Thursday, June 24, 2010


How many times have you asked, "Why me, God?"

We look at the world around us and the things go through, or we look at others and the things (good or bad) that they go through and we can't help but wonder where fairness and equality are.

From our point of view, this world makes no sense.

We really need to remember that our point of view is simply that - our point of view.

"Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?'
or 'Your work has no handles'?

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States


The Israelites are on the border of the promised land and Moses is giving them some final instructions before they are allowed to enter. (Kind of like those last minute warnings parents give before they take their kids inside an amusement park... "If you hit your brother, we're going home. If I hear you whine or complain about one single thing, we'll get right back in this car. Don't even THINK about pulling Mickey's tail this year!". They're instructions were called Deuteronomy.)

Included in these instructions were three special cities. These places were to be marked off and set aside as safe havens for a particular group of people. Can you guess who? Yep, you got it. Killers.

If you were careless or slipped up in some dangerous activity and killed your next-door neighbor, you could pack your bags and head out to one of these three cities where you would be safe from vengeful friends and relatives.

It is a crazy kind of justice. One where God protects those who don't know any better. How crazy is that? It makes no sense. What about the victims? Where's their justice? Where's their peace?

There are a couple of things God is showing us here. He loves us even when we make mistakes. And in extension of this, should love others even when they are off course. Who are we to judge someone's sins? How can they know they're sinning if they don't understand the same moral code?

Motive matters. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins several statements with, "You've heard it said, but I tell you..." He's not rewriting or changing the law, he's getting to the motive. An accidental killer deserves a reprieve. Someone who's heart is filled with hate for his brother...

Confused, shaken people need sanctuary. They need a place that is free of condemnation to find their footing, recuperate and figure out how to fix things. God gives a command to set up three cities (and eventually three more) before his people enter the promised land. How many cities of refuge are we building? Are we providing sanctuary?

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Still Today

The more things change...

12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint.13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house.14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it.15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it.16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, Deliver me, for you are my god!

18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?

Maybe not a block of wood, but a car or a TV or a phone or the paper we use to buy these things...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ask your Mother

My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching.

I don't know about you, but in our house growing up, my father's only commandment was whatever my mother said it was.

"Dad, can I go to Matt's house?"
"What did your mother say?"
"She said to ask you."
"Ask her again."

My father is a very wise man.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


"Don't overdo it."

We live in a society where overdoing it has become the norm. It isn't enough to play soccer (or basketball or baseball or any other sport), you've got to start on the U3 team and progress up to a travel team and then a select travel team (while at the same time playing for the club team the school's coach runs) just as a way to make the varsity team and then...

It seems that everything we do has the tendency to pull us in, to demand more and more of our time and resources, to suck as much from us as it can.

That isn't to say that any of these things are inherently bad. Many times in moderation, they are good. But, when we over do it, when we let them pull us in and give over more than we should, they become poison. They separate us from what is truly valuable in life, they slowly, silently tear us apart.

What is most important? What is worth giving your life to?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


When I was a toddler, my parents were hanging out at a neighbor's house. I don't know if it would technically qualify as a party, it was really a gathering of friends. At this gathering, beer was plentiful.

Somehow, during the course of the afternoon, I earned myself a job. When someone finished their beer, I would toddle the empty bottle out to the trash can, then toddle my way back in.

Now, at this gathering, which I remember, folks weren't getting drunk. They were drinking and socializing and having fun. It remains my earliest memory of the fun that can be had in community.

I cannot truthfully say that no one was getting drunk. I was. Unbeknownst to my parents (or anyone else), when I was toddling those near-empty bottles out to the trash, I was also finishing them. I remember the beginning of the afternoon, but I have no clue about the end. I found out from my parents years later about how sick I was (and about how bad they felt).

I've been reading an outstanding book called The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille (yeah, he's French). In it, he describes how our culture imprints us with certain ideas or codes that determine how we look at specific things in life. Through a process of working with groups of people, he has determined what a number of these codes are for Americans and for folks from other cultures. These codes play a part in how we act, what we value and how we spend our money. It is really interesting stuff.

He also discusses the idea that a strong stand-out event (particularly from childhood) can lead someone's code in that area to diverge from that of their culture.

In America, people's first exposure to alcohol usually has a few things in common. It is before they are of legal age; it is rebellious and dangerous; it is to get drunk. Afterward, people see alcohol as a tool to get drunk and to rebel against the establishment. In the US, most people drink to get drunk and to thumb their nose at the world.

My first major exposure to alcohol was much different. Alcohol was about community. It brought people together. Drunkenness was a consequence of going too far, not the end goal. I've never had a drink to get drunk, that's not the way I relate to alcohol. This is why the French have their kids dip cookies in champagne; they are trying to imprint them to relate alcohol to food and taste.

This doesn't mean that one view of alcohol is right or wrong, just that it means different things to different people - with good reason. Sometimes we think about our view of the world and struggle to understand how others could see things differently. If your culture code is different than mine, how could I expect you to look at things the same way?

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Poetry is the conflagration of the tangible and the intangible. Words and pictures are used to conjure feeling and emotion. Two very different things come together for a moment so that both things can be enjoyed in a new way.

I'm not writing any, but I certainly enjoy it.

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Monday, June 7, 2010

Upside Down

Who's in charge?
Who is the one who has the final say in my life?
When push comes to shove, am I the one who decides the way to turn?
Is it a mutual decision between my wife and myself?
Do I do what I feel/think is best, regardless?

You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, He did not make me; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, He has no understanding?

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Running Away

I have a friend who first tried to run away from home at the age of four. He packed up all his belongings in his little suitcase and headed off down the road. As would happen repeated times in the future, he encountered something that sent him home again... money for ice cream, large bugs, finally reaching the corner. These were all obstacles too big to overcome.

He loved his parents and his siblings, he wasn't trying to escape. He simply knew his life was bigger than the tiny town where he was growing up. Now he's far from home and doing his part to change the world. He wasn't really running away, he was running to.

Running away is something entirely different. Running away is trying to escape. It is trying to avoid. It is chickening out. It is backing down. It is giving up. It is quitting.

We've all done it. We run into something that's too big or too scary or too different from what we've known and we decide we can't handle it. We give up the pursuit, we let the dream remain just a dream.

So, how do we keep from running away? How do we succeed in making dreams reality? How do we obtain the ice cream money, brave the giant insects and know which turns to make? We don't.

Dreams aren't the stuff of well thought out plans and perfect strategies. They are the result of faith, determination and partnership. When God is behind your dreams, He's the one who provides, who protects, who plans.

He puts the people in your path who help you along, he provides the strength and endurance, and if we pay attention he even tells us which way to turn.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Stomach Punch

Have you ever read 1John 3? You should. But first, do some crunches or sit-ups or P90x, because you're about to get a firm shot to the breadbasket.

6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

All this from the disciple Jesus loved.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Tyranny of the Now

The Israelites were hanging out in the wilderness, awaiting the appointed time when God would lead them into the Promised Land - that place that was "flowing with milk and honey". The inheritance that God had promised, a paradise handed down from the time of Abraham.

In the midst of the waiting, some of the tribes started looking around at wheee they were now. Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, specifically, looked at the neighboring people, shepherds like themselves, and they liked what they saw. "This land is good for grazing, it would support our flocks. Hey Moses, why don't we just stay here? I mean, you guys go ahead and take the land on the other side of the Jordan, we're good here. We'll even help you fight for it, but we like what we have now and we're done waiting. Just give it to us."

Moses consulted with God and the answer came back, "sure, as long as you go out and fight with your brothers, you can have this land". So, there they stayed, outside of the promised land, outside of what was rightfully theirs, outside of what God had promised to them and their forefathers. They stood on the wrong side of the Jordan, looking west at what could have been.

How often do we do this? How often do we look at what we have now and give up our God given right to something better? We're still going to have to fight, we're still going to face trial and temptation, why not make it worth the fight?

Your relationship with God, with your significant other, with your kids, with your friends and family - why settle? Your spiritual life, your job, your legacy - why settle? God wants so much more for us, and he wants us to fight for it.

To do that, we've got to get past the Now. We can't settle for the status quo, we can't assume this is as good as it gets. We must believe the promises of God and be willing to give up the offerings of society. If we settle, we'll only find ourselves on the wring side of the Jordan looking west, wondering what could have been.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Honor, Love and Fear

Honor everyone.
The word translated as honor from Greek is the word “time” (prounounced tim-may’). It means to value or highly esteem. This word means to treat as precious, weighty or valuable. -Craig Groeschel

What do we honor today? I didn't ask WHO we honor, because I think in many cases we honor things more than people these days. Things don't let us down like people do, they don't quit or turn their backs on us.

Before we put the cart ahead of the horse, lets talk a little more about what honor is, because it isn't a prominent thing in American culture. We're much more into respect. There is one big difference between the two. Respect is earned, but honor is given.

We choose to show honor to someone, regardless of what they have done or haven't done.
We respect authority and wisdom and accomplishment. We honor effort, motive and existence.

Who do we choose to honor?

Love the brotherhood.
This can mean two things, I think it means both.
Love the people in the brotherhood.
Love the brotherhood itself.

What's the difference? One is loving the believers around you, the other is loving the bond that makes us an extended family. There are plenty of ways to demonstrate love to people, but how can we show love to the bond that keeps us together?

Fear God.
When was the last time you just sat back and thought, "Sweet merciful crap, God is incredible!"? When was the last time you let Him knock your socks off? When was the last time you had a Holy Sense of Divine Wow?

Like so many things, God doesn't force this on you. It happens only if we let it.

Honor the emperor.
"Everyone" includes the emperor, president, governor, police officer, elder, parent, group leader, boss, manager, _________

We choose to give them honor. This isn't an option, or something we withhold until it is earned.

1 Peter 2:17

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

But God, people will think I'm Crazy

What are "acceptable" things for God to ask us to do? In some areas, it depends who you ask.

Fast for a _________ ( meal, day, week month)?
That's crazy! OR That's all...why not 40 days?

Sleep less to spend time in God's word?
That's crazy! OR That's the smartest time-management ever.

Give away a hefty hunk of cash?
That's crazy! OR You'll never feel more a part of what God is doing.

Quit your job?
That's crazy! OR You mean you haven't done that yet?

Tear off your loincloth and sandals and walk naked for 3 years?
That's crazy! OR So, you've got an important message for Egypt like Isaiah did, huh?

Change what people call "church"?
That's just crazy!

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States