Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guns and Pipes and Other Things Nice

As I was reading through some of my previous blogs and some of my not yet posted writings the other night, I realized that for any who read this blog and don’t actually know me outside of the blogosphere, you might be left to think that my only interests are thinking deeply and my kids.

Alas, there is more to me…

So, here are a couple of things that you might, but probably don’t know about me, my interest and my life...


I have always had a fascination with guns. I remember getting my first bb gun as a kid; a Daisy multi-pump pneumatic air rifle. I would go into the backyard each day, set up an opposing army of aluminum cans in the trees and club house, man my post behind the gas grill and take them out one by one. My fascination with guns has not seized and to this day I love going to the range and lighting up some paper. I usually shoot handguns, but also enjoy shooting rifles. My holey targets serve as trophies in my garage and my favorite trophy is a quarter that I blew a hole in from 100 yards away with a .308 rifle.

Pipe Smoking

I have a bunch of friends who enjoy smoking cigars. I’ve tried it a few times, but have never really liked it. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed the smell of a smoking pipe, so for some time, I have really wanted to try the whole pipe thing. Not too long ago, I went with a friend and bought my first pipe. My pipe is old and rugged looking – very cool. His pipe is shiny and polished – very metro sexual. After smoking my pipe just once I knew it was for me. I thoroughly enjoy it. It makes me feel smarter and I think it is probably going to make me a better writer – kind of like Tolkien or Lewis….or maybe not that good.


I really like Jesus and his teachings. I try to live my life according to the things that he taught. Some days are better than others. I figure that if everyone on the planet tried to live by his teachings, the world would be a much better place. I don’t like religion or consumer Christianity. I don’t think Jesus likes those things either.


I greatly enjoy playing poker, primarily Texas Hold ‘em. If I’m going to hang out with a group of guys, this is my favorite thing to do with them. I enjoy watching poker tournaments, but would much rather play. I have never had a royal flush, but I did take down a monster pot once with a four of a kind.


I love to write. I am a thinker and a contemplative type. I started keeping journals when I was 19 years old and still carry a journal with me daily. I think best through writing, which is one reason that I began this blog some years ago. I have about 30 blogs in the queue. Some have to do with faith; others are about my kids and my adventures as a dad. Some are about marriage and still others are about movies and books that I enjoy. I also enjoy working on short stories and perhaps, one day, a book.

Deep Conversation

I enjoy dialoguing about matters of love and life and theology. Most of these conversations are best enjoyed with a good friend or two over a great cup of coffee, a good beer, or a pipe. I am open to different sides of the argument and am okay with us not agreeing if you are okay with it.


One thing that I love about having kids is the fact that I get to still play with toys. Transformers. Matchbox cars. Knights and castles. Monster trucks. There has to be a place in every guy, I’m sure, that just never really wants to grow up. My newest favorite toy is actually one that my wife gave me for Father’s Day. It is a black baby doll. I cry just about every time I look at it because it is the first toy I am going to give to my daughter, Zoe, as soon as we bring her home from Ethiopia.


I love to dance. I don’t dance well. I dance like a 33 year old white guy and am actually self conscious about it, which keeps me on the sidelines a lot of times. However, I am not hindered at home and will dance all day with my boys. I can’t wait till Zoe gets here. I think she’s going to be able to help me with my moves.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How Dave Changed My Life

My life and my marriage will never be the same...and the way it happened was really an accident. It occurred one day while I was on itunes checking out a few of the new tunes on the 2009 release Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King by the Dave Matthews Band. One track title – You and Me – arrested my attention like no other.

It only took me a few seconds of listening before I was taken by the words that Dave was singing. Rich with sweet acoustic guitar, well placed tambourine and the amazing Dave Matthews signature strings, the South African poet sang straight to my heart:

We can always look back at what we did
All these memories of you and me baby
But right now it's you and me forever girl
And you know we could do better than anything that we did
You know that you and me, we could do anything

You and me together, we could do anything, Baby
You and me together yeah, yeah
Two of us together, we could do anything, baby [Full Lyrics]

The same heart that those words penetrated is a heart that is full of dreams and ideas. and desires. I want this planet and the people that I encounter on it to be better off because I am here. I have a heart to impact my world in a variety of ways. The way I raise my kids. The way I respect and honor people. The way I care for nobodies. The way I love people who are different than me. The way I learn how to give of myself. The way I take care of the planet. The way I treasure my wife. The way I love and live and engage in the everyday.

There are two things though that hold me back – doubt and laziness. As I sat however, and meditated on Dave’s words I was reminded of two other very important things.

Number 1: I am married to and get to share my life with an amazing woman (who also has dreams and ideas).

Number 2: Right now is the only moment that we are guaranteed.

Therefore, if Kristy and I have dreams, then today seems like a good day to get off of the sofa, get to God, allow him to calm our fears and follow our hearts.
We’ve been given time and life together….today….and we can do anything.

My soon to be daughter, Zoe, is going to know this song, as it is one of the biggest reasons that we are now 4 months into adopting our baby girl from Ethiopia. Adoption has been on our hearts for more than 7 years, but doubt, finances and laziness were keeping us on the sidelines. I’ve come to realize that whenever I’m sitting on the sidelines, it’s because I’m allowing my head to win the contest with my heart. But my life is most full when I allow my heart to win.

I love when my heart trumps my head. It is a beautiful thing.

So, what dreams are in your heart?

What is holding you back?

What words has God been speaking to you through music or art or books to encourage you to move? How will you respond?

And Kristy....I love that we are learning to love and live on this journey together. You and me. You are simply amazing.

And, Dave.....thanks.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

American Jesus: Jesus, John & Jerry

The other day my family and I were with some friends in Orange Beach, AL. It was a beautiful day in beachtown with sweltering temperatures over 100 degrees. Like any normal people who are exposed to such heat, my friend Dave and I grabbed a couple of beers and headed on down to the lazy river – because lazy works when you’re on vacation.

As we slowly moved down the river our conversation was quite diverse as we discussed our marriages, our kids, our dislike of Guinness, our love for reading and our disdain for pop Christianity.

It was this last topic that got me thinking about starting a blog series entitled American Jesus.

It seems that in the land of the free and the home of the brave, there are a whole lot of versions of this religion called Christianity. At the same time, a lot of people make a whole lot of money selling their version of Christianity. The interesting thing about this is that some of these versions of Christianity only work in countries that can afford it. It’s what I like to call the American Jesus mentality.

All around our great country, there are countless numbers of people who have somehow bought into this idea that God's single most desire for their life is that they would be healthy and wealthy. That god only has good things in store for those who have full faith in him and who trust him. If you’re single, have faith, because god has a good plan for a hope and a future (which we interpret to mean a spouse.) If you’re sick, have faith, because god has a good plan for a hope and a future (which we interpret to mean full health.) If you’re jobless, have faith, because god has a good plan for a hope and a future (which we interpret to mean a job, but not just any job! Instead, if you have enough faith, it will be a job that will provide more money than you know what to do with, because obviously God desires that all his children have lots of money, houses and boats.)

While floating along the lazy river, enjoying the last of my refreshing beverage, I had this thought. How did Jesus interpret this popular verse? And should we perhaps interpret it the same way. I sometimes think that Jesus would say to us, "You keep using that verse. I do not think that verse means what you think it means."

Here’s a thought: When John (the Baptist) was rotting in a dungeon beneath Herod’s palace, while Jesus hung out at parties, drank wine at weddings, feasted with all kinds of high class and ragamuffins– what was John thinking? Might he have been thinking, “Why am in Herod’s prison? I thought the Messiah was coming to do away with Herod!” And, “If this Jesus is really God’s son, then where’s the welfare and prospering?”

A better question might be, why didn’t Jesus head down to the prison and tell John, “Hey John, don’t worry. Remember what Jerry said, “I know the plans I have for you declares the me. Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a hope and a future.”

Instead, Jesus sent some of John’s followers (Jesus didn’t even go!) to the prison to tell John….I am the guy. I am God…I’m just wearing these sandals. I am here to show people what the life of the future is all about. And John, whoever is not put off by me because of the way I do things –even if those things seem different than you thought they would be…well, that person will be happy they stuck with me.

A few days later, Herod had John’s head cut off.

Make no mistake about it. I believe in a God who loves the human race beyond measure. I believe that this God does heal people in the present, does bless people – some with stuff, some with brains, some with common sense and some people just get a cat. But the story that this God is telling is not about health and wealth this side of new heavens and new earth, but a story about people being invited to be reconciled to God here and now and to live the life of the future in the present. It’s about learning what it is to love God and actually love people, learning to forgive and show mercy and recognize beauty. It’s a story about God laying his life down so others could experience life and then God inviting us to lay our lives down so that still others can find life. The truth is, it’s a far cry from getting rich and living to be 120.

American Jesus is a pretty popular guy these days. The only problem is that he doesn’t look anything like the real Jesus that we read about in the Bible.

Where have you encountered American Jesus?

When has God not behaved the way you thought he should/would? Is there a chance that God is different than you thought? Are you open to that thought?

Join us next time for American Jesus: Jesus and the Prostitute