Layman's Walk

Fat Tuesday! (Or Mardi Gras!)

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While I certainly cannot compare my low-key antics with those in the Big Easy or Carnivale, I am enjoying my Fat Tuesday before the Lenten season begins tomorrow.

While I’ve never been much for “giving up” something for Lent, this year, I am intentionally making a point of focusing on making concerted changes in a variety of areas on my life for specific reasons.

#1 – No Alcohol

With the exception of the wine served at Holy Communion, I am abstaining from alcohol for the entirety of Lent.  People who know me well know I enjoy good beer (and even not-so-good beer).  However, I recognize that it is unhealthy, it makes me sluggish, and that I don’t need it.  So, I’m going to experiment with having no alcohol for forty days and see how I feel at the end.  Maybe I’ll go back to having a beer or two or a couple glasses of wine with a good meal or with friends at a gathering.  But maybe I won’t.  I am also quite aware of the calorie count associated with most alcoholic drinks.  Considering I weigh the most I have in my life, I could certainly stand to shed a few pounds.  Abstaining from my malty beverages should help with that as well.

#2 – Practice a Lenten Devotional

Just because someone is preparing for ministry doesn’t mean their spiritual life is just as it should be.  I often find that I am too quick to jump into the business of the day and neglect setting aside time with God.  As such, I am  making a point of leveraging a daily Lenten devotional to re-instill my daily morning ritual of prayer and thanksgiving.  I will be using a devotional created by Luther Seminary, which can be found here if you’d like to use it. It’s relatively brief, so there’s no excuse for not using it daily.  I plan to use this devotional with my family at the end of each day before bed in addition to my morning routine.

#3 – Attending to My Writing

I started this blog a few years back with the intention of chronicling my journey to ordained ministry and beyond.  Frankly, I’ve done a pretty poor job doing that.  Writing is a good practice for anyone, especially if you need to be able to communicate to others in a meaningful and clear way.  In addition to being somewhat therapuedic, writing this blog helps me to hone this skill.  (And hopefully others might find some value in it as well.)  As such, I will post something every day during Lent.  I hope it will be particularly insightful, but no guarantees.  In any case, I will post something–maybe brief and frank, maybe long and insightful–but something.

#4 – Move This! (Shake that Body!)

No, I’m not part the 90’s electronic group Technotronic but I will be taking their advice over the next forty days:  I’m gonna “move  this.”  I am not one who likes to exercise.  I hate the idea of “working out” or doing physical activity only for the sake of doing physical activity.  However, I have found enjoyment in activities as simple as taking the dog for a walk.  So, I will be implementing a practice of walking Shortie (our Carin Terrier) when the weather permits, and doing some other upper  lower-body focus work.  This is because, today is not only Fat Tuesday, it’s lose-some-fat Tuesday.


Whether or not you choose to do anything during the Lenten season, do me a solid favor and help keep me accountable.  While none of this seems too hard, it will definitely be a challenge for me.  But if Jesus could do forty days in the wilderness, I think I can do forty days of  this.  If not, I have some serious #FirstWorldProblems.




Layman's Walk

“Zombie Blog!” — or– “Ahhh! Failed Again!”

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Just when you thought it was dead….BAM! The blog that hasn’t had a new post in, uh, well, an awfully long time has one!

Sure–I could list plenty of reasons I haven’t posted in so long. I’m busy–so is everyone else. Work had been intense–as is the nature of work. I already have to do so much writing for seminary assignments and preparing for sermons when I preach (which are most Sundays)–but so do a lot of other people in situations similar to mine.

The fact of the matter is–I just didn’t make it a priority.

Along the lines of why I’m not physically fit, why I procrastinate, and any other aspect of my life where I feel I fail to “live up to expectations,” it’s just because I haven’t made it a priority.

This strikes me as ironic. How does someone who talks about how we need to purposefully seek to be God’s hands and feet in the world fail to be purposeful about so many other important aspects of his life? How does a person who teaches leadership courses to groups of professionals–part of which is emphasizing the criticality of living “intentionally”–not follow his own teachings?

Simply put–because I ain’t perfect.

(And I say “ain’t” to emphasize the imperfection–and because my wife, Kari, hates it when I use that word, but I think it’s great!)

As a human being, I will never be perfect so I may as well get over the disappointment.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I should stop trying to improve myself–but it does mean I should “give myself a little grace,” as some good friends have told me a number of times.

When I recognize my shortcomings and forgive myself, a great weight is lifted from me. When I remind myself of the areas in life where I actually do well instead of where I lack, I find confidence, strength, and hope for tomorrow.

It also reminds me I need to show that same grace to other people–especially those who are closest to me, and those who I love the most.

Unfortunately, when most people are frustrated, the ones who bear the brunt of that frustration are the people they care about that most. It certainly is the case for me.

So when I remind myself that it’s ok that I’m not perfect–I remember that it’s ok that others aren’t perfect as well.

Perfection only comes in the love and forgiveness of God. And just as God forgives me, I must forgive myself–and others, too.

“It ain’t easy.” But it’s worth remembering. Because it’s only in forgiveness that we become whole–as individuals and as humanity.



Layman's Walk

My Home Away from Home

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It’s that time of year again. Two weeks on campus at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. As much as I will miss my loving wife and lively children over this period, I do love my time here.

As a “Distributed Learning” student (read: my classes are online most of the time), it’s very easy to listen to a recorded lecture, join an online video chat, or simply just do the assignments and move on to the next “thing,” whether that be work, family time, or another commitment.

But what I really miss out on is a sense of community. I find this to be a crucial thing. This is especially true given the nature of what I am pursuing. A typical person would easily look at what I am doing and call it foolish. And maybe it is, in the view of the world. But when I’m here with my cohort, my classmates, and friends, I’m reminded that there is a not only a great network of support, but many other people who are entertaining God’s call to ministry, to justice, and leadership.

These next two weeks will be a blessing. Being in a strong faith community and having the opportunity to explore Christianity through the lens of academia and leadership through the lens of Christianity is, frankly, awesome.

I wish more people could see the folks here. It is such a refreshing view of Christianity as compared to what is seen when some “Christian” is on the news or some “evangelical” is condemning a group of people, or even how Christians are portrayed in TV and movies.

This is a group of very imperfect people. We are no different than any other person. We swear, we get angry, we disagree. We oversleep, get cranky, saw things we regret. We also thoroughly enjoy life, as anyone else does. And a great number of us enjoy our pints down at the local pub (2 for 1 every day).

The only thing that is different is that we have a need, sometimes referred to as a “calling,” to share God’s love with the world. And its not a discriminating love, it’s not a condemning love, it’s not a “holier than thou” love,. It’s not saying “we’re better than you” or “you need to do this checklist, to be ‘saved’ (whatever that means).”

It’s a call to seek justice for those who have been denied it. It’s a call to love those who have been cast aside and shunned. It’s a call to help those who need it–not because they “deserve” it, but because they, too, are humans, children of God, just like we are. It’s a call to do what we can to bring God’s kingdom to our world in our time. It’s a call to love, and to encourage others to do the same.

These next two weeks will be inspiring as well as educational. I can’t wait to get started.


Layman's Walk

God is Love–and YOU are loved. Yes! YOU and ME too!!

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“Love makes the world go ’round.”

“All you need is love.”

“God is love.”

Stop and consider that for a moment:  God is Love.  This is the message in today’s reading from First John, and, in this person’s opinion, is one of the most powerful and beautiful statements in all of scripture.

“God is love.”

Only three words, but they contain so much.  Truly this must mean that if God “is” love, then all that God does is motivated by love–it is all done out of love.  From the creation of the universe to the giving of the Law to the sending of the Prophets to sending God’s own son, Jesus, to the works of God that occur in all the corners of the world today:  it is all done out of love because God IS love.

This also means that all things that are done in hate, spite, malice, jealousy, and fear are NOT of God, even when human beings claim that they are.  First Corinthians tells us that, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”  This tells us that anything contrary to this is neither love nor of God, because God is love.

What does this say about us as human beings?  In Genesis, we are told that humanity exists in the “image of God,” meaning that in some way, we resemble God.  If God is love, this means that humans resemble love.

And when we think about this, it makes sense.  It would be an impossible challenge to find a human who did not love at least one other person–even the most despicable among us in all of history loved at least one other person.  This highlights the duality of humanity–we are both good and evil, sinner and saint.  We are all screwed-up, yet, we are all capable of love.  Even in our human judgment that casts some as worse than others, we are all the same in God’s eyes:  flawed, failing, and in desperate need of love.

And if we are all capable of Love and we know that God is Love, that tells us something significant–that while not all people may consciously know God, be consciously seeking God, or even consciously believe in God, we are all still of God and made in God’s image–whether we believe it, like it, or care.  We still have the nature and spirit of God in us–because we LOVE.

If all people are created in love, capable of love, and undeserving of God’s love because of our nature (yet still recipients of it) it leads to another truth:  ALL are loved by God (because God is love).  If that is the case, how can a loving God (who is love) destroy or “damn” that which God created?

Surely, I claim correctly that Jesus is “The Way” and the only way to life–that none come to God except through him.  This is both right and completely true. Yet just as Adam caused the fall of all humanity and the separation of humanity from God, Jesus reconciled humanity–all of humanity–to God.

If we say, “So-and-so did something so disgusting and horrible!  How can that person be reconciled to God?”  If we say that and believe someone cannot be reconciled to God, then we diminish the power and righteousness of Christ’s sacrifice and death–and in doing so, we diminish God’s power and creativity.

(Yes, in our mortality–and morality, for that matter–it is appropriate to condemn and punish those who commit heinous crimes.  I am in no way defending them or advocating a light sentence for them in our world.  That is crucial to the continuation of our society.  I am only saying that I cannot “play god” with others in assuming I know how God will treat them ultimately at the end.  God promises to make me new and perfect–I can only justify that if God can correct the flaws in me, God can correct the flaws in all people–no matter how severe.)

It is also easy to look at scripture and see that “all who believe in Him will be saved,” and then say, “Well, so-and-so did not believe in Jesus when they died, so they must be clearly damned to hell.”  But this is also foolish!  Scripture also says that “every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  If all people (tongues) will confess this–if all will eventually acknowledge Christ as Lord–is this not sufficient to meet the requirements of the prior?  Especially since this same scripture claims that “God is Love?”  Would God not desire to save all that God created?

Who among us–even after death–when faced with the almighty God, would deny Jesus–would deny God?  Where does this notion of belief in this life become the deciding factor?  It is easy to deny God in our world where God remains unseen, but how would one react when face-to-face?  Does it not make sense that a God that “is love” would do all that is necessary to save all of the creation that God created in love, for love?  Would that logically include a reconciliation when standing face-to-face with God?  Of course it does!!

Be happy, friends.  God is Love!  And as such, we are all called to show this same love to ALL whom we meet–regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any other way in which we as humans like to classify ourselves.  We are ALL God’s children!  And a God who is Love will not abandon God’s children.  Have faith!  Love others!  And if you lack faith, keep loving others!

Love is all you need.

God is love.




Layman's Walk

A Prayer for My Children

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Tonight, Kari is away, headed to South Carolina with her soon-to-be sister-in-law. (I couldn’t be happier for either of them!)

Tonight, I helped a friend acquire a free piano vis-a-vis the back of my truck while his lovely wife fed our kids dinner. It was a pretty sweet deal if I do say so.

Once we returned home, the kids began their nightly duties–brush teeth, dirty clothes in the hamper, PJs on…and I tucked them each into bed.

Upon leaving their rooms, I was struck with an overwhelming urge to pray for them. I’ll admit, I do not pray for my own children as much as I should. Frankly, I don’t pray at all as much as I should–and that’s coming from a seminarian. Interpret that in whatever way you want.

None the less, I was brought to my knees tonight outside their doorways in an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, praise, and prayers for their continued guidance, regardless of how flawed my own guidance may be. That God would look upon them with favor, give them protection, show them the way in which they should go, and ultimately, help them live up to the promises he has given each of them.

There is something quite powerful in prayer. Perhaps this is not news to you. It’s not to me. But each time it occurs, I am awestruck by it.

I do truly feel that God has blessed Kari and me with our family. I can only hope that they live to the potential God has given them and do so in the humility of the grace he has granted them.


Peace to you and yours.


Layman's Walk

It’s a Matter of Chemistry

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Hey there!

Man, it’s been a month since I’ve written anything!  And it’s not as if there hasn’t been plenty going on.  In national news, we had the atrocious events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the hurricanes that have decimated Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and many more places (along with the threats of three more hurricanes off the southeast coast of the continent), and so much more.

The coverage of these events has been significant.  I did not feel that there was a need for my additional commentary.  If you know me, you’ve got the basics of my thoughts on the matter:  Nazi’s, racists, hate = bad.  Donating money, time, talents to help victims of natural disasters = good.

We’re now in the middle of September and I’m starting my third week in the distributed learning program at Luther Seminary.  It’s a lot of reading, a lot of writing, and a lot of thoughtful reflection.  And paperwork.  Ugh.  But overall, things are going splendidly.  Even though we leverage the Internet a lot for our studies, we have excellent video conferencing for small group discussions, live classroom streaming and interaction in real-time.  Our online learning system (Moodle) is fast and easy to use.  As students, we have closed groups on Facebook where we can have “hallway conversations,” share opinions, and ask questions.  We also have official Luther Sem Facebook groups for more official communications.  Arguably most importantly, our professors and instructors have lots of experience working with distance learners and do a great job of providing a quality classroom experience–even if we have students (which I do in my small groups) who live everywhere from Alaska to Florida to New England.

At the same time, I’m still working on becoming a certified Dale Carnegie Course instructor and running my consulting biz.  Pile that on top of all the activity of the other five members of my family, a busy schedule at Church, and a reasonably active social life, and you’ve got a busy guy!

This last week was the Morton Pumpkin Festival.  If you know me, you know this is far from my favorite week of the year.  Traffic through town is messed up, there are tons more people in town, we end up spending more money than necessary, and, well, I just don’t like it.

So while I’m grumbling over P-Fest, starting seminary, and dealing with all the other stuff going on, I decided in my infinite wisdom that this would also be a great time to try weaning myself off of the antidepressant I’ve been taking for the last 4-5 years.  I didn’t cut it cold-turkey (that’s a terrible idea if you’re taking an SSRI), but I tried cutting my dose in half for two days, then taking my regular dose the third day, and repeating this sequence.

After about a week, I scrapped the idea and went back to my regular daily dosage.  And here’s why:

I became (or re-became) an unbelievably irritated, frustrated, self-centered prick.

Why on earth would I bring this up, let alone share it on a medium like this?  Because it is so important for people to realize that mental illnesses are just that: illnesses.  Like with any other illness, you get checked out when you think something is wrong, you get diagnosed, and you apply the prescribed treatment.  Mental illnesses are still too often stigmatized in our society, even to a point where there are many people who need treatment whose fear and pride won’t allow them to do so.

I take blood pressure medicine every day and I have done so for about seven years.  I don’t have a second thought about it.  It’s a chemical that provides a reaction in my body to make something that isn’t working quite right work better.  It’s the same thing with my antidepressant.  It’s all about a chemical reaction–my brain “eats” serotonin too fast and my medicine helps it do so at a slower rate.  That’s it!

The last day I had self-adjusted my medication, I was pretty much intolerable to be around.  At one point, I finally had the self-awareness to realize what was going on and, while still in a terrible mood, apologized to my wife and kids and took the other half of my dose.  I kid you not, about an hour later relief literally rushed over me.  Along with a much better disposition, I was also filled with disappointment at how I had treated others earlier that day.  The feeling of that rush of relief was almost unbelievable.  That relief was really the catalyst for my writing this post–it really, truly is a chemical thing.  It’s not that I don’t have the self-discipline or that I should just cheer up, suck it up, and quit being so whiney.  It’s literally a chemical reaction.

If you think there might not be something quite right about how you feel or behave, or how a loved one may be acting, do something about it. Whether is counseling, medicine, or some other course of treatment, it’s every bit as important to address it as it is to address high blood pressure, diabetes, or any other disorder.

Love God.  Love others.  Love yourself.



Layman's Walk

“When Were You Saved?”

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This is a question you’ll often hear Christians ask one another.  Sometimes the question is different: “Have you been saved?”

This often results in the respondent giving a variety of answers from something as brief as saying they prayed a special prayer they were taught in a Sunday school class to a major life-changing event when they were so deeply inspired by the presence of God they found faith.

These stories can be wonderful to hear and I love to see the excitement people have and the expression of their faith as they tell them.

Quite often, not always, but often, there’s a common theme, and it might sound like the following:
– “I made the decision…”
– “I decided…”
– “I became…”

The focus is often on “I,” or “me,” the sinner, not on God.

This is a delicate topic because these events are real, spiritual events.  They are, for many people, the point in their lives when they recognized God’s saving grace.

I say the “the point when they recognized God’s saving grace” rather than “when they were saved” (I know, it’s subtle) because God’s power to save is independent of any individual. While we may appear or feel like we are making a decision, we as humans do not have the ability on our own to have faith. Rather, faith itself is a gift from God, inspired in us by the Holy Spirit.

I realize this may seem like a minor difference, but it is actually larger than that.  Does it make a difference in how that person felt at the time of their ‘saving story’ or does understanding this make anyone more or less ‘saved?’ Of course not.

It’s really just recognizing that the first chapter in all of humanity’s saving story is about actions taken and decisions made by God. It’s a slight change in the understanding of how God’s saving grace works and the fact that our participation in it is significantly less than we often think.

Additionally, it is crucial that Christians do not use the “saving story” as some sort of litmus test to try to tell people “whether they’re going to heaven or not.”  The fact of the matter is, God is the only one who knows the answer to that question we often see on church billboards:  “Where are YOU going?”  God is the only one who gets to make that decision–period.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Below is a generic ‘saving story.’ You may have one similar or have heard one similar to this.

“I was at Sunday school and we were talking about Jesus. Our teacher told us we have to accept Jesus into our hearts in order to be saved. I knew this was what I wanted because I wanted to go to heaven. Our teacher told us a prayer to say to ask Jesus into our hearts. I repeated the lines along with her. It was then I was saved and I felt good knowing that when I die I’ll be in heaven with Jesus.”

Here’s that same story again with the first chapter:

“I was listening to the lesson my Sunday school teacher was telling us. It was about how Jesus died on a cross as a substitute for us and our sins. He did this because God loves us unconditionally. The Holy Spirit worked in my teacher as she told us this story and the Spirit moved in me, and my heart was opened to this understanding that God’s love and saving grace was also for me. It made me feel different–I had a sense of peace and love, and I knew that what I had learned was the truth–that God sent Jesus to die for my sins.”

Now obviously, if this were actually a story retold by a child in Sunday school, there’s little chance it would sound like the second example. When we are first teaching the young people or anyone who is new to the faith, it’s difficult to explain concepts like substitution, grace, and the movement or inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  The “saving story” concept is easier than the larger, impractical, theological discussion

It is important to be careful not to pressure people with terror and fear of eternal damnation.  Don’t claim, “if you don’t do X, Y, and Z you’re going to hell.”  God is not looking for people to run to God in terror, fearing eternal punishment.  God is looking for us to recognize God’s love for us and, in turn, love God and others.  Like a parent can coerce a child into compliance through threats of punishment or encourage a child in love to get the same result, only the latter establishes a relationship that is healthy and mutually loving.  God is not a scorekeeper or an auditor checking boxes.  God is mercy and love.

As our faith matures, it is important to be able to look back on our “saving stories” with new eyes. When we do, we realize that our being saved is much bigger than a decision we made or a prayer we prayed. It wasn’t at the time that we were actually saved–it’s when we realized it.

We were destined to be saved by grace in Christ before creation came into existence. As the Gospel of John tells us:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made.

Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was the pivotal moment when God’s grace was fulfilled for all people–those who had come before, those who were alive then, and all those who came after (including us). As Paul tells us in 1 Timothy:

[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

Two key things to note in this passage. First, what God “wants.” It is safe to say, if God wants something, God will have it. If God wants something done, it will be done. Second, it states that Jesus was a ransom for “all” people–not some, not those who were worthy, not a select group–All.

Ultimately, it is God who makes the decision for the salvation of humanity, not us. “Saving stories” are “recognizing that we have been saved stories” rather than stories of “being saved at that particular point in time.”

Salvation is achieved not through human will, but though God acting in us through the faith that is God-given.

Subtle?  Yeah.

True?  Yep.


(When was I saved?  About 2,000 years ago, but it had been decided before the universe was made.  When did I come to truly realize it?  I knew it as fact since I was a kid, but I learned it as faith at East Bay Methodist Church Camp during the summer of 1996 when I was 15.  And I rediscover it each day.)




Layman's Walk

How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?!

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As an often-frustrated parent, I’ve found myself asking my kids the same questions over and over again:

“Why did you do that?”

“Haven’t I told you this needs to be done?”

“What do you mean, ‘you forgot?’  It’s the same every day!”

“You knew what was going to happen if you did that, and you did it anyway?”

“I’ve told you a thousand times not to do that!  WHY!? Ahhh!!”

“You know very well that we don’t behave that way.  Your mom and I expect better than that from you.”

“Guys, it’s bedtime–it’s the same routine. Every. Single. Night.”

“What?  I have to tell you to brush your teeth?  You don’t just do this on your own??”

“How many times do I have to tell you?!”

And yet, the other day as I was sitting on the couch with my wife lamenting what seemed to be the complete inability of our children to follow even the easiest instructions, my younger son, Evan, came into the room and said, “Daddy, I love you!  Can I have a hug and kiss?”

And my heart melted.  I bent over and picked him up and gave him a big ol’ hug and a kiss.  He hugged me back as tightly as he could (which I love).  Hugs with my kids are never quick–I love to hold them close.  I cherish how small they still are, even as they grow bigger every day.  I love the feeling of their arms wrapped tightly around my neck, the softness of their faces when they put their cheek against mine, and the sound of their breath as I hear them relax and recharge–knowing their daddy loves them more than they can possibly understand.

When I finally put him down, he went running off.  After about two or three steps, he turned around and shouted, “Thanks, Daddy!”  “You bet!  I love you!” I hollered as he cleared the room, happy to get back to whatever he was doing.

I looked over at Kari and asked her, “How is it that something you and I created together can be both the source of some of my greatest frustration and also the source of some of my greatest joy, meaning, and love?”

“I don’t know!” she responded as we both laughed.  It was funny because of the irony of the situation and because I had completely forgotten about what was frustrating me so badly to begin with!

As I sat there mulling this over in my head, a quiet voice said almost silently, “<chuckle> I know the feeling!”

How true that much be of our own loving Creator!

How often must God ask those same questions of us, God’s own children:

“Why did you do that?”

“Haven’t I told you this needs to be done?”

“What do you mean, ‘you forgot?’  It’s the same every day!”

“You knew what was going to happen if you did that, and you did it anyway?”

“I’ve told you a thousand times not to do that!  WHY!? Ahhh!!”

“You know very well that we don’t behave that way.  I expect better than that from you.”

“How many times do I have to tell you?!”

We know that as children of God we are incapable of meeting God’s expectations.  It can be the Ten Commandments of Moses, Jesus expansion of those commandments, or even just the simple on Jesus himself gives us:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.  And love you neighbor as yourself.”  We never get it right–whether we’re trying at all or trying with all our might.

What a source of frustration humanity must be for its creator!  To have been given such basic instruction (even so much that we have a basic understanding of “right and wrong” essentially hard-wired into our nature) that was then simply ignored must be aggravating.

Let’s be honest, so many of God’s instructions to us are similar to the instruction we receive throughout our own lives:

  • Don’t hit (let alone kill).
  • Share with others; be generous.
  • Be nice.
  • Don’t judge others because you’re not perfect either.
  • Speak kindly about others.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Don’t hurt other people.
  • Don’t be promiscuous.
  • Be faithful to one another.
  • Don’t take what isn’t yours–whatever that happens to be.
  • Forgive others.
  • Love others.

And yet, as a loving parent, God was willing to live with us, his children, in our weak condition to show us how to live and how to love.  Even more importantly, God showed us how much he loves us by going so far as to die a horrible death at the hands of those to whom he had only shown love and mercy.

It makes sense; what parent wouldn’t be willing to die, even in a terrible way, to save their kids?

Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel:

“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Think on that–if we who are imperfect know how to do right by others, how much more must God be able to do that?  Take it a step further:  If we who are imperfect are frustrated at how others cannot follow simple instructions, how frustrating must that be to God who is perfect?”

But the good news I found is this:  “Even as a frustrated, imperfect, human parent, how much love do I have for my kids when they come to me?  More than I ever knew I had!  And if as a sinner I can give that much love to my own children, how much more will God give to us, God’s own disobedient children, when we come to him looking for forgiveness, help, and love?!”

Thanks to God for unending grace, hope, and love!




Layman's Walk

New Life!

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(This has been stuck in my drafts folder since June 28!  You’d think an IT guy would be better with technology!!)

I am always in awe at a new birth!

Tuesday was one of celebration for our family. My wife, Kari, and I became an Aunt and Uncle again! (And our children gained a new handsome cousin!)

This time, it was on her side of the family. Her baby sister (who I have known since she was all of 8 years old) had a baby boy: Brycen Lee LeClair. This young gent was born about a week early at over 7 lbs and over 20″ long. Mommy and baby are happy and healthy. That in itself is a fantastic blessing.

When I reflect on the births of my four children, as well as those of both my wife’s sister and my sister (and frankly, anyone else!) I consistently find myself in awe.

The idea that we, as a human being, can create something so beautiful and pure is astounding to me.

Yes, I understand biology and evolution. I completely understand that without the ability to reproduce in a viable manner no species would survive. I also appreciate that human evolution has taught us to find the “cuteness” in our own offspring to prevent us from abandoning them.

I look at the whole system in awe. That we, as beings made of “star stuff” (as said by the great Carl Sagan), are capable of not only being conscious and aware but of also creating others in our own likeness, is amazing.

In my own children, I am seeing the development of individuals, of powerful personalities, of unique beings. It floors me.

When I consider my own imperfections and weaknesses and see that I still have offspring who may overcome those particular issues, I am in awe.

I’m reminded of this every time I see a new life born. And it continues to blow my mind, even more, when I am close to the new baby’s parents.

No parents have a hope of being perfect. Yet the child born to them is (at least for a while)!

Taking it a step further, I know many wonderful, loving, and imperfect couples who haven’t their own biological children. I have watched these wonderful and loving people bring a child into their home and love them as their own–who in fact, do become their own–and it is, to me, another great wonder of humanity and of life.

When I see or think of that new life, I can’t help but compare this new life in humanity to the new life we are promised in Christ.  All of us, from the youngest baby to the oldest man or woman, will face the same inevitable fate.  Our lives are finite.  Yet in Christ, we are promised new life in Him.

Celebrate life.  Share love.