If you ask pretty much anyone what their favorite class was in school most would answer gym or recess. This was not true for me. I dreaded gym. I loathed the "free periods" in gym most of all. The source of my hatred for these classes was not hard to find. It was always towards the beginning of the class.

When it was time to pick teams.

Most everyone I know has a story about how tough it is to get picked last. How the rejection can eat at a soul. I was pretty much always picked last. Even more than twenty years later I can remember the "cool" kids arguing over who would be stuck with me on their team. "I got stuck with him last time, it's your turn!" "No way! He's the last one you HAVE to pick him!"

I would usually excuse myself to sidelines. I would offer to "sit this one out" so I wouldn't bring anyone down with my presence.

I understood why I wasn't chosen. I was never particularly athletic. I was slow and uncoordinated, I had terrible asthma that led to horrible coughing fits.

Still, understanding why I was left out didn't make it hurt less. It didn't make me feel less isolated. Less like a waste of space.

This is why I am drawn to Christ. He picks those that would be picked last, or not at all. When Christ walked the earth he picked dirty uneducated fishermen for his team. He picked those that would betray him, those that would pretend like they had never met him. He picked one that murdered Christians before being knocked from his horse. He picked the liars and the left out.

He chose to surround himself with prostitutes and tax collectors (traitors). People that were called notorious sinners. Those that the religious establishment wrote off as rejects, scum, losers, unclean.

He chose me for his team. He hasn't given me the option to sit from the sidelines and watch. He doesn't let anyone just watch. He knew my ups and downs. My shortcomings and failures, and still he chose me to be seated with him in heavenly places. He chose this uncoordinated loser to run the good race and fight the good fight. 

And because he chose me I will go to my grave singing his praises.

Picture*I'm not calling anyone a jerk. I just think this is funny.

I have a co-worker who loves theology. Like, he really loves theology. He uses words like systematic theology and transubstantiation. Typically when he goes off on a tangent about the perfect gospel and how "we need to totally trust in the full work of the cross alone"I smile and nod and say "uh-huh" But truth be told I get lost. 

I'm more interested in having a relationship with God than understanding how it all works. I embrace the beautiful mystery of this Christ life inside of my chest. I love the poetry of peering through a glass darkly. 

But these definitions and expressions help my friend to love and depend on God in a way that's real to him, so I love that, but it leads to interesting conversations.

Two of my favorite books written in the past ten years are Blue like Jazz by Donald Miller and Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. When discussing them with my friend He immediately made a face of disgust telling me "I don't care for those books because they reduce the Gospel to what you do." 

This is something that has gone wrong with modern spirituality. We have divorced faith and what we do and when we dare to combine them we are accused of "reducing the gospel" or "trying to earn salvation." This is ridiculous.

Seriously ridiculous.

I have a bigger problem when people reduce our vast and multifaceted faith into things we DON'T do. When the question "what is a Christian?" is answered with "someone who doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't sleep around, doesn't this, doesn't that."

We can't be defined by the negatives. That leaves a person empty and, to put it frankly, bored.  Bored and boring.

So the question comes: what do we do when we are given this amazing and undeserved grace? How are we supposed to respond when we are accepted by the divine, called sons and daughters of the living God? 

We ARE called to DO something. We are called to bring Heaven to earth. To grab hold of paradise and pull it here. What does Heaven look like? It's a place with no lack. None hungry. No one on the outside looking in. Everyone is accepted, welcomed, loved, family. God is worshipped.

That is what we are supposed to do. Work to make this side of Heaven look like the other. We are not saved by what we do. But it is how we respond.

I honestly believe that God loves to co-labor with His people. He loves to use our passion and imagination even though He does all the heavy lifting. What can you do with God today? Right now? I bet it's good!

Picture*photo Credit http://superstock.com
My wife have this recurring joke about relationships. We call it "picking a car fight." 

A car fight happens when a couple is at a party or some public gathering and one half of the couple embarasses the other, or snaps at them. The couple goes through the rest of the public gathering with a tension building between them. Once the couple gets into their car and once they are on their way the tension erupts where neither can escape. This is universal. Every couple I know has experienced a car fights. Part of the game my wife and I play at parties is "spot the upcoming car fight". A man telling an embarrassing story about his wife. Check, that's going to be a car fight. Someone snaps at their spouse over an imagined slight. Check, that's going to be a car fight.

There's something about a long drive somewhere, when you don't have media blasting to distract you, or other people to put on a happy show for that leaves nothing but the raw emotion. Everything that has been simmering comes boiling over.

What about your relationship with God? What about when you're disappointed with Him? I know a "good Christian" isn't supposed talk about these things. But this is life. When He decides to remain silent for a season to teach you patience when you desperately need an answer. When He says "no" to something you feel like you need. When friends and family seem to turn their backs and you feel like God is silent too. What then?

About a month ago I had what can only be a car fight with God. So far 2013 had been a terrifically difficult year for my wife and I, financially, spiritually, with work, losing loved ones. You name it, it had been a struggle. And then the capper: my house flooded when we were on vacation. That morning I had met with a contractor before work to get an estimate on the first thing I needed to do before rebuilding walls, laying carpet. I need to waterproof the basement. I had prayed and hoped and begged for something reasonable. The estimate came in on a couple of thousand more than what the insurance had paid. Before doing anything else I was in the negative.

I thanked the contractor for his time. Told him I couldn't afford it at the moment and began my drive to work. While there in the car, I finally let all of the building frustrations of the past year out towards God. The straw had broken the camel's back. I told Him I felt let down, I felt abandoned. Like I had put my trust in Him and been put to shame. My tone became accusatory and angry. Frustrated tears streamed down my face and for the first time in a lifetime of belief I emptied my heart of every frustration, every disappointment, every time I had felt like He had let me down. I was no longer sweeping it under the rug and saying "Your will be done" and swallowing my disappointment. 

I talked and talked until I had run out of words. His gentle response still floors me to this day. That quiet, still small voice said to me...

 "Son, now I know that you truly love me."

I didn't just pack up and walk about away, I didn't ignore my hurts. But like one in a relationship with someone I truly love I had a car fight. I expressed every ugly and honest part of me. And God loved me anyway...and knew that I loved Him.

The man that the Bible calls "the man after God's own heart" was so brutally honest with his disappointments with God when he wrote the Psalms. That is what that moment was for me. A Psalm. A brutally ugly moment of honesty followed with "still you are my God and I will follow you."

I encourage you, have a real and honest relationship with God. Not just giving Him your best, but giving Him your worst as well. Because He wants all of you, honest and true. Write a psalm, give Him what you have been hiding from both Him and yourself. That moment was so healing for me and I'm betting it would be healing for you too.

Picture*photo credit http://paulchappell.com
As I have gotten older and questionably wiser I have found the key to truth, as in most things, is balance. 

I'll say it this way. I have found the most interesting truths are the ones held in tension between two different truths.

Confusing? I'll give some examples. 

Deep down I long for adventure, to challenge myself, to see what i'm made of. This is true. I work hard everyday to set up a life that is comfortable. This is also true. Two needs completely opposite in nature occupy my heart space. The deeper truth of who I am and what I want is in somewhere between those two things.

My agnostic and atheist friends will sometimes like to challenge me and make statements like "Why would you read the Bible? That book is full of contradictions!" Well, the short answer is so are you, so am I. An individual is complex and contradictory. Multiple things are simultaneously true about them. This is why we call it a relationship, not religion.  

The longer answer is that they aren't contradictions. Not really. They are two statements that simultaneously true and we are invited to go deeper, read between the lines and see the truth between the truths.

Jesus is the "Lion of Judah", Jesus is the "Lamb that was Slain". A Lion and a Lamb are the most opposite of animals. So which is true? Both. He is the ultimate sacrifice and our majestic defender.

Jesus said "I came not to bring peace, but a sword". He also is the "Prince of Peace." Which one is it? Both are true. 

So how do we navigate these heady waters of truth, balance, grace and justice? We have a relationship with God. This is why we are called to pray, to ask for wisdom like it says in the book of James. The Bible should push us to seek God, to ask for understanding. Because few things are as dangerous as truth out of balance. When someone takes one or two verses from the Bible and makes them the sole focus of their being. 

That's how cults are born. 

So, where do we go from here? Pray for wisdom. Seek the truth. Have grace for one another when they are not at the same place you are at. From a world wide perspective remember: We're all in this together. Strive for good and know that truth will bear itself out.

found it on the Pintrest
What set everyday life apart from our adventures?

What puts the extra in the extraordinary days?

This earth we walk is big and beautiful and I want to see it all.
I'm adventurous by nature and want to travel and explore and see new things and create .

But as a responsible adult I find that I can't travel everyday. I can't leave the country every few months or when the mood takes me. I have to work and provide and pay Capital One and make my car payments on time and pay the mortgage. 

When we look at the day to day existence of our lives it can weigh us down. It bores us.

Our souls begins to atrophy...they shrivel and die.

Art can revive us, wake our souls from slumber, remind us we are built for more than just to consume, but to create.

I can attest to this. When I sit down to write it actually feels like I'm shaking the dust free from my soul. After I've finished I feel more myself, more who I was created to be.

A higher calling is to see the art in someone else. To look someone in the eye and say there is art in your soul, I dare you to release it. To call the gold out of someone. To help them "wash from their soul the dust of everyday life."

At the end of all things, relationships are the most important things in our lives. We must get to know someone to help them find their creative outlet as we find our own. When I lie on my deathbed I am sure that I will not say "I encouraged others too much, I should not of helped them. I guess I was just too generous." No, my goal is to be the encouragement, that breath of fresh air. 

See the art in a human soul. Ignore the dross, point out the gold. A single kind encouraging word can change the course of a life. 

I believe this.

I willing to bet you do too.
An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered" 
G.K. Chesterton
my first blizzard
I pulled the moving truck into the apartment complex that would be my future home close to ten o'clock that evening. I yawned and shook my head trying to get my eyes to focus, I knew I still had too much to do before I could sleep. I had been up and driving since 3 o'clock the night before. Nineteen hours of driving a moving truck had taken its toll on my exhausted body.  

I stepped out of the truck, feeling the snow crunch beneath my feet. I pulled my hood of my jacket over my head, shocked at the cold. It was the dead of February in Chicago and this southern boy had never felt negative temperatures before. I went to unlock the rolling door of the truck to pull out the mattress so we could sleep before moving the rest of the stuff in.

The wind kicked up and I instantly got homesick, thinking back to the state that had been my home for the last twenty five years. "What have I gotten myself into?" I asked aloud, each breath turning into vapor and then rapidly disappearing in the rising wind.


You are Necessary. And the sooner you believe that, the sooner you'll bond with 
God in living a great story.
-Donald Miller  "Storyline"
This will probably be one of my most vulnerable posts I will ever write. If you're looking for glib jokes and Sci-Fi references, come back later, I'll have better posts for you. If you are uncomfortable with someone being metaphorically naked for a moment, with someone ripping open their rib cage and examining the contents, then move on. I'm not offended

I've said before that I would see myself as a burden to those that cared for me. But the truth of the matter is it goes way deeper than that.

I was never the cool kid.

Never on the cutting edge of what was trendy.

The last time I was at my parents house I found my old yearbooks and flipping through and seeing myself from twelve years ago staring back at me.  I wanted to talk to that kid. That kid with the pain in his eyes. That kid that was so clearly uncomfortable in his own skin. That kid that felt like no matter what, he would never fit in, was never allowed to fit in, was not invited to the party. I wanted to tell him it would be okay.

The sad truth of the matter is that it goes deeper than that.

I've heard it called "the spirit of rejection". I've heard it called "self-hatred". I've heard it called plain and simple depression. 

At my darkest moments throughout my years on this earth a familiar scene plays out:
I'm in the bathroom, brushing my teeth or washing my hands or shaving. I catch my eyes in the mirror. Lean against the counter, getting closer to my reflection and whisper three words.


This scene played itself out so many times over so many years it never once occurred to me how unhealthy this is. How wrong this is. How much it grieved God's heart to hear this over and over.

I don't even know what I expected from myself. Was it perfection? Something more? One thing I did know was that I would never treat another person the way I treated myself. "That person is made in the image of God!" I would exclaim "There is so much good, so much truth inside that person."

And then I would see my reflection, look straight in those accusing eyes staring back at me and whisper it again.

Here is the truth: I was seeing a lie. A fiction. A figment of my own imagination. I am not some broken twisted wretch screaming for the mercy of God. I am not "the chief among sinners" to steal a phrase from Paul. I am not God's mistake, an afterthought that He is far too busy for.

I am counted among the redeemed. Fearfully and wonderfully made. A child of king. Put on the earth to experience His creation. I am one of His prized, most valued. The spark, the fire, the passion that was present the day that God created my spirit still burns and it burns bright.

I say that to say this. I don't hate myself anymore. I am at peace with myself. I even like myself. Even in my worst days, even when I screw up and miss it by a mile. When I am irritable and flat out mean. I am still the creation of the King. A miracle by most accounts. Created for a purpose. 

If you hate yourself...If you find yourself in a similar recurring theme. Know this: It isn't healthy, it isn't normal. IT ISN'T TRUE. You have taken a false identity. Don't heap the punishment on yourself that Christ paid the price for. "For you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

"God created you and He created you with the power to bring light into darkness and order into chaos."
Donald Miller
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