My Valentine, Audra

Feb 14

My Valentine, Audra

This year, Audra and I aren’t exchanging gifts for Valentine’s Day, so this is my gift to her. I am thankful for my wife for many reasons. Unfortunately, I’m not the best at articulating them, and I don’t affirm Audra like I ought to, or she needs. But here are just a few reasons why I’m the luckiest guy in the world. She somehow manages to take care of all five of our children–usually on her own, due to my work schedule. Many days, I leave the house before the family wakes up, and come home after the kids have already been put to bed. Even on the days that I don’t have videos, I usually have a meeting at the church that evening. At least half of the days during the week, she is managing the house/children on her own. And on the days I don’t have to wake up super-early for work, Audra ends up getting all the kids ready for school anyway and lets me get some rest. With five children, Audra spends most of her day feeding Bethany, putting Bethany down for a nap, putting down Joanna for a nap, giving Sarah a snack, repeat…etc. I would have a mental breakdown after just a few days of doing this, but she does it everyday. I am amazed at the grace and respect that Audra gives to people she interacts with. She always seems to have the right words with difficult people or situations. I have much to learn from her in this regard. I tend to avoid such people or situations. Or put my foot in my mouth. But not Audra. She seems to know exactly what to say and how to say it, regardless of whom or what is thrown into her path. Audra has every excuse to say “no” to any request outside the home, having to raise 5 children. Yet, when everyone else at the church says no, Audra is willing to step in and volunteer. Most of the time, this relates to the children’s ministry. If there’s anyone in our church that needs a break from working with children, it’s Audra. Yet, she fills in anytime she is asked. I know...

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God’s Not Dead (But After This Movie, He Might Just Well Be)

Mar 24

God’s Not Dead (But After This Movie, He Might Just Well Be)

Granted, Christians don’t have a great record when it comes to movie-making, but we sure shot ourselves in the foot with this one. ALERT: Spoilers ahead. If you are planning to see the movie, don’t read on. Wait a minute, on second thought, please read on. I hope to change your mind. Where do I begin? The movie basically vilified everyone who was an unbeliever or a wanna-be believer. The main character’s girlfriend unbelievably disowns her boyfriend when he chooses to stand up for God. An atheist professor is portrayed as an overly-angry, dismissive person who requires all his students to write “God is dead” or else. Yes, I know all the universities out there are godless bastions of intellectual tom-foolery, but come on, really? Not only that, but he is completely demeaning to his girlfriend, chauvinistic, and evilly utters personal threats against the main character (a Christian). An atheist businessman shows absolutely no compassion for his elderly mother dying of dementia and refuses to visit her, and when his girlfriend confides to him on their date that she just learned she has terminal cancer, he coldly tells her their relationship is immediately off, because there’s nothing left in the relationship for him anymore. Really? Has anyone in the history of humankind ever done that? When a Muslim father discovers his college daughter is listening to Christian teaching and has begun to believe in Jesus, he immediately starts slapping her repeatedly in the face, picks her up, drags her out of the house, never to allow her back in the family again. Yes, I know Muslims can disown family members for converting to Christianity, but the scene did not seem believable how it played out. I could go on. Of course, all the true Christians in the movie were beyond reproach and always had the right answers to dumbfound those who didn’t believe. And then there are the arguments that this Christian college student makes to refute atheistic philosophy. And the way he had the last word with the professor and caused his teacher to be embarrassed in front of the whole class. Booyah! Everyone in the class becomes a believer too! His debate arguments may seem compelling to...

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A Hope That Doesn’t Disappoint

Mar 01

A Hope That Doesn’t Disappoint

Awhile back, several of us from our church made a group decision to invest heavily into a certain segment of our church. We believed that if we presented the truth of the Gospel not just in words only, but also in an extreme sacrifice of ministry to them…that there would be fruit from that–that lives would be forever changed by God’s Spirit. That isn’t what seemed to happen, and several people from the ministry team have shared their feelings of disappointment. I, too, was disappointed. What does it take for people to see the light of the Gospel, and be forever changed?? Over time, though, there have been other people in the church who have “caught the flame” of what it means to follow, serve, and love Jesus. It has been awesome to see the beginnings of this work of God in the lives of people within our church. But I keep coming back to those whom we attempted to heavily invest in. We had such great hope. And now there is a great disappointment there. Paul says in Romans 5:5, “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Although Paul says that this hope doesn’t disappoint, we might beg to differ. And sometimes, this disappointment makes you want to give up. Why? Because we all know that only God can change someone’s heart–we can’t do it. So when you give it your all, and strive to depend on God for the results, not your own abilities, and then still nothing happens…well, if God’s not going to come through on His end of things, why should we try anything on our end? Awhile back, I had a conversation with a friend about my struggles to understand why it seems that so many people who go to church regularly just never seem to “get it,” no matter how many times you preach the message, no matter in what ways you present the message, no matter how well you live the message. It really makes you feel like, “God–what else can I do? It has to be You who does it. And yet it...

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Stop Being Yourself And Try To Fit In

Jan 15

Stop Being Yourself And Try To Fit In

So I’ve been hearing a repeating message lately, and when that happens, I start to wonder if it’s God talking. Either way, I’m paying attention. The message is this: whatever happened to Christian community? I’ve heard this question asked 3 times in the past 5 days from three different people. The first time was last week talking to someone from our church. She had visited another church in Nebraska (I think), and experienced such warmth from the congregation–she could tell that they truly loved one another and enjoyed being around each other. She immediately felt welcomed and among family. The second time was this past Sunday after church. A new couple visited our church for the first time, and they were questioning why people (Christians) out here in Colorado don’t like to hang out together. It seems that if anyone has free time, they whisk their family away to the mountains or something along those lines. Whatever happened to Christians getting together for a fun time? They were reminiscing about their church back from the midwest that was much more communal, where it was fun to be around each other. Ironically, their church back in Chicagoland was the same church I attended when I lived back there. That was pretty cool! The third time I heard this was today at a video deposition–the court reporter. I found out she was a Christian, but hasn’t been able to find a church in the area where she senses real community. They had great community at their church when they lived in Hawaii, but here it’s another story. She and her husband have found plenty of churches in Colorado that “preach the Word” or are “Spirit-led,” but none where they felt that the people just enjoyed each other. I’ve decided that it’s just the culture “out West.” I’ve lived in three different American cultures so far: midwest, deep south, and now the west. Each is different. In the deep south, everyone gets into your business. In the west, everyone leaves you alone. Neither equals community. I grew up as a child in the midwest, so I can’t really judge it objectively. After all, children/youth tend to be very communal. So out of...

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The Next Best Thing

Apr 14

The Next Best Thing

Recently, I have been really appreciating the times that I’ve had the opportunity to pray with various people in our church. So curiously…Outside of salvation through Jesus, can anyone think of anything more beneficial to have in one’s life other than a good group of people who pray with you regularly? I’m having a hard time thinking of anything. Perhaps owning a Bible? Anything...

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Can Harboring Unforgiveness Be A Good Thing?

Apr 04

Can Harboring Unforgiveness Be A Good Thing?

I read an article in Sports Illustrated a few months back about Michael Jordan’s coach in high school who supposedly cut him from the basketball team. I learned from the article that Michael Jordan basically kept a chip on his shoulder about the whole ordeal, resenting his coach and the player who beat him out. Of course, I’d say that harboring such destructive feelings is wrong and should be resolved for the health of the individual holding in those negative feelings. Yet the argument can be made that the reason why Michael Jordan was so good at his sport is because he kept those feelings at the forefront of his mind, giving him that extra edge to out-perform everyone, and achieving more than he would have if he had let it go. Is it fair to say that bitterness actually helped Michael Jordan become a better player? I’ve heard it said before that the great geniuses/successes in life are anything but balanced on the inside. While the rest of us are trying to attain some level of inner nirvana, it seems that many great writers, thinkers, musicians, actors–apparently even athletes, actually feed on imbalance, hurt, rejection, pain, and don’t worry about healing. Do you think this is unhealthy? Yet how is it that such great books, poetry, music, performances come seemingly from such unhealthiness? Would Michael Jordan have been the greatest basketball player of all time (IMO) if he had handled his feelings of rejection in a healthy...

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