The following was originally written one year ago today. Thus, for those more familiar with my family, some timeline details may feel out of place. But for various reasons and after much prayer, I felt it needed to wait until now. Other than some updated stats, I left the writings primarily intact in order to reveal my honest thoughts at the time. They still reflect my views today.
As I write this I stare across the room at our rainbow-colored Christmas tree, still adorning our home until the beginning of the new year.
It is actually somewhat subtle with the lights on, but if you look closely, there amidst the branches are seven different colors of ornaments displayed in order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet), mirroring the beauty of that natural wonder we see in the sky when sunlight reflects through droplets of rain.
As millions of families across the world recently filled their living rooms with their own artistic masterpieces of evergreens covered in ornaments, lights and tinsel, I cannot claim credit for this particular rendition. The artists in this case are two of my four children (who have actually now grown to be young adults).
As the rainbow in the past several years has come to symbolize certain things, it’s possible that some may find its juxtaposition against a symbol for a Christian celebration to be quite offensive (especially those in the conservative Evangelical tradition of which I am a part).
I find it quite beautiful.
Before I explain my kids’ aesthetic choice or my reception, I want to share with you two true stories – both seemingly unrelated to the topic at hand but important to the discussion. Continue reading
I am the most arrogant person in the world.
Really, it’s true. Don’t believe me? Then clearly you aren’t nearly as intelligent or wise as me to be able to figure it out.
And being the #1 most arrogant person in the world, I figure that makes me the world’s topmost leading expert on the subject.
The truth is God has really been kicking my butt over the last few years (especially this last year), progressively revealing my level of arrogance. Like peeling layers of an onion (each producing a few more tears), I’ve come to discover areas of egotism I never knew existed before.
We are all familiar with the braggadocios, narcissistic personality types – the ones who very openly make every conversation and outward action about themselves. But what we are not as acquainted with is the much more subtler symptoms of pride – the ones that often go undetected but are ultimately just as destructive to you and those around you.
In discovering these signs, I’ve learned that they are detectable when you analyze your motivations and ask yourself if they are centered around one or more of the following: self-importance, self-preservation, or self-empowerment. Each one, of course, makes it all about you. And as I’ve come to find out, I’ve made life a lot more about me than I previously realized.
The thing is, while you will never surpass me in arrogance (not even close), it’s possible that as you analyze the three motivators in relation to your life, you might discover you too have arrogance and didn’t realize it.
Thus, I present to you at least 9 Signs You Might be Arrogant and Not Know It: Continue reading
I need to inform you all about something fairly significant…
I’ve actually known about this for quite a while, but the timing seems right for me to let you all know now.
It’s from an illness that’s acronym is T.O.K.G.E (which I will explain later). It’s about as dangerous of a disease as any known to humankind, and its symptoms are quite severe…
So serious that it affects every area of my life. Continue reading
Most of you are probably familiar with the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, but there is an alternate version of this story that is often told by many in the church. Though they may not use these exact words – for it is usually in actions, misplaced theology, or thoughts – it is told, nonetheless.
And whether it is intentional or unintentional or a problem with what was communicated or the filters we receive it through, it is the story all too often heard.
The following is that version:
Jesus and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Woman Caught in Adultery (as told by the church)
I previously shared an article titled “We’ve Made God Too Small.” This was based on a thought process I went through and a major revelation that not only changed my life but also sent me on a spiritual, philosophical and scientific journey, essentially leading me to rethink how I think about God.
I also shared in my very first blog article, “Not Gonna Lie,” how I am a hypocrite – because half of what I state here I have trouble believing myself.
It is with that understanding I present the following list. Even though I say “You” I could just as easily say “I.” I have been guilty of every one of these at various points and continue to struggle to this day.
But I also know I am not alone. I have seen this kind of thinking problem in practically everyone I’ve met.
And so I give you…
13 ways you make God too small: Continue reading
Bouguereau, The First Mourning, ca. 1888
Back in 1974, Ray Stevens released a popular song titled “The Streak” about a guy running around town naked. At the time, as a 6-year-old kid, I thought it was just the funniest thing – and so apparently did millions of other people, putting it at # 8 for the whole year on the Billboard charts (weird…yeah, I know).
I guess the idea of people running around in the buff in public just made us all snicker.
Modesty is such a weird thing for us humans, especially in Western culture. With debates about public breastfeeding and yoga pants juxtaposed against Victoria’s Secret signs and popular TV programs that show a lot of skin, it is clear we don’t have any real consensus on exactly what is “too much.”
But it gets even weirder when I tell you this:
We’re all supposed to be naked.
It’s even scriptural.
Now don’t be jumping to conclusions here and think I’m advocating we all start trotting around in the literal footsteps of Ray Stevens’ song. I’m not.
But it’s right there in the Bible and is something that even the most prudish followers know but don’t care to admit. Continue reading
Before discussing the main point of this article, let me be clear up front:
There are no other writings that have had greater impact on my life than the collection of writings we commonly refer to as “the Bible.” *
Though I’m as human as everyone else and often get too busy, too tired, etc. I try to make it a discipline to read portions of the Bible – whether it be a chapter, a paragraph, or sometimes even a single word or sentence if I get hung up on it – every single day. No other work have I read as many multiple times.
Single readings have literally altered my life. A single verse forever changed my career direction, certain verses have gotten me through some of the most desperate, hopeless-seeming situations, and a single sentence once literally caused me to quit my job, uproot my family (back when we had two small children) and move to another state without a new job or specific place to live.
I do not regret any of those decisions or moments because to this day I have no doubt that God was behind them and specifically led me to those verses.
And though I think there is much carelessness and confusion when we use words such as “inerrant,” “infallible” and “authoritative” in relation to the Bible, and though frequently passages have been interpreted outside of culture, context, and literary form – often abusively – I do believe there is something miraculous about how the writings have been preserved for us through all these years to be able to read today.
I do believe there is power behind the words.
And I do not take lightly the fact that there are people out there in parts of the world who would give anything just to have a copy and that many have died just for possessing it or for trying to get copies to people who don’t.
With that made clear up front then let me say it…
I do not believe that something is true because the Bible says. Continue reading
It was the most demeaning of tasks, performed by only the lowliest of servants – often slaves in the households of the rich.
The roads were dirty and dusty and likely covered with animal dung.
Thus, with nothing but sandals to wear, one’s feet were often coated in filth.
The hosts would, consequently, provide a bowl of water for cleansing – particularly before a meal in which the guests would lean back on the floor and prominently display their feet.
In ordinary households, guests would wash their own feet; but in wealthier households the lowly servants and slaves would crouch before the honored guests and wipe the grime off for them.
Thus an extraordinary thing happened this particular day when the I Am –
…the very law that had the power to form an entire universe with numerous galaxies billions of light years apart
…the law that had existed since before the beginning of time and would be there to the very end
…the law that was responsible for light and energy and atoms and the creation of life itself
…the most authoritative law there ever was
– rose, removed its garments, wrapped a towel around its waist, bowed down before each of its disciples and proceeded to wash their feet. Continue reading
Sorry to dump this on you. Perhaps you may even feel this is a waste of time.
The subject has become a bit draining after all and is sometimes defecalt to discuss. Yet I feel like I can stall on this topic no more and that it’s my absolute duty to bring it up…
…because many people feel like our nation is going down the toilet. The divisiveness over the issue at the very least runs deep.
Butt if you don’t chuckle just a little bit at the thought of it, I think urine denial about just how plumb silly the whole things sounds.
One of our biggest national conversations right now is…over where we should pee and poop. Continue reading