Righteous Anger?

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life” (James 1:21).

I have a question for you (and for myself, too). Why is it that we as believers get upset when nonbelievers act like . . . well, nonbelievers? Why are we so surprised?

Salvation is more than a new morality code. It’s more than a different kind of behavior.

It’s a total transformation. The Bible uses the word regeneration when speaking of someone getting saved. Paul talks about becoming a new creation. Not a better version of the old creation, but a completely new one.

The question isn’t why nonbelievers act like nonbelievers, but why believers don’t act more like the faith they profess so loudly.

I love what my pastor Mike Glenn says: the world doesn’t hate Christians because they’re too different but because they’re not different enough.

If I really believe what I profess about how Jesus can take anyone at any point and rescue him or her from who they used to be and make them into something completely new, then my life should show it. I should be different.

I should talk differently for sure, but I should act in a way that lines up with all my verbiage.

That verse in 2 Chronicles 7 about God healing our land? That’s not directed at nonbelievers getting their act right. It’s about those who are called by God’s name, i.e. Christians, who turn and repent and seek God like never before. That’s when the healing happens.

. . .[If] my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health” (2 Chronicles 7:14, The Message).

Maybe it’s time to stop the finger-pointing and blame-assessing and maybe start praying.


Another Great Awakening

“I have heard the reports about You,
    and I am in awe when I consider all You have done.
O Eternal One, revive Your work in our lifetime;
    reveal it among us in our times.
As You unleash Your wrath, remember Your compassion” (Hab. 3:2).

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in and amongst the American churches in general.

We’ve lost the uniqueness that made us different from everybody else. The salt has lost its saltiness and the light has been hidden under a bushel of tolerance.

We know that the Bible calls us to love everybody and we’ve mistakenly believed that loving people means accepting any and all of their behaviors and lifestyle choices. We take the admonition not to judge to mean that we can never ever call out a person’s sin, even when that sin will ultimately lead to their destruction.

We haven’t spoken the truth, and when we have, we haven’t spoken it in love.

We’ve toned down or eliminated from our vocabulary those words deemed offensive by the culture around us. Very rarely anymore will you hear about the wrath of God or hell or sin or any of those topics. We assume that love would never do that.

We’ve tried so hard to fit in and be relevant that we’re no longer recognizable as a separate entity. The love we teach and preach isn’t the Agape Love of the Bible, but a touchy-feely love that is more transient than transcendent.

There has been at least one great revival in every century of this nation. Maybe if enough of us decide that the status quo of nice religion and self-help style of morality no longer works, we will seek with tears and sighs another great revival and not rest praying for one until the fire falls from heaven again.

I know that too often I am apathetic when it comes to God. I also know that I am far from being alone in this. We’ve grown too accustomed to the things of God that we no longer hold them as sacred. We no longer meditate on the glory and holiness of God and we forget that He is the Holy Other, not a bigger, stronger, faster, smarter version of us.

I write this with fear and trembling, hoping to err on the side of grace yet knowing that the church can only blame herself for the state of the nation. I don’t claim to have all the answers or to have it all figured out. I do know that more than someone telling us that “I’m okay,  you’re okay,” we need someone telling us of our great need for repentance.

I do know that I need Jesus. I know that we all need Jesus, especially in these desperate times.





“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices” (Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

Yes, I know. I just quote from a Harry Potter movie. Egads.

I’ve read all the books and seen all the movies and I liked every one of them. I especially liked the magic as metaphor theme. I think that these books aren’t really about magic as much as they are about growing up, discovering who you are, and learning what truly matters. But that is a topic for another blog on another day.

I do think that it’s not our abilities but what we do with them that ultimately matters in the end. I’ve seen people with loads of natural ability bested by people not nearly as talented but far more determined. Especially in the arena of sports.

One of the most famous choices is the one Joshua made early in the history of the nation of Israel. He basically said that while the others were free to worship whatever gods they wanted that he and his family would choose to serve Yahweh and Yahweh alone. No other.

That same choice is offered to me. Daily. And daily I must choose whether I will serve Jesus or something else, which usually ends up being my own selfish desires. Sometimes I actually choose right, but more often than I’d like I choose wrong. I choose me.

Also, I think we choose whether or not we’ll give up on those who let us down or give them second chances. We choose who we let into our inner struggles and who we shut out. We choose role-playing versus authenticity and honesty.

But ultimately, it’s about who to serve. As the famous theologian Bob Dylan said, you gotta serve somebody. So who will you choose?

More of My Signature Randomness


So far, this has been one of the coldest winters I can remember. And for most of the nation, it has been one of the snowiest (and I’m fairly certain that’s a real word– or it needs to be). Just about every state in the Union has seen snow and every part of the country has been under a snowy white blanket– except for Middle Tennessee.

It’s almost like a reverse miracle. Sorta like the dry fleece/wet fleece miracle that Gideon witnessed in Judges. It’s also like there’s an anti-snow bubble over the middle part of the state as snow tends to either go north or south of us.

I’m still hopin’ for one good snowfall before the winter of 2014 comes to an end.

In addition to Philip Seymour Hoffman, we’ve lost two more from Hollywood: Shirley Temple and Sid Caesar.

Most people know Shirley Temple from her days as a child star back in the 30’s. Few know that she was a diplomat and activist after her Hollywood days ended. Even fewer could tell you who Sid Caesar was (though if you’ve seen Grease, you might remember him as the gym teacher guy).

It seems like celebrity deaths almost always come in threes. I don’t know why. If you do, I’d love to hear your theories.

Finally, I’m still learning the concept of living out of gratitude and thanksgiving instead of fear and anxiety. I know worry is my default setting and it’s very easy for me to lapse into doubting God’s faithfulness. It’s an effort to retrain my mind to look for all the blessings and see all that I have instead of focusing on all that I lack. It even takes seeing with a different set of eyes– eyes of faith.

But it is so very worth it.

That’s one of the reasons why I blog. I want to remind you (and myself) that God is good and that I am  blessed. Plus, I want there to be something out there that isn’t the usual doom and gloom prevalent in the media these days.


Takeaways from the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies


My favorite part of the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics by far was seeing the athletes march in by countries.

There were a few countries I had never heard of. Some countries have less people than some of the towns I’ve lived in.

Many countries only had one athlete representing them. But every country, no matter how big or small, had its chance to be represented and to showcase their very best.

I imagine Heaven will be like that. The Book of Revelation says that at the throne of the Lamb there will be people from every tribe, tongue, and nation present. I doubt that they’ll be separated by nationality. In Heaven, they will be one people finally united in Christ.

I can however imagine a similar entrance to the one I saw tonight. Maybe it will start off with those first century believers, with the twelve apostles leading the way. Then believers from the following 20 centuries will follow, with this century’s believers being the last in the parade.

That is purely my own imagination at work. But I do know for certain that heaven will be a grand spectacle that will be bigger and better than the most lavish production or ceremony down here.

And it will go on throughout eternity. Like C. S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle, Heaven will be like a great novel where the story never ends and each succeeding chapter is better than the one before. It will be like that book you just couldn’t put down.

Best of all, Jesus will be there. More than all the streets of gold and gates with precious stones and mansions, Heaven will be Heaven because Jesus is there.

And maybe Mr. Tumnus will be there, too. You never know.

Twelve Years Later on 9/11


“In honor of all those who have come behind…. in honor of Christ who lived like that: Go into a hurting world and live your life as a First-Responder.”


I still can’t believe it happened. Even 12 years later, it doesn’t seem real to me.


I googled 9/11 images today and found hundreds of pictures ranging from patriotic and stirring to emotionally gripping and heartbreaking to chilling and disturbing.


I still remember exactly where I was when my boss at the time called me into his office to witness replays of the first plane hitting the first of the World Trade Center twin towers.


Almost 3,000 people lost their lives that day. And yet it could have been much more catastrophic. Thanks to the heroism of first-responders, many who sacrificed their own lives, there were far less fatalities than there could have been.


The best in us rose to the occasion for when the worst in us showed its ugly colors.


Yet around the world, many people still face on a daily basis what we faced on one day twelve years ago. Many will lose their lives today simply because of their beliefs, their ethnic origins, their gender, or out of pure evil. Many will see loved ones massacred in many horrific ways.


I’m praying for us as a human race today. I’m praying for our nation.


But I’m not praying for God to save us from extremist Islamic terrorists.

I’m not praying for God to deliver us from President Obama and the liberal agenda or the Tea Party and its right-wing policies.


I’m praying this prayer today: “Lord, save us from ourselves. Lord, save me from myself.”


imageI’ve seen in my worst moments what I could have been apart from grace, and it is not pretty. I can be petty and vindictive and selfish and lazy and hateful and rude. Left to myself, there’s no telling what I’m capable of.


We as a human race are our own worst enemy. We have a worldwide pandemic raging through our population, affecting every single person who has ever lived called sin. Because of the Fall, we are fallen and broken people living in a fallen and broken world. Thousands of years of history has proven that we can’t save ourselves from ourselves. We are in desperate need of a Savior.

We have one. That pandemic called sin didn’t actually affect every single one of us. Jesus, the God-man born of a virgin, lived and died a sinless life and an atoning and sacrificial death on our behalf. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves– He came to save us.

So I remember 9/11 again on this day, but I also remember that one day Jesus is coming back to set all things right again, to restore what the locusts and the terrorists and the politicians and the narrow-minded pharisees have stolen. He’s coming to bring true peace and true joy and true life.

So I pray on the 12th anniversary of 9/11, but not just on this day: “Jesus, come quickly.”