Author: prestonrentz

Will mere Civility be Enough?

Will mere Civility be Enough?

We elect and send our leaders to Washington to lead and govern on our behalf. I’m saddened however by the lack of constraint, professional discourse and basic courtesy expressed by our chosen leaders. Constant accusations of racism, ridiculous comparisons to Hitler and foul language of the worst kind are becoming the norm. Is this really who we want to be?

Free Speech has become “freedom to insult”. To hate. To Judge. It’s an excuse to slander one’s neighbor, whether truthful or not. To demonize others for political gain is increasingly common-place. But at what cost?

There’s an ever-increasing call for civility within our public discourse, and we’d be wise to adhere to such a call. Those from both sides of the isle are calling out their own for inappropriate calls to action and violence. President Trump should lead the way toward civility. However, if others fail to show respect for one another, that’s on them, not President Trump. Every adult is responsible for their own actions.

As our country waxes towards polarization, division and the politics of personal destruction, I’m reminded of the unifying words of Thomas Jefferson.

I wonder though, is the call to civility enough? Can someone show civility and still harbor animus, even hatred? Of course. Therefore, we need our leaders to do much more than be civil, we need them to actually get along, and to become friends. To find common ground, even when they disagree. They are colleagues for crying out loud. And they have important work to do. We need our leaders to grow up.

What if President Trump arranged to have dinner with Maxine Waters, for no other reason than to just honor her and her office, get to know her, hear her story and try and understand why she believes the ways she does? He doesn’t have to agree with her, and it may not change a thing, but what a powerful example that would be.

What if Nancy Pelosi invited Sarah Huckabee Sanders to lunch for the same reason. What if Chuck Schumer reached out to those across the isle in order to seek out genuine friendships, and in an honest attempt to work together. Not as opponents, but as colleagues.

What if other leaders from both parties took radical steps to form friendships with those who often oppose them, if not only to demonstrate that the person is always more important than one’s precious political ideals. And to maintain some kind of friendship amidst the political battle. This would not only set the right example for us watching at home, it just might calm things down to the point of getting more done.

If they did, civility might be more common in D.C. After all, it’s hard to despise someone when you’re having a meal with them and hearing their story, even if you disagree with them. When you see their humanity, discover both the victories and the pain that has shaped who they are. In the process, one may discover more common ground than previously thought. And they might foster more willingness to work together. We need this to occur in Washington. And I’m challenging our leaders to do just that.

Underneath the shell of every soul is a person with convictions, personal struggles and a desire to find the right path in this confusing and difficult life. We could do more to help each other in this regard. But it’s easier to dehumanize from a distance than to draw close and honor others as fellow Americans, fellow human beings. I pray this type of spirit comes back into our country, and in our public debate.

Two thousand years ago, a man showed up on the planet and commanded us to love one another, even our enemies. Maybe Jesus knew the misery we’d find ourselves in if we didn’t.

Preston Rentz


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1. Believe in the Forgiveness, Generosity and Love of God; Not a single one of us can take a single breath without it being a gift from God. His benevolence is nearly incomprehensible. Trust in this, it’s for you. As you do, the trajectory of your life will change.
2. Honor God in Every Aspect of Your Life;
Take inventory of your life and make sure it all honors God, even down to your thoughts. Set your mind on what is pure, right and integrity driven. When junk comes your way, reject it. Refuse to have any part of it. This will honor the God who blesses you and will advance your own life. It’s not the things that come at us from the outside that derail our lives, it’s what we allow in and then express outwardly.
3. Honor Others;
Don’t speak ill of others, speak well of them. Don’t bemoan the success of others, celebrate it. Never engage in gossip, it’s still a sin. Rather, honor God by honoring others, and your life will be blessed. If someone’s behavior is something you don’t approve, go to them directly or pray for them, but don’t berate them publicly or with others. Mind this approach to life and God will bless your efforts.
4. Be Honest with Yourself;
If we can’t be honest with ourselves about what we struggle with, we’re not able to be honest with God. And this will make us phony in the eyes of others, delusional in fact. We are all inspired by the person who is authentic in their flaw and humble in their desire and effort to improve.
5. Take Everything to God in Prayer;
No single thing has changed my life more. This includes your dreams, concerns, hopes, even what angers you. God cares what we think, especially as we go to him in faith. After all, we are his children. A good parent always cares what their kids think. I dare you to take all to God in prayer, to keep doing this, and watch your life change.
6. Be Generous to Others;
When God sees us having compassion for and being generous to others, he’ll be generous to us. Enough said.
7. Take Care of Your Body;
The single greatest physical asset you’ll ever own in this life is the body God gave you. So, treat it with utmost care. Pay attention to these four man areas; Diet, Exercise, Water and Sleep. Do this, and you’ll perform at peak levels no matter your age. There are so many things that come and go in our life, but none of them have the affect in terms of loss or gain like our health. You can be successful in every aspect of life, but if your health is failing you, what good is it?
8. Ask God for Healing;
God is a healer. His Word speaks of his desire to heal through out and many Christians today have experienced his healing. Don’t be afraid to ask or believe in his ability to heal. The same Jesus who healed 2000 years ago is the same Jesus today.
9. Make a vow to look to your Savior Christ Jesus everyday this year; Make sure he’s involved in all you do. And he’ll establish your steps and bless your life.

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The Value in Godly Love

The Value in Godly Love

Tears flowed as she told me of horrid details of a tainted childhood. Struggling to articulate an ugly truth about her own father, the facts awkwardly came forth. As a friend, I sat and listened to her tragic story as she tried to come to terms with the bond of trust broken at an early age. Now grown, it appeared she was just then able to face a truth that had been long suppressed.

A decade would pass before the subject came up again. This time however, she reminisced about her father in a favorable way, and went on about what a perfect dad he was for her. She even said she was blessed to have a father such as him. Confused, I asked her about the things she had told me all those years ago, if she remembered the abuse and the pain? “This is positive thinking” she explained. “You must think about the good only, and block out the bad.” There was something deeper going on however; she was trying to find a way to love and accept her father without having to look at the dark side of what he had done.

I eventually realized she had adopted a new philosophy about what it means to love someone; “turn a blind eye to the ugly side of someone’s character, whitewash them, and only see the good.” This perspective launched an interesting conversation about love, and the way it functions, especially human love. It also raised questions about the way God loves.

We both acknowledged that humanly it’s impossible to take in all of a person’s characteristics, including their flaws, and then love them completely. We simply don’t have the capacity, we’re not equipped to see the whole person, let alone love and accept that person in all their complexity. Her way of dealing with this reality was to deny some of the unattractive and questionable aspects of her father, and cling to the few good memories she had. And who could blame her, any kind of abuse can put children into an emotional and psychological tail-spin that can last a lifetime.

As we pondered the insufficiency of human love however, we also explored how differently God’s love functions. First of all, he is not only capable of taking in the whole person; all our beauty, complexity and flaw, he really wants to. There is simply nothing that he doesn’t see in us that is not plain, clear and fully understood, and yet he still desires fellowship with us. God is not repelled by our flaws. One can’t help but wonder; how does he still love us and want a connection with all the junk that’s inside all of us?

Some try to answer this by saying; “When God looks at you, all he sees is a white, clean and pure vessel, and no sins or blemishes whatsoever. And that is how he is able to accept you and not condemn you.” Don’t be mislead by this theological gobbledygook.

There is something unsettling about that point of view. If you say you care for someone, but all their weaknesses, bad sides and sins are hidden, what good is that love? Would a love like that have any depth or meaning? Any real value?

Therefore, the value in God’s love is not found in its deniability of our flaws and sins, but in the full awareness of them. This may be best described in a wonderful irony I’ve experienced in Jesus; I have never been more aware of my own flaws and weaknesses, but also of God’s full acceptance and love. It’s a humbling place to be in, but a beautiful one. It’s allowed me to focus less on what I’m not, and more on who God is, a God of love. No truth has reached deeper into the depth of my own heart than this one.

It’s easy to think that God’s agenda is to clean us up as soon as possible, make all things right and to correct every flaw, every weakness. “And if he doesn’t”, we might reason, “God must be disappointed in us.” That’s not the way God works however. I’ve come to see a different agenda from God; He wants us to learn to know, believe in and completely trust in his love for us, even in our remarkably flawed state. In fact, that’s where love shines the brightest, where it means the most. He wants us to know why grace is so valuable; because it springs from God’s remarkably stubborn love for us.

Yes, God wants to rid us all of sin and flaw eventually, but if he cleans us up too quickly and corrects every flaw before we fully know and trust his love for us, we may never fully know that God’s love is the whole point. Not mere correction.

What’s even better news however is that we can learn to love the way God loves, and this is where life really gets good, and where our freedom is best found.

A Godly love allows us to accept people in their flaws and sins, but without condoning any sin or inappropriate behavior. Humanly, this feels contradictory. Theologically, it feels uncouth. But with God’s spirit, this is authentic love. As God’s love flows from us, it sets us free from having to negotiate whether someone is worthy or not of our love, a struggle that only imprisons us. Besides, nothing points the way to right behavior better than love and acceptance.

Humanly, we’ll never achieve this kind of love, only the spirit of God in us can rightfully accomplish this.  And the more we know this grace filled love from our Creator, the more we’re able to take that kind of love to others. Some say forgiveness is hard, but when we’re filled with God’s love for others, it easy. Forgiveness in fact flows from a loving heart like water from a faucet.

After our conversation, the woman who struggled to remember her father both in truth and favorably, was off on a new journey of learning to love her father with a new kind of love; a grace filled love. She eventually discovered the joy of seeing her father in the true light of who he was, but in the new light of God’s love. She was now free to accept her father without having to condone his misguided behavior, or to cast him in some unrealistic light. Best of all she was now putting her trust in God’s love, a love we’re all in need of, one we all secretly want more than anything in the world.

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Natural Disasters Devastate; what we can’t see without them.

Natural Disasters Devastate; what we can’t see without them.

Homes leveled by a raging storm, peoples dreams along with them. Once a carefully designed house, now only debris. Streets and back yards where kids once played, now small bodies of water filled with contaminants and electrical current. A lifetime’s worth of personal belongs gone in a matter of hours. Whole neighborhoods under water for the first time. Worst of all, lives lost. Families broken. And the course of one’s life changed forever. All because of a storm of wind and rain. A storm over which we have no apparent control.

Have you ever wondered; why does God allow such devastation? What possible purpose could come from such destruction and loss of life? We may not ask this question out loud, but it may quietly haunt us on some level. Does God really care? If he does, why doesn’t he protect us from such destructive forces? I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but there are some observations worth noting.

The Christian Bible makes an interesting statement on behalf of the Creator;

“I set before you the way of life and the way of death.” Jeremiah 21:18 NKJV

The environment God seems to have set us in is one of contrast between life and death, good and evil, of which we see displayed daily. The question still begs; why let death and destruction have its way so often and in so many ways? Sometimes it feels as if the world is mostly evil, destructive, with only occasional slithers of light getting through. In my own journey of trying to discover the good amidst the darkness, I often wondered if God allows such devastation for the sole purpose of allowing his ways to be more clearly seen. Maybe in some odd way this messed up world serves as the perfect backdrop for God to showcase authentic good.

This idea is an affront however to our utopic mindset. Naturally we don’t want to see any evil in our world. We want to eradicate it. Therefore, we may reason; “if God were really a loving God, death and destruction would never occur.” But it’s hard to deny the clarifying effect of a world that contrasts both good and evil so poignantly. If we’re looking to create a Utopian society however, the idea of having to parse out the good and evil around us seems an unnecessary distraction to the life we’re hoping to build.

With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, many are singing the praises of individuals who are sacrificing their time, labor and funds in order to help those affected by the storms. Corporations too. We all have watched as stores like Home Depot helped in getting goods to people who need it by increasing delivery of goods to the devastation zones, and without raising prices unduly. Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Frontier Airlines all have reduced their fares in an effort to help get folks out of Florida. Gallery Furniture of Houston opened its doors and became a shelter for anyone in need. Some reports suggest it may have cost the store upwards of $30,000.00 a day for its generosity. No doubt many mom and pop stores have shared their goods as well, these are unsung heroes.

Here in the U.S., there’s something rather stifling about things going well; a bustling economy, money flowing, goods being sold, no major wars, no storms, no worries, that seems to bring the worst out in some. It’s almost as if the closer we get to a utopia, the more of a platitude we become, the more one dimensional our spirits. We become complacent as a people, bored maybe, and our criticism and infighting abound as result. Instead of our success as a country bringing out the hero, it appears to hide the hero. Instead of wealth making us want to be more generous, it seems to highlight greed. This is not true with everyone. Our own pursuit of the utopia however seems to rob our existence of character and blur the lines of right and wrong.

On the other hand, when disaster hits, our profile as a country changes dramatically. We’re once again shaken in our being, our gaze is sharpened and our spirits are open to the idea of sacrificial love. We spring into action with an ever sharper focus, and we ask; “how can I make someone else’s life better, who can I help?” Socioeconomic status suddenly means nothing, the color of our skin is of no consequence, our political squabbles grow quiet for the most part and our precious schedules fall in their status of priority. And our inner heroism rises to the surface and altruism more easily flows from our being.

Is it possible that God occasionally allows things to go wrong so that he can make us right? Is it possible that he allows a disaster to occur so as to remind us what’s lurking just below the surface, what we’re capable of, and what matters most in life? Is it possible that God wants to remind us that no one human being is more important to God than another? That he deeply values all of his children? Is it possible that God wants to remind us how much we need each other, and how our petty disagreements only divide and destroy? And is it possible that those who often and easily throw around accusations of others are only doing the Devil’s work. Perhaps God wants us to stop judging and condemning one another, and instead try to see the good in others, even with those of whom we may not agree.

I can’t help but believe that God allows such disaster so that we can once again see how simple and beautiful life can be when we just take care of each other, look out for the interest of others and to remember that we’re all in this together, both in bad times and good?

Maybe disasters remind us that some of our pursuits are ill intended, and how easily we exploit one another for personal gain, especially when “times are good”. Maybe too many of our relationships are for utility purposes alone, and not simply for the sake of spending time with each other, with no particular agenda.

I wonder how quick the social, racial, economic and political challenges of our day would be solved if we would abide by Jesus’ words; My command is this: “Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12 NIV

When the storm has passed, who will you be?

Look Inside this Book

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Does God Still Guide Nations, World Events?

Does God Still Guide Nations, World Events?

In his book 1776, David McCullough tells the story of the Revolutionary War from the perspective of the soldiers themselves. Accessing both American and British archives and some personal letters written by soldiers and officers alike, the Pulitzer Prize winning author weaves together a complex and often tragic telling of how the battle was started, its various movements throughout the war, and how it ended; all from the perspective of those who were actually there. 1776 is one the best written and most compelling books I’ve read, especially in its treatment of how the U.S. became an independent nation. Concerning our nations current challenges however, and those of other countries as well, I found the unusual happenings in the Revolutionary War to be of some encouragement and guidance for us today.

The odds were remarkably against the original 13 colonies of ever becoming an independent nation, much more so than I previously realized. The British army was well trained, well fed and adequately uniformed. They were truly professional soldiers. Hundreds of cannon-equipped war ships were at the British’s disposal, many of which arrived in the New York Harbor as a daunting show of force against the Americans. The British were the leading superpower at the time. Fighting these back woods Americans was supposed to be an easy win.

Washington’s Continental Army on the other hand was a rag-tag regiment at best with few professional soldiers. They were often sick, without adequate boots or weaponry, and were mostly farmers by trade. They had very few ships. Moral was often low. Desertions were common throughout the rather long and confusing war, and many abandoned the cause and went back to their farms when their enlistment obligations had expired. Our countries mission lacked clarity, unity, and any reasonable expectation of a victory. Which may explain why so many Americans were sympathetic to the British cause.

The British, according to letters from their own officers, really thought they had this war in the bag. Their confidence was glaring and their disdain for the less-than-impressive American troops was not hidden. They often boasted of how easy it will be to defeat General Washington and his unprofessional army. As one goes through the book, even knowing the outcome, you can’t help but ask; “how in the world were they able to pull this off?” And that’s exactly the right question, because they shouldn’t have been able to.

The most compelling thing about this event in history however is the many unexplainable events that took place during this war. The reading of the book gives one a mysterious notion of Divine involvement. I say mysterious because the book doesn’t highlight the Christian Faith, religion in general or God’s involvement necessarily. McCullough simply records what the soldiers and officers themselves witnessed, and recorded with pen and ink. It’s widely documented for instance that there were dense fogs, snow storms, sudden down pours, high winds, rising river tides and other weather related miracles that were so obviously to the benefit of Washington’s cause, Washington himself referred to them as “strokes of Providence”.

There were circumstantial occurrences as well involving soldiers and spies that mere men simply could not have orchestrated with such beneficial outcome. Time after time the “unbeatable” British Army was simply failing to succeed in any lasting effort against the Continental Army, an army they should have easily been able to defeat. One supernatural event after another however rendered their plans moot. It simply appeared that God’s hand was guiding the events of this war.

When I finished reading McCullough’s book, I realized more than ever that God’s will is going to be carried out in this world, regardless of what nations and their leaders wish to be carried out on their own agenda. Free will is in tact, both wise and foolish things will be demonstrated by the worlds leaders as some latitude is given. And make no mistake, repercussions for those decisions will come to fruition, as we see played out here in our own country. As far as God’s will however, nothing can thwart what God intends to carry out ultimately, eventually.

The United States was going to be founded and remain independent of British rule, no matter what forces came against her. Perhaps for the balance of nations, super powers, defense of Israel, innovation, management of wealth, etc. Who Knows? Well, God knows. That gives me great comfort today as I look at the stifling chaos and disruptive back-and-forth bantering that abounds in our nation. If one takes a micro view, a day to day look at current events in our country, one might get discouraged real quick. And think it impossible for any good to come from our current social, political and economic environment.

I’ve learned however to take a macro view, a broader view of current events, and to ask a different question other than “will congress ever get it right?” or “will we ever be able to move forward again as one people?” I prefer to ask; “what is God doing with our country, and with our world?” “Where is he taking us?” and, “how will he solve the seemingly insurmountable issues of our day?” I like these questions because historically, the guiding hand of our Creator has brought us through some dark and tragic times in our country, and the world, and with little help on our part. I also like this line of questioning because it keeps me looking in the right direction.

The world has survived and moved beyond some horrendous events, some much worse than what we’re going through right now. Truth is, we’ll get through this, mostly though because our God cares about the direction of this nation, and all the worlds nations. More to the point, God is the one that brought this country about in the first place, he’ll certainly know how to get it through even today’s challenges.

It’s not a question of whether good or bad will come out of the mess we find ourselves in, rather what good will our Creator somehow bring out of both?

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Alzheimer’s Took Mom, not Jesus’ Presence

Alzheimer’s Took Mom, not Jesus’ Presence

It would be one of the last conversations I would have with Mom. It was 2016 and she was now succumbing to Alzheimer’s unrelenting grip. As we sat together in her small but comfortable living room, I tried to communicate with the woman who had been my Mom for half a century. Her fading into the unknown was unsettling, for she was only a remnant of her full self, but she was still Mom.

My wife had gone outside to look after our kids and to give me some time alone with my dying mother. Dad joined them. There was an awkward silence in the room as we sat, unable to really communicate, broken only by the sound of my kids playing just outside the sliding glass door. I asked Mom questions, if she remembered this or that, hoping to break through the wall the disease had built around her. I wanted to make a connection, but it wasn’t happening.

Occasionally, something would get her attention and she would respond, mostly with garbled speech that reflected a misalignment of mind and tongue, one of the debilitating affects of Alzheimer’s. In spite of our lack of cognizant communication, I felt centered to be in her presence, for she had sacrificed so much for me and my four siblings, for our whole family. The unseen connection came through loud and clear, at least in the form of an inner peace. Still, I longed to connect verbally somehow, visually, on the surface I guess. It was as if my senses of sight and hearing needed confirmation of what I believed to be true, but wanted to know with certainty; that Mom could hear me, understand me and know full well that it was me sitting just across from her.

As I sat waiting for some kind of sign that she was not fully recessed into the annals of her mind, thoughts of a difficult past rushed my spirit and wouldn’t let go. These were memories, both painful and pleasant rising to the surface. Not just of my history with her, but of her past well before I came into the picture. The many stories she told over the years of her upbringing were circling in my mind as if she had just told them to me the day before. I recalled watching a home video taken in 1942, when she was only about six years old, playing in the backyard, having no idea of the life God had in store for her. Now, she was in her last months and in her eighties. I was trying to celebrate her soon departure from a broken world and a fading body, but sadness took the moment.

Discouraged that I wasn’t getting through, I decided to ask her about her faith, her love for the Bible and Jesus. It would be one last attempt to stir something within her. I started with asking her if she missed reading the Bible, which was important to her for as long as I could remember, but not much of a response. Then I asked her if she still prayed or spoke with Jesus? Without letting more than a second pass after this question, her thin face turned toward me and her warm Hazel eyes locked with mine. In perfect speech and obvious determination, she said; “oh yes, I talk to Jesus everyday.” Her face again then turned back to the wall she had been staring at for the past thirty minutes or so. Stunned at the sudden level of clarity in her speech and focus in her eyes, I sat there speechless. For a few moments, Alzheimer’s had no power. In fact, it didn’t seem to even exist. We finally connected, but on her terms, that of her and her Savior.

Mom was the original witness to me as to the love and goodness of our Christ Jesus, and she had just witnessed to me again, and in such a way I didn’t see coming. I was reminded that Jesus was there the whole time, even in the midst of her debilitating disease. And perhaps there to give me one last wink through Mom, one final witness through the woman that brought me into this world.

Mom went into the arms of God just one week before Mother’s Day 2017. Her witness to his love and ever-presence, even in the midst of her haunting disease, will stay with me forever. Love you Mom. I’ll see you in the age to come.

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When Life Gets Tough, Will I Remain?

When Life Gets Tough, Will I Remain?

Her arms were shaking violently. Her facial cheeks bounced with the rhythm of the bumpy trail that lie just below her. Her expression conveyed anger, insecurity. Words of complaint rolled from her tongue as her bicycle rolled along the rock laden path. “daddy, I don’t think I can do this” she expressed with shaky voice and wavering emotion. Her determination however demanded that her eyes focused intently on the narrow trail set before her, until hesitation mixed with doubt caused her to stop the bike in protest and to stand up in a straddle over it, and to stare me down. “Honey, you can do it, just follow me and I promise, we’ll have a great ride”, I said in a gentle but nudging tone.

At those words and with renewed trust won, she once again mounted her bike and pressed feet to peddle. We were off again on the bike ride we had planned for weeks. My daughter and I were now enjoying an adventure we both had looked forward to—time with just her and I. But the difficulty she was having surprised me, I had no intention of putting her through such a challenging ride, which turned out to be cycling on an new level for my daughter, who was 8 at the time. As we rode through the narrow dirt path speckled with protruding rocks, cracks in thirsty soil and high weeds on both sides, she remained challenged to stay steady while avoiding every obstacle.

Finally we were on the last stretch of the ride, it was a paved portion of the trail I had mapped out for us, and she was overtly grateful. It was her first ride on a public street without training wheels or that half-bike thing that attaches to the back of an adult bike. This was the real thing, and the empowerment she’d received as a result caught me off-guard, but moved me. She began to utter things like “wow, this is a dream come true, I can’t believe I’m doing this”, perhaps it was her “ride-of-passage”.

When the ride was over, she displayed a sense of accomplishment and empowerment that I had not seen in her before. “Dad, that was the most amazing ride ever” she expressed slightly out of breath but clearly elated. As we were taking our gear off and putting the bikes on the back of our SUV, she asked me “How long was that ride daddy, it must have been two or three hours right?” It was actually only 28 minutes. When I told her that, her eyes widened and her mouth swung open, no sound this time.

On the way home we enjoyed ice cream cones with windows down and music blaring. Then it dawned on me just how our bicycle ride closely mimicked the way God wants to take you and me through this life. For a little while He suspends us somewhere between complacency and destruction. Predictability and the extreme of shock. Easy street and one just too bumpy to continue on. The ride gets rough at times, but he alone knows how to get us through, even forget the pain the rock laden path may have caused. The path he takes us on is one we would never choose for ourselves, and we often feel we can’t take it, that things are just too difficult, and yet when we get through it, and as a result we’re empowered beyond what we thought possible. This is the reward for those who stay with God, no matter what. And I have found, this is the way He loves.

In this great love, God knows how to provide a life that sets our table somewhere between boredom and tragedy; perhaps the place at which authentic adventure is found. Our life is hard, but fulfilling, rattling to our soul, but empowering. Uncomfortable but promoting. Scary at times but exhilarating. Only a brilliant and loving God can  fine tune our lives with such incredible detail, such insane specificity, all the while honoring our free will. He knows our personal perimeters, our sensitivities, our fears and our limitations. But it’s all a part of the recipe for the life He’s ordained for each of us. He’s gentle, but He knows if He doesn’t push us now and then or put us through some challenging stuff, we’ll never experience the empowerment and the thrill of going to the next level. When I view my struggles through this lens, I have a very different attitude about them, a perspective of great hope in the midst of some tough issues, hope then rises. The more I trust Him and bring everything to Him, the more I tend to wait on His outcome, which never disappoints. It’s tough at times, I don’t like the bumps, but somehow it always addresses the things in me that need addressing, and I’m always smiling when the ride is over.

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Clarity in Colorado

Clarity in Colorado

There’s a ski hill in between Snowmass Colorado and Aspen, it’s called Buttermilk. I once ascended it’s slopes to the highest possible point, and there I felt as if I were on top of the world. From its rising elevations, proud-standing trees, pure snow and pristine views, I looked across the Colorado landscape and caught a glimpse of countless other mountain peaks. As I gazed across what must have been fifty miles of snow-capped mountains, I was filled with the fresh air of absolute clarity like I rarely experience. All my senses agreed that the place I was standing was a good place to stay for a while, even though it was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Maybe the cold air, diminished oxygen and partially frozen extremities colluded together to shut down the brain and leave room only for emotion, for pondering, from which  I couldn’t stop staring across the Rocky Mountains and marveling at God’s stunning Creation.

That was twenty years ago. I’ve since found a point of clarity in another setting, in the setting of God’s love. Having searched the pages of the Bible for decades in search of answers, maybe loop-holes and yielding myself to thousands of sermon’s, I’ve come to marvel mostly at God’s love. The older I get, the more painfully aware I am of my own flaws, my propensity toward evil. And yet the more aware I become of God’s devoted love for me and for his children, the more it appears a great paradox. The more un-lovable I feel, the more his love comes into clear view. I’ve been a student of Christianity for a longtime, I know some things, or do I?

To know and receive God’s love is the most comforting thing I’ve ever encountered, even beyond human love. That said, the opportunity then to turn and give that love to others is even more fulfilling, or at least as much. Whether it’s more or less, the feeling of having completed the circle of loves movements around us is remarkable beyond words. I can do some impressive, important and even honorable things in this life, but they all stumble into obscurity compared to loving those around me, taking what God has given me and simply passing it on somehow, however ill-equipped I am. I think Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer and author of War and Peace, had it right when he said;” Everything that I know…I know only because I love.”

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Let True-Self Rise to the Top

Let True-Self Rise to the Top

Like most folks I guess, I’m on this journey called life trying to figure out just who I am and what life is truly about. But it’s not easy. The world is a noisy place. The chatter is relentless. One’s individuality can easily get lost in a thousand conversations.

We now live in a world where every reporter is a commentator. Every news anchor has an opinion. And every radio talk show host has the answers to all the world’s problems. And every group has an agenda. Nothing wrong with that, hello free speech. But with 24/7 news and talk radio at it’s peak, it’s no stretch for dialog to remain constant. Which pleads the question; are we leaving room for our own thoughts?

If all we do is ponder other people’s opinions, I wonder if our own outlook has room to surface. Radio talk show hosts have one agenda; to use the airwaves to voice their ideology. That’s fine, but let’s be clear; they don’t go on the air to bring the opinion of others to light, only their own. We may agree with some of the things said, but I wonder what we’re giving up? Our own ideas? Our own convictions? Our own unique self even?

For this reason, I rarely listen to talk radio. My exposure to TV news is measured. My days of basking long in the strong opinion of others is over. Why? Because I only care about my own opinion? No, because we all are unique beings and our thoughts, outlook and voice are also unique. And we need to give ourselves room to be, well, ourselves. I don’t want to lose track of the authentic self, and there is a real threat of this in a society that never shuts up.

A friend is enamored with his favorite radio personality. When we get together, his primary thoughts are filtered through what “so and so” thinks. I bet you know someone like this. I’ve known him for over a decade, and I can no longer tell the difference between his own thoughts and that of Mr. radio personality. The lines are now blurred. And I’ve never seen him more disillusioned. He seems to have lost his center. His core purpose. I’m not exaggerating. His uniqueness wanes as he blends in. I wonder if he’s even living anymore.

If we’re going to be our best in this life. If we’re going to discover our authentic self, we’re going to have to learn to shut the radio off. Walk away from the TV. Keep the news from dominating our lives. And maybe postpone our next trip to Red Box. Besides, as the great writer and preacher Max Lucado once said in a speech concerning television news; “it’s all bad news anyway”. He has a point.

Stve Jobs Quote

The amazing Word of God warns us that;

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he”  Proverbs 23:7 NKJV

The thing we spend our time thinking on the most shapes who we are. We mustn’t underestimate the power of any form of meditation. And if we constantly clothe ourselves with political dialog and the fear based problems of the world, both heart and spirit will reflect the quality of our focus.

I’m not suggesting we put our heads in the sand. We’re a part of this world and its problems, we need to be a part of the solution somehow. And that involves knowing what’s going on. But there’s a balance here.

Something tells me our greatest contribution to this world, whatever that might be, begins with being ourselves, our true selves. And if that authentic self is mixed up with the identity of others, we may never discover just what our contribution will be. What we’re capable of.

As I began to limit my exposure to the thoughts of others, an amazing thing began to happen. Suddenly there was room for my own thoughts. My mind could breathe again. My dreams rose to the surface. My true convictions came into clear view. I discovered that I couldn’t care less about much of the dribble being slung around the airways, and I was more free to think about the things I genuinely care about. This lifted my spirits, elevated me out of depression and stirred up a passion that had long been oppressed, all at the expense of the agenda of others who happened to have a louder voice. A bigger microphone.

For those of us who are believers in Christ Jesus, his is the voice we tune into primarily. A voice of hope. Good news. Real answers.

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3 NKJV

Jesus literally holds the key to who we are and our uniqueness given by God. And the world would love to smother that in us, to confuse our identity and calling. But only if we give the enemy permission by swimming in the cesspool of endless and hopeless chatter.

“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Mathew 10:39 NKJV

Learn to do this and your true self will rise to the top, and you’ll make a difference by simply being yourself.

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In Disaster we Create, God Forgives, Loves.

In Disaster we Create, God Forgives, Loves.

It was the kind of phone call we all dread. My wife called and said “I wrecked the car, you’ll have to come and get me”. My heart raced as I asked for more detail. I gathered up my three kids and headed for the crash site. By the grace of God, my wife had only minor injuries.

Before long, there was a fire truck, police and an ambulance. All surrounding two cars that violently met in the middle of the road. The elderly driver of the other car had failed to yield to my wife and hit her head on. His grown daughter was protected on the passenger side by airbags exploding and keeping her from the windshield. The seat belt saved my wife from hitting the steering wheel.

As my wife and I stood on the side of the road watching the professionals clean up, my attention turned to the man who caused the accident.

He was still standing in the middle of the wreckage, by himself. Emergency personal swirled around him while he was the only one stationary. His pregnant daughter had been rushed off to the emergency room to make sure mom and baby were without injury. And there he stood, in the middle of the mess he created. I then felt compelled to go over and speak to him. I didn’t want to, but I’ve learned to listen to that inner voice.


I went up to the man and extended my hand to his. I told him that we were glad he was okay, and that we would be praying for his daughter. I was overwhelmed with compassion for him, and I’m not sure why. His mistake could have cost someone’s life. My wife’s. His daughter’s. His.

There was no discussion of whose fault it was. In those few moments of talking a midst the chaos, it didn’t matter. We were both relieved that no one died. But I sensed a weight on his shoulders as we spoke. He was the one responsible for what happened that day. But criticism and blame was not in my heart.

In the midst of the mess we easily make of our lives, God wants to deliver us from those messes. He doesn’t delight in rubbing our noses in our mistakes. We make our own messes, in our own way, to be sure. None of us are that far from disaster; addictions we don’t intend to give power to. Relationships we never meant to destroy. Mistakes we never meant to make. Lies we tell to cover the ugly truth. Paths we never intended to go down but here we are; unable to turn it around on our own. But it is in our ugly realities that Jesus is present, and wanting to help.

God’s nature, as shown through Christ Jesus, does not minimize what we’ve done or the wreckage we’ve caused. He is about truth after all. But to love and forgive is also a part of truth. The truth of our Savior Christ Jesus, regardless of how we’ve screwed things up.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Mathew 11:29 NKJV

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