I Hate Change

Sep. × ’15

change andy warholI have dreams. Big dreams.

There are books I want to write, places I want to take my wife (and kids too sometimes), people I want to help, a house with two bathrooms. I’ve had these dreams for many years.

The problem is that today I am no closer to them than I was 10 years ago.


I hate change. I think maybe you do too. Most do, so don’t feel ashamed.

Everything I am, do, and have are the product of my best decisions. That’s hard to swallow. My best thinking hasn’t gotten me to where I want to be, so the only logical conclusion is that I must change.

There’s that word again.

And so I am, changing that is. And not just a little change, but BIG changes. Like Biggest Loser change. Not that I have 150 pounds to lose, but that the change in lifestyle must be, for me, that drastic, or they will not stick.

So here I sit, writing for the first time in too long. After having exercised, also something new in my life. And I had only 16oz. of soda today, which is a quarter of my usual intake.

The beauty of it is that this probably doesn’t matter too much to you, and it’s highly likely to never be read by more than five or six people at this time. But I am not writing it for you, I am writing it for me. Maybe you will get some inspiration from this, maybe not. Either way, I’m finally on my way to somewhere. I’m not sure where, but I don’t care where, which is yet another new thing for me.

So raise your glass with me and celebrate change. Yes, that despicable word, that essential word, that blessed word: Change. Because without it, I will ever be the same. And that, reader, is no longer acceptable.

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

Mar. × ’15

20150312_130245I had a dream of a man waving to me from the other side of a river. He looked a lot like me, but he was happier, healthier, everything I ever wanted to be. He was calling to me to join him.

I looked up and down the river and saw no bridge for crossing. The waters looked deep and frigid, the current swift. I knew that if I even dared to jump in, there was no way I would make it alive to the other side.

Then I looked behind me, beside me. There sat everything that I am. It was all comfortable. It was enough. My home was more than a shack, my belly was full, my family happy.

My wife came up to me and asked, “Who is that man? He looks quite familiar.”

“I don’t know.” So I called out to him and asked.

“I am everything you could have been!” he returned.

“But how do I get there now?” I asked, the answer obvious.

“All you have to do is cross the river.”

“I would love to, but it’s hard.”

“If it were easy, you would already be here,” he said back.

“I could, but the water is deep and cold, the current swift.”

“If you give it everything you have, I know you will make it! I promise you won’t regret it even for a moment.”

I turned to my wife. “I should have done this long ago. Is it too late?”

“Not only should you, it’s necessary. That man across the river looked familiar because part of him reminded me of you, from when we were younger. And I know that life has made us older, but it’s necessary for you to have that part of you again. Go, and make a way for us to follow.”

So I jumped in and swam with all my strength. And I could hear my wife calling over the waves, “You had it in you all along!”

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Do You See What I See? Not Likely

Mar. × ’15

thewayweseeI am not always right.

I know, it’s hard to believe, I finally admitted it.

Maybe you should too.

Whether we like it or not, our opinions and beliefs, heck, our entire lives have been shaped by our environment and upbringing (even if we have since rejected them). We have internal programs running unconsciously at every moment that determine how we feel, how we carry ourselves, and how we view the world around us.

The result is that sometimes we don’t see things as they are (reality), but how we are (perceived reality).

For instance, color blind people do not see some colors in their true form, but how their brain perceives, or translates them to be. In the same way, some of the circumstances in our lives are interpreted by what we perceive to be reality, when what is real is actually quite different.

Facebook is all the evidence we need to establish this point. It’s -20F out and someone posts, “OMG, stepped out the door and my blood froze. 32 days til Spring!” In come the opinion police. Some will agree, others will tell you how ridiculous the others are, some will point out that many in the world have no clothes or shelter so “Be thankful #firstworldproblems.” Then there’s the guy (like me) who loves the cold and winter who who laughs and comments, “I wish I could unlike this.”

Before long, a firestorm erupts of who is right or wrong.

Well, none of them are wrong. Reality is facts, and the fact was constant. It was -20F out. How we view this will determine our reaction.

What’s the point?

Sometimes people see things different than me. Sometimes the facts don’t matter. What does, however, is what will my reaction to others be when what they see is different than me. Will I start a firestorm of OPINION (which people rarely change), or will I be empathetic. Will I chose to put how I feel above someone else simply because it is my belief, or will I choose to suspend my beliefs for a few moments and try to see things from an opposing view.

We can learn a lot from each other if we are willing try and see what they see.

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Sticks and Stones

Jan. × ’15

the words we say mean somethingWe are taught as kids, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” And it makes sense, right? By repeating this mantra, mocking, jeering, and teasing are magically reduced to fairy dust and troll farts, never to harm you or another soul again.

The barrage of negative, condescending talk from others continues into our adult lives at work, home, and unfortunately even in the Church. And again “Sticks and Stones” runs through our minds, too childish to escape our lips.

But it’s a smokescreen. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What is said to us and about us means something.

We build walls to keep people at a distance, but still the words cut. What was meant to be spell of protection from insult and injury becomes a mask. Words used as weapons slip past our defenses and we force a smile.

But it’s a ruse. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What is said to us and about us means something.

And we too use those same harsh words at times. We relieve ourselves of responsibility by calling it sarcasm. Do you know what that word means? Is it something harsh, yet funny? No. The word means literally, “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt.”

But we’re “just saying,” right? Wrong. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What we say to and about others, means something.

Is this a tongue lashing directed at you, my reader? Not intentionally. I wrote this for me, the guy who claims sarcasm as “just another service I offer free of charge.” It is for me when my wife Beth and I are exchanging words of disagreement or when I tease her in what I think is a playful manner. It’s for me when my kids disappoint me with their behavior (because God knows they couldn’t have learned it from me).

See, “In the beginning was the Word.” God didn’t wave a magic wand or splash enchanted dust to create the universe: He spoke. Maybe you are thinking, “But those were God’s words.” These are as well:

“The tongue has the power of life and death” Proverbs 18:21

“You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you;” Job 22:28

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4

So let’s be mindful of what we say, remembering that, “Sticks and stones may break their bones, but careless words may wound their spirit.”

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Almost (Saved)

Jun. × ’13

I heard this spoken word (poem) recently and it so moved me, I wanted to share it with you. It’s about the biggest oxymoron know to man: “almost-saved.”

I hope it messes with your soul the way it has mine.

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Watering Weeds

Jun. × ’13

watering weedsThe kids and I worked in the garden today, and they all took turns watering our little vegetable sprouts. My instructions were clear: only water where the plants grow and not in between the rows where the weeds grow.

The kids were concerned that we hadn’t watered the garden good enough.

We came inside for ice cream cones and before long, the sky darkened and it began to rain. I said, “See, God’s watering it now, and he knows what he’s doing. However, we only watered our plants.”

Laila, our oldest and quick to wit, said, “Are you saying that we did a better job than God?”

I knew I was beat. Subconsciously I implied exactly that. But my spirit knew better and I replied, “No honey, I’m saying that God cares about the weeds too.”

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Emancipated, But Are You Free?

Jun. × ’13

freedom_shackles_chains_Few words have changed the course of American history like “emancipate.” It’s very utterance stirs images of black families being freed from bondage.

I can see entire families who have just received the news colliding in the middle of a field with crazed enthusiasm greater than the celebration pile at the end of a sports championship win. Decades of struggle, toil, and beatings finally come to an end. The fruit of their labor could now be their own.

But for some it was not so. When the Union won and President Lincoln enforced the Emancipation Proclamation, some slave owners were less than honest. Since slaves weren’t taught to read, some owners told their slaves not that they were free, but that it meant that they could no longer be sold to a new master. This was incredible news to them as it meant their families would no longer be split up and sold to other masters. They could all serve the one master together.

Some worked for years for their old masters before they found out that all along they were truly free to walk off the plantation and make their own way in life.

This Sunday at church, we sang the song “Break Every Chain” by Jesus Culture. The main words of the chorus are:

There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain

In singing these words, I couldn’t help but think about the freedom that Jesus’ death and resurrection purchased for all mankind. However, a harsh master, the Father of Lies has intentionally misrepresented it to us – and some have believed him.

I cannot imagine what it was like to be a slave in the early years of our great country. The humiliation, degradation, and utter emotional and physical devastation that they underwent is unsurpassed in even my imagination.

But I do know what it means to be hopeless and a slave to sin. I know the weight of those chains well. I know what it means to serve the Master of Deception. The wounds of his whip and the scars of his shackles remain.

But when I put my faith in Christ, I am no longer a slave to sin. He gave me the right to walk away from sin and never serve its master again. But I fear so many times I look down and see my broken chains and loosed shackles and just stand there. Maybe it’s that after so many years of bondage I don’t know what freedom even means and the Father of lies says, “Yes Chris, you are free. You can be holy and still work for me on the side. You can raise your hands in worship to God on Sunday morning and lower His standards for you in worship to me on Sunday evening.”

Instead of running for the hills with my freedom papers in hand, I choose to stay and work for the same hard master. I believe my old, harsh master’s words over God’s.

Maybe it’s that I’ve restricted the definition of freedom as only a release from bondage and not also as the permission to move toward liberty. Is it possible that I’ve watered down the regenerating power of God in my life as only the power to abstain from sin and not as the authority to be righteous and holy.

Corporately, as a church, have we done the same and in so given ourselves, by an abuse of grace, a way to serve our old master? Have we manipulated freedom’s definition to hold tight to unholy habits that satisfy our flesh yet defile our spirits?

I know I’ve asked more questions than answered, but look hard at your life, and I will mine. We must look in the mirror and ask the hard questions and not be afraid of the answers. We must examine ourselves regularly to see if we are still in the faith, or out of it. And do so humbly allowing God to confront us where we are wrong and submit ourselves to His correction.

Remember, Jesus’ death was a contract. We’ve been emancipated. We are free, because whoever the Son sets free, is free indeed!

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When to Call Out a False Teacher By Name

Apr. × ’13

Shai Linne Fal$e Teacher$I’ve heard plenty of preachers over the years and thought, “Wow, I’d like to see what chapter and verse THAT theology was based on.” Granted, no one is perfect and I’m sure that I believe a few things that would make you scratch your head too.

But at what point do we call a brother out — by name?

Really. At what point do say, “Pastor, if you can’t show me where this came from and how it applies as you laid out, what you said here is false teaching.” Where is the line drawn if there is no sound evidence that the doctrine is Biblical that you decide to nationally call a pastor out — by name.

Well Christian musician Shai Linne decided to do just that in his new single, “Fal$e Teacher$” (video below).

The song directly attacks twelve pastors for teaching the Prosperity Gospel. I put the list below the video.

I for one hope that Mr. Linne privately confronted these men and women before posterizing them in what has become a viral music video.

How appropriate is this video, and when do you think it is proper to call out a pastor publicly when you believe they are a false teacher?


Here’s the list (from his lyrics):

Talk to them)
Joel Osteen – false teacher!
(Let them know)
Creflo Dollar is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?)
Benny Hinn is a false teacher!
I know they’re popular but don’t let them deceive ya!
(Talk to them)
TD Jakes is a false teacher!
(Tell the Truth)
Joyce Meyer is a false teacher!
(Let them know)
Paula White is a false teacher!
Use your discernment, let the Bible lead ya!
(Keep going)
Fred Price is a false teacher!
(Tell the Truth)
Kenneth Copland is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?)
Robert Tilton is a false teacher!
I know they’re popular but don’t let them deceive ya!
(Talk to them)
Eddie Long is a false teacher!
(Let them know)
Juanita Bynum is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?)
Paul Crouch is a false teacher!
Use your discernment, let the Bible lead ya!

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My marriage is better than average, is yours?

Mar. × ’13

Today, March 13 2013, Bethany and I celebrate our fourteenth year of marriage!

Beth was barely 18, and I 21 that cold day in 1999. We heard from many people (even close friends), “You’re too young. You’ll never make it.” Ha! I laugh in your faces! Not only are we still married, we’re happy and LOVING it!

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report in 2005 stating that the average first-time marriage lasts 8 years. According to that statistic, we are KILLING IT! I love when cold, hard fact back up our awesomeness.

It’s been a great fourteen years. There have been tough years as well as some easy and through it all, God has been faithful to us and we to each other. We have five children ages 11, 9, 7, 6, 4, and child number six due in May.

I love ‘em, I love ‘em, I love ‘em. And I love my sugar baby even more today than the day I married her (and she is ten times hotter now than then too!)

The study I linked to has some interesting stuff in it. 76% of first time marriages between 1955-1959 lasted 20 years or longer, while marriages from 1975-1979 only had 58% last at least that long. Also, forget the “Seven year itch,” more first-time marriages end in year two (1 in 12 in year two as opposed to 1 in 20 in year seven).

So, to encourage all you you married people (and soon to be!), if we can do it, anyone can. And remember, it’s not about you — it’s about both of you.  As for words to live by, I can only speak from the husband perspective.  The Bible says to love your wife as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25). He laid down His life for us, so give your life for her.  He had no complaints, even though He knew it would be tough, and He still gave his life knowing He might never receive anything in return, so quit your complaining and help her out once in awhile.  Also, 1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to learn about love as well.

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By the Word of Our Testimony

Mar. × ’13

By the Word of Our TestimonyA few weeks ago I gave a friend a ride to Rochester, which is about a three hour drive. No, acquaintance is more accurate, though I believe now we are friends.

See, there’s only a few things one can do when stuck in a car for a few hours with another individual. You can listen to the radio, talk, or sleep. If you know me at all my only option is to talk.

So talk we did.

It started with the small chit-chat, “How’s it going?” Blah. Blah. Blah. But before long we were sharing our history with each other.

My friend is a single guy, and I’m a fourteen-year marriage veteran with five kids (number six due in three months!). He started asking me how I liked marriage and family life. With each question he drew wisdom out of me like buckets of water from a well. I told an almost perfect stranger about past failures and victories few people know. Before long he was telling me his story and what God had done in his life to make him the man he is today.

It was powerful.

Do I think what I said will make a long-term difference in his life and how he someday treats his wife? I hope so. I hope he avoids some of the pitfalls I fell into and that he develops the type of relationship that love stories are written about. I may never know.

One thing I do know is that God accomplished something in us. This past Sunday Peter Hopper shared at our church about the power of our testimony. When we open our mouths to speak, not only is the other person strengthened but so are we. We are better men, better Christians today because of that talk. We shared our lives, our testimonies of how God has dealt kindly with us despite our transgressions and in doing so broke some of the lies of the devil in our lives–that we are alone and no one can understand our struggles or has overcome them.

And I know it can’t just be me. I believe there’s something deep inside us all that longs to be seen by others. To be known.

Sharing our story with others is part of that. Anyone can love the “good” us, the façade we put on display when we pretend that everything is OK and we are perfect (or at least better than “so and so”). One of love’s greatest powers is knowing the good and the bad about a person and still loving him despite his failures.

Answer that call deep inside you and share your story with someone today. Heck, share it here. Not only will it bring victory into your life, it will bring it to theirs as well.

Revelation 12:11 ” And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (ESV, emphasis added)

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