my chestnut roasting pan out anytime soon. I've chosen instead to notice something else - my progress and my goals, for starters. I go into that place with my app ready and a plan in place to focus my energy for the 15 to 60 minutes I'm there.

Notice what you notice.

Do you want to hold a grudge today?

Of course you don't want to... and yet...

Notice what you notice.

Does the idea of thinking of someone and feeling toxic vomit in your throat sound appealing?

Of course it doesn't...and yet...

Notice what you notice.

Are you looking for harsh words, gossip and criticism of how someone let you down be what your known for today?

Of course you aren't... and yet...

Notice what you notice.

If the answer is genuinely "no" to all of these, then you must choose to no longer keep a list. Maybe people are only slushies if you see them that way, while others don't have to be nachos if you set the tray down.

Want good relational health?

Some of the things you think keep adding up actually require you to do some subtracting.

Notice what you notice.
"Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you." Proverbs 4:25