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A Christian in America

This is the weirdest, saddest, most distressing time of my life, as an American Christian. I believe that the church has strayed so far away from the needs of the ethnic minority, the poor, and the disabled of our own nation, that my generation is forced to choose a strange paradox: Do we vote for and actively pursue equality, knowing that eventually the exclusivity of Christianity will come under very strong fire in American Liberal politics? Or do we cover our right to religiously assemble, and by default (if not intentionally) perpetuate the divide that sees a Klan rally justified by an anti-biblical expression of “free speech”, to say nothing of the horror that blatant racism and willingness to harm other ethnicities reveals about our nation and its systemic racism as a whole?

Yeah, I think those are the two options. And they both suck.

That is not to say that there aren’t Conservatives standing opposed to the events of Charlottesville, and rightly condemning white nationalism, white supremacy, and the groups that represent those ideologies. But for the majority of those standing up now, there was silence until a white woman was murdered as a peaceful protestor or the leader of the nation made outlandish claims equating the KKK with people demonstrating in response to them. And why the silence? I think because American Christianity has largely become a game of safety and security. But why?

Patriotism Run Amuck

George McKenna, in his book The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism, wrote that the idea of patriotism is in effect, “an affection rather than a syllogistic process, it is a highly evocative word, recalling all kinds of memories, stored up in images”. He goes on to address the origins and true adaptable nature of American patriotism in the 17th century. And I think he’s right on all accounts. My first image of patriotism is my grandfather’s Purple Heart, that he earned as a soldier in the Army, fighting in WWII. And I remember the first time I stood at the Vietnam Memorial, overwhelmed by the length of that wall, and the small print still needed to fit the names of soldiers lost on it. Oh, and the first time I read Letters from a Birmingham Jail, as a student at Elon University. These things, for me, ring of American patriotism.

But I also believe that the adaptability of American patriotism has neutered what it truly means to love our nation, and learn about and FROM its history. Somehow people have so bastardized American ideology that ethnic cleansing is taught by some as permissible and beneficial. And churches can recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but most don’t know the Nicene Creed, or even that it exists. We study the news, but not the Bible. We know what we are against, but we have abandoned so much of what Jesus was truly for. We’ve traded in true belief and biblical conviction, for memes, prejudice, and the conviction to be right and loud. We don’t evangelize because we don’t want to be offensive or counter-offended, or we’ve just completely forgotten how to. We can’t be real in the world or “do life” with people because we’ve been so busy condemning gay people and Muslims, or standing for things that Jesus apparently forgot to make as pillars of his ministry. In so many ways, we’ve just stopped being the church.

So if you’re still reading this, you’re either in agreement so far, completely fuming but hanging in there, or you just came to see the fireworks. No matter what, I do believe that social media has influence. And as unbelievable as it may seem, altogether, roughly 5,000 people ‘follow’ me. And because I make everything I post public, many more can follow along too. So while I’m a pretty insignificant cog in the machine, I have a voice. And this is what I think needs to happen in American church and within the hearts of Christians soon.

Evangelism Lost

My sweet and brilliant wife reads my posts. She proofs some of them, and parts of all of them. In the introduction, where I mentioned evangelism and our fear of it, she rightly pointed out that we largely misunderstand it too.

We’ve lost American evangelism to a handful of unbiblical ideas. Here are a few that drive me insane:

Attraction – Being well-liked, or in a pretty building, or having an affable reputation is nice. It would be a whole lot more effective if that was coupled with being engaged in the community, financially invested in helping the hurting within that community, or being known as a haven for the hurting through programs or availability. But even then… if we poured money into the poor, and had a beautiful building, and were well thought of… none of that is evangelism. None. It’s nice. But it’s not evangelism. It may be a tremendous catalyst TO evangelism, but if you think it’s enough, well that’s called an idol.

Moral Superiority – I don’t know where to begin here. Christians are not superior in any way to anyone else. The moral superiority of Christianity resides entirely in the person of Jesus Christ. To posture that the rituals, habits, and platforms of faith cast a shadow on our cities that compel people to Jesus is absurd. Again, a positive reputation might lead someone to you, but if your excellence is your platform, again, that’s an idol that you’ve made in your own image.

Anti-Secularism – I grew up hearing the phrase, “no one has ever been argued into salvation”, and I’m 37, so the phrase has been around a while now. But we’ve gotten so good at being against things, that I think we’ve convinced ourselves that a Facebook video about what we find unbiblical or evil is some kind of evangelism. But it’s not. It never has been. It never will be. At best, it’s my opinion, gleaned from interpreting scripture, but at worst, it’s bullying that pushes people away from Jesus.

Lawless Love – My last one is the one I’m generally most accused of. As a registered Democrat, now living in Washington State, I get it. Since I don’t rail against things that are not permissible from Scripture, maybe I appear complicit. Maybe it seems that I treat people as though they are sinless, and that Scripture doesn’t really say hard things. But that’s not true of me, nor is it evangelical. The Bible is true for Christians, and it says hard things. In my experience, the best way to talk through them with people who do not view Christ as I do, is through (1.) earning the right to be heard, through loving them as they are and as I am, (2.) being humbly honest about Scripture, (3.) and reminding them that we are all on the same footing, as sinners. And then, after that, be consistent and steady. Scripture guides me as the Lord is my Savior. To reduce Scripture for the sake of love is not love at all.

Evangelism Reclaimed

It simply means that we bring the Good News. That’s it. And since, for Christians, that good news is the story of Christ and his sacrificial atonement, it means that evangelism is telling someone about Jesus. That’s it. All of that other stuff is either secondary or self-centered.

Period.

Choose For Yourselves

So yes, I’ve stepped beyond that crossroad of choosing which fight I’ll fight. But I do understand the real angst over potentially losing our freedom of religious assembly. I’ve been to countries where my function as a pastor and teacher was illegal. I’ve heard the knock at the door and watched a few dozen faces turn immediately from focus to fear. I have shaken the hands of a man who was disavowed, then condemned to die, and then martyred for simply believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And America is a long way away from that kind of existence… I think. But I could be wrong. I laughed at the idea of Trump as President.

Whether I’m right or wrong about the trajectory of faith in America, I’m captivated by Joshua’s call for covenant renewal: “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the god that your fathers served… and serve the Lord… choose this day whom you will serve.” [Joshua 24:14-15a]

My dad loves Jesus. It’s a humble affection that I’m forever grateful to have grown up under. But it’s not my faith. Same Jesus. But I’m not my dad, and his faith doesn’t save me or fuel me. It saves him and only him. And for me, I choose the God that says we are all equal (Gen. 1:27; Eph. 2:14; I John 2:2), and that our chief aim is to glorify God (Isa. 43:7; Hab. 2:14; Ps. 115:1) through loving one another (Rom. 12:9, 13:10; Mk. 12:31; I Cor. 13:1-3), even those who feel the need to oppose me for my faith (Luke 6:35), because I must fight as someone that has been called out by God to those who need him, need hope, and need help…

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Aggressively for the Love of People

Maybe you still disagree with me. That’s fine, but I think I’m standing on Scripture here. So unless you can convince me that Jesus isn’t real (& you cannot), that we have not been called to bind up the broken-hearted (Isa. 61:1) and that somehow does not include black Americans right now, but other minorities, the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the refugee, the imprisoned, the homeless, and the foreigner, and that the eventuality of religious persecution in America is justification to hide, or defend the love of Christ that cannot be thwarted (Rom. 8:35)…. what are you standing for?

A fight just broke out in the cafeteria of the American consciousness, and everyone wearing a WWJD? t-shirt just collectively stood up and picked a side. And with the whole world watching, but more importantly, our neighbors, classmates, family, and friends saw us rise, and they saw us run to defend the hurting, as Jesus did, or to the defense of anything else.

So if one day, I lose the right to freely claim that Jesus alone is the way to God and that the Bible is uniquely true…. well ok then. I’ll go to jail for that. I’ll go to the mat for hope and faith. And until then, I’ll stand for Christ’s love for all people.

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Little Things Make Big Things Better

“Good afternoon. We are currently traveling at…. thousand feet above sea level. The weather in Seattle is…..” 

I’m on a plane. I’m flying back across the country after officiating a wedding and spending the better part of a week with my parents, sister, brother-in-law and nephew. It was a beautiful wedding. I met a lot of great, new people, and saw a lot of family that I hadn’t seen since we moved last summer. And the time with my more immediate family was really nice. My nephew is just now entering the stage of development where he’s playing, engaging, expressing himself, and laughing… he laughs a lot. It’s kind of a scream-laugh. So if you like being startled, and then overcome by the cuteness of a toddler, he’d perfect. And my oldest son came with me too. He’s a wide-eyed, tender-hearted 3rd grader, and this trip together has almost entirely been awesome… save for maybe a total of 30 minutes where I thought he may be possessed by some demon of moody, whiny, pre-adolescence. 
And while this trip can easily be a tale of large, obvious ups – like a beautiful wedding of two people I love, a surprise vow renewal after 25 years of dedicated marriage, my son’s very first fidget spinner (because it was a big deal for him), a surprising and exciting call about a job possibility, time with my parents, watching my son love my family, and visiting a woman in the hospital that means the world to our whole family… all true, all awesome. But this trip was really about little things. The less obvious moments that make life worthwhile on a daily basis, no matter where you are. And I live for these moments. People really fire me up, and that’s usually a good thing! Here are some highlights that I love that I got to live…

Traveling with Parker

We’ve never done a big trip that split our family. And while I miss my amazing wife and our little boy, Elliott, the time with Parker has been awesome. During several moments of quiet this week, he’s taken the opportunity to tell me how much he loves me or to thank me for taking him with me across the country. Of course, we aren’t always serious. He’s ticklish, and I provoke him, and there is no one to save him tens of thousands of feet in the air… but in those sweet moments, he’s reminded me that we should really speak the love we have for the ones we love. 

Don’t hold love in. It makes someone’s day to be loved out loud… well, it made mine.

Jacob Said My Name

Well, he says part of it. My nephew is maybe 17 months old. And unfortunately, I’m a FaceTime screen to him because Washington and South Carolina are divided by, basically the rest of America. So I had low expectations when we reunited in real time is week. He’s cute, and I generally give baby’s their space. I like them from a distance and will gladly hold a kid if asked to, but I usually treat kids like cats… if they come to me, that’s fine. Otherwise, I’m just around and happy to see them. But Jacob is my nephew, and he’s walking now, and he says my name… sort of. So it took all of two days for me to break my own rule.

So I held my nephew. I figured out what makes him giggle and I did it as many times as I could, because when something matters to you, you invest in it. Yes, he’s just one. But he matters to me, whether he knows it or not.

Someone Said They Like Me

“Brad, hey, I like you. And that’s a big deal… I don’t like many people.” It was a funny, unexpected proclamation, but the bride to-be’s twin sister, the lovely Cassidy, meant it when she said it. It was a couple of hours after we first met. She didn’t explain it, and she doesn’t have to. When someone makes an effort to reach out to you, take it. It doesn’t matter how it got delivered or even if I fully understood what she was saying at the time, but she meant it. And it matters to both of us.

Taylor’s Trust

Being asked to officiate someone’s wedding is a big deal for me. I love weddings. I love how the chaos always seems to pull together into a beautiful mix of the planned and the unexpected. But this wedding was Taylor’s, and he’s one of my little cousins. And he’s made it very clear that he wanted me there, which is cool. But as the jitters set in, and decorations laid around unfinished, and people had unanswered questions about the big day, he calmly said, “There’s no one I trust more with [marrying Kelsi] than you, Brad.” Boy, have I got that kid fooled!! And man, oh man, was that a shot of confidence that dove right into my heart. 

His wedding was awesome, the reception was a great mix of cute and funny, and he can’t read this because he’s on a cruise. But there may be nothing more powerful than a sincerely spoken word. So speak carefully, speak truly, and speak intentionally. 

Sometimes, You Just Have to Go [Even if You Don’t Want To]

My brother in-law is an introvert. We might be the complete opposite of one another. And my dad, though he has a home near the beach with a pool around the corner, is not a swimming guy. And my sister is taking care of a wide-open toddler. My aunt and uncle were just here to celebrate their grandson’s wedding, not drive across town to see us. 

What I’m saying is, a lot of people chose to be with me and my son this week. They went to the beach, the pool, visited the house that was way out of the way, went to the ball game, took us to the inflatable obstacle course on the lake (that I’m still sore from), went shopping, etc. And it was all because Parker mattered to them… they said that I mattered too, but I know the truth! 

And I saw a lot of people showing up, stepping up, encouraging, and loving hard during the wedding festivities too. Nevertheless, this trip was full of people who decided that it was more important to go out of their way for someone else than to serve themselves, and that’s just always so good. 

I Saw a Cub World Series Ring!!

Hold on, let me breathe…. ok. I’m ok.

Kelsi and Cassidy have an older sister, Katelyn. As we were meeting for the first time and just chatting, she mentioned the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Immediately, I knew to tell her that they were the Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. She knew this already because she works for them. So we chatted about baseball and my absurd fanhood of all things Cubs, and then she hooked us up with tickets. So we got to watch the Pelicans play on July 4th, had an incredible view for maybe the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen (yes, ever), got a game ball for Parker (thank you, Justin), spent too much money on souvenirs, and got to further indoctrinate my son in the way of the Cubs and baseball.

And the ring was on display down in the concourse. I took a “selfie” with an inanimate object, and I’m not even the slightest bit embarrassed. I’m pretty sure Parker rolled his eyes at me though. 

And maybe it was no big task for Katelyn, but I’m pretty sure I thanked her an awkwardly high number of times. But what really matters is that she gave what she had. When you work in sports, you have tickets. When you barely know someone, and you give them your time, your energy, and something that only you can give them, that’s a big deal. It’s a small thing, but it’s a big deal. And she gave what she had to me and my family. So again… thank you Katelyn.

There’s So Much More

Linda laughed at my jokes. Darlene and Barry wrote me the best note. David made a point to pull me aside and thank me for my role in his son’s wedding. Mark and Melissa made keto-friendly ice cream. My mom ate my bacon-wrapped brats even though she doesn’t like brats. My wife and I talked whenever we could. Friends watched our youngest while she was working and I was away. I got a gift card to Outback. I met a stranger that loves baseball, played for NC State, and his mom is a minister, and now he’s my new friend. Parker got to play with a cousin he barely knows at all’ but like a lot (Hey Bentleigh!!). Back in Durham, Mike and Iyesha made time for me in the middle of their big moving weekend. Tebo, Savannah, Amaris and J-Dub went to dinner with me the one night I was in Durham. We got to visit Pat and Ms. Hamacher. I got to hug Faye and tell her I love her. And I even attended a funeral for a good, good man. And now, Parker is sleeping on my shoulder, and I can’t wait to have our whole family back together. 

Maybe there are no little things. There are just the things we take for granted and the things we choose to fully appreciate. I need or be better at that in my daily life. But this was a good week.

A really good week.

Brad

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Keep Throwing Darts

I recently saw a clip of Will Farrell’s commencement speech at USC. Google it. It’s great. And somewhere in it, he mentions his goals post-graduation, and how one of his most proud accomplishments is that he never stopped trying. He just kept throwing darts at the dartboard, hoping one would eventually stick. I respect that.

I’m in the middle of a job hunt right now. As our family has trekked across America, truly learned to appreciate a new set of cultural norms in Washington State, and bought more rain-ready clothing than I’d ever previously seen, let alone owned, we kinda want to stay around. But there’s a nagging passion that for me, for us, is inescapable. Ministry.

Last fall, when my buddy passed away unexpectedly, his dad called me and asked me to fly home. He called me their pastor. Some of you reading this consider me your pastor. Or maybe I’m the only pastor you know, or the only one you willfully talk to. Or I’m one of the many pastors you know. Or maybe you have no idea who I am and you accidentally stumbled onto my blog because you like darts… and you are so disappointed right now. My apologies. But to someone, to a few people for certain, I’m their pastor. And that absolutely lights my fire. I’m Parker and Elliott’s dad, and that gets me up and going every day. I’m Grace’s husband, and that stills my heart when I’m hurting and lifts my heart higher, even on great days. And to God, I got picked to teach and love people, and that gives me a purpose for all of this extroverted energy inside of me. But to those who think of me as someone trusted enough to call Pastor… well, that keeps me throwing darts. The idea that someone would listen to me, seek me out for advice, in triumphs, in sadness, or in doubt, or trust me to teach them about the role of Christians in the world and how following Christ gets us to those right places… that’s just humbling. Thrilling. Horrifying. Humbling. 

The prophet Jeremiah contemplated quitting. His path was hard, on a scale that I cannot fully comprehend. He was against a nation that liked the comfort of their brand of disobedience, and despised being told they were wrong. And sometimes, I can’t tell if I’m Jeremiah, fighting to keep the fire burning in my own ministry because I cannot stop if I wanted to [ref. Jeremiah 20:9], or if I’m the defiant Israel, shaking my fists at the idea that I might not be on the right path, because ministry is hard, finding work is obnoxious, and the idea of moving my family again weighs so heavy on my heart. 

Centered-Set & Preaching

Somewhere around 40-50 years ago, a man named Paul Hiebert theorized that missiology had truly become a study of two methods of expressing Christianity, based on two ideas of how Christians become Christians: Bounded-Set and Center-Set. Basically, you’re taking Set Theory from Applied Mathematics, and laying it over how we view missions, belief, and the requirements for belonging to Christianity. Dumbed way down, you are a Christian either because you meet certain criteria [Bounded Set] or you’re a Christian because you are moving toward Jesus [Centered Set]. Admittedly, I don’t think it’s so cut and dry. If anything, I’m probably a Centered-Set guy that recognizes that some boundaries (profession of faith, exclusive belief in Christ, etc.) must exist, but not nearly as many as we often try to lay on top of faith. 

So the goal has always been to get people moving Christward. In my relationships, teaching, training, counseling, the aim has always been to point in the direction of Jesus, and draw the necessary connection between Him and us. So when I got the chance to preach at First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma last Sunday, my goal was to point all of us toward Jesus. And I had a blast. I love all of the stuff that comes with preaching. The over-studying, gathering too much material, tying to fit a message into a time constraint that allows people to eat all three meals on a Sunday, and the nervous tension between doing what I love and fearing that I’m not that good at it… love it! And no one walked out mid-sermon, thank God, but the pastor hasn’t told me yet if anyone emailed about that awful preaching on Mother’s Day. If you want to hear it, bless your heart, and you can find it on the website (linked already) or the church’s app.

And now, sermon behind me, job applications and copious resume dissemination in front me, I’m throwing darts hoping that one sticks. 

So Thanks…

If you’re reading this, I appreciate you. Maybe you disagree. You might be opposed to faith, to me as a pastor, or still disappointed that this isn’t a blog on dart-throwing. But you’re here, allowing me to point, whether you agree or not. Thank you.

To that faithful group of folks that claim me as a pastor. As their pastor. I keep you closer to my heart than you will ever know. To the Ted’s crew, lifelong Durham friends, some family, everyone at Clements, and people from Cornerstone, Guess Road, Patterson Park, and Lakeview – you keep me hopeful that I’m not done, there is still a word to be said and people willing to hear it, and I might still be a man for the job.
So until the darts run out or one lands, I’ll just keep throwing. Grateful. 

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Dear Trump Supporters & Voters

The immediate shock of the election is wearing off. People are still protesting, arguing, name-calling, & complaining about the people protesting, arguing, name-calling, & complaining. And we all blame the media for not saying what we want them to say the way we want them to say it. And then we get online so we can be mad at other people for saying what they want to say however they want to say it. 

Really, we are all a little absurd right now. And sensitive. And good God in Heaven, we all think we are right. But I know that for some of you…

You’re Mad At Me

I think I’ve lost a few friends over this election & my responses to it. Now, when I say friends, I use the term broadly. I’ve lost the respect of a few people I knew a long time ago, connected back up with on social media, & recently had them call me names or argue with me, & then disconnect. I think it means we’ve broken up. But I don’t know the rules for internet friendships. Others have silently deleted me or used the brilliant ‘unfollow’ option wherever available. I’ve also found myself at a distance from people I know back home in NC or people that know me as a pastor, etc. Those are challenging losses for my heart to handle. And I’ve also lost some folks that I call true friends, which is painful. And so far, the number one reason I can gather for the disconnect is this…

You think I’m calling you a racist because you voted for or support Donald Trump.

To be clear, I’ve never said that to anyone. Almost half the people who actually voted, voted for Trump. So I can’t make that accusation & consider myself an intellectual or a thoughtful person.  I also know people that voted for clear reasons that don’t have a direct racial implication. We disagree, but I know their reasoning. So my bottom-line statement is this: if I know you, I love you. I’d never call you a disrespectful name & never accuse you of hate. And racism always comes from hate… & insecurity. If you are a racist, you probably know it, but I don’t. 

But it begs the question, what’s a racist? Literally, a racist is someone that believes a certain race is superior to another, & inversely, they believe that a certain race is inferior. And it’s more subtle than stating the belief itself. In fact, I believe you can say racist things without recognizing yourself as a member of a superior race. Think of this: If you think white men are better drivers than anyone else… well, that’s racist & sexist. It’s broadly assuming that one race & gender is superior in an area that you have no data to prove. The assumption is based on stereotypes & prejudice, & the bias is almost always in the favor of the person expressing the assumption. 

My example is a small one. And there are thousands of other examples that are equally valid. Some are seemingly harmful, while others are outright demeaning, dehumanizing, & godless assumptions about other humans because they look or sound or come from a place different than you do.

I can also be honest & admit that some of the things that we call racist can also be seen as overreaching. I see that. I know it can get silly. But does Brad think you’re a racist? Brad does not give a crap. You be whoever you are, & if a real look at humanity & faith permit you to be that person, carry on.  

Voting for… Not Supporting

Tonight I got to hang out with some people that I like. As is the case with everyone in Washington, they are new to us, but our kids like each other, and as a couple it’s kinda rare that the husbands are buddies, the wives are buddies, & together there’s an ability to talk funny, talk family, & yes… talk politics or other serious topics. And we don’t agree on present political issues. They cast a vote… but it was cast in hope.

And if you’re reading this, voting as I voted, but believing that a lot of good people voted for the new President-elect, then there’s only two reasons they (the good ones) could have done it: belief or hope. 

  • They believe in the guy. They believe his record, his speeches, his plans & his promises. And candidly, I don’t know a ton of these people. 
  • Or they have placed their hope in this guy. They are worried about our nation. Our security, our economy, & maybe even our marginalized, & they think that his plans helps better, & if he does what he says he will do, America will be better for it. 

They voted. They may or may not be supporters. But they’re voters. And if I’m honest, & I’m usually honest to a fault on here, I’m a Bernie guy that placed my hope in Hillary Clinton. I’m not a Clinton guy. I just liked her plan better, trusted her D.C. connections better for her Cabinet, & really didn’t like the other guy. 

And right now it is super important that we see each other, because I’m not in this to be right or a Democrat or smart or any of that useless garbage. I’m in this for hurting people. 

Someone Needs Help

For me, that’s the bottom-line. People need people, need encouragement, need a hand, need support, & need… love. 

And yes, for some of us, we struggle with the marginalized people groups that need help right now. And that must be so awkward. And I don’t have a lot of really good advice for that. Maybe just get over it. Maybe pray about it. Or fight to see past their skin or orientation, gender questions or income, disability, poverty, addiction or whatever they have that makes you see them & want to look away. But see them.

See them like Jesus sees them. Made in the image of God, imperfect & sinful, but created for a purpose. The have a divinely inspired purpose. They matter. They matter to another human, & they matter to God. And if you’ve ever held open a Bible for personal growth, direction, hope, or guidance through hardship, you should know more than anyone that people need the Lord… but before the Lord reveals himself to anyone, His Word says that he sent divinely appointed humans to love others, encourage them, sacrifice for them, share their lives together, & to go to the hard places & find them. He sent you, Christian. And as a pastor, here’s some advice: step out of the homogenous mess that you call church, where everyone looks the same, talks the same, & hopes the same because right now, somehow is hoping for a meal. Someone is praying for a sign that they aren’t damaged goods. Someone needs hope. And you’re supposed to be the light of the world. Go shine. 

Or see them like you’re an actual patriotic American. Yes, I’m calling out the flag-waving folks too, whether you practice a faith or not. If you stand for the pledge of allegiance & boast that men & women have died for our unique freedoms, then stand for the people that aren’t experiencing those freedoms to their fullest. Some of those people have made mistakes, I know that. But so have we. We just didn’t get caught & go to jail. We didn’t get pregnant or get her pregnant, so we don’t live that life. We aren’t addicted to whatever it is that has crippled their joy, but we could have been. And beyond those who’ve made mistakes, their are people that really do believe they were born to love someone that shares their gender, & it’s not un-American to love someone. And please, fight for the people of this country that make us the coolest, most diverse, most beautiful nation in this Earth’s history. You are an American, beholden to a constitution that says all men & women are created equal. And the ideals of our nation proclaim that for all whatever their language or faith, the pledge is to fight for the them. On the Statue of Liberty, where all who hope to become Americans one day can pass by, an inscription boldly calls the world to give us the tired, hungry & poor; those huddled masses yearning to be free. And we are called to embrace them. So embrace them.

The Road is Long

Yes, I know there will be disagreements. I know we will fight. You will try, & jerks like me will call you to try harder or do more. You might offer help & get met with rejection. You might offend someone or be offended in the process. 

But you might also find an ally where an enemy was just standing. You might find some hope that you didn’t know you needed. And four years from now, when we are yelling once again, I hope we are fighting together, with different ideas of how we reach the same goals. That’s actually what our politics is intended to do.

And I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I’ve offended you by the things I’ve posted. But I’m going to keep posting. You matter to me, I promise. But Christ compels me to the hurting, & I’m jumping in. And maybe one day people will no longer care about what I have to say, but today that’s not the case. People are listening & reading. I hear about it every day. And while I’m a little overwhelmed, I’m not going to back down from using the privilege of being an educated white, middle-class, straight man for the good of humanity. God made me this way. Now I just want everyone else to feel the same privilege, without having to become someone they aren’t. 

So even if you’re mad at me. Go ahead & cut me off. But love someone that isn’t like you. And know that some of you already do! And keep at it!! It matters. Here’s a quick story, & then I’ll leave you alone…

I have a heart for homosexuals. That’s a weird sentence, I know. And it isn’t because I have family that are gay, but I do. And it isn’t because I have friends that have come out to me or shared life with me after they came out, though I do have those people in my life. And it isn’t because of any gay person at all. 

I took dance as a kid. And my dance instructor was a loud, hilarious, radiant, married straight lady with a daughter I was in school with. She had so much faith in me & my friends. And given the nature of her profession, she was surrounded by a vast diversity of people. The first ‘out’ gay man I have ever met danced beside me for 3 years before I ever had a clue. And he called me clueless for not knowing. But he was just one of us. Ok, he was significantly better at all things dancing than all of the other guys, but he was just a guy. So when I found out he was guy… I didn’t care. Yes, I know what the Bible says. But he was a guy. My friend. Someone so ridiculously gifted at a thing I struggled to keep from embarrassing myself in. And I liked him. I like good people. Always have. But that dance instructor is a conservative Christian! I haven’t seen her voter registry ID, but I’m certain she’s a Republican. So what in the world is a conservative Christian Republican doing with a dance school??? Loving people. That’s what she does. Oh, she’s demanding, but she’s demanding to everyone. And she compassionate… to everyone. And that’s how we do it. We love people. We have our beliefs & our opinions, & we love people. And Nina, if you get around to reading this, thank you. You taught me that a person was a person no matter what. And while we may disagree on politics today, we love people. And I will take that every day, all day, any day.

I’m not upset that I live in a country that nominated & will appoint a candidate I didn’t choose. I’m upset that there’s more to be done & not enough people doing the good work that’s waiting to be accomplished. 

So I’m in this fight. And I will call out discrimination & prejudice when I see it. And if you’re up for it & feel compelled, I’ll still argue with you. And whenever I can, wherever I can, I will help the hurting & maringalized that are right here in America. And I believe in my heart that some of you already do, & that more will come. Because I don’t think you’re a racist or horrible. I think you’re human. And the election is over, but people still need one another. 

So to a better future on a wider, fairer road for my country…

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I Lost. Where Did I Put My Big Boy Pants??

I did not vote for Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for him for dozens of reasons. And in the primary, I did not vote for Hillary Clinton. So I guess I’m “one of those”. For all of you reading that did vote for Trump, congratulations. It’s a tough pill to swallow today, & I don’t have much else to say there… but, he is my nations leader in a couple months. I’ll pray for him like I have for Pres. Obama. I promise. 

So now what?

First, I am a white (mostly Scottish, English, & Cherokee, I think), Christian, college educated, & a middle-class fella. So if I speak for any group, that’s the one. And I’m a Democrat that almost never votes straight ticket. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever voted for a presidential candidate that lost. I’m 36. 

I say that to say this… I will not be telling African Americans how to feel. I will not be advising women. I can’t tell the lower or upper classes how to handle this. If you didn’t vote for President-Elect Trump, & you meet most of my demographics, I am talking to you. And if you aren’t in those circles, I hope this is helpful in some small way.

Election Night

When Florida & Virginia numbers first started coming out, I was worried. I saw the county map & knew he’d successfully mobilized rural America, & was closer than Romney was to Obama in the largely blue counties. I told Grace I was worried. It never got better. Media stopped spinning & started asking real questions, so that was nice. But by & large, it was awful to watch. 

Parker headed for bed around 8:30pm here on the West Coast. He was disappointed. He likes Hillary because ‘she smiles better’ & ‘likes brown people’ & ‘she doesn’t say mean things’. So I’m probably going to ban him from watching coverage of polling. I don’t want him to create negative opinions of the people who voted against his opinions. We have enough of that amongst the grown-ups. 

Uneducated White Women 

I watched CNN until it was basically over. Then I was just watching to see how Fox & MSNBC were handling the reality. But CNN didn’t really use the phrase ‘uneducated white women‘. I started seeing it on social media & found out a major cable network or two was wearing the phrase out. CNN was polling large turnout for ‘non-college white women‘. 

First, current polling suggests that this apparent large turnout is not true. Gotta love polling 🙄

Second, words matter. Someone on national television called my mom uneducated. My mom is a conservative Christian with an important job overseeing proposals for millions in grant money for Duke University health systems. She’s not only smart, but also self-educated & has taken numerous business classes because business is her career. She is not uneducated. And the phrase wreaks of elitism & prejudice against people, & in this case women, that don’t have college degrees. It was inappropriate & a missed opportunity to properly characterize a sizeable populous in our nation. I love you Mom.

Mom Is Wrong

Ok, Mom isn’t wrong. I just wanted a catchy subtitle. But she & I don’t vote very similarly, so we don’t discuss a lot about politics. However, I know she can be counted in the millions of us that have looked at the two main party candidates with befuddled expressions, & wondered aloud, “Really? These are the options?!?”

But she’s my mom. I love my mom. I’m grateful for the faith she helped me cultivate, the family that she & Dad made for my sister & me, the way she loves my wife, & the relentless depths to which she spoils my sons. She loves Jesus simply. She knows theology & doctrine, but she just loves Jesus. And I think that has shaped my love of Jesus & humanity more than anything I’ve ever read or been taught. So when it comes to my mom, disagreeing with her is not more important than loving her. She’s my mom, & my sister in Christ, & she human. I love me some humans. 

Loving Through Disagreement

I can’t tell if today has been awful or inspiring. I’ve argued all morning on social media. I’ve had text message duels with some of my favorite people. I’ve had my faith called into question because I’m not more anti-abortion than human equality. I’ve been called a few names, & none of them by strangers. I’ve probably lost friends today. And I think this has happened because we’ve ALL traded in our decency for some policies & fears. 

So to some of my former students, I’m sorry we’ve argued. If in my debating, I failed to remind you or uphold the measure to which I love you, I am so sorry. To my family members that don’t like my views or posts or blogs, etc., I’m not trying to attack you. But I am probably trying to offend you. And I’m sorry that the road to understanding has to cross through offense. Again, we are ALL becoming way more political than we are compassionate. And I forget that sometimes. And if you are one of those few people who look to me as a leader in faith or thought or social responsibility, & I didn’t say enough or I said too much or you assumed that being a Christian & a pastor meant I was a Republican, I am so sorry that I disappointed you, but…

Disagreeing Through Love

We don’t agree. 

I think that you can’t call yourself Pro-Life if there is any scenario, no matter how bizarre or vile, where you would permit a woman or female child to have an abortion. If you have one scenario that you can concoct that allows for a fetus or embryo to be terminated, you’re Pro-Choice. And that needs to be thought through & dealt with honestly, first in your own heart, & then with people you trust. And then maybe see who is actually getting abortions & why. 

I think African Americans & Latino Americans are the most marginalized & quietly despised ethnicities in American history. I think we have a system that batters them & then tells them to unify with us. And I can’t be quiet about human injustice. The are more people involved in ethnic hate groups right now in America than at any other time in our history. Absorb that. Change that. Fight that. 

I think our prisons are full of black men who shouldn’t be there. 

I think Big Business has butchered the Constitution & bastardized our free market. Nothing is free now. And the cost is steep, well beyond the dollars & cents. 

I think we’ve taxed college students by giving them a minimum wage that falls well beneath inflation, & tuition rates that cripple economic freedom for most that are engaged in the system. 

I think we’ve created a poverty class that has little to no hope of overcoming the economics of their situation because the media calls them uneducated or worse, pundits over promise & under deliver, many of our policies perpetuate classism, & Americans that aren’t poor are largely ignoring Americans that are poor!! 

…..

And if you’re reading this, feeling flush & getting red in the face, then we disagree. Some of those bullets points are economic, & you might be able to teach me something that grows my knowledge, & therefore my opinions on it. Cool. Teach away. 

But on some of these disagreements, I am steadfast in my conviction that change must be the order. We are as racially divided as ever. I don’t blame anyone. Blame is for people who don’t want to be bothered with correcting the problem. But our system is tilted in favor of… me. And I love humanity too much to have a Brad-first society. I like diversity too much to favor one small fraction of the ‘haves’ over the growing number of outsiders that exist around me.

So I love you, but we disagree. And I’m not going to be getting over it. But I swear, I love you. 

One Last Thing, Dear Black People…

This part is for all of you still reading that aren’t a group that looks like me, but it’s especially for African Americans. 

I’m heartbroken for America today. I’m afraid for you, especially if stop & frisk is brought back into the forefront of policing. And if the brokenness in our justice system isn’t confronted. And for whatever you felt compelled to tell your children this morning. 

I do trust God today. But I’m reminded this morning, of how Christ responded to the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus, knowing God’s will fully & completely, knew that his friend wasn’t truly gone. He knew a miracle was coming. But in the moment, at that awful place where someone else’s pain is tangible, Jesus cried. So trusting God, I weep with you today. 

I do not understand. I’m a white guy. I can’t possibly understand. But I will fight for you. And I will believe that your mourning will be turned to joy. And I will fight for that joy. And while I’m fighting for your rights in our free nation, if I can encourage Latinos, Muslims, homosexuals, the poor, refugees, & the imprisoned as well, well I’m going to do that too.

I love you guys. All of you reading this. Let’s think together, love together, & walk together. 

I John 4:7-12, 15-18 read it & dream

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Hurting People & Political Garbage

Happy November! Monday night was a blast for our family. Halloween in Washington proved to be a fantastic evening with new friends, laughing at our kids, & plotting how to best exercise the ‘parent tax’ (from my buddy Josh, not my clever phrase) that allows a percentage of the candy intake to go to the grown ups. It’s the most obviously capitalist thing about me. Taxing Halloween candy. Brilliant!

But last night wasn’t great for everyone. Across town a sweet boy from our church was with his family when he & his dad were hit by a car. The prevailing reports say that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. So there’s a measure of anger that mixes into our deep sadness. Please pray for Max, his family, & our church family. 

Parenting

Telling Parker was hard. Explaining to our son that someone he saw on Sunday is in the hospital & how he got there is emotional. And for Parker, he had two thoughts:

1. What did Max do wrong? Almost immediately, Parker remembered me screaming at him as he stepped into traffic over a month ago. And he assumed that Max had done the same thing. It never occurred to him that adults make mistakes. Adults make bad decisions. Adults can cause pain by being reckless, careless, & stupid. But as soon as I told him that someone old enough to drive had risked many lives to drive impaired, he got to the second thought…

2. Revenge. He was angry. How could someone do this? What did they have to gain from risking so much? Is it ok to say stupid right now? Because ‘stupid’ is a no-kids word in or house. Not profanity, but a hurtful word that he should avoid. How are we going to fight back for Max?

Whoa.

So what followed was a brief chat about how we, as followers of Christ, give up the right to have revenge. Christ took away the penalty for our sin, so we can’t go around repaying evil with an act that separates us from God too — I think he got the point. But he’s still angry & upset & scared for his friend, & that’s perfectly ok.

The Problem

Here’s one of the things that I love most about my oldest child. He assumes personal responsibility faster & more often than I ever have. It’s so impressive. His first thought yesterday morning was of a time that he was guilty of bad judgment & he assumed that this was a similar story. Of course, it was not. 

And that has become the crux of the problem in this season in American history. We call for unity, but naturally assume that those other people need to get on board, or get ‘right’, or correct their behavior in order to be unified. So unity means nothing more than people agreeing with me. To hell with compromise or, it’s uglier precursor, LISTENING!! And now we are mad that our representatives ignore our wishes, pander for our votes, argue about everything but policies, & make more money than just about any of us do… but maybe they are following our lead. Do I expect everyone else to compromise to my way of thinking or my standard of living? Do I care for the needs of others enough to actually invest in something or someone that cannot give me a return on that investment? Is everything that’s wrong with my country or my faith community someone else’s fault? Do I own my part in the present disunity? Do I move in the direction of community with people that aren’t in my circle of influence? Do I care? Or do I just say a lot of words & do… nothing??

The Proof

I listened to a sermon this week from Crosspointe Church where the pastor makes a fairly provocative statement about our democracy. Basically, he says that if millions of people from a couple of groups within our nation think that they are unheard, misrepresented, marginalized, & unfairly treated, then our democracy has a serious problem. And he goes on to say that it is no longer permissible for those crying for unity to think it must begin somewhere other than ourselves! And I agree.

So here are some things that bother me within our disunity, that I feel prove the points that the marginalized are trying to say:

African Americans make up 6.5% of the US population, but a staggering 40.2% of the prison population

White men have 1:17 chance of ending up in prison. Black men have 1:3 chance! Site NAACP.org & the Netflix documentary 13th, among other sources. 

1:3 women & 1:4 men have been victims of domestic violence

1:5 American women have been raped in their lifetime. 

The most common country of origin for immigration to the US is NOT Mexico. Since 2013, China & India have had more. In fact, since 2009, more Mexicans have migrated back to Mexico than have come over!!

But we don’t absorb these truths… we let media tell us stuff & blindly believe it. We read contentious websites that accuse whole people groups of ridiculous behavior. We share articles all over social media that we have never thought to fact check. We’d rather meme about Trump & scoff at Hillary. We will blindly ‘feel the Bern’ but we refuse to chase after the hurting, because abolitioning student debt has become more urgent than systematic oppression. We scream that one group hates us, while another group wants to kill babies, all the while oblivious to the fact that abortion is actually down nationwide!!! 

Stop. Drop. Roll. 

I don’t know how old I was when I first learned this 3-step technique to putting myself out, should I ever catch on fire. And I’ve never caught on fire. Not once. But if it ever happens, & shock or panic don’t overwhelm, I have a plan. It’s good to have plan, but a plan is effectively useless if you forget to employ it when the need arises. 

Scripture teems with how Christians should physically, personally, & corporately address hurting people. The Good Samaritan stopped & helped, the Rich Young Ruler was challenged to be in a posture of sacrifice, & Christ championed how believers live with & serve the hungry, naked, thirsty, foreigner, ill & disabled, & imprisoned. So what to we do? Practically speaking, how do we help?

Stop arguing

Again, tens of millions of people are crying foul, while millions more are effectively saying “no you’re not!” And freedom suffers. Police officers suffer, as the face of oppression that they should not be the face of. The poor suffer. Minorities hurt & continue to be ignored. And it is my job… your job… our job… to just. stop. arguing. 

Listen. Listen to the hurting. There is power in listening. I give up my right to speak & empower someone else to speak up, trust me, & feel a little less alone in their trial. It’s what we do with family & close friends. It’s how we treat the neighbor we like so much. Why not the stranger? We cannot be a people of righteousness if we are busy being right. 

Drop the Right to be Right

I’ve been married for nearly 10 years. I love it. I love my wife. But I’m still learning that having a valid point or a differing opinion is not always helpful. And when we listen to one another, we are always pressed to respond. But sometimes… ya know… shut up. Keep your opinion to yourself. If a leprechaun walked up to me & was disappointed with the recent lack of rainbows & gold pots, I’m sure I’d have an opinion. And I might even be right. But here’s a dirty little secret about being a comfortable person listening to a hurting or oppressed person…

I have no idea what the heck I’m talking about. I’ve buried best friends, but it wasn’t their best friend. I’ve had no money to my name, but I was not in poverty. I’ve been wrongly accused, yelled at, judged, & ignored… but not my whole life. And not all of the generations of my family.

So I might be right with my speculations, stereotypes & opinions, but that just doesn’t matter here. Listening matters. Humility matters. Having a heart for people matters. And if you listen well, & you do it often enough, & you stay through the sadness & show real concern, maybe they will ask for some advice or guidance or help, & then…

Roll With It

Until Christianity becomes illegal, heterosexuality is banned, white people become the power majority, & pesos outrank the dollar, I will never be oppressed or marginalized. I know that. I also know that I don’t know what the majority of Americans endure on a daily basis. I’m in a coffee shop, blogging on an iPad, spending money that I can comfortably spend on things that I don’t need. 

1:6 Americans face hunger. Yes that 17% of our nation. And statistically, there is a hungry person in every American county!!

So remember who you are. Thank God if you’re comfortable! And then go get a little uncomfortable. Love the hurting. Listen to them. Give yourself away. Stop tweeting hate & contention. Stop name-calling. Run every word out of your mouth through the filters of goodness, godliness, & usefulness. Stop being partisan & become passionate about people. All of them. And if you find someone in need, meet the need or find someone who can help you help out. 

I won’t blog again until after the election. And I’ll be up all night watching coverage because I love that stuff. But whatever happens, people will still need people on November 9th. Be the person looking for hurting people, & pray that I will be too. There’s an enormous need in America, but not for a leader to protect us. We need each other. And there’s a responsibility attached to being a ‘have’. There’s a calling to Christians. And someone, right now, needs someone.

Be someone. Be someone right now. In your office, be kind. In your home, be humble. In your neighborhood, be communal. In your church, be biblical. In your place, right now, wherever that is, exercise compassion & care no matter hat it costs you or how it makes you feel. People need people today. And they will again tomorrow. 

Thanks friends.

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Politics, Forgiveness, & Lobsters

I have spent a lot of this political season being very… well, political. I have a strong opinion about the situation our political candidating system has put us in this election cycle, & who is to blame for it (Spoiler Alert: I blame the arrogance of Americanism, which is not the same as loving the ideals of America). I have a strong reaction to the false link between Republicanism & Christianity. And I have a very strong reaction to the amount of people giving opinions & directives that they call biblical & Christ-centered, without actually quoting Jesus or the Bible. And this crap stresses me out.

And it has also caused some significant conflicts & tension.

Tension Sends Us in One of Two Directions

In a previous post (Stress Management & Other Stuff I FAIL At), I wrote about the implications of tension on life. And in reality, I believe that we go one of two ways when confronted by true tensions: stress or balance. 

Last week, a friend I’ve known for longer than I’ve known Jesus (so, 16+ years) got very heated with me over some things I had posted on Facebook. He called me a joke, questioned my faith in Christ, & made a few unfavorable comparisons with me & some ‘ministers’ that I do not admire or even agree with. He also posted a couple of comments on this blog site about me & my “un-Christian” views. 

It was hard. And frankly, it bothered me. In fact, it still bothers me. So, if I’m being transparent, I stressed out about it. I went back & forth between anger, disappointment, self-doubt, & sadness because that’s just what we do when we stress. Our emotional responses drive us & inevitably derail us. We lose confidence. We forget purpose, & we focus on that one pothole that was there a couple miles back. And once derailed, a train is awfully hard to get back on its track.

Take What You Can Get

I have no idea where that phrase comes from. And truthfully, it’s full of logical & philosophical holes. But in the context of stress & emotional upheaval, I think it has some truthiness behind it. When you’re looking to re-center or find your bearings again, taking any little assistance that comes your way seems wise. 

I was rocked. Was I a fraud? Am I asking people to think unbiblically? Is what I believe in my heart to be true, really a truth to believe in?

So first, I went to my foundations. More simply, I prayed, spoke with my wife Grace, & I opened my Bible. Grace believes in me. When she disagrees with the content of a post or blog, she tells me. When my delivery could have been better, but my message was solid, she critiques me. When I say something she likes, she applauds me. And when I’m down, she unwaveringly supports, loves, & cheers for me. And this is not the job of a wife… this is just what partners do. So with my best friend by my side, reminding me of the worthiness of justice for all humanity, I went to the Bible. And, since this isn’t intended to be a politically or socially driven post, I’ll just say that Scripture more than confirmed my passions & calling to the least of our society. Maybe I’ll post more on my heart for all people later, but for now…

Once again firm on my foundation, every good structure needs help being built. The terrific compliments & encouragements from some parents on the kids soccer team I coach. When a friend called to tell me that her son prays for that crazy preacher man every night. When talking to a few solid folks at our church, & they chime in with a thought I was thinking, but was a little wary to say. Embarrassingly… Facebook likes & positive comments. New friend requests with wonderful notes attached. A joking note telling me that if I get any more famous I’ll have to start a Facebook fan page… which is apparently a thing. The warm message from a friend & sister in Christ that was born with darker skin than me, thanking me for holding on in the face of attack & disagreement.  

I needed every note. I needed the texts & calls & nice things said to my wife while I was yelling at your kids. And I love our friends that we’ve made here in Tacoma. But mostly, I needed the confidence that, as a believer in Christ, I am walking in the light of what I believe to be important biblical truth, & therefore, a priority to Christ’s mission. I know that isn’t the primary burden on all of you, but it is the main thing for me. So whatever your main thing is, get back to it. Get back to your faith or your center or your calm. Get the train back on the track. That’s how we move forward. 

Breaking Through The Phase

Lobsters spend their whole life growing. It’s something called intermediate growth. And all the while, they have a hard shell that does a terrific job of protecting them from vulnerabilities, but it’s terrible for growth. So every now & then, they grow beyond the confines of their own protection. And, at the risk of being vulnerable, they break free from their shell. 

Growth is terrifying. It makes us vulnerable. We now know enough to move beyond our own present state, but we aren’t ready to BE just yet. But life doesn’t wait. So, a bit green in our new stage of growth, we move out. And sometimes… it sucks. And maybe wounded… ok, likely wounded… we have to limp. And it’s uncomfortable, kinda embarrassing, & overwhelmingly consuming, until your shell grows back. Then you keep growing. And you learn to be irritated by your shell all over again. But you keep moving. Keep growing. And hopefully, as you move forward, you are walking in the direction that keeps you closest to your center point. Because I think that’s how living is done. Whether someone hurt you, you inflicted pain on yourself through a failure, flaw or addiction, or you’re walking through grief, or life just kinda hits you harder than you’re ready to be hit, you choose. Stay miserable behind the shell of your former self, or grow beyond the need to stay covered & hidden. 

It is risky, this growing thing. But it is what we were made for. And without growing, we doom ourselves to a discomfort we weren’t designed to endure. 

You’re Still You

So now, vulnerable & wounded, you are moving in light of a growth you hadn’t expected. I’m there right now. Over a month ago, I buried a close friend & it still makes me sad. Just a few days ago, disagreement & anger cost me a friend. And the shell of comfort broke open & I really do not like it.

What do you call a lobster without its shell? It’s called… a lobster. 

Just because you don’t have the protection of ignorance or comfort any more, does not mean that you stop being who you are. This kind of growth isn’t a metamorphosis as much as it is a shedding of an older, less prepared you. And those things that cracked your confidence aren’t gone. So what does a man or woman do when life deals them some tough blows?? They keep on being the man or woman that they are, but stronger, more faithful, & more determined. 

As I continue to grieve Tripp’s death, I try to love my friends better. I call his wife & check in. And this morning, I took an hour & we taught our son to ride his bike. It was awesome.

And to the friend that is now disconnected from me, I have to be the first to forgive. Not because I’m better or anything like that. But Christ is my foundation, & forgiveness is required in obedience. And truthfully, though it certainly stings, when I told my friend that I had become a Christian back in 2000, he was supportive & confident that it was good for me. He was more confident than I was. And that investment cannot be tossed away. 

And more hurt will come… I’ll let someone down. I’ll say something that someone strongly disagrees with. And I’ll see the hurt that others endure & feel the burden of responsibility & owning the sufferings of others. Someone is going to hurt me. It’s inevitable. 

But I will grow. I will break out from behind the comfort & keep on moving forward. I’m drawn to people groups that are hurting, & that’s never going to end. I’m drawn to the kind of faith that sees humanity through the lens of Christ’s sacrifice & service. And I’m flawed & often in need of being forgiven, so I must be a man of forgiveness & understanding. Because shell or no shell, I’m still the man I was created to be. 

So when life forces me to grow in directions that I really didn’t want to grow, I just have to keep moving. Keep growing. Staying true to the center of who I am, I will love who I love, believe what I believe, & speak out for the things that I feel so passionate about.

I hope you will too.

Always forward. God bless. 

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