Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Sometimes life can be lonely. There is someone I deeply love who is terminally ill right now. He is on hospice and is alone. All weekend I felt as though I was walking through water because I was heavy with emotions for him.

I have another friend who just lost everything because of his choice to follow Christ. He still has his wife and children healthy, but everything else is starting fresh. A new definition of family. A new definition of work. A new definition of life.

I cannot even tell you how many of us feel like we are at yet another fork in the road, another life changing decision that feels as heavy as the moon yet as casual as a cup of coffee. Life doesn't slow for any of this. Life continues on and God calls us forward.

Yesterday there was a tornado less than two blocks from our house. Trees are down everywhere. Thankfully we are all safe, but you can see the devastation. Ezra told Nikki that it is strange how people just seem to be going about their lives with the debris all around. I think there are many of us who live this way, thinking it is strange how many speed past the debris of our lives.

A few days ago we visited The Avenue church on the campus of the U of L. The pastor was reminding us of how often God works by invitation and then challenge.we are invited near to Him, but then challenged to a deeper faith. It is in this place that we often feel loneliness.

After church I was trading football cards with Durant. I asked him if he ever traded cards with Jesus. I though it was funny, but the answer was serious. "He is in the room dad, but I can't see him. I don't know if he has cards, but he made the players." My son is a genius.

What Durant said is what we often feel. We are invited into this relationship that changes us, yet we can't see. It is by faith because God says so, but our flesh screams for it to be by sight. After being invited to live deeper with Christ we are left looking around for who else is near. After all, Jesus is in the room but we can't see Him. Many of us our living in this place. We know that Jesus is who He said He is, yet we are looking around us and feeling isolated in the calling we are given. We can't see how the pieces fall together so we are scared that they won't. We are tired of pain hurting, and we want relief. Not just for us, but for those we love. Can't the food just get to the hungry? Can't the cure reach the sick? Can't His peace reached the frightened and anxious?

My kids are growing up very quickly. It seems like I blink and someone outgrew their shoes, their clothes, or their old toys. There is one thing that no one has outgrown yet. Sometimes the darkness of night will scare one of the kids. Maybe a test keeps them awake. Maybe they keep thinking of a friend they miss, or a dream that they had. Whenever that happens they do what comes naturally, they come find us. If it is early we may be in the living room. If it is late, we are in our room. Either way they don't care, they come find us. Somehow our queen bed can manage to fit a few extras kings and a little princess when need be. Every now and then I have to watch my step over bodies in the morning as I go to get ready. I guess they know where to turn to be safe.

I don't know where you are as you read this. I don't have the answers to the why questions of life. All I know is often I am tired, yet I am learning to find rest. We are invited to the throne of grace on purpose. It's there that we lay down our lives, and quite possibly lay to rest, knowing we are safe and no longer alone. He is our remedy. I am one grateful man.

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Monday, January 16, 2012

To those who went before.

Today is a day that I owe a lot of thanks. When I was little I didn't know the impact Dr. King would have on my life directly. Now, with three children from Ethiopia and living near the south, I can feel his impact. I hope my life reflects the gratitude I feel towards the sacrifice he made.

Besides Dr. King there are so many others who have gone before me. My parents moved to Columbus and back proving that the Midwest isn't flat and that you can travel off of it and survive. Now my passport looks as worn as my Bible.

Grandma Ness read her 128 font Bible and loved her God. I prayed that I would learn to love Him too. I believe I'm on that path.

Grandma Lamb found as much joy at Michael's as she would have at Disney World. She could make the mundane memorable. I'm not there, but I can aspire to it (minus the whole love for Michael's thing.)

Generations of people fought for their own equality. At the same time their contemporaries fought that others would have the rights that they themselves enjoyed. People have lived out what was put before them without letting fear or normalcy paralyze them.

Church fathers and mothers fought to love those God Led them towards. Some gave their lives in death. Others gave their life in service.

The apostles faced their own failures and believed they were who God said that they were, not what they had done.

Christ gave everything so that I could know the taste of life, joy, peace and patience. Who am I to deserve all of this?

I don't stand alone. I stand within the story of all of those who went before me and now journey beside me. May we hunger for the kingdom as Dr. King did. May this world never satisfy. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Trees of 16th

Last week my family was in Birmingham visiting our friends at Lifeline and meeting new friends. It was a great week that included swimming for the kids and barbecue for me. As great as the week was, our very last day in Birmingham was the most memorable for me.

We went to visit 16th Street Baptist Church. In 1963 the church was bombed. The bomb was aimed for Dr. King, but four little girls lost their lives instead. Across the street from the church was a park that was owned by the klan. Our guide, a man named Charles, said that this is where Dr. King and so many others decided they were going to stand for God's justice.

In the park, fairly near the church, there is a large tree. On the far limb of that tree just one year before the bombing a man was hung because he was black. My boys couldn't believe it when they heard it. There was a vote in Birmingham about cutting down the tree to try and erase the horrible memory. For families like mine they decided to leave it there. It is a constant reminder of the horrors of hate, but that is not all. It is also a reminder that hate isn't the end of the story.

After we toured the park we went to the door where the bomb was placed. I think it was getting real to my crew at that point. Though the tour looked like it was done, there was one more place to visit. Charles brought us to a tree just past the church. He said we needed to know this story.

Charles told us he was a "country boy" who was born in 1960. He knew about trees. He also knew about hatred and racism. His grandfather was the one who carried the girls out on stretchers. At 14 Charles was chased by seven white men with unknown intentions. Last Friday there was still fear in his eyes as he spoke about this. The fear in his eyes is why the story of this last tree gives Charles hope.

There is a big pine tree behind the church. Charles said it was planted around the time that he was born. Unlike most pines, this pine has four main branches. One clearly goes up in each direction. Charles said many times that God is the only one who can do this. He has never seen another pine tree like it, and after all, he is a country boy. He saw this as God showing the world that He has the girls. They are safe now. No one can hurt them.

As Charles said these things there were tears in his eyes. Before we left we prayed with our new friend. I keep finding myself praying that he finds that same safety. He is a wise, yet scared man. I'm praying for peace in his life.

It's hard for me to imagine the horrors that were done in that park. The fire hoses and dogs. The beatings and even the pleading. Yet my family walked through it as one. In the back of the park there is a fountain that was at one time "for whites only." Each of my children drank from there. Hate never wins. God writes the story.