Election Hangover? Give Unto Caesar.

*Author’s note:  I almost didn’t post this today as I feared it might not be appropriate on Veterans’ Day.  However, after attending our town’s parade and ceremony this morning, hearing the bands play our patriotic songs, seeing representatives from every military branch, and paying our respects to the courageous men and women who have served our country with dignity and honor, I realized it was more than appropriate.  Thanks to the sacrifices of these men and women, we live in the greatest country in the world, where we continue to be free to disagree and wrestle our way through some hard discussions.

God Bless America!

parade

 


About a quarter-century ago, I was preparing my first student teaching lesson for a West Virginia history class.  I remember it well.

Often theatrical, I was rehearsing quotes from John Brown, the crazy-eyed, self-proclaimed instrument-of-God abolitionist whose band of ruffians stormed the armory at Harpers Ferry.  Though really not that big of a deal in and of itself, the raid was a spark that helped ignite the powder keg of division that became the American Civil War.

“I am now quite certain,” I quoted Brown in my best gruff, indignant, mountain man voice, “that the crimes of this evil land will never be purged away … [lengthy pause for dramatic effect] … but … with … BLOOOOOOD!”  I poured that final word all over the students who were half-amused, half-terrified. Continue reading

Do You See What I See? Episode 3: A Hawk’s Perspective

(***Disclaimer:  This is a previously unpublished journal entry that I’ve tweaked after a recent discussion with a friend.  I told her I’d throw it out there.)

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I’ve been struggling.  Emotionally.  Psychologically.  Spiritually.  I know it’s not true, but—wow!—I feel alone in this place.  Regrettably, not enough of us are willing to drop our fig leaves and confess that we’re human, that we hurt, and that things are often far from ‘fine’.

I’ve been praying, but right now that’s like stumbling through a mist-shrouded forest.  Within the complex mess of salvaged parts in my soul, I’ve found myself at once yearning for two opposites:  the longing to escape for a while and set out alone, and a desperate aching for human connection, compassion, and soul-support.  Unfortunately, obligations and busyness have kept me from the former; and the latter?  To whom shall I turn?  Everyone I know is either mired in their own battles right now or conspicuously MIA. Continue reading

Do You See What I See? Episode 2: The Pretender

I want you to do something that will feel silly:  Get in front of a mirror, your phone, tablet—whatever—and look at yourself for thirty seconds.  Try it.  Stare into your own face and start counting.

One.  Two.  Three …

It’s harder than it should be, isn’t it?

If you even made it to ten, I now have a question for you:  What did you see?

ll1

Continue reading

The Rule of Five (…or Why we left church)

(This piece has been featured on DrAndyRoark.com and associated social media networks.)

FBGcoverLeading a group of men through a study based on the book Fathered by God (John Eldredge), we’ve been prayerfully considering what God intends us to become as men.  As we wrestle with current struggles, we’ve journeyed back through our personal stories, asking God to reveal where, why, and how our masculine spirits have been assaulted, seduced, and surrendered.  For the men who are willing to engage in such an expedition, they discover a gut-wrenching sort of liberation through the process.  It’s been the same for me, and over the years I’ve done this sort of thing many times.  It just seems God’s not done with me, yet.  (I only mention this because I want you to understand why I’m going where I’m going in this piece.)

Having poured out my soul about my marriage (I was blown away by your numerous emails and private messages–Thank you for sharing your hearts, dear ones!), you’re aware that Laura and I struggle like everyone else.  However, I’m compelled to reveal something deeper about my wife and our relationship.  To do that, I must first tell you how I’ve failed as a man.

Here’s my confession:  Continue reading

Assault on the St. Charles Streetcar

I’m not sure what possessed us to take our kids to New Orleans for Spring Break.  It was a spur of the moment decision.  We were hanging out in the living room after our family time of devotion and prayer when the phone rang.  It was our friend, Steve.

“You got plans?”

“Nope.”

“Want to join us and spend a few days in the Big Easy?” Continue reading

Addiction and Evolution at the DMV

The text messages went something like this:

Me:  “Stuck at the DMV.  I may not make it out of here any time soon.  You might need a backup plan for this morning.”

Alex:  “Who waits to renew their license until the day before it expires?  Other than me, of course.”

dmvWhat could I say?  I’m a moron.  I often put myself in these impossible situations.  I knew I wouldn’t get out of the DMV in time for our group (Alex and I lead a weekly Bible study with teens going through an addiction recovery program).  Maybe it’s stupidity, but I sometimes find myself giving hope a chance to prove my inner-realist wrong.  Possibly I just like to put myself in a position where I can once more smother life out of that starry-eyed youngster in my soul:  “What the heck were you thinking, you freaking idiot?!” Continue reading

The Rise and Fall of Marriage

A friend recently shared Daniel Carrillo’s tweet and I had to laugh.

marriage tweet

 From @DanielRCarrillo on Twitter. 

In fact, I laughed until I cried.  Literally.  And the two were only moments apart.

The laughter because of the hilarious accuracy; the tears because of the bitter truth.

My marriage often feels empty, like two distant people simply occupying the same address.  And don’t even get me started on grocery lists!

Laura and I have been married for over 26 years, and this relationship isn’t what I once thought it was going to be.  For those who know us, some of these admissions will come as a shock (after all, we’re the perfect match, together since the 10th grade, voted “Cutest Couple” as seniors in high school).

But here’s the brutal truth of our perfect marriage:

Continue reading

Breaking Rules with Jesus

(Excerpt from a larger work)

[…] Do you see the slippery slope of rule-keeping?  I know a lot of people who are poster-child Christians (when the congregation is watching), but they are among the biggest sinners I know; sinners because they deny the free heart of a living God within them.  Rest assured, they know the stories, the history, and the liturgy, but they are gloomy cynics with painted on smiles, secretly filled with disdain, regret, and reproach.  They are trapped in a miserable existence living under the tyrannical supernatural master who they say loves them infinitely, but yet, they are drowning in a sad life of judgmental rule-following.  And that, friends, is sin at its very best—and worst.  I know, because I grew up in church and I’ve been this person for too many years.

To simplify, allow me to list some things that are definite sins:  Continue reading