Today I read an intriguing article in which pastor and author Tim Keller voiced his concern over nationalism in the church. I then made the mistake of reading the comment section under this article. While I won’t say which social media platform it was I can say it might rhyme with macehook.

As you know, the comment section that is found on social media feeds is perhaps one of the ugliest glimpses of humanity that one can find. Trust me, I have read enough comments to know that most commenters are not concerned with love, unity or kindness. They seem to carry the shoot first ask questions later as their primary method. The concern for humanity does not so much as exist as it has been replaced with the driving need to be right and to be heard.

From my experience I would say that moderates are not usually in the middle of the fray because they live in fear that they will be eaten alive by both sides of whatever divisive topic is being discussed. So what we find is a figurative Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi feverishly typing away in the comment section; angry, unforgiving and certainly not willing to talk of any compromise. Ever convinced they are right and that the other person is the enemy. All the while failing to realize that they are blinded to the evil methodology they employ and that clear minded people see it quite clearly.

The problem I find is that this cultural phenomenon of those that are filled with keyboard courage has crept into the church. This methodology employed at keyboards would probably be betted defined as keyboard cowardice because most of these angry typing opinionated mean spirited people would almost assuredly shy away from a real conflict and certainly would not fix a real issue if it meant the issue couldn’t be fixed by only sharing a negative opinion.

So here is the thought I was struck with after seeing the anger in that comment section and regularly seeing people who claim to be followers of Jesus post misleading memes and angry comments on facebook and twitter.

First off, Jesus isn’t the problem. You are. Stop screaming that they are Christian ideals that you are fighting for because they aren’t. A method that employs the mistreatment of your fellow man is never from Jesus. Rather it grieves Jesus. Don’t harm the name of Jesus by talking about the things of Jesus in a manner that screams I am arrogant, I am angry, I am always right, you are stupid and I have a hero complex.

Secondly, if your Jesus doesn’t transcend your politics and opinions then your Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible. He is an idealized version of Jesus crafted in your mind to fit within your views. Simply put, Jesus doesn’t change your political ideals, your opinions or world view. These things all change your view of Jesus. Let’s call it what it is: Sin. Nothing will fix it but humility and repentance.

Thirdly, Jesus reveals to us His ability to transcend issues of the day both by who He employs for His service today as well as who He employed in His service while He walked on this earth. In fact, when we look at the twelve disciples that He called to serve alongside Him, we find that He called two people that should not have been able to get along. On one hand we find one of His disciples was sell out who seemed to sympathize with the Roman invaders. He worked for them, collecting taxes for the invaders from his own countrymen. Matthew was seen as a sinner by all who knew him (Matthew 9.9-11). On the other hand we find a man who was called a zealot (Luke 6.15). He was a man who before his call by Jesus was focused on one thing. Overthrow the invaders and restore the nation of Israel. He was a Nationalist. This was his primary focus. Yet, Jesus called a sympathizer of invaders and nationalist zealot to both serve side by side for three years and we have no hint of any political or arguments or twitter battles. It is amazing. It is almost as though when they were called to serve Jesus that serving Jesus and preaching His message was their focus and goal. It appears as though they understood that Jesus did not come to fulfill their pre-Jesus ideals but rather that He came to seek a to save the lost (Luke 19.10). Therefore they did nothing to alienate the lost. Their goal was simply, be mouth pieces and reflections of Jesus.

They understood that in large part, their opinions did not matter or help the mission. What mattered was Jesus. They did not wish to become a stumbling to the Gospel. People struggled with the Gospel enough on their own (1 Corinthians 1.23)

It’s time we hold people in a higher regard than we hold our opinions. Enough fighting already. It does not please our Savior. It helps nobody get closer to our Savior and it ignores the call of Scripture to “Love our neighbor as you love yourself”(Matthew 22.39)

If the grace of God has truly appeared to all men (Titus 2.11), shouldn’t we too be gracious to all who we meet?


Ephesians 4.1-6 “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”


Matthew 5.3-12 “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


      I have sat down at my desk many times over the past year with the intent of writing. Yet, all that I seem to be able to communicate is a deep seeded frustration. The moment I put my fingers to the keyboard in front of me swells of frustration begin to rise to the surface. It is almost as if that writing draws out a whole new level of pain in my soul. I then typically will write for five minutes or so and then just call it quits.
      While my quitting is partially because I do not want to focus in on the pain that exists within me it also happens because there have been many moments in recent memory that my souls frustration could not adequately be shared. There simply were no words strong enough in my vocabulary that would adequately detail my inner angst.
      I have an exhausted soul. One that is tired of the fighting, the anger, the hostility and downright vitriol that exists every moment of every day. At first glance our world appears to be a hopeless case. I have lost all hope in politics. I struggle to believe that the right thing is even being pursued by either side of the aisle. While those in power do not do everything wrong, it is undeniable that those steeped in one of the big parties cannot even sit at the table with their opponents. Their methodology has simply become trying to out scream the other side. The art of negotiation, compromise and civility seems to have disappeared from those who claim to be leading our nation into so-called progress. This fighting has crept out of Washington and invaded the nation and is viewed as ok as people pursue the methodology of winning at all cost. As I witness this I am reminded of the words of Jesus when He said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9.25)
      At some point we have lost our way. Many have become so focused in on winning policy that they have forgotten to fight for people. People instead of being the focus have become obstacles and must be moved by any means necessary to make a point. We have sacrificed those that we must try to reach on the alter of our rightness. How this happened and continues to be ok causes me to lose sleep. I recognize that I do not always get it right but my prayer is that when I breath my last that people would not list how I fought against them but rather how I fought for them. I pray that my life will be marked by my love and compassion more that it is marked by my desire to have my own way and have my opinions heard. After all is this not suppose to be the mark of a true follower of Christ? Jesus was asked quite pointedly what the greatest commandment was and He responded without hesitation; Love. He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22.36-40)
      Simply put, Jesus says, if you aren’t loving God and loving people you are missing the whole point. Jesus says that the second commandment “is like it”. Meaning if you fail in loving people you fail in loving God properly. You are missing it. In fact Jesus says, if you get the whole love thing wrong then you have missed everything. The entire law and the prophets depend on the concept of love.  
      This is why we must see people first. We must choose to focus on people before our opinions. We must see people as image bearers of a holy God. We must see people as the targets of God’s love that caused Him to send His Son die as a sacrifice for. For this reason the believer who is unable to divorce his nationalism from his faith will only go so deep in His relationship with God. Our theology must not be driven by our political affiliations but rather the other way around. Our theology must drive how we view policy because policy affects people and we are to be madly in love with people. Why: It’s commanded and modeled by God the Father and by Jesus our Savior.
      The hatred stops one person at a time. The fighting stops one person at a time. The anger stops one person at a time. That one person can be you. You can choose to put down the weapons of hate and pick up the downtrodden. You can choose to put down preconceived notions and lend a helping hand. You can choose to put down thoughts of judgment and offer hope to the hopeless. You can extend a hand in love those in need if you should so choose to direct your energy in the correct direction. Yet some of that energy must first be directed toward yourself. Christine Caine said, “We have so many Christians who want to change the world, but they don’t want to change themselves.” Allow your heart to be transformed! If you allow God to change your heart, He can use you to change someone else’s life.  
      Commit to being ambassadors of God’s truth and love rather than soldiers of personal opinions.  
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

To the walking wounded;
The reason I am writing is because I carry with me an acute awareness that so many of the people that I know and that I love live with very real pain. Your pain is often quite hidden from others but it is there and it is real. Some of you have lost children. Some of you have had a spouse declare, I never loved you. Others battle cancer or have a spouse who battles cancer. Some of you have family members addicted to pills or alcohol. While others are victims of your own mind and you have a propensity to believe the lies that swirl in your head.  
I have come to the conclusion that the walking wounded are everywhere we go. Often they wear a smile on their face and appear as though they have it all together. Yet, right below the surface is a pain that is so real that is nearly paralyzingly. This is why I write this. I write this knowing I can’t fix it. I write this knowing that many of you desperately long for a release from the pain that haunts you when you get up in the morning and that keeps you awake at night.  
I desire to share two stories of personal injury that I have had. One of them is pretty gross but i hope that you will stick with me on this.  
Injury #1: Back when I was in college I had the pleasure of playing on the college soccer team. I am not going to claim that I was anything great but I loved it. There was something about competition and being apart of a team that was just awesome. During my sophomore year of college I developed a severely infected ingrown toenail in one of of big toes. This was an issue as you can imagine. I battled through the pain but the pain only got worse. So I decided in my 19 year old brain that I would fix the problem myself. I would routinely do minor surgery on myself to drain of the grossness that was in my toe. It was not good. It looked awful. It constantly hurt and hurt a lot. Yet, I never went to the Dr. during the soccer season because I knew what he would do to me and I did not want to be sidelined for the rest of the season. Because of this I continued to play and tried to ignore the pain. It was awful and instead of getting better it got worse. Finally after “managing” this issue for a few months I went home on break. While I was home I took a trip to the podiatrist (foot dr.). Well, let me tell you, the foot doc was not too happy with me. He lit into me and told me that if I had continued to let my infection go that I could have lost my toe. He then did a minor surgical procedure on my foot, gave me an antibiotic and sent me on my way. In no time at all I was fully healed.
Injury #2: My family and I live in an older house that has been in a constant state construction for the past 3 years. Well, roughly a year ago I was doing to some work on my stairwell. I was running my screw gun when the bit of my screw gun slipped out of the screw I was driving in. My hand slammed forward and as it did so found the end of a nail and and the nail proceeded to jaggedly rip open the back of my right hand near my knuckles and between my middle and ring fingers. As soon as I did it, I knew I was in trouble. I promptly grabbed my hand, walked into the kitchen and announced to my wife, I have to go get stitches. She promptly called my mother to set up childcare. She drove me to a medical facility where a doctor stitched me after intensely scrubbing my wound. I also received a tetanus shot and a prescription for an antibiotic. I then had to set up a followup visit with my primary care provider. It was not good.  
Why do I share these things? Well, I know that some of you reading this are living with wounds and are taking the 19 year old Jon methodology. You think you got it. For you fear that seeking true help will hurt too much. Reality is, you are allowing your wounds to fester. Your management of the pain is not the road to recovery rather it is the road to infection. Sooner or later it must be dealt with or drastic measures will be required. The sad truth is that there are people ready and available to help if we would humbly seek out help.  
On my right hand I have a scar that will be there the rest of my life. My hand will never be the same. The scar won’t go away. Why? The accident I had was real. It is painful. It was bloody. It was scary. Along with the scar there is also scar tissue. It is a sensitive area. Scar tissue often will very quickly remind us of the injury we once had. I also have finger that I seriously injured about 25 years ago that has a lot of scar tissue on it. If I whack that finger on something it really hurts. It immediately reminds me of the incident that caused that injury. Yet, while I carry scars on my body in several places as well as scar tissue, I do not carry infections. I do not carry gaping wounds. Why? The simple answer; I got help.  
Here is a very real thing, help was available but it took action on my part to get it. None of the doctors that helped me ever made a house call. If I wanted the healing that I so desperately needed then I needed to choose to pursue it. I had to choose to say to those who were qualified to help: HELP!  
If you identify as the walking wounded I beg you to get help. Surviving is not living. At some point the pain will become unbearable. Please do not allow it to get that place. Seek health, help and freedom.  
Please feel free to contact me if you desire health. While I may not be able to help you in your current situation, I will do my best to introduce you to someone who can.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10.10) Isn’t it time for abundant living? Pursue Christ and pursue health. 

 You matter to God and you matter to me.
Pastor Jon

Yesterday, I watched the news and was wrecked with the thought, “oh no, not again.” I am amazed at what I am once again watching unfold on the political landscape of America. I am both angered, saddened and greatly disappointed at what I am witnessing.  
Yesterday we watched the worst massacre in the history of our nation happened. It was horrific. It was a thing that nightmares are made of as a man named Omar Mateen conducted an act of terror and gunned down roughly one hundred people. Fifty people died while numerous others are still in the hospital fighting for their lives. Parents have lost children. Children have lost parents. Brothers have lost sisters. Brothers have lost brothers. Sisters have lost sisters. Friends have lost friends.  
Here is why I am angered…Fifty people are dead. Yet, as a nation we seem to have jumped to political conclusions and bypassed the most important truth: life is to be valued. How is that most of the media I hear and witness along with the shared Facebook postings I see all seem to have forgotten about the lives that were lost. What have we become that our need to be heard has superseded our need to mourn as a nation and for our fellow man? People died, lives were destroyed and dreams shattered. Yet, instead of stopping to mourn we used others pains as platforms for our own agendas.  
Scripture is pretty clear when it says, “Mourn with those who mourn” (Matthew 5.4) and when it says to “visit the widows and orphans in their distress” (James 1.27). Yet, I sit back in embarrassment as my fellow Christians forget compassion is their first call. Jesus was pretty serious when He said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”(Matthew 22.37-40). Meaning, if your love for God and for others is not at the heart of what you do and what you say you missing the whole point.  
When did our opinions, felt-needs and political views become more important than our need to treat all life with dignity and respect? I am sad. I am sad for the state of the America that my kids are growing up in. Quite frankly I am disappointed and embarrassed at the way many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are conducting themselves on social media.  
If moments like this don’t break your heart nothing will. If moments like this don’t break your heart then you are part of the problem with our world.     
Below you find a list of the deceased. Please read the names and say a prayer for their loved ones and for their friends who are still in the hospital.
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

One of the great tragedies of the modern church is the belief that many hold that Christ followers have it all together. There is almost a stigma attached to those who are stuck within the grief cycle. There are well-meaning believers who look at others who are struggling and place judgement on them because they perceive that Christ’s joy is not in their brother or sister’s life. This drives many who are struggling into a life of make believe. They create a persona of joy and happiness that not only fails to mirror their soul but is an outright lie of where they truly are. They then often question their own spirituality secretly believing that what they feel or don’t feel is directly attached to their lack of spirituality.

We must divorce ourselves of these two mindsets.
The mindset that says, others must be wearing a happy face if they truly are a Christian is one that is removed far from reality. It paints an unhealthy and unbiblical expectation that is unfairly placed upon those who are experiencing grief. It forces many to unnecessarily live underneath the watchful eye of judgement. Quite frankly this bizarre view that seeks to force others to live as though they are untouched by the painful realities of life is a big reason many won’t get near organized religion and often label Christians as hypocrites. Let’s face it, who can blame them. If Jesus came for the sick, why are the sick and grief stricken often treated by Christ-followers as though they are spawn’s of Satan? Sounds pretty hypocritical to me.

The mindset that is created due to being victimized by other’s views is a dangerous one. It declares that I do not measure up because I am stuck in the cycle of grief. It says, I am not spiritual because I do not appear to be joyful. The problem is that while one chooses to live underneath the microscope of other’s judgements they rarely heal properly. Rather, they live to present the appearance of healing to those who judge them. They walk around as wounded souls all the while wearing a mask that declares I am ok knowing full well that they are living a lie.

So what do we do to overcome these two mindsets?

I would propose that those who find themselves within Christian circles must begin by validating grief. Grief is not abnormal. It is not something to be feared. It most certainly does not warrant condescension. Grief is not sinful. It is natural.

Part of the reason grief makes us so uncomfortable and it is often not dealt with properly is because all grief is unique to it’s own circumstance. Therefore, one rarely knows how to handle the grief another. It is not just birthed from a unique circumstance but grief is also manifested uniquely by all individuals. Therefore we cannot treat all individuals the same and cannot expect them to all handle grief in the same manner. The most comprehensive workbook on grief is guaranteed to fall short because of the unique way all individuals respond to grief.

If the uniqueness of grief is indeed a true statement then one must not begin by pointing to a solution but rather begin by accepting the reality of the grief. Grief must be validated.

One Scripture that validates grief and the many manifestations of grief is found in the 102nd Psalm. The first eleven verses say this:

1Hear my prayer, O Lord!

And let my cry for help come to You.

2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress;

Incline Your ear to me;

In the day when I call answer me quickly.

3 For my days have been consumed in smoke,

And my bones have been scorched like a hearth.

4 My heart has been smitten like grass and has withered away,

Indeed, I forget to eat my bread.

5 Because of the loudness of my groaning

My bones cling to my flesh.

6 I resemble a pelican of the wilderness;

I have become like an owl of the waste places.

7 I lie awake,

I have become like a lonely bird on a housetop.

8 My enemies have reproached me all day long;

Those who deride me have used my name as a curse.

9 For I have eaten ashes like bread

And mingled my drink with weeping

10 Because of Your indignation and Your wrath,

For You have lifted me up and cast me away.

11 My days are like a lengthened shadow,

And I wither away like grass.

One has to believe that if the inspired word of God acknowledges the reality of grief without condemning it that we too can do the same. Consider the eleven verses that a mentioned here. (1) The author desires to be heard. (2) He feels like he can’t see God. It is as though God’s face is hidden. (3) Feels like he is living in a dirty cloud that hurts his sight and feels consuming. Smoke overwhelms all the senses. (4) Feels like his soul is dying a slow death and times does not even remember to eat. (5) Groaning flesh clinging.  He is no longer living but rather is dwelling in survival mode. (6) He looks like a starving bird. In other words, his grief is worn. Others can see the affects of grief in his appearance. (7) Is within a cycle of sleeplessness where he is often consumed with a deep sense of loneliness. (8) He feels like the whole world is against him. (9) Food no longer brings him joy or comfort. (10) Feels like God has forgotten him and is angry at him. (11) Feels as though his days are clouded from anything that is good and feels as though he is dying slowly inside.

This is a depressing chunk of Scripture but points out a valuable truth. Before the author of this Psalm can ever deal with the truth of who God is he must first deal with where he is. He devotes a large portion of his writing to the painful grief filled existence that he is living within. He does not put on the Sunday morning smile and tell everyone he is blessed simply say “I’m well” when asked how he is doing.

I would submit that if one is ever to truly deal with the reality of grief that they must first start by embracing it’s reality. Grief must be validated. It is real therefore it must not be ignored. Playing pretend will never foster an environment where healing can be promoted or can happen. Healing does not happen by accident.

It is ok to admit that healing is required. We read of many who cried out to Jesus declaring their need of a healer. What we never read is of Jesus silencing them. He encouraged those who cried out and discouraged their discouragers.

Cry out to Jesus. Crying out to Jesus was not relegated to those who were blind, mute and in need of physical healing. It was made available to all. The model prayer of the blind man, Bartimaeus, who said, “Jesus have mercy on me” (Luke 18.38) is a prayer that does not need to end in the Gospels but is a prayer that should still be prayed by the dispirited, the grieving and the hurting hearts. Make that your prayer today. Shed the facade that declares I am ok. If you hurt, cry out to Jesus.


I think we can all agree that we have all experienced grief. Grief strikes people from many different directions. Grief is brought on by the death of a loved one. It can be brought on by an illness or an illness of someone you love. It can be brought on by an employer announcing, “we are letting you go.” Or a spouse saying, “I want a divorce.” Grief can happen when we watch those we love suffer from self harm. Grief can come at us when people we love make poor decisions. Many of the parents who are reading this have faced sleepless nights due to their children’s choices. Grief can strike us when friendships are lost and most definitely when betrayal happens. Grief happens when we or those close to us suffer from the hand of an abuser. Grief happens when the joy of a pregnancy is replaced with the pain of a miscarriage. The list goes on and on.    

Sadly we must realize that when it comes to the topic grief the we must realize it is not if but when…

Grief is a natural part of life. Yet, when we go through it, it rarely feels natural. We long for an escape. We desperately want a reprieve but it hangs over us like a dark cloud. A cloud that seems to mirror our every move. It does not leave us or allow us rest. So what is one one to do? 

How do we escape that which is inevitable? How do we see God in the grief? The clouds of grief don’t just place us in a shadow but seem to shield our view of the Almighty as well. Our view of heaven becomes clouded. That which once was bright becomes dark and life feels as if we live in a shadow. Grief can quickly overwhelm us. It can quickly rob us of joy. It can quickly render us helpless and often evokes feelings of hopelessness as well.

Grief is not merely something that you go through. It is something that touches every fiber of one’s being. It touches our sleep, our eating patterns, our feelings, our thoughts, our desires, our relationships, and even our dreams. It often does not leave one stone unturned. It often will haunt us every hour of the day and it is often accompanied by the thought that this will never get better. As stated above, it affects every fiber of one’s being.  

It often does not make sense. It is in these moments of grief that we strive hardest for clarity and understanding yet are often left with confusion and a pattern of answerless questions. We exhaust ourselves as we search for answers that are never to be found.  

Many us within the faith community hear well meaning Christians utter statements that we just don’t want to hear when we are grieving. The one grieving does not want to hear, “All things work together for good.” They do not want to hear, “God won’t give you more than you can bear”. When one is living inside grief it is hard to see any good and within the cycle of grief most feel they have already been given more than they can bear. Our job as Christians is never to remove the grieving. Grieving is modeled by our Savior and is part of life.  

So apart from complete surrender to the inevitable what can we do? 

Well, I would ask you to join me as I each week I will write more on this topic.  Whether you are grieving yourself or not, I can gaurantee you that you know somonebody whose life is currently being touched by grief.  So I would ask that you commit to this journey of grief with me.  For those grieving, it is important that we frame your grrief in a proper manner.  For those who know someone who is wrecked by grief it is imporant that you too understand the framework of grief.  Without proper understanding we can often do more harm than good.

The plan moving forward is to publish articles for at the least the next six wednesdays on the topic of grief.  Please feel free to share your stories in the comments section below and also share this with those you know who are currently wrecked by grief.  

In the wake of yet another tragedy I find my heart aching.  Yet, I am not just feeling heartache for those who lost loved ones and those who so senselessly lost their lives.  My heartache is a result of the response that senseless violence is yet again producing.  

As children most of us were taught the golden rule.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  My question is this, would you want anyone standing on the grave of your loved one to make a point?  I don’t think so!  How is it that the first response of a vast majority of our populace is not one of grief but of proving a political point.  

So here is my message that I want to scream!

Hey gun rights activists-Shutup!

Hey gun control activists-Shutup!

Hey hatemongerers-Shutup!

Hey xenophobes-Shutup!

Hey Republicans-Shutup!

Hey Democrats-Shutup!

Stop using the graves of the innocent as a prop for your political agenda!  It is disgusting!  How is it that we as a nation have forgotten about compassion?  How is it that compassion is no longer the first response we feel and it is has become a secondary response only after we have screamed our political leanings?

I fear for my country. Why? Well, it feels like compassion as has left the building.  It feels like love for our fellow man and woman has left the building.  Bipartisanship will never be regained on any level unless compassion and love aren’t first in place.  We no longer ask how we can serve.  Rather we seek to get our own way and seek to have our voice heard.  Maybe, just maybe we should hug the mom’s, dad’s, husbands, wives, children and friends who have yet to attend the funeral service of their loved ones.  They are still in a state of shock and we are using their pain as a means to trumpet our cause.

Could less restrictive gun rights have have saved some of the slain? Maybe.  Could more restrictive gun policies have saved some of the slain? Maybe.  How about we lay to rest our fellow Americans before engaging in political infighting about what policy could have better served them or what policy failed them. 

There is a lot of uncertainty in our world.  We see violence far too often.  We see pain far too often.  I no longer can listen to the news on the radio when my kids are present.  I no longer can watch the evening news when my children are awake for fear of exposing them to unspeakable evils.  What we do know is this: 14 people are dead and 17 have been injured.  Let’s honor them.  Let’s grieve with those who grieve.  Let’s allow our hearts to be break with those who hearts are now broken.  

Sitting down to write this morning I am extremely saddened. Scenes from last night’s news coverage keeps running through my mind. I am extremely disturbed at what I saw. At the same time I cannot help but think that what I witnessed last night was the most ironic/hypocritical thing I had ever witnessed. Allow me to explain.

First let me start with why I was disturbed. I was disturbed because a young man has died. Regardless of where you stand on whether his death was justifiable or not, does not matter at this point. I believe the loved ones and friends of Mike Brown have a responsibility of remembering their friend and loved one with dignity and respect. Now, that will never happen. Michael Brown’s legacy will always include looting and rioting. How can a young man be remembered as he should when properties are being destroyed and police cars are being burned? I am disturbed for Mike Brown. I am saddened for his loved ones. I am saddened for Officer Wilson.

Secondly, allow to explain my above statement about irony/hypocrisy. The very thing that people are crying against in Ferguson, they are now perpetuating. There has been a cry that says injustices have been done. The responsible parties have been let off the hook and this is not ok. Truthfully there is nothing wrong with this viewpoint. I am not saying that is the view that I hold to but each person is entitled to their own opinion. So on the tv we see looters, rioters, burning police vehicles, burning buildings, rocks being thrown at police (who have done nothing but show up as ordered), windows being smashed, gunfire and I even heard screamed out expletives. These things are done in the name of justice? For the life of me I can’t figure out how if I think you are not just, I have the right to break any and all laws. Last night on the news I witnessed felonies happening in real time. Know what’s ironic? Most of those people will never get arrested or be punished for their crime.

Shooting at police and burning their patrol cars…Are you serious? How does that promote justice? How does that promote equality? It doesn’t! What it does is drive a deeper wedge into the underlying issue that has been brought to light in Ferguson: Racism is alive and well in America. Let me go on the record for saying that I do not believe that racism killed Mike Brown. What it did is pull the bandaid off the wound of racial injustice that has existed since the day our country was born. The moment this shooting was made public people started defending the white guy or defending the black guy. At that point we had no right to do either. We had no facts. Rather than trust the justice system “We the people” commented on social media and more times than not defended our preferred race.

So where do we go from here? Regardless of race, love on the Brown family. This family is grieving the loss of a son that was taken from this world prematurely. Support Officer Wilson. This young police officer will live the rest of his life questioning his actions. He killed somebody and he now has to live with that. Commit to to fighting injustice justly. We must not use injustice as an excuse to act unjustly ourselves. When we do we silence ourselves. People will not listen to a voice that is looting a liquor store. Speak from a place of respect for fellow man. Finally, acknowledge the reality of racism. It exists and is alive and well. It did not go away during the civil rights movement. Find a way to fight against this social injustice. Be the solution not the problem.

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section. I would love to dialogue.


When I was in High School and College I would spend my summers working at a summer camp named Circle C Ranch. At this camp the staff would often perform skits and other fun things for the campers enjoyment. One of them was a song that we would do. It started with the phrase “If I weren’t a counselor here at Circle C a __________ I would be.” We would fill the blank with many humorous options that were always sure to get some laughs from the students we were working with.

I have in recent years asked myself a similar question in regards to my life now. If I weren’t a pastor here at HBC a ___________ I would be. Well I have landed on two things. Option number 1 would be a comedian. I love making people laugh. I love seeing others take joy in life. There is also a craft in telling a good story and acquiring a desired outcome. In the case of a comedian the desired outcome is a laugh. Option 2 is a dramatic shift from option 1. It is something that is born out a deep seeded frustration in my heart that I find rising to the surface every year or two. It is something that angers me yet saddens me at the same time. It is something that makes me wonder why the church has remained so silent on very real issues.

If I went with option 2 a social activist I would be.

Not just any kind of social activist but I would be an abolitionist and at the fore front of fighting sex trafficking. Deep inside my heart I desire justice and repeatedly see things in our world that is far from just. Whenever I hear or see anything related to this topic the Holy Spirit pricks my heart. Few things in this world anger me more that the sexual exploitation of children. Few things fill me with fear more (as a father) than the statistics of sexually abused children. Knowledge that evil exists in the world in unimaginable forms should be a call to arms within the church of God.

Yet, sexual exploitation is certainly not a comfortable topic to dialogue about. I can guarantee that there are people who would skip church on the Sunday that this topic was discussed if they knew in advance what was coming. It is much easier to ignore evil than it is to face it head on. Yet, evil exists and it is continues to grow. In fact, there are more slaves in the world today than there ever has been in the history of the world. So much for a civilized world. The numbers are staggering. The numbers are frightening. The numbers should fill us with anger. The question is what is the church of God going to do in response to them?

My heart longs to bring hope to the hopeless. My heart longs to bring love to the unloved. My heart longs to bring healing to the wounded. My heart longs for justice.

I believe my Savior, the Great Physician, is waiting for His hospital workers to get to work and stop talking about the work. While they talk about their knowledge of the sick, the sick are dying.

The Messy Gospel

Posted: September 23, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

I have become more and more convinced that the healthier a church becomes the messier it will appear. I get very concerned with the “perfect” churches that exist. If our goal is to look nice then we are missing the point of church.

The church that runs out of problems is no longer functioning as it should. When was the last time you saw a hospital that was not full of sick people? When was the last time you saw an emergency room that did not have a line?

I am not referring to Christians creating issues within their church. Rather I am talking about a constant influx of people who are hurting. Effectiveness in regards to sharing the Gospel will attract the sick, hurting and dying. Wherever Jesus went, He had people following Him. Why? For some they wanted to see Him do something neat. For others, they wished to be wowed by His oratory skills. Yet, there was always another group. It was those who were sick. It was those who were dying. It was those who had loved ones hovering at death’s door. Why were they there? Jesus had the ability to heal. He loved them. He saw them. He really saw them. He looked at them and was overwhelmed with compassion. He could not help Himself but to help them and offer hope. In fact His heart broke for these people.

The day, everybody is wearing only really nice dress clothes and there are no longer cigarette butts in our parking lots and no ripped jeans in our pews, we are in trouble. If the hurting never show up to our church we must ask why that is the case. Have we deterred the hurting people from coming into our churches.

It would unimaginable if a bunch of hospital employees got together for the sole purpose of heckling the sick and the dying when they showed up to a hospital. Imagine if you will that as people walked into the hospital these hecklers said things like, “you don’t fit in here”, “stop acting that way”, “you are too sick”, or “we don’t have time for you”. That would be irresponsible at best. Why? Well the hospital is where these people belong. The hospital exists to serve them.

Scripture tells us that Christ came to heal the sick. He tells us that it is the sick who need the help and not the healthy. We actually find His followers hindering children from coming to Him. Christ rebukes them sharply and then blesses the children. Another time we find a blind man crying out to Jesus only to be silenced by people who wanted an encounter with Jesus. In this case, Jesus called the blind man to Himself and healed him. There are countless stories like this in Scripture where the religious leaders of the day or Christ followers hindered people from coming to Jesus. It happened then and it happens now. Have we become like those hospital employees that heckle the sick and the dying? Have we treated people as if we and Jesus are too busy for them? Are their sins too repulsive? Jesus is never too busy and nothing is ever to repulsive that it will overwhelm grace.