Thursday, September 24, 2009


The other night Christy and I watched a few minutes of the Emmy Awards Show and to be honest, I was a bit surprised that my daughters weren’t nominated in the category, Best Actress in a dramatic Role. You see, lately whenever something does or doesn’t go their way, Anna and Norah have been extremely reactionary. Sometimes their reactions are cute and sometimes they’re hilarious. Like the way that Anna has started to say, “Yessssssss!” when she gets what she wants. A few weeks ago we were at the grocery store and as I was grabbing for some string cheese, Anna said, “Dad, not Mozzarella… just get Colby Jack, please, please, please…” I grabbed the Colby Jack string cheese and handed it to Anna who scanned the product and said, “Yesssssssss!” It was super cute. And then sometimes their reactions are not cute at all or even remotely funny, but very intense and dramatic all the same.

When I told Anna that there was no desert in her lunchbox on Monday morning, you would have thought someone had just shot a puppy right in front of her. She lost it, crumpled up her little face and protested through tears about how other kids get to have desert. Then there was the other night when I asked Norah to put down her toys and go wash her hands for dinner. She fell facedown on the ground, rolled around and moaned about how her tummy was hurting so bad that she wouldn’t ever eat again, ever so she couldn’t possibly go wash her hands right now! And the Emmy goes too…

The truth is, that I have been known to throw fits and tantrums when I don’t get my way too. I don’t normally roll around on the ground and invent tummy aches, but I do get surly, negative and just downright grumpy. It may not seem like a big deal, but our attitude in the small, everyday stuff is of huge importance! In Philippians 2, Paul said that a person who simply doesn’t complain is like a star, blazing brightly in the midst of a dark universe! But how do we do it? How can we keep our cool when everything comes undone? When our plans come to nothing and our desires crumble before our very eyes, how can we keep a joyful and peaceful heart?

This morning I was reading 1 Thessalonians 3 where Paul says the coolest thing: “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.” Isn’t that awesome!? He’s saying that they shouldn’t be surprised or shaken over problems and troubles because he was destined for them! That word ‘destined’ is the same word used in Philippians 1 when Paul was in prison and rejoiced because he said he was ‘put there’ for the defense of the gospel. In 2 Timothy 4 Paul says that there is in store for him the crown of righteousness. That phrase, ‘in store’ is the same word, and in Colossians 1 Paul says that there is a hope ‘stored up’ for us in heaven. It’s all the same idea… That word ‘destined’ means that God has put certain problems and trials in our path on purpose.

There are certain things ‘in store’ for us that we have to go through in order to be the people He has in mind. We shouldn’t be surprised, unsettled or shaken by problems. We should welcome them for what they are: the next step in the perfect path He’s making for us. The trials we face are not surprises to God; rather, He allotted them to us on purpose. The problems are part of our destiny because they make us the people we will be when we step foot into heaven, our final destiny with our destined crown of righteousness!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Training Wheels

A couple of weeks ago I was on my morning run and feeling sluggish and distracted. With every step I took I wanted that run to be finished, but I couldn’t just stop because then I’d still have to walk the rest of the way back. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself when all of a sudden something happened that changed my whole attitude. My spirits were lifted, there was a spring in my step and I finished strong… A week or so ago I came home from work frustrated, exhausted and feeling totally self-absorbed. I was just down and all I wanted to do was walk back into my bedroom and lie down for an hour, but then something happened that changed my heart completely... This morning I was just going about my tasks, busily and efficiently, while completely emotionally absent. I was checking things off the ‘to-do’ list but I was like a vacuum of feelings, totally devoid of the spirit required for the work I had to do when all of a sudden something happened that changed everything…

What happened? What was this mysterious treble occurrence that filled me with joy, energy and a heart full of praise that enabled me to look beyond myself? Simply put, Chris Rice happened.

Three times in recent memory a Chris Rice song has come bursting through the headphones or the speakers at just the right moment to rescue my heavy and selfish heart and lift me up to a place where I can think and see clearly who I am and who Jesus is. And this, I believe, is the ministry of a songwriter who loves Christ. They do for us what we sometimes cannot do for ourselves: they help us to see Jesus in a new and fresh way, or they help us to remember to see Him as we once did.

I used to hate Christian music… passionately. I loved Jesus, but I didn’t like any of the music that Christian artists wrote. I found the songs cheesy and the music sub-par. Then I heard Chris Rice. My girlfriend (now my wife) was playing a Chris Rice CD in the background as we were hanging out one night in college. I faintly heard something that sounded like James Taylor, so I went to the stereo to turn it up. It wasn’t JT. It was this guy named Chris Rice singing a song called “Big Enough.” I turned it up and stood there at the stereo… I would never be the same. “God if you’re there, I wish you’d show me/ And God if you care then I need you to know me/ I hope you don’t mind me asking the questions/ But I figure you’re big enough…”

The other week, as I ran down the road, discouraged and tired, a while back, as I entered the house flustered and finished and as I faced this day with an enormous deficit of heart and joy, God used Chris Rice again to remind me that there is a place I’ll go one day where “Peace is pouring over my soul to see the lambs and the lions playing/ I join in and I drink the music, holiness is the air I’m breathing/ And my faithful heroes break the bread and answer all of my questions/ Not to mention what the streets are made of, my heart’s held hostage by this love and these billion colors I have never seen…”

This is why we have songs… because there are times when you’re at the end and you have nothing left and you just need someone to remind you that whoever you may have been today or this week, you really do love Jesus! You really do want to sing along to those words, “Somewhere beyond the stars is Someone who belongs to me/ And I know in my deepest heart there’s a place for you/ Until I find the place you’ve made for me/ Still I’m missing you…” You just needed someone to sing the words for you, to you… like training wheels for your heart, until you're strong enough to sing your own song.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Future Songs

Anna wants to know every single thing that’s going to happen, and she wants to know right now. She doesn’t like being surprised or held in suspense. Even when you tell her something is going to happen, she’ll ask about it constantly until it actually does happen. Christy and I never really say stuff like, “Hey, we might go to the park later on…” because Anna will be in our faces asking, “Are we going to park or not? Are you saying, “maybe” or are you saying we will go?” Then she’ll put the emphasis on different words in the sentence to see if we’ll divulge more information; like when she says, “So, are we going to the park?” or, “Are we going to the park?” Anna doesn’t even like it when we use the word ‘maybe’ because as she says, “Maybe is just a grown-up way to say “no” without hurting your feelings.”

A while back I asked a bunch of high schoolers what about their future they’d like to know if they could. All the girls said they wanted to know who they would marry. Most of the guys just wanted to know who would win the NCAA football championship. A few folks wanted to know what career they would have or how many kids they would have, but no one really wanted to know when or how they would die. Well, sort of… Sam wanted to know how Kolby would die, but I don’t think that’s really the same thing. No one wanted to know if they were going to get a life-changing illness or whether we would take part in another war as a nation. No one really wanted an early glimpse at what tragedies may await them, and I can understand that. I mean, our lives seem so uncertain already, our world is so volatile and there are so many crazy possibilities and things to be afraid of… why bring it on yourself?

This week I was reading about a time in the book of Isaiah that was probably full of chaos and fear. King Uzziah had just died, which was a big deal because he had been king in Judah for 52 years. For most people, there was no other king in living memory. As the news of his death broke, people were probably just running around like crazy wondering what would happen next… In chapter 6 of his prophecy, Isaiah says that in the midst of the chaos and fear of Uzziah’s empty throne, he saw another Throne… a Throne that was not empty. He says, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

I love the song of the angels in these verses because they sing a song that is sort of outside of time. It’s true now, and yet not fully true yet, though it will be soon. John 12 tells us that when Isaiah saw this vision, he was seeing Jesus’ glory and speaking about Him… These angels, outside of time sang about how the entire world is filled with the glory of Jesus. This is something that will happen. They sing it now, and we see a world full of pain, injustice and unrighteousness, but the song of hope the angels sing is coming true one day. He will come soon, victorious over wrong and wickedness, binding up the broken-hearted and filling the whole world with His glory. We may not know everything that’s going to happen in the future, but we know one thing that will happen for sure! In the midst of whatever chaotic mess we may fear, angels never cease to sing the song of faith that will one day soon be the ultimate truth, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory!”

Thursday, September 03, 2009



An EP of 7 original songs, produced by Jed Brewer of Mission:USA productions! You can preview the songs here and download the entire EP for any price you like, including FREE!!
(This week's post is down below the new cd...)

Just Tell Dad

When I was 10 years old, I was the ball boy for the high school football team my dad coached. It was fun and sometimes pretty hard work. In some ways the game depended on us because if we didn’t get a ball out there on the field… well, you can’t really play without a ball, you know? During rain games we dried, protected and changed the game ball between every play, sprinting from the side lines to the middle of the field and back around a hundred times! We ran as much as any starter and way more than a lot of those sophomores who didn’t even need to lace their cleats or snap up their helmets. It was exhausting and exhilarating work for a 4th grader.

I remember this one game in mid November that was absolutely freezing! We were deep in the playoffs when the ground is hard and cold and you don’t take a breath you can’t see. By the end of the game I was physically spent from two plus hours of sprinting on and off the field. I was sweating and freezing at the same time and now that the game was over, the cold was really sinking in. I climbed the mountain of steps at Blankenship field and saw parents and boosters club members offering hot chocolate to players and cheerleaders. I got in line, so excited to be warmed by that piping, steaming hot cocoa… When I got to the table, a man shunted me off to the side telling me, “Get outta here! This is for players!” I tried to tell him I was a ball boy, but he yelled at me some more. This guy didn’t really know what he was doing because, while I might not have looked like much, I was the son of someone who did… I ran and told my dad (the coach).

I don’t really know what happened after that… I am assuming that they didn’t have a very pleasant meeting. All I know is that this same man who had shunted me out of the way and denied me chocolaty refreshment then found me, apologized for his mistake and handed me two cups of hot chocolate!

Sometimes stuff happens to you… people are hurtful. They are unfair. They put their foot in their mouth and sometimes they can break your heart. I feel like our natural reaction in these situations is to run to our nearest friend and bend their ear about it… we relate the story with the emphasis in all the right places, hoping that we will be vindicated in their eyes and that they will aid us in maligning the one who hurt us. But wait… isn’t there someone else we can tell? Isn’t there a way for us to spill our broken hearts out that won’t tempt us to simply wind up talking about someone else?

We have a Dad. We have a Dad who wants to hear every ache, every heart-hurt. He wants you to run to Him with every misunderstanding and problem you face. Here’s the thing: he doesn’t just want to hear about it, He’s gonna do something about it. Psalm 56:8 says, “Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll - are they not in your record?” The book of Revelation says that the prayers of the saints are kept in a bowl and at the end of all things the bowl will be turned over and will be peals of lightning and thunder wreaking havoc on the earth… our prayers are like a cosmic weapons cache being stored up for the vengeance of God. I don’t need to gossip and complain about my problems… I have a Father who journals about my tears and who will vindicate me at the end of everything! Just tell your Heavenly Dad. He cares so much more than you even know about all of the things that break your heart.

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