Today I’m filled with sadness. This doesn’t often happen to me. I try to go about life with a spirit of gratitude and joy. Yet, I have known for several years now that the tragedies we encounter on almost a daily basis—whether personal, related to family or friends, or on a global scale—pierce me on an increasingly deeper level with each passing year. I first noticed this deeper piercing a few years ago when I read of two local college girls, home on a brief break, gassing up a father’s SUV for a trip into the mountains, whose vehicle was hit by another car pulling into the adjacent gas pump. One of the girls was in the gas station buying snacks; the other pumped the gas, standing between her SUV and the gas pump. The collision caused a spark which became a conflagration that burned the girl alive. Paralyzed bystanders could only watch in stunned horror. All of us have witnessed or felt deep sadness in the world around us, in the lives of friends, or our own families. This past week the sadness has surfaced for me more than usual: The father of a friend, both genuine Christian men, took his own life to free himself from the agony and embarrassment of depression. A very close friend, who has experienced traumatic deaths of several friends, was told by his counselor, “I think a spirit of sadness has settled in your heart.” He cried for the first time in 6 years. A friend Beryl and I became close to over the summer returned to her home in Europe facing family issues of terminal illness and challenging relationships, in the midst of her own questions about God’s existence. 7 high school students committed suicide in my town within the last year. A few were from Christian families. One had gone through the Passage to Manhood program I provide for dads and their teenage sons. As I opened my laptop to start writing today, a calendar alert popped up reminding me that my dad passed away 4 years ago today. This series of events or reminders has left me with an aching pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes. I’m no longer surprised by the tragedy that surrounds us. But I’m still deeply saddened by it. You may have seen me write it or heard me say it before, but it bears repeating: This is simply not the world our hearts were made for. In the beginning God created us with profound longings for deep relationships and an unshakeable sense of significance and worth. He designed us with a longing for: Hearts- that know deep, fearless intimacy and connection with friends, a spouse or family Souls- that live in a constant, transcendent relationship and presence with God the Father Minds- that learn and grow in wisdom and knowledge, and that provide fruitful impact Strength- bodies that are healthy, alive, and serve us well in our daily lives and efforts When our fore-parents, Adam and Eve, distrusted God’s grace and goodness, and chose instead to believe the Deceiver, all was permanently changed. In addition to the knowledge of Good, mankind was now condemned to the overwhelming consequences of the knowledge of Evil: Hearts- broken, sad, and hungry; looking for love...read more
This is a fascinating, brief insight into what is going on with addictions of all types. Yet another reason for men to get out of the man cave and experience authentic community. “It’s Not the Chemicals, It’s Your Cage.” For more info on, or help with, sexual addictions go to...read more
I never knew this before, but apparently many African American families do. Some parents of black kids have this talk in order to increase the odds that their kids will get home safely if they encounter the police when they are away from home: “10 Rules of Survival if Stopped By Police.” I never had this talk with my kids; it never crossed my mind. I’m pretty sure none of my grandchildren will ever hear this talk from their parents. But it’s considered crucial parenting wisdom for black families. I had no idea; perhaps that’s the case for others of you who are white. You who are black may have heard this talk or given it. My friends, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that you live with that. One of my favorite authors, Richard Rohr, emphasizes the intellectual integrity of being able to hold two seemingly conflicting truths at the same time, and respecting the elements of truth in both. It’s the opposite of the “dualistic” or “binary” thinking we often see in our society that assumes that one position is 100% right, and a different perspective is 100% wrong. Dualistic thinking leads to the kind of broadly inflammatory statements we so often see in our politics. I hold two convictions regarding this video and the sad, hard truth behind it: I’m deeply grateful for the honest, courageous police officers who put their lives on the line on a daily basis in order to provide security for the rest of us; and, Something is horribly wrong when young children from one race in particular, are taught that, in addition to fearing gang predators down the street, they also need to fear their own police. Even when they are doing nothing wrong. Surely we can embrace the truth about both of these statements, without assuming either one is always/never true. And if we do accept the truth that many black children have learned that the practices and biases of some police officers pose a threat, what do we do about that? Here are three ideas: No matter what our ethnicity as parents or grandparents, we regularly remind our children to honor, respect, and be grateful for the police, firefighters and other first-responders who increasingly risk their lives while protecting ours. For those of us who aren’t African-American, let our children know in the right way, at the right time, that some of their friends might have a very different perspective based on the still-sensitive racial issues we face in American society. We constructively and respectfully support city, county and state-wide efforts to review and, when needed, improve the enormously challenging implementation of police enforcement and protection, especially to minorities in their communities. What constructive ideas do you...read more
“I violated my values and it was wrong. I behaved shamefully.”
Those are the words of Christopher Correa, the former scouting director of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, recently convicted of hacking into the player personnel system of another major league team. He has lost his dream job, faces 46 months in prison and has been ordered to pay a fine of nearly $280,000.
What he would do if he could only turn back time and make another choice when faced with temptation to further his reputation as a winner! Too late; the secret is out.
How sadly often it is that we read very similar stories in the news:
- Head football coach Art Briles, a man of faith, whose decision to ignore, hide or discredit the stories of numerous women who reported sexual assaults by his football players, cost him his job and has cast a dark shadow over the outstanding reputation of Baylor University. He is not an exception; he is only the most public and recent of coaches to betray their own beliefs, and those who trusted him, for the sake of success. read more
Once again, I’m stunned at the video footage that confronts all of us:
- 49 patrons of an Orlando dance club are brutally slaughtered by a man who apparently hates gays, non-Muslims or both
- A black man in Louisiana shot twice in the chest as he’s wrestled to the ground by two officers
- A black man in Minnesota is shot four times after getting pulled over by an officer for a broken taillight, as his wife and 4 year-old daughter watch in horror
- A protest in Minneapolis turns into a virtual riot as firecrackers, Molotov Cocktails and bricks are thrown at police, who then response with smoke and tear-gas. Dozens on both sides are injured
- A peaceful protest in Dallas, in response to these shootings, turns into a sniper attack where a black man kills five police officers and wounds several others
I’m not much of a poet, but Psalm 124 provides a template that even I can follow in writing a personal expression of praise.
If the Lord had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
2 if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
would have swept us away.
6 Praise be to the Lord,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the Name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Have we seen a more circus-like political process in our lives? I haven’t. I doubt you have.
We are all familiar with the boorish, demeaning, literally below-the-belt accusations flying from one candidate to the other in the current marathon race for the U. S. presidency. Each day brings another series of bewildering headlines revealing head-scratching results and stomach-turning behavior that seem to represent the worst of American politics. I’m saddened by it and ashamed of it.
In a recent conversation with a group of friends we carefully shared our frustrations, as well as our hopes for how this might end. I say “carefully” because we’ve probably all learned that there is no telling which of your friends is going to launch into an angry rant about his favorite candidate, or against any that you might entertain. We’re walking on eggshells. And that’s with friends.
The depth of emotion in this caucus season reveals the long-simmering disappointment so many feel with our system and our leadership. OK, fine. That doesn’t excuse violent behavior or relationship-killing words.read more
Media confession: Beryl and I watch American Idol regularly. Because it often actually moves us.
Sometimes the performances are lukewarm; every now and then they are jaw-dropping. Recently, Kelly Clarkson, the Season 1 winner, told a story through song that brought tears streaming down my cheeks—and those of the judges and many in the audience.
We intuitively know dads matter, but in our dramatically changing family culture that often questions the value of fathers, we sometimes need a reminder. Kelly gave us a jaw-dropping one.
Her song, Piece by Piece, compares her experience with a father who disappeared when she was a young girl, to her husband who is a present, loving father to her kids. “He filled the holes you burned in me when I was 6 years old…He restored my faith that a man could be kind, and that a father could stay.”read more
I really couldn’t have said this any better than my friend Chris Bruno of Restoration Project just did. In fact, he says it even better than I could have. This is worth your time…read more
What does a good man look like?
“He whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.”
Psalm 15read more