Sugar-high happiness (journal excerpt)

By request, this is an excerpt I read from my journal last weekend.  Read it like I wrote it, unedited.

Everybody has their native sin – something that seems to be part of who they are. Add to that a culture of self-worship, sliding standards, and personal happiness as the ultimate pursuit and we have a perfect recipe for cultural deception.  God gets made out to be the bad guy when he forbids things we are so sure will make us happy.  They feel so natural.  We are so easily deceived.  Like my three-year old daughter that throws a temper tantrum when she cannot have cookies for dinner, we object to God’s righteous, eternal standards.

But everybody disagrees with God somewhere. Every person. Every family. Every culture. Every epoch.

The question is one of wisdom.  Will we be wise enough to humble ourselves and agree with God? Will we be smart enough to recognize that he sees something around the eternal corner that we do not see ourselves? Will we not realize that God wants us happy even more than we do?  But his long-range mind sees things we do not.

We want quick-fix, sugar-rush happiness. He sees eternal weight of glory.

The message of Scripture is this: play it out.  Live to please yourself, live for your personal happiness – it’s an experiment in futility.  Destined for disappointment.

Be smarter than that. Be wiser. Be more forward-thinking.

Sin is not just evil; it’s stupid.

Our idols are like middle school boyfriends: they lie to us.  Sin lies. It over-promises and under-delivers.  It is an expert marketer, but completely untrustworthy.

Yet I’m a sucker. I believe the hype.  Everybody believes the hype – it just has to be the right hype. Wise is the man who learns what hype he falls for.  We are so prone to judge people for being gullible in areas we don’t fall for.  But we all fall.  Moral stupidity is part of our fallen condition.

Good thing we have a wise savior.

Solomon nailed it: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10)

Chick-fil-A – part 2

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but we have (at least) seven children.

Recently, my three-year-old daughter wanted a piece of the action with one of the big-kid games called Connect Four.  It was the end of a long day and I really didn’t feel like teaching her to play the game, so I tried to let her win as quickly as possible.  When she refused to cooperate I took matters into my own hands, and strategically connected four of my own chips.  Game over.   “Oh no, Daddy.  The game’s not over till we fill up the whole thing.”

Reluctantly, I submitted, as we dropped a chip in every single square.  What felt like an hour later, her face lit up as she looked into my eyes and said, “Now that was a good game, Daddy!”

How exactly was that a good game?

“Because I was with you.”

My heart melted.  The purpose of the game was to be with daddy.  Yeah, that really was a good game.

The way you know if something is good is if it fulfills its intended purpose.

That’s why I don’t get angry with my tennis shoes when they don’t drive nails into the wall.  That’s why gay internet phenom Antoine Dodson still eats Chick-fil-A. (Youtube it.)  And that’s why my little girl was thrilled to play the longest game of Connect Four in human history.

So how do you know if a human is good?

You have to know the purpose.

Continue reading “Chick-fil-A – part 2”

The morning after Chick-fil-A day

It’s the morning after the Chick-fil-A drama and I’m still chewing.

I remember the day I was sitting next to an incredibly nice gay guy, enjoying a really good conversation when he dropped the ultimate conversation-killer.

“What do you do for a living?”

I hate that question.  I hate that question because people can’t help but size you up when they hear the answer.  I hate that question because we’re already prone to think of ourselves as human doings instead of human beings.  I hate that question because of what it does to people when they find out what I do.

I’ve often tried to find ways around the question. I’ve told people I work with non-profit organizations (this is true). I’ve told people that I write (this is true). I’ve even told people that I am a spiritual guru that assists people in opening their third eye (I really like this one).  For whatever reason, on that day, I just cut to the chase.  “I work as a pastor of a church.”

Everything changed.  His next words went something like this:

Listen, I’m gay and I’m content with who I am. I’m sure you are going to say that I was not born this way, and I won’t argue the point. For a significant part of my childhood I was violated by a neighbor and then an uncle.  Did that play a role in my sexual orientation? Possibly. I also know many people that had a trouble-free childhood and they turned out very happily gay.  Regardless of how it occurred, this is who I am now and I make no apologies for the man I have become.  If God has a problem with a man who tries to be true to himself, then I have a problem with a God that allows these kinds of things to happen to kids like me in the first place.

I kept thinking how much easier it would have been if I said I was a writer.

Continue reading “The morning after Chick-fil-A day”

It takes a village to connect the dots.

Christians have to get better at communication.

We are sense-making creatures, and in the absence of good communication we connect the dots for ourselves. The problem is, ever since the Fall we humans have been pitiful dot-connectors.

So communicate.

It saddens me to think about relationships that never start because Christian guys don’t choose to communicate their intentions.   Or marriages that stagnate because couples stop talking.   Or friendships that dissolve because relational misdemeanors become felonies in the absence of communication.  Or spiritual orphans who remain Fatherless because no one has enough guts to communicate the gospel.

If you’re not going to tell them, people are going to connect the dots for themselves.  And that could get ugly.

Because dot-connecting is meant to be done in community.

So communicate. In Proverbs 27:5 Solomon said, “open rebuke is better than love concealed.”  At least we know where we stand.

I’ll try to put a few handles on this communication challenge in the message this weekend.

The story I tell myself

I was speaking with a young couple on the verge of getting married and the subject of my marriage came up. The more I talked about the marriage I have experienced – and the wife I enjoy – the more grateful I became. My final assessment was, I am so blessed it’s crazy.

As I walked away from the conversation I began to think about how rose-colored my glasses seemed to be in that moment.  Was I really being honest?  Was I setting this couple up for disillusionment when they don’t feel that reality I described?  God knows how many difficult seasons these 17 years of marriage have endured .  Some of that has been basic life tribulation.  Much of that has been my sin. A microscopic amount has been my wife’s sin. 🙂  During many seasons of difficulty I’ve not been so positive.

So why was I walking away from this conversation with such joy?

Continue reading “The story I tell myself”

Summer reading list

Toxic Charity, Robert Lupton

Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley

Grace-Based Parenting, Tim Kimmel

The Street Children of Brazil, Sarah De Carvalho

The City of God, Saint Augustine

Reverse Innovation, Indra K. Nooyi

Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder

Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton



Click here to read other reading list