Parable of the Good Person


Once upon a time there was a good person. Or at least he thought so.

He determined in his own mind to set out on a quest to find inner peace and began the arduous journey toward his goal.

He chanted, he fasted, he burned incense, he meditated, and he prayed. He went on pilgrimages. He gave up red meat and gluten. Later, he became a vegan, even though he loved him some steak and potatoes.

He helped old ladies across the street and rescued kittens from trees and paid his taxes like a good citizen. He even volunteered at the library.

But no matter how much he did, it never felt like enough. He never could seem to fund that elusive peace he was so desperately seeking.

Then he had an epiphany. He realized he was not a good person. He understood that he was fundamentally flawed and broken person whose good intentions never hit their marks.

He discovered that there is only One who is good, One who once came down to live among people just like him. One who did everything right and lived the perfect life that this good person could not.

He grasped that this One, Jesus, had died for him not when he was a good person, but when he was at his worst, when he was against everything Jesus stood for.

He called out to this Jesus and asked Him to save him and do for him what he could never do for himself. He confessed that he was really and truly a not-good person.

Now he has peace. He still has bad days and even bad weeks. He still has good intentions that fall short. He can even be grumpy at times. But he also has Jesus.

And that is enough.

I Understand Now

I had a conversation with a good friend. I’ll be honest. I didn’t look forward to the meeting; in fact, I went into it with a mixture of anxiety mixed with a little bit of dread.

I got knocked down another rung or two on my self-esteem ladder. I saw some things about myself that I didn’t like and realized yet again how far I still have to go toward mental and spiritual health. The good news is that I can still see how very far I’ve come to even be able to honestly assess my faults without it turning into another self-hating and self-degrading session.

I understand a few things now.

I understand that not everybody wants to be friends with me. And even if they did, it’s not possible to be friends with everyone and it’s not healthy to try. You have to choose the friends who can make time for you and add value to your life. And as a good friend recently reminded me, that means you need to make time for others and be willing to make every effort to add value to the people in your life. It works both ways

I understand now that friendships end. It doesn’t mean the other person was bad or evil or hurtful. It just means their time in your life is over. It’s best not to try to artificially extend a relationship that has run its course. Just let it go and move on.

I understand now that people will hurt me without meaning to. Some people have their own wounds and their innate response is fear and retreat and wounding back. Again, it doesn’t make them bad people. It just means they haven’t found their healing yet. They need my prayer but not my presence.

I understand now that even the best of good intentions will get misrepresented and misunderstood. Sometimes what you mean as an overture of friendship gets taken as something more. The person will think your friendliness is romantic Interest and they will take your words and read into them way more than you ever intended. It’s best to not try to apologize (a lesson learned the very hard way). Just walk away.

Most of all, I understand now that the people God puts in your life will want to be there. They will make time for you. They will reach out to you. You won’t always have to initiate everything and do all the heavy lifting in the relationship.

This culture is one where friendships don’t mean that much. People are casual and cavalier about their relationships and how they treat other people. Very few actually mean what they say or keep their word. Most will lie and say they want to hang out or spend time with you because it’s easier than actually admitting that they don’t want to be your friend or spend time with you.

I have some good friends who are still around. I woke up this morning. I’m still blessed and deeply loved by my God and King of the Universe.

Even in the midst of occasional hurts and disappointments, I’m still finding joy in everything and learning to give thanks in every situation. I am living my miracle!

Back to Loving Being Me


It really is okay to love yourself. After all, the Bible does say to love your neighbor as yourself and you can’t very well do that if you’re not too fond of you. I think there’s a kind of false modesty that gets passed around where we have the “aw shucks” mentality and downplay any compliments that come our way. I can tell you for certain that kind of thinking doesn’t come from God or the Bible.

God made you. He created you exactly how He wanted you to be and no matter how many scars and breaks and bruises and messes you may have accumulated along the way, He still loves the work of His own hands– you. No matter how you may have been rejected or friend-zoned by girls or guys, God is enraptured and enamored and captivated by you. He is completely and totally crazy in love with you.

I’m loving being me. I can say that I’m not like anybody else out there. That doesn’t make me odd. That might make me eccentric. What that does make me for absolute certain is unique. There is no one in the whole wide world quite like me, and I like that.

I love that I can be socially awkward at times. I love that I can be overly enthusiastic in my friendliness and sometimes be perceived as coming across a little creepy.  That’s okay. Aside from maybe needing to visit Decaf-land from time to time, I’m fine if not every single person likes what I have to offer. Many people were turned off by Jesus.

I love that when God sees me, He sees Jesus. He sees beauty and perfection and wisdom and strength beyond measure. He sees my very best self, the one only hinted at in my best moments of selfless devotion. He sees the finished product of who I will become.

As of this moment, I refuse to take on myself any names other than the ones He has given me. Not from family or friends. Not from co-workers. Not even from me. I don’t have to be defined by words spoken in frustration or anger or resignation. I am no longer the mistakes I’ve made or the chances I’ve missed or the good intentions coming up short.

I am Forgiven. I am Set Free. I am Redeemed. I am A New Creation. I am Blameless.

Of all the names God has given me, my favorite is this: I am His Beloved Son in whom He is well pleased.

My hope and prayer for you tonight is to let go of all the names you or anyone else has called you out of hate or anger and embrace the name given in love by your Creator and Redeemer and Savior. Listen to Him calling you His Beloved Child. Hear Him singing His delight over you and smiling over you. Let your life be defined by God’s pleasure over you instead of people’s disappointment in you.

I truly hope and pray that you will come to the point where you can truly and honestly say that you love being you.

Jesus Is Your Peace


This is just a reminder for those weary and worn ragamuffins who occasionally stray from the road and get lost in the dark from time to time. There’s always a Voice calling your name to lead you back. And the name of that Voice is the Prince of Peace.

When you’re tired and you can’t sleep, Jesus is your peace.

When the one you really like prefers someone else over you, Jesus is your peace.

When your spouse wakes up one morning and decides he or she doesn’t love you anymore and doesn’t want to be married to you anymore, Jesus is your peace.

When a friend whom you trusted hurts you and the wound goes deeper than pain, Jesus is your peace.

When your good intentions get maligned and people ascribe you malicious motives, Jesus is your peace.

When you have a week of Mondays at work and nothing seems to go right, Jesus is your peace.

When you’ve been out of work for months and begin to wonder if you even have anything worth offering to anybody, Jesus is your peace.

When you’re bending over a sick loved one and your only prayers are tears, Jesus is your peace.

When your child hovers between life and death and you are powerless to help, Jesus is your peace

Through whatever storms or calm, joy or sorrow, victory or defeat, gain or loss, Jesus has been, is, and will always be your peace.



Some thoughts about worship

Jesus didn’t die for our good works or good intentions. He didn’t die to make good people better. Or for that matter to make bad people good. He died to make dead people come alive. He died for our dark places, our wicked deeds. He came to take our blame and our shame and give us His perfection. Jesus died to make us worshippers.

John Piper says in effect, Worship, not missions, is the purpose of His people. The reason that missions exists is because for so many peoples, worship does not. People can’t worship a God they don’t know. People can’t worship a god made in their image that is too small to save or love or rescue anybody. Redeemed people worship a real God. Really when you look at it, missions and evangelism are both forms of worship– declaring the great worth and works of God to all peoples.

Worship is Romans 12:1-2, offering our bodies as living sacrifices. In the Old Testament, part of worship was offering sacrifices like bulls and goats. Since Jesus did away with the old sacrificial system, what we bring as our offering of worship is ourselves. Worship is giving to God our bodies, our souls, our true selves. Worship is giving back to God what was already His and acknowledging that He owns it all, including us.

Worship is James 1:27. When we give to the widow and the orphan, we give to Jesus. Whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. Jesus didn’t choose the popular or strong or wise; He chose the throwaways of the world, the lepers, the outcasts and the abandoned to be His worshippers. Worship also means keeping yourself unstained by the world, to be set apart and different. Worship is either a 24/7 lifestyle or it’s nothing at all.

Worship is taking your two loaves and five fishes and watching Jesus turn it into a meal for thousands. When we give what little we call our own to Jesus, He takes it and not only blesses the multitudes, but gives back to us more than we can contain.

Worship means to kiss, to adore and to sacrifice. It is saying that God is supremely worthy of all of me. It means I will give my life away on a daily basis for the Kingdom of God. It means that every breath is a praise and every thought a prayer.

Honestly, after all this, I still don’t really know what worship is. I’m not very good at it. Or I should say I am not very good at worshipping the right thing, i.e. Jesus of Nazareth who died on the cross and rose triumphantly from the grave and has all authority in heaven and on earth, including authority over my life.

In the New Testament, when people worshipped, they fell on their faces. In the book of Revelation, the apostle John fell on his face before Jesus as a dead man. That’s what I pray for: to die to everything else, to fall on Jesus, and live to Him, with Him and for Him only.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

My prayer (as prayed by Henri Nouwen)


“O Lord Jesus, you who came to show the compassionate love of your Father, make your people know this love with their hearts, minds, and souls. So often we feel lonely, unloved, and lost in this valley of tears. We desire to feel affection, tenderness, care, and compassion, but suffer from inner darkness, emptiness, and numbness. I pray tonight: Come, Lord Jesus, come. Do not just come to our understanding, but enter our hearts– our passions, emotions, and feelings– and reveal your presence to us in our inmost being. As long as you remain absent from that intimate core of our experience, we will keep clinging to people, things, or events to find some warmth, some sense of belonging. Only when you really come, really touch us, set us ablaze with your love, only then will we become free and let go of all false forms of belonging. Without that inner warmth, all our ascetical attempts remain trivial, and we might even get entangled in the complex network of our own good intentions.

O Lord, I pray that your children may come to feel your presence and be immersed in your deep, warm, affective love. And to me, O Lord, your stumbling friend, show your mercy. Amen.”

From A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee by Henry Nouwen