More Quotes I Love

“But God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand” (C. S. Lewis).

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing” (C. S. Lewis).

“Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has—by what I call ‘good infection’. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else” (C. S. Lewis).

I started out to write something original, but I decided I didn’t like what I had written so I borrowed a little from some writing I did like. You can’t go far wrong with Mr. Lewis.

I promise tomorrow that I will be back with my own words.



“That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

All of us have probably gone through times in our lives where we felt like we didn’t belong anywhere. Many of us have known what it’s like to feel unwanted and unloved (whether real or perceived).

Most of us have done and said stupid stuff- stuff we’d normally never even dream of saying or doing– in order to fit into a group. Nine out of ten times we found out that being in the group wasn’t worth the cost of wrecking our consciences.

Get this. In God’s Kingdom, you belong. I belong. We belong. Not because any of us are so great or special or wonderful, but because God wanted us to be there. Why? I can’t speak for any of you, but I have no idea why God wanted me, other than it gave Him pleasure for some mysterious reasons known only to Him.

That’s my motto for the evening. We belong. Of course, now I have that Pat Benatar song stuck in my head (one of the many perils of being a music nerd).

The best part of belonging in the kingdom of God is that there will never be a time where you and I no longer belong, where we are once again outcasts and misfits.

This belonging is forever.


The Ragamuffin Blog

As you know, the reason for the name of this blog is the very famous book The Ragamuffin Gospel by one Mr. Brennan Manning. I thought I’d share one of his quotes that I love, one of the reasons why I write these blogs:

““The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian” (Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God).

That truly is what it means to be a Christian.


Music for the Drive Home


When most people want music, they turn on the radio and pick out a favorite station. They pick music suitable for tuning out, background music that won’t demand too much of their attention. I am not most people.

I think that even a night drive deserves a worthy soundtrack. Like for tonight after I helped a friend move some of his belongings into storage. I needed music that would set the perfect mood for driving home at 11 pm.

There are three kinds of musical tastes as far as I’m concerned: 1) people who only like one kind of music, i.e. Christian or country or hip-hop, 2) people who like a variety of styles and artists, and 3) good Lord, they should make pills for this. Guess which one I am. Though I prefer the terms eclectic or eccentric. Crazy cat lady music. And why isn’t there a male version of the crazy cat lady yet?

For me, there’s nothing better than the right song at the right moment to evoke the right mood. You don’t necessarily want speed metal at 5 am or frenetic music late at night. At least I don’t.

I’ll give you a sampling of what my playlist might look like on any given drive:

1) Come Undone – Duran Duran

2) Found Out About You – Gin Blossoms

3) Keep Us- Peter Bradley Adams

4) Air that I Breathe – The Mavericks

5) Runaway Feeling – The Thorns

6) Thank You – Alanis Morrissette

7) I’m a Believer- The Monkees

8) Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

9) The One I Love – R.E.M.

10) Save It for a Rainy Day- The Jayhawks

It’s a bit of everything. To me, listening to the same kind of music all the time is like eating the same meal every day or wearing the same clothes all the time. While that might work for some, it would drive me nuttier than squirrel poo.

So there you have it. That’s probably way more than you wanted to know about my musical tastes, but I like oversharing. It makes life interesting.

elizabethtown movie poster



I’m Not Crazy, Am I?

I think there’s a common belief among evangelicals that every problem can be solved by praying more and having more faith. Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes it’s not.

Sometimes, you need a little help.

Some people have anxiety that won’t go away, no matter how much praying they do. Some people have depression that all the faith in the world can’t lift.

That’s why there’s doctors and medication. Because sometimes your brain just doesn’t work right. Sometimes you have a chemical imbalance or synapses misfiring, and you need help.

I do think that a lot of issues are spiritual in nature and I really truly believe that God can heal. I also believe God put it in the hearts of men and women to help cure people of physical and mental ailments. God sometimes chooses to cure through human hands.

I don’t like the term “mental illness.” As a pastor said, it gives the impression that your malady is all in your head. But, as he went on to say, a broken mind is just as broken in a very real sense as a broken limb.

As of today, I am taking medication for generalized anxiety disorder (with obsessive thinking that I can’t shut off thrown in). I can’t wait to be myself again, to not live under a constant state of anxiety and to finally be able to listen to myself think for once.

It’s not a shameful thing to admit you need help. Or that you need drugs to function normally (prescribed over-the-counter drugs taken according to the instructions).

It doesn’t mean you’re less of a person or less of a Christian if you struggle with depression or anxiety or are bipolar. In fact, your struggles will give you a testimony to reach people for Christ that most people can’t touch. You will be able to use your pain and sttuggles to help someone else through theirs.

And by the way, normal is just average. Don’t be normal. Be spectacular. Be extraordinary.

A Real Man

I want to put in a disclaimer at the start of this blog: this is by no means an exhaustive treatment of the subject of manhood. Exhausting, maybe. But not exhaustive.

You don’t really get a true idea of biblical manhood from most of the voices clamoring for your attention these days. Manhood means virility. It means physical strength. It means having the right car and wearing the right suit and living in the right house and making ungodly amounts of money. According to some.

Sometimes, you get manhood spoken of derisively to refer to caveman-type behavior and values and it’s expected that any man will be rude and gross and inconsiderate.

I don’t think so. Here’s what true masculinity is, according to me.

It means holding on to what you believe, no matter what. It means having principles and values and sticking to them, regardless of who else shares them or stands with you. Even if you stand alone, you still don’t compromise your beliefs.

It means that who you are in public is the same as who you are in the dark when no one else is watching. It means you are the same person around friends and around strangers.

In terms of faith, a Christian man is one who seeks single-minded obedience to Jesus, no matter what it costs him in terms of popularity, money, fame, friends, health, and even his own life. Obedience as I heard it described very recently is doing what you know to do because it is the right thing to do and doing it as consistently as possible.

I’d also add that being a true godly man means knowing when to ask for help from others and from God. It’s the bravery to admit weaknesses and faults, the strength to shed tears, the ability to care for the helpless, and the wisdom to know when you should stand and fight and when you should back away. And by fighting, I mean speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves and standing up for those who no one else wants to help.

A true man is passionately and unashamedly in love with Jesus Christ and doesn’t care who knows it. A true man will be the one who, after he’s gone, people will remember not him but the Spirit of Jesus in him.

There are probably a lot more good characteristics of a godly man that I left out or simply forgot. But these are just a few of the ones that I think make a real man. In this man’s humble opinion.

Seeing With New Eyes

I had a flashback to an old memory. Actually, it was less of a flashback and more of a memory of my mother telling me about it.

When I was 4 or so, I had the notion to pour Comet Cleanser on my head. It seemed like a fine idea at the time to my 4-year old mind. That is, until it got into my eyes.

I don’t remember any of this, but apparently I burned or damaged my retinas pretty severely. I had to stay in a dark room away from bright lights and have drops in my eyes every four hours. According to the story, there was some doubt as to whether my retinas would grow back.

They did.

I don’t know what triggered that memory. I do know that I’ve had experiences that have caused me to look at myself and others through new eyes.

Like tonight. The teacher at Kairos spoke about the tale of the Good Samaritan. Only he said that Jesus taught the parable to show us not that we’re the Samaritan who helps others, but the badly beaten, naked man lying in a ditch on the side of the road, desperate for help.

Maybe you’ve thought to yourself, “Hey, I’m a nice person. I try to help others and do the right thing most of the time.”

But if you’re honest you look at your life and you see deception and manipulation. You see those times when you failed and didn’t do the right thing. You know that if people could read your mind and see some of the thoughts you have in the dark of night, they wouldn’t think you were so nice.

The fact is that we’re all in need of rescue. We’re not as noble or kind or brave as we thought we were. We’re not nearly as able to help ourselves.

But Jesus is so much stronger than we ever knew. He’s so much more than able to reach down and rescue us from the messes we fall into. He’s able to change us into loving people who don’t do kind things as much as they exude kindness. It’s his love inside us by which we love others who aren’t lovable.

I know even after more than three decades of being a Christian, I need Jesus every bit as much now as I did when I first believed. The only thing that’s changed is that I see so much more clearly how good and great he is, how much he loves me, and how committed he is to me.

I haven’t had any more eye emergencies since. Hopefully, I’m smart enough now not to pour household cleaners on my head. Lesson learned.


What A Christian Is (And Is Not)

I found a poem on Facebook that spoke about what a Christian is and is not. It speaks better than I ever could about the essence of the faith that I hold dearly. In the end, I’m not a Christian because I’m smarter or more clever or anything like that. It’s because God loved me so much that he sent Jesus for me. I just want as many people to know that as possible.

“When I say…’I am a Christian’
I’m not shouting ‘I am saved’
I’m whispering ‘I get lost!’
‘That is why I chose this way.’

When I say…’I am a Christian’
I don’t speak of this with pride.
I’m confessing that I stumble
and need someone to be my guide.

When I say…’I am a Christian’
I’m not trying to be strong.
I’m professing that I’m weak
and pray for strength to carry on.

When I say…’I am a Christian’
I’m not bragging of success.
I’m admitting I have failed
and cannot ever pay the debt.

When I say…’I am a Christian’
I’m not claiming to be perfect,
my flaws are too visible
but God believes I’m worth it.

When I say…’I am a Christian’
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartaches
which is why I seek His name.

When I say…’I am a Christian’
I do not wish to judge.
I have no authority.
I only know I’m loved. (Carol Wimmer)”


My two cents on spiritual warfare

A group of guys and I have been watching a DVD series on spiritual warfare by Chip Ingram called The Invisible War (and yes, that was a shameless plug). It got me thinking about the mindset of so many American believers (including me) regarding the whole topic of spiritual warfare. Plainly put, either most of us don’t believe there is an war going on with an enemy that is constantly seeking our destruction. If we believe, we sure don’t live like it much of the time. Again, me included.

The war is real. The enemy is real. In this world, we are not tourists on vacation, or passengers on some kind of luxury cruise, but soldiers engaged in battle. Our ignorance of the battle and our enemy can only do us harm. We need to wake up to realize that we are under attack. But here’s the best part.

The battle is already won. Chip Ingram said, “As believers in Christ, we don’t fight FOR victory. We fight FROM victory.” That’s the good news (which is why it’s called the gospel!). But there is still a battle.

We fight back by putting on the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. We should pray these on every morning and pray these for each other on a daily basis. We should pray with eyes wide open to the spiritual realm, asking God to give us eyes to see the battle around us like the Elijah prayed for his servant when they were surrounded by the Syrian army. We should pray for discernment and wisdom. Most of all, we should pray at all times to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled, taking every thought captive and submitting them to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We must fight together. If you are fighting the enemy on your own, apart from other believers, you may succeed for a season, but you will ultimately grow weary and faint. You will stumble and fall. You need other believers praying God’s protection over you, encouraging you and keeping you honest.

We fight ultimately with one weapon– LOVE. Not as a feeling, but as a decisive act of the will. We fight by showing that Calvary’s love is stronger than hate and that love overcomes anything. Chip Ingram said, “Love is giving to another person what they need the most when they deserve it least.” Love is doing whatever you can, even to your own detriment, for the good of the beloved. It means dying to yourself and your rights and own ideas about how the world should work.

So live with eyes wide open, hands raised, side by side with your brothers and sisters in Christ. And remember that the battle is already won and that we have overcome!

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Last Thoughts on the Beatitudes

Obviously, I’ve had the Beatitudes on my mind for some time now, having blogged on each one individually for the past several days. The question that remains is how do they all fit together. And what is the purpose? Ok, so I lied about only having one question. Sue me.

How do they fit together? It seems like they are all describing one person. A believer.

What is the purpose? If it’s a to-do list, I’m sunk. I can never make myself be poor in spirit or meek or any other of these things. The same goes if it’s a list of to-be’s, as in you should be all these things if you are a believer. Then what? I heard someone say that the Beatitudes are what it looks like when the Kingdom of God breaks through in a person. When God’s reign is manifested in an individual.

Well, then. How can we seek for a Kingdom breakthrough? By seeking the Kingdom. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). And the Kingdom is nothing more than God Himself, God ruling over His creation. So seek God first, and everything else will fall into place. Make Jesus your first– your only priority– and you will have found your purpose.

Again, I like how the Message puts it: “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” Steep your life in God. Let every part of your life be filled with every part of God. Let every thought, breath, word and action be a living prayer to Jesus. Live with open hands and open minds toward all that God has for you.

Jesus, be thou my vision, as the old hymn says. So fill me with Your Spirit that all I see is You and how You are working in the world. So inhabit my senses that my heart breaks with what breaks Your heart. So enrapture me with Your love that everything else fades away.