Thursday, December 30, 2010


I consider myself a good driver. I use my turn signal at all times, make full stops at stop signs, signal until I have completely changed lanes, and never dare venture 5MPH over the speed limit. Don't get me wrong, I had my reckless days and a few speeding tickets (over two years ago now) that cost me a perfect driving record and a lot of money. But I had an epiphany and change of heart when I was riding with my friend Marty and he expressed how awful it is to drive with a newborn in the car when people are so apt to cut you off or drive dangerously around you. I cannot even begin to recount the excessively numerous instances in which I have almost been the victim of a bad crash or death (no joke) due to some dangerous drivers out there.

People are apt to point out the fatality of many things that can injure or kill you, but I am quick to remind people that they are in far more danger every time they get behind the wheel and enter a word that makes most people tense up: traffic. In order to make traffic a safer experience there are numerous laws in place that provide the safest procedures one can follow to keep driving purposeful and devoid of danger. Every day, though, one has the free will to disregard any of these laws or throw out the the ones they see to be the least important in order to get somewhere faster, because they are ignorant of the law, or maybe even out of complete rebellion or carelessness.

Bible college was insightful at times, however there seemed to be a lot of debating. While some asked questions out of pure hunger or knowledge or understanding, some also seemed to pose loaded questions in order to validate some pre-disposed notion or belief and get the professor or classmates to join in with the opinion. However subjective or objective, one question and topic seemed to stand out amongst the rest: law (or works) vs faith.

I guess I always saw the law as a skeletal system for faith. Faith is a huge, sprawling, giant canvas, a tapestry of colours, words, harmonies, notes, and movement that is completely fluid, ever-changing and moving along with the people that comprise it. But as with every painting, every canvas, artwork exists within confines, clear-cut boundaries and lines. Artwork, to me, is not necessarily thinking outside of the box, it is filling the proverbial box with something out of the ordinary, something that it was not originally intended to be filled with. Nevertheless, there are still parameters within which the art must exist otherwise it devolves into something messy and gaudy.

To me, the law set forth in Scripture are the guidelines by which we live that enrich and enhance our faith, our discipleship over others, and our attitude in general. When we start to "throw out" law or mandates that we see as less important, we give way to danger and recklessness in our lives. While we might still get to our destination intact and alive, think of the stress and hurt we might inadvertently cause along the way. Breaking the law is not sufficient to nullify our faith, this is where grace takes the reins and saves us from ourselves. Rather, the law itself is the pathway to freedom, peace, and a life-giving lifestyle.

Nevertheless, even the messiest and gaudiest of art is still art. Our messy lives can sometimes be a motivational or inspiring story of redemption and the true changing power of Yeshua. The journey, while imperfect, can nevertheless end in a glorious victory, especially when we allow Him to be the artist and not try to paint it all by our own moral standards.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Fore-ward: I am no rocket scientist. I do not have much in the way of scientific credentials save for a grueling stint in AP Chemistry classes, but this is what I know of and believe about science without knowing everything.

Some Christians fear science. If you want my honest opinion on the matter, some Christians fear science because they fear that one day irrefutable proof will be provided that completely, 100%, beyond argument disproves the existence of God. In short, I believe their faith is limited and, deep down, they do not trust their own beliefs and have doubt about them.

Doubt is OK, in my books. Science is humble in that it knows what it knows, but it also knows what it does not know. There are doubts in the scientific community about this and about that, so experiments ensue until a bonafide answer beyond all reasonable doubt can be established. I respect and applaud the scientific community greatly for their constant search for the truth and their willingness to hold off on belief until proven otherwise. Science has shown us that it has been something that can be proven, there can be a determinable outcome and a defined outcome. It has been proven as being meant to understand.

Faith is different, obviously. Faith requires one to make a choice and choose a conclusion without being presented with all the facts upfront. Faith is believing in a pre-concluded outcome transpiring before the outcome is either realized or shown to be folly. Our assurances that our faith is well-placed come from a place that is honest within us, from a part of our brain that we regard with trust, generally because of a behavioral consistency that builds up an immunity to doubt. On an aside, this is why those who have had their trust broken time and time again struggle with shallow faith. If you are used to constantly being let down by people or circumstances you thought you could trust, then faith is going to be a very high mountain to try and climb.

I digress, though, and get back to the subject at hand: faith and science are quite different and often regarded as oil and water, or apples and oranges. They are simply polar opposites and, while they can exist in congruence with one another, they are labeled as not being able to play ball in the same park. Wrong.

Imagine if you will that God decided to show up one day and wanted to share just a little fact with, something much less grand than some might expect at the arrival of God. Let us suppose for one moment that God said "I made the sky, but I did not make it blue. I made it lovely and expansive, something to be marveled at and to be enjoyed. 'Blue' is what you made it by your human definition and classification." We ourselves have been responsible for setting the scientific standards. In our quest and discovery of the scientific world we gain an understanding how it all works, what it is comprised of, where it belongs (in terms of classification), and how to react to it, but we have no say in its creation. All we have ever created are organisms or structures that are made out of something that already existed, something created apart from human effort.

This is where I draw the line in science being the eventual answer to the creation of the universe. There was existence prior to human existence, and we can never grasp what that might be. It will forever remain unproven because it exists outside of our time, our understanding, our comprehension. We can break everything down to its most basic and simple atomic level, but where did that atom come from? Where did the simplest form of life come from? Everything cannot be created from something. Something has to exist on its own, a creation in itself. Saying that such things "BANG" just one day appeared seems about the most plausible thing apart from Creation that makes sense to me because it is so utterly ludicrous. The scientific would will tell you they have no answer, they have no comprehension, no understanding of what actually put us here.

I saw an atheist today tell me that logical thought and scientific reasoning have brought him to the conclusion that there is no God. I have said all I have said to say that I see this as illogical. No man has proven the origin of man or the universe, so by definition, there is no logical conclusion, faith is once again called upon and required right there in the smack dab middle of the scientific world. 

We as a people are prone to rebellion, driven to it at times it seems. To beat rebellion our parents spend our entire childhood teaching and training us to behave, be polite, mind our manners, be selfless. These things do not come naturally, they have to be learned due to our rebellious nature. If you ask me, I do not believe we were meant to understand it all. In the Garden a bigger choice than to eat the apple or not eat the apple was made. God told Adam and Eve they could enjoy all that He had given them, enjoy His creation, and live in abundance, peace, and perfect health. He also said that Adam and Eve could imbue themselves with the knowledge of good and evil, the understanding behind what was meant to be enjoyed. Acting within the bounds of human propensity to rebel but to also gain understanding and knowledge, the apple was plucked.

I think for every Christian that is scared we might one day figure it all out and find out God is not real is an Atheist who is scared that we might not actually ever know everything, that we as humankind are limited and Someone greater exists. To acknowledge that means giving over a great deal of power and subservience that is contrary to our will, some of us more than others. But, that .... that is the science of man. And this ... this is the science of my faith.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The other night I was speaking to someone about their passion in life, what it was they truly wanted to do if the right doors would open up. They expressed their desire to work with children in the missions realm so I had to ask, "so why are you not doing that," a question I ask myself quite often, to be honest. It came down to a very simple answer about the need for a job and money. I felt an affinity with her plight as I too have the same answer, at least for now.
In Matthew 21 Yeshua is telling a wealthy man that he could be perfect if he would sell all he had, gave it to the poor, and then followed him. On the surface, this story has been used by preachers for years as a clearly defined example of Jesus denouncing greed and being rich. While I am not here to have a theological discourse about the validity of that supposition, I do wish to explore the scope of this further.

Society is a weird thing. We have formulated for ourselves a defined path which one must embark on in order to achieve nominal success. When things started out they were much simpler. We provided food for ourselves by killing things that had meat, we built shelter from crude material to stay warm and protect us from the elements, and we fiercely guarded that which was ours: our family. Over time we began to become more complex and understand things further. Where we once toyed with bone and rock, we now were crafting microchips and lasers. In order to understand these things and harness them in such a way as to advance our world we had to build institutions of higher learning so that we could essentially further perpetuate the cycle of man's understanding and then subsequent development of both how we understand ourselves as well as the sciences.

In exploring every last nook and cranny of the physical world we began to see how things were broken down, to their very most basic, atomic level. We then believed that God simply must not exist because we had figured out how things work and, if we understand how it works, then we must be as smart as God and, therefore, he cannot be bigger, wiser and more powerful than us. Humanism began to be a bigger, more widespread and prevalent staple of our culture. And, with humanism came the desire to make ourselves great, to be a not just a people, but an individual person of extreme success and stature, a god among men: someone revered and admired head& shoulders above others.

This is where I think we all went wrong. Power. Immeasurable and obtainable power. It existed because we had created the capacity within which it could exist. We blew up the bubble and then told other people they had the power to fill it with their destinies. And when the bubble got full, man had the innate proclivity to want more, so he found ways to make the capacity bigger, his ceiling higher, limitless if possible. And now, our measure of power is shown to others in the things we have. What we drive, what we wear, what we live in, what we own can tell other people that we are important or well off, that we have blown our balloon up and managed to fit bigger and better things inside. Since human tendency is to want to achieve not just the success of others but to surpass it, we set our bar and standards, and life becomes a race to get the most toys. But there is a saying: he who dies with the most toys still dies.

When Jesus got angry at the men selling goods in the church I do not think he meant to set forth a standard that espoused that the Church should be precluded from selling coffee or books within its walls. Instead, I believe he found men who were using the church as a means of personal gain and not respecting it for what it was: an outreach and center for His community. Instead, they were using what was holy for nothing other than personal gain and accumulation. When the wealthy man came to Jesus and He told him how to be perfect, He was giving the man a deeper lesson than to eschew money: He was telling the man he had to start living outside of societal conditions.

The wealthy man had bought into a system, most likely that of marketplace buying and selling that allowed him to amass a fortune. This was his life, and the fact that he had money meant he probably spent most of his life doing business and being business-minded. With success comes more restrictions than one would usually expect. Even the richest of men are in constant search for extra time to do the things they want to do. Trust me ... I know, I work for some of them.

And, so there are many people like me and the person I mentioned at the beginning who find ourselves torn... having the desires of our hearts sometimes trumped by the inevitable and inescapable dependence on the established workforce to earn income and provide for ourselves. In our strive for power, for things, for keeping up with societal constraints and expectations, I believe we as humanity have only furthered the gap between ourselves and God. Getting back to Him and His heart sometimes seems improbable or downright impossible when I truly think about how ineffective I can be when I am tethered to a work schedule.

When I ask myself how I can "go and disciple" or " ... leave [my] things and follow ... ," I still do not know what that looks like (beyond the daydreams I have had and the prayers I have spoken or thought). I do not have all the answers, I cannot tell humanity what the complicated and involved answer to it all is, I cannot even tell myself. I only know it starts out with one thing: Jesus. The desires of our hearts are upon His own and if you are feeling stuck or hindered then know that He wants our desires to be fulfilled. Our response to his invitation to fulfilled desires, though, is faith. Faith that requires the ability and trust to let go of the societal safety and status we cling to and give way for only His will to be done.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


There was once (and still is, I am sure) a boy named Billy. Billy was best described as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, a real go-getter who saw the world as his oyster and wanted nothing more than to experience everything creation had to offer him. With reckless abandonment, Billy took hold of everything he could get his hands on. Realizing that his hands were not big enough to hold it all in, Billy took a taste of everything before proceeding to the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing. Before long, Billy had a long list of things he had tasted, but realized something tragic: he could not recall how anything really tasted. In the quiet times of the evening, Billy wanted to dwell on a specific memory, something rich and rewarding that would give him comfort before dipping into a deep slumber. But, each night, Billy found himself instead immersed in longing as the sleepies drifted in.

Billy wanted to explore an experience in his mind to the fullest. He wanted to be able to recall every little bite, every flavour he tasted as it went down his throat. He wanted to remember the joy of feeling full, sometimes uncomfortably, or how tantalized his senses felt at the moment of dining. But, Billy could not distinguish one experience from the other, nothing significant stood out, and he had nothing substantial to draw from...

In an orchard stood a large tree. She had spent years and years drinking vital nutrients from the rich soil. She had spent years and years thriving and soaking up every last drop of rainfall, every last ray of sunshine. The beautiful tree had spent years going from a weak and flimsy sapling into a large and strong sight, her branches long and firm, her leaves lush and green. When the time was right, the mighty tree began to see something beautiful between her leaves, many red orbs that began to dangle almost precariously (but firmly) from its branches. In the right light was an almost infinite depth of ruby red gleaning off of each smooth surface. These apples were some of the best a young boy could taste, a sweet, cool crispness on a warm spring day. The tree was proud for she had nourished herself well, established her roots, and was now producing beautiful, rich fruit. Tall and dignified, she stood waiting for nothing more than for someone to come along and partake in that which she had grown, that which she had worked so hard to develop.

Through the years she saw many people pass by, sometimes near, sometimes far. When she was still young and had not yet developed her fruits, people marveled at her beauty but kept on their way. Once she had spent enough time developing herself, however, one spring day, something different happened. Over the rich, lush, green meadow hills she saw a small figure approaching rapidly, a lean human with with a boyish grin splashed across a slightly dirty (yet sweet) face, a face enveloped by a full head of hair fluttering in the breeze. When she saw the spirited, joyful-looking boy, she wanted nothing more than for him to see not just her beauty, but to see the fruits of her labor, the work that she had done in herself that made her so strong and proud.

Alas, with utter disappointment and grief, she watched and felt young Billy simply pluck one of her red delicious apples off one of her shorter, lower branches, take a bite, then discard the rest on the ground without seemingly a care. With an unfulfilled yearning deep within her roots, she could do nothing more than watch as young Billy proceeded to run off into the distance, disappearing over the horizon.

While the genders could be reversed in this situation, the meaning is the same: the relationship between Billy and the tree could have been mutually beneficial had Billy taken the time to value the tree and the fruit it had to offer instead of chasing after his every whim and boyish desire. 

When God told Adam "eat everything but that one fruit" in the Garden, I believe His purpose was to teach Adam that not everything that can be seen should be tasted. There is to be discretion and boundaries in our lives that safeguard us, protect us from knowledge which can later hinder or hurt us or, most importantly, hurt those that deserve our utmost respect and value. When Billy embarked on a journey to "taste it all," he began to taste things he had not intended on tasting: disappointment, regret, even discouragement. I bet Billy might even have gone as far to think there might not be anything beautiful or of value left in the world because he had gotten a little taste from everything, and nothing satisfied. nothing left a trace of fulfillment in his life.

I remember when a large, sizzling steak covered in bubbling butter and grilled onions was placed in front of me at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse at my graduation dinner. I valued what was placed in front of me, I spent ample time carefully cutting every little piece, chewing slowly, and tasting every morsel, every bit of juice that squished out with each bite. That steak was not just a simple meal, it was an experience, one that still causes me to salivate when I dwell on it today, ten years later. 

And so should we regard the heart the same. To taste love through constant flirtation, casual interactions, and fleeting intentions might give us a small sample of it all, but we further the desire within to truly feast upon the true, infinite depth of love. In our snacking we might stave off starvation, but we will never know the richness of what was meant to be enjoyed in a deep and savory manner.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I was watching a television show the other day involving a high school teacher who discovers he has cancer and decides to go to drastic lengths in order to provide his family with enough money to cover their expenses (college, clothing, food, etc.) after he passes on. He finds himself in the company of criminals and happens upon a man who will, for a fee, take responsibility for committing a crime and going to jail for you. It is explained that the man feels much more bound in "freedom" than he is in prison where he gets his daily meal, a warm bed, people to talk to, and enough to scrape by.

In his freedom he finds himself bound to the every day struggle life can be: making money, having resources, being a valued member of the community, and holding down a job.

I had a friend recently tell me that he was glad to be done with Christianity, that he was happy he could just do the things he wanted and that got him by: heavy drinking, rampant partying, and casual sex. I looked back to my own time when counsel was given to me and I had a realization of how much bondage those things can truly keep you in. It is not necessarily the acts themselves which are the root of the issue, but more so the empty heart behind them.

The man who got by in prison, I guess he got just enough to get by: bland prison food, a decent bed, and people he may or may not be able to trust at all times, but think of the richness he was denying himself. In faith, we can find our relationships deepened to the point of giving us fulfillment and deep satisfaction. When David and Jonathan had one another, they were as brothers who lacked nothing as a result of their deep-rooted relationship with one another. Faith can open the doors to a community of depth and living beyond mere sustenance. Still, it can be tempting to reach for the instant gratification, the vices that are a purchase or phone call away.

I think God made the deeper things of life harder to attain because he did not want us to get used to reaching for the things that were within easy reach when we are at our laziest. Threaded throughout the Scriptures are calls to perseverance, strength, tenacity. It says, for instance, that he who does not work does not eat. While this could be taken literally, I think there is a whole lot of things that could be listed there in lieu of "eat." 

Faith by works makes sense to be only in the sense that each and every day we have to work on making choices that are congruent with those of Yeshua's. It is no easy task to be patient, to stay level-headed, or to resist anger when some things happen to us, it takes time, understanding, and learning to build a resilience. And, until said resilience is built, we constantly have to defend our hearts and guard what is valuable within us and to us as well.

Faith was never meant to be easy or a proverbial walk in the park. Faith opens the door to an understanding and belief that gives us a foundation from which we can work and build our lives, our attitudes, our reactions to the people and things that we encounter on a daily basis. Freedom does not afford us the right to be lazy and have everything work out as we stroll along, it merely gives us the right to stand for what we believe, fight for those who are weaker than us, and build a legacy based out of a fruitful life and spirit. We are free from constantly being on the defensive and having to heal from when we allow ourselves to be wounded by things that happen to us, things that cause us to believe something contrary to that which is true about us. There is an inherent strength in us afforded by faith, but that strength enables to be the people on the outside of the fence free to live a deep life enriched by the people, the places, and the experiences within it.

Friday, December 10, 2010


There was a man who said that if you controlled a man's heart then you controlled him as well. Every day our emotions are played upon in the world of marketing and advertising. If the company behind the ads can make you feel like you need to buy something, then they will see your dollars in your hands often enough. They want to captivate you, they want you to be their captive. If they own your heart, they will own your wallet.

We as humans do it to each other. We take things we say to one another or do to one another, and we exploit them, wave them in each others faces, and we take advantage of other people's feelings so we can get what we want out of them (which is a long list of things I will refrain from posting here). We take an emotion the other person has felt or is susceptible to feeling and use to to hold that person hostage. For example: a person I once knew was given information on how to help his marriage. He was told "it is obvious your wife feels this way, so to help her stop feeling this way, you should treat her like [this]." Defensive and angry, the man instead confronted his wife and said "Is it true you feel this way?! Is it true you are ______ and _______ ?!?! In spite of everything I do for you, you don't trust me?!" Any good counselor will tell you that this defensiveness will only push the walls up higher and make the heart harder to access, not bring about true connectivity.

And, my friends, it sadly seeps into our faith. Christianity itself has suffered greatly because of the emotional captivity some people make of it. I think back to tracts in the 80s or early 90s that were only interested in shoveling people's sins into the spotlight, exposing that person as a "rotten sinner," and convince them they were deserving of one thing only: hell. So many people were held hostage by guilt, living out their Christian lives not in a manner of freedom, but in bondage to the worry and fear they would never be good enough. Outsiders and non-believers or even those who claim faith but yet have little have a lot of discord in their lives. There is a major lack of peace simply because our every day lives are dependent on us being hostage to feelings others have placated onto ourselves or us on ourselves as a result of others influence on us. Why would they openly accept and invite further captivity, and to guilt at that, into their lives?

I know the freedom from guilt did not really come about in my own life until I had an epiphany and started to truly believe who I am. I became cognizant of  not only the abilities within me, but also of the authority I have within me, of the responsibility I have to be a whole person and share my understanding with others. It was no longer time for me to be a person who kept other people hostage, but to be someone who gave them the keys to set themselves free.

In order to connect people to faith, especially those who have none, you have to show them the solid and wide bridge they have access to (the awareness of God's power within us), not the crusty, narrow, decaying old suspension bridge (a result of only having faith in our own selves: susceptible to failure) that they better hang on to if they want to make it to the other side. There is a fortitude in one possessing a faith that can trust and can love freely, and it is enough to empower anyone to feel an ease to invest in something that can be very difficult and trying along the way. I in no way mean to say that living a faith-filled life is a casual walk in the park: it requires a higher degree of diligence, perseverance, and exertion than what we have on our own. But, that is what the community is for, that is what healthy connectivity to our faith is is: a means in which we can overcome the hardships and travesties of life and grow in strength and wisdom.

Imagine in my earlier example of the husband and wife that the husband, instead of getting defensive, instead says "I understand that you feel _____, let me show you how you can instead feel ______." Or maybe he says nothing at all but, instead, lives it out as an example of the good things his wife has access to. We are called upon to be disciples, to be shining lights, to be strength where weakness abounds, not for our own benefit, but to be an example, a guiding light and a compass pointed towards the connectivity we robbed ourselves of with the simple act of eating a little piece of forbidden fruit.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


In scripture, a parable is shared by Yeshua in Luke. In it, a Jewish man is left naked and desolate by the side of the road, asking those who pass him for help. As the story goes, some men walk over him or around him and cannot be bothered to lend a hand. Eventually, a Samaritan man stops and renders aid to the man, taking him in and clothing and feeding him. The kicker of the story here is that Jews and Samaritans historically despised one another, so this good Samaritan was a man with a heart bigger than his social status.

I admit that it is a very touching story, one that fires off the emotional synapses within myself, so with that said, I suppose I must also admit I am a hypocrite.

Austin is densely populated with a substantial homeless population. It is hard to find a corner in any part of the city or suburbs that is devoid of someone holding and a sign and seeking some help. I am going to be honest and say that I have some of the same pre-conceived notions that others do: they are going to use my money for drugs, or for alcohol, or something else nefarious. So oftentimes I keep the windows and the music up and wait for the light to turn green before going about my way. I hate that. I pride myself on being someone who does not think of or expect the worst from people. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt and expect the best possible results. I know it is hard to do so as it is oftentimes easier to expect little and stave off disappointment. But, it is so much better to be able to handle disappointment competently and, therefore, treat people with the best expectations in mind.

Nevertheless, a lifetime of lessons learned from or stories told by others had me set in my stubborn mindset in regards to panhandlers. Then, something changed. The other night I was getting out of my car. I had not planned appropriately for the drop in temperature and found myself in frigid air and without a coat to give me some warmth: I was so cold that it hurt. I went inside my house and a random thought just hit me: there are people who live in this weather. There are people who call the outdoors (a bridge, a bench, an alley, an abandoned home or warehouse) their home, people without a coat, or a heated space to walk into and live in. At that very moment I wanted to find some way to give a blanket or a jacket to all the people who have to brave the cold weather, give them some degree of comfort in circumstances that afford them very little.

So today on my lunch break in the midst of a lot of hustle and bustle I was given my chance. I sat there at the red light, music enveloping every square-inch of my car interior. And then came a bearded man with matted gray hair and a sign telling me he has been down for so long that it was starting to feel like up. I cried. Not a gut-wrenching, bawling howl, but my chin got a little wet, and I dug for every everything I could find. I was nervous: what would the other commuters think, that I was irresponsible for enabling a lazy alcoholic? I knew that was a dissenter within me speaking and I quieted him the only way I knew how by turning down the music, rolling down the window, and giving every last bit of cash I had on me.

I do not know if my gift gave that man any warmth, or if I gave him the luxury of another day that he did not go hungry. All I know is that I felt a calling, an obligation and a duty to be of service to this man, this person who is my equal. I could see myself living in his shoes, if I would be in them, would I be bold enough to carry my sign and beg for the charity of strangers? Maybe, maybe not. Nevertheless, when I spoke the words "God bless you" to him, I hope he heard in my voice that I meant it with every fiber of my being.

I do not know what lesson I can share with other people. Sometimes I just hope my own honesty and story-telling can incite a thought in someone else, or maybe even something bigger. For myself, I hope that I can become someone who does not just wait for the right moment to do something good, but seeks out those moments and inspires others.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Our world is very much dictated by trade, by our resources, and by our currency. Every day countries negotiate the value of the resources they have as well as need, and then trade organically flows. We go to shopping malls, mom-and-pop operations, antique stores, garage sales, retail stores, grocery stores, and sidewalk vendors to gaze at and oftentimes purchase items which are valuable to that particular location.There are items that particular individual or company has determined to be of value to the general public, or maybe even private collectors, and so things are bought so they can be sold, and sold so they can be bought or collected, or just used. Supply-and-demand is listed on Wikipedia as being "an economic model of price determination in a market." That to say, the rarer the item, the more it is worth.

In this model it is simple to affirm that our value is priceless, that because we are the only us on the globe, that there is nothing that can cheapen who we are, there is no man or woman who can tell us we are worth less than we actually are. My friend Lauren actually touched on this very topic yesterday, but it is also one that had come up over the weekend for me, so apparently our signals were in alignment at some point. She illustrated that how we let people treat us is in direct correlation with how we value ourselves.

God did not ant there to be any confusion whatsoever with where our value lies. Various scriptures discuss treating others as equals (Romans 12:3), or not showing favoritism to those in power over those who might be handicapped or weak (Matthew 9:10-13, James 2:1), and how God shuns those who put themselves above others (James 4:6). There are various other places that all seem to give me one big idea: we all hold the same priceless value. There is no man who ought to think lesser or greater of him or herself than someone else because, to Him who made us, we all come without a price tag and each one of us matters equally.

It is hard to see this in modern day society. We try to put proverbial price tags on ourselves with our possessions, our clothes, even our hairstyles (you won't catch this boy spending more than $25 on a cut, and he still looks good), but it is all meaningless. Worthless. I have found some of the richest people to be those that blend in and do not stand out. And to those that like the boost that a new designer jacket or pair of jeans can give you: enjoy it, revel in it, we all like to look nice and be our best for people, just do not forget that at the end of the day, you are just as special and valuable without that thing than you are with it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


It is certainly not my intention to brag, but I must give credit where it is due: I have one amazing family.

Family, to me, is meant to be your collection of ambassadors to the world. Your parents raise you, instill wisdom, values, and learning, help to develop you as much as possible mentally, emotionally, and physically, and also affirm you and help validate you. It is a lot of responsibility, the weight of which is paramount. My parents bore that weight well. They not only provided a safe and wholesome childhood (all bad paths I took were completely of my own selfish curiosity), but have helped me in ways that are almost embarrassing to admit.

Then there are my sisters, though very different they have taught me how to value the heart and gentle spirit of the female. I have to say that some of my lessons were learned in hindsight (sorry for the time I knocked you over with my backpack in the snow, Kikken), but I don't think I would fully be the socially-imbued individual I am today if not for them. They have been predominant in the way of teaching me how to just enjoy life and have as much fun along the way as possible.

I say all that to say this: while all families have their disagreements and miscommunications, you always have them at the end of the day, you will always belong to them, and them to you (no matter how high or thick the walls you put up can be sometimes). You will always share the same heart, the same blood, the same heritage. You are married to this community.

There are a lot of intellects who think very highly of themselves and see belief in God as a crutch, something people need to lean on in order to give themselves some hope or chance of finding security when there is none in their lives. I will not go into my own suppositions about the person who thinks they are too smart to need anyone other than themselves, but, suffice to say there is intrinsic value within a community that carries no price tag: it is priceless. In fact, the people who feel as though they are not tied to society or to a community are generally likely to be suicidal sociopaths (sorry to flex my social psychology background muscles here).

I acknowledge there are people who do go to church with broken families, broken relationships, and broken trust who are looking to or for something to bring about mending in their lives. I do not begin to dare to say these people are weak, though some would write them off as such. What I can say that is that it is evident they are in need. And, if their need is to go to church or accept God as a crutch, then more power to them: at least they are acknowledging a power greater than their own and are willing to tap into it. The purpose of a crutch is to bring about healing, to allow what has been broken to be strong and whole once again. The true measure of that individual is when they turn brokenness into victory and are able to function as a support to someone else comes comes along afterwards.

One of my favorite moments as a prayer partner is when I speak imminent victory over the individual's life, that what they bear now will one day be a testimony and a story of encouragement to others who follow them with the same burden(s). We as the church are a family: dysfunctional at times, but ultimately interested in providing the love, validation, and acceptance one needs to build strength within themselves. And while some would argue this is weakness and only weak people need God, I think one would be hard-pressed to find a healthy individual who exists outside of a community and has not had another person in their life who pushed them to be the best person they could be.

I am not afraid to admit that my beliefs were a natural choice because of my parents. I found my own faith, but it was hard to rebuff God when my parents have always been His best ambassadors to me, when they have shown me love without condition greater and more times than I could ever count or repay. Special thanks to Michael Ray, Cheryl, Kristen Renee, and Sarah Nicole for making this entry and this life possible.