I am a man, in the middle of life. What that means to me, you and us is what I hope to frame in my attempts at this.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty."
Mother Teresa

July 1971: Roman Catholic nun Mother Teresa (1910 - 1997), who has spent 40 years working with the sick, the destitute and the dying. She is working in a Catholic-sponsored children's home in Calcutta.   (Photo by Mark Edwards/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

The people around us, the ones we love and the ones we don't love by negligence need us. In this quote, I found an answer to how can we possibly take care of those around us, how can we possibly answer the needs around us for those that are suffering? Mother Teresa granted this amazing quote that touched me.

How do I take care of the people Jesus calls the hungry and thirsty and naked and tired? I can love them, and when you love the people around you, and truely reach out to them this is how we learn to serve. A recent sermon podcast I listened to from Rob Bell talked about this, and how when we struggle to feel God's presence, and we are solely looking for Him in our intellect or theology, we miss the place He tells us to find Him-in generosity.

God is a generous God-giving a Son who gave His life for the world. Giving is where we need to be in our daily lives, and it doesn't just involve the stuff we thing about. It involved love, care and the feeling of being treated like a human.

"There is more hunger for love and appreciation in the world than there is for bread."
Mother Teresa

Monday, July 26, 2010

FPU: Dave Ramsey

We are taking the Dave Ramsey classes, Financial Peace University, at our church with about 21 other people, some we know and some we don’t from inside and outside the church. It is 8 weeks into the 13 week course at this point, and each lesson is a video presentation by Dave lecturing and discussion time after.

Listening to his radio/TV show, I get an idea of his attitude, and if you don’t know the whole story behind Dave Ramsey and how he got where he is, he comes across as harsh/judgmental/mean/(insert descriptive word here). But what is his motivation for the fire he has? Why does he yell, question and give a lot of “that’s just stupid” kind of comments?

Dave really comes across to me as someone who realizes that when there is an opportunity to speak truth and it is truth that he has experienced the hard way, and he wants to share that with those around him.

I have always felt there are 2 kinds of people in this world, those that learn by doing and those that learn by listening. If you read Dave’s story, you see a man who learned by doing and getting burned. And once he figured out how to live the right way, how to not be a slave to people through borrowing and how to claim ownership on your own money and life, he couldn’t help but share it. His empire, his ministry is built around that idea. So if he comes across as passionate-that’s because he is, because he doesn’t wish anyone to go down the road that only leads them to destruction financially.

The best I can offer someone when it comes to paths of destruction is my knowledge and learned experiences and self-improvements made from it. Dave shows a true compassion for others-a desire not to see them learn the hard way. I hope in my life, I can influence those around me that seek that same guidance.


Monday, July 19, 2010



Do you admire Jesus?

There are a lot of fans of Jesus, of God, of religion and spirituality and doing the right thing and volunteering or standing up for those whose rights are being trampled and loving others and being a good example or the right kind of Christian according to whatever box you can fit that into…

But are you just a fan-or are you on the team?

Regarding the life of an admirer, in the book Story: Recapturing the Mystery, there is a quote that reads as follows:

Soren Kierkegaard states: "The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, gives up nothing, will not reconstruct his life, will not be what he admires, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires."

When I read these words, I had to ask myself---am I an admirer, or a follower?
I don’t think Jesus is impressed with my “fan” collection of Bibles, books, etc…I have a lot of memorabilia, that fits into the books or study guides I like to read, the notes I’ve taken, the ideas I write down-but it’s all just a collection of stuff, isn’t it…

Jesus didn’t say, “admire me”, kind-of like me but still do your own thing…do it as you’re comfortable…

As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea… And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
Mark 1:16-18

Immediately, they left it behind to follow Jesus…
Follow Him where? And left what behind?

Their lives, their ways, their hurt and rejection and family and friends and everything they were to follow…

To follow Him to the cross, to die to themselves and live for God, to follow God’s will

Follow me, says Jesus-be on my team.
Follow me to death and ultimately to life

The road starts right here, right now with each decision we make
On Sunday mornings we can make the decision as well with the cup the bread—living the life, not admiring but living…

“This do in remembrance of me”

Each day, I try hard to remember that I need to be on God’s team, striving each and every second to trust and obey.

Not to enshrine, not to be a fan…
Not to admire, but to follow

Sunday, July 18, 2010

All things of nature

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous."

I drank in nature for all that it’s worth. The smells, sounds, sights and feelings of the earth around me felt awesome. It is hard for me to see all of the creation around us and not attribute it to the Creator who designed it all ex nihilo.

There were sites in the Smoky Mountains that were breathtaking, and by far my favorite was the 1 mile each way hike to the waterfall in Townsend. It was a road off the path, unmarked and not what you would expect to be a great path, it was pretty simple on the sign, “Buckeye Trail”.

So we ventured, with the kids, and our friends and set out on the trail. This is an area where the journey was so important to enjoy, and the destination was something that was going to be there regardless. The journey was beautiful; scenic with lush greens and small creatures, and it was even treacherous at times as well. There were plenty of people telling us to turn around, looking at the little ones thinking, oh they are too small, they can’t make it all the way (some even said it out loud). There were many areas that were just wide enough to walk, and off the edge it was a straight drop down the side of a steep fall.

When we arrived-what a sight. The waterfall was beautiful, hard to describe in words. The shoes came off, and we walked around in the water, enjoying the cool refreshing flow. It towered above our heads and down into the bank below, and smelled sweet and pure. The trees and nature around us sat calmly and sheltered us in. As I sat and contemplated and took it all in, I could feel the presence of God among us.

God spoke: "Earth, green up! Grow all varieties
of seed-bearing plants,
Every sort of fruit-bearing tree."
And there it was.
Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
all varieties,
And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
God saw that it was good.

(Genesis 1:11-13 Message)

When God created, He created the World we see around us and it was natural and beautiful and like the trees and the waterfalls, it was untouched and not corrupted by our hands. The more I get outside, the more I can see the good God saw when He created. I would challenge you to get out of your comfort, out of your man-cave or living room or office building and taste, smell, see, feel and hear the world in it’s natural state around you. The Bible tells us that all of creation points to God-you just need to learn to look for it.

What is the most beautiful thing you have experienced in nature?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Today is my son’s 4th bday. He was born on July 14, 2006 and the whole experience was different from his older sister’s birth in many ways.

We felt more prepared but also less prepared because we knew more. We were left with the question of what will the new baby be, boy or girl, and if it is a boy what can we use and not use? What will the process be liking birthing for my wife, and as the date approached and it was hot July weather here in NW Ohio, my wife wondered when the baby would be ready since our oldest was almost 6 weeks before here due date. I wondered how our sleep patterns would change, how my daughter would react, how the dog would do with another baby (since she did so awesome the firs time, I wasn’t worried too much on that one)...I wondered how my wife would do in delivery, would it go smooth? Would she be in the same pain she was the first time through? Would we need that ICU down the hall? How would the first breath/bath/night/day/sleep/diaper/feeding/dressing go?...

The day of his birth went well, and despite a few moments where the doc wasn’t sure if he needed to take more immediate action, Ethan Edward entered our lives and changed it forever. I am now a man with a son to add to the daughter I had, a boy to pass on my family’s name, my qualities both good and bad, and my “legacy”.

So today, on his fourth birthday, I pray that the legacy is one of faith and hope and grace and love. I hope that the things he remembers about me are that the words out of my mouth match the actions of my hands and feet. That he learns compassion and love are as much about being a man as toughness and strength. I dream that he finds the courage to stand up for what he believes in by how he lives and what he does. I pray he finds a job he loves, one that nourishes both his pocketbook and his soul. I pray also that his faith is a living faith in an all-mighty God, a relationship that he understands and wonders about all at the same time-that things like grace would both be a mystery and a comfort to him. That he understands my legacy is not about me, but all about that relationship with others around us and ultimately with God.

Before me I see a little man, a life full of promise and hopes and dreams that far out measure the possibilities I could imagine. I see a little man, ready to take over the world but also scared to speak sometimes. In him, I see that the root work I lay down today will shape where, how and what he does years from now.

Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monsters gone
Hes on the run and your daddy's here

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
Its getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful boy

Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess well both just have to be patient
cause its a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes its a long way to go
But in the meantime

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
Its getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Darling, darling, darling
Darling Ethan

(as adapted from J.W.O.Lennon's Beautiful Boy)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Two young women

I was reading Rachel Held Evans' blog entry titled “Why real conversation requires risk” and in it she makes a point to show how we get away from conversing with people as Christians …she says in it:

“When it came down to it, I was talking at people, not with them. They were the ones with something to learn, not me.”

The book UnChristian does a great job at showing the view young outsiders of the church have and why it should matter to Christians. One of the startling "bummers" in the book is that most outsiders feel we do everything to drag them into a church, then nothing to grow and cultivate that faith...it is like we are dog wardens, just looking to toss them into the van and lock them up, not caring what happens next. I have tried to change my idea of what it means to love someone, and love them where they are and who they are and trying to help them become who God dreams they can be. But when we are quick to only respond to people with judgment and consider them just another number, it reflects on my true agenda. If my agenda is only to get you to “become” a Christian, and then I am done with you, I have missed out on what we are really called to do in the Great Commission-helping to restore and reconcile a fallen relationship between creation and Creator.

The book also takes a look at the notion that Christians are hypocritical, judgmental, too political, over-zealous, and other not so bright spots. When I read it, and read some of the reactions to those who I try to show God’s love to, I wonder how often I also fall into that description, trying to show love that is all wrapped up in judgment and prejudice to the point it no longer looks like love anymore.

While attending the University of Toledo, there was a college class I took called Interpersonal Communication, and in it we discussed how people talk and interact and all the social, psychological and mental games that are played intentionally and unintentionally. One of the things she said was that people often wait for another to finish talking and already have a response, as opposed to really taking in what the other is saying. In other words, you stop listening to me halfway through my conversation only to wait for me to breathe-and as soon as I stop, you inject your thoughts/opinions/feelings on something I said at the beginning of the conversation. How frustrating and rude to someone just wanting to be heard-think about how many people may have been trying to open their heart to you, only to have it squashed and closed down with a quick, judgmental comment. The hands and feet of Jesus require me to display a loving and listening heart.

Have you taken the right steps to show your faith to people in a loving and constructive way?