Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans, and Louisiana. Alabama. Mississippi. Other places.

We can't even count the dead yet.

Sometimes this world sucks, totally and absolutley.

I don't want to hear reasons, or justifications, or even assurances. I don't need any of that.

What I see is that God's creation is still easily able to cause far more damage than a few thousand terrorists. It is also able to grab our attention, and hold it, at a moment's notice.

As a young boy, my parents drove me and my siblings through an area of West Bend, Wisconsin (where I was born) that had been devastated by a tornado, leaving two people dead and hundreds without homes. That tornado ripped through a BRICK buidling as if it wasn't even there. And there were only two dead. I didn't need reassurance, I didn't need reasons.

What I saw that day was almost total devastation over an area a little less than two square miles. Houses had been torn assunder, leaving what looked like badly stacked piles of lumber and trash everywhere. Clothes, trees, dirt, bricks, glass, wires, cars; you name it, it was thrown. I didn't need reassurances, I didn't need reasons.

As I watched the footage tonight regarding the areas crushed by Hurricane Katrina, I wanted to cry, but I couldn't. I still can't. Maybe later, maybe I'll cry a few tears as I lay down and ask God the question I have been wanting to ask; the same question I always ask, every time tragedy strikes.

"You see God, right now, I don't need reassurance, and I don't need to know why."

"What I need, Abba, is an end."

What is the question?

"When? How long? How much more, and when will it be the last time?"

I will hear silence tonight as an answer to my questions, and that, more than likely, is what will cause the tears to flow. I think of people I know whose lives have been utterly reshaped in the space of a few hours, bloggers and friends, and I cannot imagine how they must feel. I know how I felt when my life was turned completely upside down. I don't want them, I don't want ANYONE to feel that...ever again.

"How long Abba?"



My posts this week, if any, will be short but sweet, or short but pointed, or short but.....

Who knows what the "but" is, at any rate, they will be short. I will be working long hours this week and next, and do not see the chance for deep blogging to be a good one.

Nevertheless, I leave you with this:

According to Jesus, we are slaves. Or at least we were. We are either slaves to sin, or slaves to God. But later on in His life, He said something that somewhat contradicted that line of thinking. He said if we knew the truth, we would indeed be free.

The question is, what would we be free from, or free to do? There are more than several blogs who have talked about freedom recently, and the debate about freedom carries on throughout time since Christ rose from the dead.

What EXACTLY did Christ mean when He said if we knew the truth, we would be free? Do you think He was talking about no longer being either a slave to sin or a slave to God? Or was this some instance where to be a slave of God is to fully and finally realize freedom? In this freedom, ARE WE FREE TO CHOOSE TO GO WITH GOD, AND FREE TO CHOOSE TO GO AWAY FROM GOD? Is that the freedom Jesus gave us? Is there, after all, something to the idea of free will, which I must admit, I have never believed in?

What do you think?



The next three weeks are going to be hectic.

If I can get through these three weeks, things will return to a managable pace for me, and I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to that.

As far as spiritual things go, I am enjoying pondering the eighteenth Psalm. Listen to this:

As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God,
The God who girds me with strength And makes my way blameless?
He makes my feet like hinds' {feet,} And sets me upon my high places.
He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds me; And Your gentleness makes me great.
You enlarge my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them, And I did not turn back until they were consumed.
I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise; They fell under my feet.
For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.
You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, And I destroyed those who hated me.
They cried for help, but there was none to save, {Even} to the LORD, but He did not answer them.
Then I beat them fine as the dust before the wind; I emptied them out as the mire of the streets.

Do you know what these sentences mean to me?

They mean freedom and strength. David shows that God is not distant, and that He isn't only concerned about "saving" us. He is also involved in equipping us, and if we follow this equipping, we may one day praise God in words as David did as well.

Do you see how David knows that he was able to accomplish many things? Do you see who he credits for the skill, strength, and hope? I've been reminded of the skill of my hands, and I can only say God gave it to me.

This is freedom, that we would walk in it, and do mighty things because the Lord has equipped us to do so. Believe it, it's true.



I was asked today in an email why I said in one of my posts that I am not a good man. I answered as best I could, and briefly. I am going to attempt to answer in more detail here, because I think it comes to bear on how I perceive life.

Am I a good man? No, I am not.

However, if I am comparing myself to other men, am I good then? You see, to me that is a pointless question. Not that the question is stupid, mind you, because it is not. It’s just that to me, I don’t compare myself to other men anymore. I used to do nothing BUT compare myself to other men, and believe me, I found every one of them to be wanting, to be lacking when compared to me.

I compared intelligence, strength, achievement, and all manner of other measuring sticks. And all of that was worthless. Actually, let me say that it wasn’t worthless to me then, but it is worthless to me now.

To compare myself to another man is not only pointless right now, but I see the futility in it even without knowing Christ. After all, how can two men be compared when they have lived such different lives, with very different people and very different circumstances? To me, they can’t be compared, not fairly, unless all things are equal.

Well, what do you know? Jesus makes all things equal for me. Despite my circumstances, despite my sins, despite what I have or have not accomplished, all things are now equal for me. Does that mean I can go about and compare myself to others? NO! Absolutely not!.

Not unless, that is, I want to be every man’s judge.

In these United States, we believe that in a court of law, all things are somehow equal enough so that a jury of our “peers” can make a judgment regarding guilt or innocence. But even in our mostly “just” court system, mistakes are made.

For me, there is no mistake any more. Jesus is my judge, and He has freed me from fear of judgment and condemnation. I not only no longer have to fear imperfection, but I don’t have to fear other people so much that I judge them because of that fear. That doesn’t mean I do this perfectly, mind you. I still get judgmental at times, but a little voice in my head reminds me of Christ, and my judgmental voice is silenced immediately.

You know, I once heard words that are now famous. “There but for the grace of God, go I”

I don’t like that phrase. I think it should be changed to, “There, because of the grace of God, go I”. That person I am looking at when I say that is not me, and yet, he is me. If he is my neighbor (every man is my neighbor), I can love him as if he is me, because I have been first loved by someone so much greater than me, that to make a COMPARISON would be POINTLESS.

My, it seems we have come full circle with this topic, doesn’t it?

Why am I not a good man? Because the only good man I know is Jesus Christ, and since He is God, comparing myself to Him is pointless. All things being made equal, I find myself equal to every man, having the same flaws they all have, and having the same hope in Christ He offered to all. He offers me friendship, and the opportunity to be a servant of the greatest, BY FAR AND FAR AND FARTHER, Being in the universe.

My Abba, my Father in heaven, God. He is beyond me, but in me. If I ever do anything that is good, you will know instantly that is God completing the good work He has started in me.

Good hope to you all.



My fish Oscar might be dying. Oscar is an Oscar.

He is eleven inches long, which in sixty – gallon – fish - aquarium - language is HUGE. The trouble is, I haven’t seen him eat in almost a month. He used to eat immediately whenever I would put his huge fish pellet food into the tank. In fact, sometimes he would go at it with such gusto that he would almost jump at the food as it left my fingers.

Lately, though, he just sits there, lazily eyeing me as I deposit the pellets into the tank. I have watched him for minutes on end at times, and haven’t seen him eat.

Gosh, I think I love him, the big “he’s so ugly he’s cute” brute. (Someone actually said that about him once.) He’s just so unique, and there was a time when he had a very lively fish-onality. He would follow me wherever I went around his tank, swimming and wagging his tail (yes! Wagging his tail!) as I moved my finger across the glass of the tank.

Oscar is almost four years old. I raised him as a baby, when he was no longer than an inch and a half. He grew quickly, and has always been a topic of conversation with anyone who saw him. Now, he seems bored, as if he is just waiting to die.

Does anyone out there know anything about Oscars? Is this normal. Am I supposed to change what I feed him? I’d hate to think that I could have helped by changing his diet and didn’t. But I do know that in the past, whenever I changed his diet, he refused to eat.

So there you have it. Oscar will not eat, and if he doesn’t eat, he will die. Can anyone help? Please?



Last Friday evening I went to the bar with the guys from work. It was a wonderful time.

I just got out of jail tonight.

Okay, that was a lie. But, if it hadn’t been, what would you think of me? Come on now…be honest. I don’t think I could believe even a single person who would say I don’t think anything different of you.

Many would like to think their opinion of me wouldn’t be affected, but the fact is, it would be. The first impression through someone’s mind might well be, “Looks like Tom has a drinking problem.” or maybe even, “That sure isn’t the Jesus I wanted those guys seeing”.

Whatever it would be, I think we need to pay attention to our first thoughts. You know those thoughts; those are the ones that we still don’t have under control. They are the thoughts that swirl around our minds, not even noticeable until…until...someone triggers THE VOICE. Then THE VOICE takes over, even if just for a moment, doling out fire and brimstone, judgment unimpaired to those who “disappoint” us.

We would never say these things out loud, or so we think. But nevertheless, those thoughts are there, and for many, they are very loud, and very uncontrolled.

Come on, tell me, what was your first impression?

THE VOICE isn’t as silent as we’d like to think. THE VOICE shouts at the idiot who just pulled out in front of us, causing us to brake. And if that idiot would then proceed to drive more slowly than we judge to be right, THE VOICE says so. In the lonely confines of our vehicles, if we are alone, THE VOICE might even speak audibly, “ASSHOLE!”

We think we have it figured out, don’t we? No one knows what goes on inside of my mind…heck, not even me sometimes. And because we can hide what is inside of our minds, we can “look” good to those around us. We can go on carrying these thoughts, trying every so often to silence them through flagellation or just plain verbal self-abuse. But they are there, and we can’t hide ourselves from what is inside.

Here’s a happy thought. What if in heaven, your thoughts are projected for all to see? What if in heaven, we STILL have these thoughts? Oh, I know, that’s not likely. But the thing is, the Kingdom of heaven is here and now, and we still have these thoughts every so often, we definitely do not have them under control.

I wonder….would any of us be comfortable if our thoughts were projected for all to see; all of them? Just a weird thought for the day, I guess.



Just a crazy spoof on PETA.

People Eating Tasty Animals. :)

I thought you'd enjoy that.



I left the following comment over at Reid’s blog, and decided to expound upon it a bit.

The only people who have ever done things "greater than these" are all people who have been called legalists by today's "believers". People such as Peter, John, Paul, Francis of Assisi (one of the most noted disciplinists of the ages) and others, all engaged in "Christian discipline", a thing which we believers today call legalism, and "trying to earn redemption". They all did it, yet today's teachers scoff at the idea of disciplines, as if they know better than men who have LIVED the Kingdom, which consists of power, NOT WORDS.

Martin Luther, another example, revered for his doctrines of freedom and grace, hated for his discipline and narrow-mindedness.

The people who have done greater things than these all strived mightily to do so.

Know why they gave every effort? Because their effort counted as nothing to them. But today, we call that legalism. And you wonder why people haven't raised others from the dead?

Tell me, do you believe a miracle is possible at any moment? The apostles did. And it wasn’t because God blessed them with more faith than us. It was something else, but we don’t really want to know what that something else was, because we might actually have to do something. Heaven help us if our flesh should have to strain against the will of the world. Do you see it? Do you see the difference?

Paul counted his life as nothing, his flesh as worthless. That is why "effort" wasn’t legalism to him, because he was already beyond his own desires when he made the efforts. And what efforts he made. He strove day and night, and even to the point of death, he was striving.

Find that in a believer today, and he'll be called the world's biggest legalist. Again, you wonder why we see no one raised from the dead?

Do not be confused. If we follow Christ, there is every chance we will be crucified. How attractive does the love of God look now? See the past? See the people who have counted their lives as nothing for the sake of the Kingdom? Today's believers would have you think the Kingdom is for our sake. Those believers KNEW their lives were for the Kingdom's sake. That's the difference.

You may not like this post, it may offend you, but I assure you, no offense is ever intended here. I will add, though, that coming to know the difference between efforts made in the flesh and efforts made in the Spirit is eye opening.

Efforts made in the flesh are difficult, often being compared to pulling teeth, with little or no results towards effective spiritual life. Efforts made in the Spirit are not difficult, in that the decision to make the effort is not a struggle, but a natural response to Christ in us. The flesh may argue here, but those who have strived as Paul strived count their flesh as nothing, so if the flesh screams, they let it.

Is it possible that in our day, we really are more concerned with protecting our flesh than they (Paul, John, Peter, Martin, Francis) were? I can’t help but wonder this strongly when I hear about people being called legalists just because they strive. I can’t help but ask, how would any of us know what a legalist was anyway? Wouldn’t claiming that knowledge be sort of like claiming the right to judge our neighbor?

Why are we so worried about what our neighbor is doing anyway? That, to me, speaks every bit as loudly that the person making the judgment is still living in the flesh, and is very concerned with “appearances”. Again, I wonder, does a man who counts his flesh as nothing worry about how he looks to others? Does he even worry about whether he is a legalist?

I think not. I think to be worried about being a legalist is to be still bound under law, a new law, albeit, but a law nevertheless. It is the law that says you are measured by your neighbor, therefore, do not be seen as “this” or “that”.

I have mentioned “discipline” quite frequently over the last few months. Some shy away from it, while others say they need it. What is the truth?

I don’t think anyone who believes “needs” to be a disciplinarian. But if you want to grab all that the Kingdom has to offer, then I think making the flesh our slave is a necessity. I do not think the Kingdom is static, motionless. I do not think eternal rest means never having to do anything. I think it means being able to do all things because we are in Abba, and Abba is in us.

Is this a legalistic way of thinking? Maybe it is, but I don’t really care. My concern is not for your opinion about me. My flesh says, “Now wait a minute!”

But I say, what is the point? I am found to be loved already by Abba. I am learning that this is enough, and I am learning that my flesh counts for nothing, so why not USE it, bend it, to MAKE it do what I want it to? What can it hurt?



Thank you to all of you guys who remembered me in front of Abba last night and today. Your comments give me more hope than I can even say.

Amazingly enough, I felt energized nearly all day, and I did not get much sleep last night, either. Everything considered, I don’t see how I had any energy today, as last night I was worn out for several days already, and lack of rest doesn’t cure that. So I know yet again the practical power of Jesus in me, and how God uses us ( all you guys) to help each other.

Having energy is one thing, and getting more rest this weekend will help. But rest is merely a band aid for a problem that has its roots not in the lack of rest, but in over-commitment to physical activities and pride. When the body wears, the mind wears, and once that happens, reliability goes out the window.

This isn’t a circumstance, I am not a victim. I created this mess, and the fixing is going to take discipline if I ever want to end this nasty cycle. I have to learn that I am one person, not two, and that I have limits to what I can do in a single day, or a single week.

Part of the problem, as I mentioned in my reply to Bruce’s comment was that there seems to be this part of me that has “hidden” strength. But that “hidden” strength isn’t what you think it is. It isn’t the Lord. Rather, it is me fooling myself, or at the least, not being willing to admit that this so-called hidden strength is non-existent.

I have always considered myself strong, able to do more than the normal person. I have considered myself able to work longer, even when everyone else is tired, and that, my friends, is pride. Because the truth is, my strength wanes when everyone else’s wanes, but my ego doesn’t want to admit it, so I push myself farther, and I call THAT discipline.

Maybe it is discipline in one sense, but in another, it is utter foolishness. The discipline I need is to stop listening to my ego talking. My ego would kill me to make me look strong, wonderful, better than most, smarter than everyone, and holier than thou. My ego would sacrifice my life for that fake pearl, and would leave instructions for the next of kin to be sure and remember to put it all on the tombstone.

So weariness can be caused by a lack of rest, but in my case, it is caused by pride. And if I continue to listen to my pride, my pride will kill me. Yet I WANT to listen to my pride. It says things I like to hear about me. It takes care of me when I think no one else will. My pride says he is my friend, and all signs seem to say t is true.

Except…except, it isn’t.

My pride is not me, it is an imposter. And that imposter, although a part of me, has run my life for far too long. This weariness will not change unless I do something about it. And I can’t fight it directly, because getting more rest only makes me believe I am actually solving the problem.

The trouble with thinking like that is the same trouble we have with a twenty-four hour day. How many of us silently believe we’d have more free time to do what we want if we had, say…twenty-eight hours in a day? I think on the surface, many of us would say that is true.

But it’s not.

Getting more time doesn’t solve the problem that I don’t manage the time I have well already. Giving me more time is like giving the government more money because they don’t have enough; the problem is, they’ll spend that money unwisely also. The cure isn’t more time; the cure isn’t more rest. The cure is gaining control again of the time I have, which I once had.

It seems like a backdoor fix if you look at it on the surface, but all disciplines are that way. Disciplines don’t fix us immediately, and they do not solve a problem directly. They help us manage what we have been given, so that what we have is not wasted.

The discipline required in this case isn’t to get more rest. It is to understand that I don’t have to do it all in one day, or one week. And it isn’t even a physical work issue, although it certainly seems like one on the surface. But if all our problems could be solved with what we see on the surface, we would all have life figured out by now.

This is a pride issue, and there is only one way to fix that; through the backdoor. My pride, the imposter, isn’t going to give up easily, or without a fight. I don’t learn to drop my pride just because I know Jesus; it never works that way.

So…I have problems with pride. Surprised?

I am not. But Jesus is already working in me to guide me through this, and your remembrances of me have helped more than you know. Just asking for that help is not easy for me. My pride is saying, right now, “You should be able to figure this out on your own.”

And it sounds sooooo true, doesn’t it?

But it's not.



I am unashamedly asking for your prayers and good will.

I am burnt out, physically. Just plain tired. The only thing that has kept me sane recently is writing….and God, of course.

God willing, I’ll still be sane a month from now.

I have forgotten to send birthday cards to brothers, sisters, and nephews, and overall, I feel overwhelmed right now. There was a moment this afternoon, just a moment as I was walking through the jobsite where I suddenly felt like crying, just shedding silent tears.

Oh…I am feeling sorry for myself because I am tired. I’ll get over it, but at that moment, it seemed as if this was going to last forever. Just one moment, how do these moments get the best of us?

Anyway, I am tired. Physically, and maybe even mentally. I want rest, and this weekend, I’ll “schedule” some in. Maybe copious amounts. At any rate, I’ll be better next week, but for this week, I am running on fumes. Let’s hope I make it.

God…I am weak…what can I say?



I have a chance Friday after work to meet with the guys who have been working with me on this project (of which I will one day soon post pictures, possibly, probably….maybe).

Where are we meeting?

Why, at a bar, of course.


“You can’t meet the guys at a bar, Tom! You’re a …a…CHRISTIAN!”

“Yes, I can meet them at a bar, and I will.”

Just as I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, I can also do this. Yes, some things are not advisable for me to do, but I hardly think going to a bar with a group of guys is one of those “unadvisables”.

After all, how else am I going to get to know them better? How else are they going to get to know me? And how are they going to see Jesus in me if they do not ever get to see me beyond work?

“You could tell them about Jesus at work, Tom”

“Why, yes, I could, and I could spend hour after hour of the owner’s money doing so.”

Guess what that would make me?

You guessed it; I would be a thief if I did such a thing. Not to mention, I would be wasting my own time and money as well, so let’s add “fool” to the list for good measure. So, I can steal from the owner in Jesus’ name…wow! Is it okay if I do that?

Or, I can be honest, do my job, let them do theirs, and meet them afterwards in a setting that is far more befitting the chance of talking and possibly getting to know them better.

“But a bar, Tom?!!!!!”

“Yes, a bar”.

Why not? That is where they feel comfortable, and it is where they will be. If I wait for them to come to me, they will never come, or they will come and feel awkward, which is hardly an excellent setting to get to know them in. And, since they are not the “church-going” type, I can hardly invite them to my church.

No, I think this one time, the church is coming to them, and we are going to have fun.

What’s that you say? Church isn’t supposed to be fun? If it isn’t, then what kind of a stiff are we worshipping?

Jesus is alive! We should celebrate His life, and remember His death. I am doing so with three of the best men I have ever met, and none of them is a “Christian”. Can’t wait!



I took my daughter out to lunch today at Perkins. Yes, we have those here in the great upper Midwest.

It wasn’t any big deal, no one was playing the trumpet for us, and we weren’t celebrating any special day. We just went out to eat, and talked. It was wonderful.

I love these moments with my daughter, Ally.

I love getting to know her, and believe me , because she is thirteen, knowing her keeps changing, because she keeps changing. She is such a young lady, and yet, there is so much of the child in her still.

I long for the days when she ran through the grass and took a digger, bouncing right back up and not caring that the fall she just took would have killed most adults. I long for the times when Ally would climb into my lap and snuggle close. Those days will never return.

But I love these days, too. These are the days, as were those, when my relationship with Ally teaches me more about my relationship with Abba than anything else; more than the Bible, more than books, more than praying, more than any activity I could engage in. Yes, even more than blogging. (Imagine that!)

You see, whenever I talk with her, I am so very aware at times that what I am saying to her is exactly what God is trying to say to me. I don’t really know how He does it, but when that moment comes…and I realize it as such, it’s like EUREKA!! I get it!

As I watch Ally grow up, I also come to realize another truth about Abba. I see in Ally that I love her just because; because she is my daughter? Yes, that, too. But because she is young? Yes. Because she is good? Yes.

But none of those things means more to me than the one very evident fact in front of me in my daughter.


I could love her for many reasons, but the fact that she is lovable seems to be screaming at me right now, and I am beginning to see it in others.

God loves us because He is love, this is true. But because He is love, I am finding out that He created us as we are, so that we are lovable, too. So if anyone ever asks you why God loves you, maybe just tell them…because I am lovable.

Can you see it? Is there anyone you know who is lovable, too?



“Tom, although I want my life to be a reflection of God's goodness the truth is that often I find, like Paul, that what I would do I don't and what I wouldn't do I do. In other words my flesh still sometimes does it's thing in spite of my desire to live a life that glorifies God. But I have realized that by admitting my shortcomings, accepting them as unavoidable humanity, and trusting Father to always love me and see me as acceptable in His sight, because of Jesus, that I can be at peace even when I fail. That hasn't been easy for me. I've struggled a lot with poor self image issues. But just knowing that Father always loves me, even, if He must forgive me 7 x 70 a day, and that I am safe in Him, apart from what I do, is causing me to love Him, and others and even myself more. Just my 2 cents bro. Love ya”

Steve from Tableservers left this comment at my last post (Abstain From Every Form Of Evil), and I wanted to be sure and share it with you all because I doubt I could have said it better than this.

Bruce over at YBMT often talks about doubt and fear being relationship stoppers, and again, I agree. These guys are honest about their walk, and gentle with those who disagree with them. As Bruce has also mentioned on his blog, we don’t always agree on every issue, but I think when it comes to it, we agree on love.

For me, this walk with Christ has never been about fear and doubt. I am learning that I am very blessed to have been removed early from that fear and doubt that gets in the way of a sound relationship with Abba. I mentioned in a comment recently that before I knew Yeshua, I had all the fear and doubt I could stand. Since I have known Him, I have not felt it, at least not where it concerns God’s love for me. That one issue has been settled for me for about six years now.

But I do have doubts. What are those doubts? They always revolve around me. Am I smart enough? Am I good enough to do this project? Do I know enough? Am I rude? Am I arrogant? Can I work well with others (honestly, if you only knew how much I doubt that about me, as nearly every early report card I received had the mark “Does not work and play well with others” on it).

As you can see, I have lots of doubts. But as Steve said so well, “trusting Father to always love me and see me as acceptable in His sight, because of Jesus, that I can be at peace even when I fail”. To me, having this love in my life for the last six years has been the one thing that has kept me alive.

I lost nearly everything five years ago: wife, job, daughter half of the time, house, cars, respect for myself, pride, and position. At a time in my life when I was supposed to be building upon the foundation I had laid, and building a mansion I might add, I was broken in half. If not for the absolute certainty of God’s love for, and redemption of me, I would have ended my life long ago.

So I find myself in a place that many believers have not yet been. And the funny thing is, I was there immediately. Maybe it was the fact that I was broken completely that led me to trust in God so much so that even to give the energy to draw my next breath took incredible amounts of faith in God. And not that this faith was my own, I am very, very well aware of my memories of that time, and I know that a Hand not my own was holding me up.

To remember these things sometimes brings tears to my eyes, recalling the rivers of tears I cried, and the shame of having lost my wife to another man. But this “experience” I have because of that time is priceless. I have something that many followers of Christ do not have; I have actual memories and experiences of leaning on Him completely, with all my weight. And never once did He let me down. I had nothing, I lost everything, and he kept me safe, fed, secure, and yes, at times filled with joy.

Many people have experienced what I have experienced. But I am finding out that for whatever reason, not many people remember it the way I do. There is only one explanation; God is with me, and it is His choice that I remember these things, and that I have such peace in His presence.

I am not a good man. I know that. So if you are looking for some reason as to why God would have blessed me so, you won’t find it in me.

But I will say this;, the same God who is so physically alive for me is also physically alive for you. He is not distant to me, He isn’t some spiritual, far off wise guru to me. At times, I attempt to distance myself from Him, but with regards to His part of our relationship, He is Abba. He is so very real! I wish you could spend just five minutes in my mind, ignoring the other garbage in there, and see what I see of God. From what I hear, not many feel that way about Him, that He is so real, so very, very real.

Doubt God? Never. He just never let me doubt Him. If it had been left up to me, I’d doubt His love for me, too. But for some reason, He did not let me doubt. I don’t consider that to mean I am “strong” in faith. In fact, from my warped point of view, I think it means He keeps the very weak especially close, because we doubt so easily.



I have been wondering what drives me. In other words, what are my desires? And, is there anything I can do about them?

Paul talked an awful lot about subduing the flesh, of making the flesh his slave, and I wonder, how did he do that, without becoming legalistic? Was it all in his head? Was he a strict ascetic? Was he balanced? Did he sway to one end more than the other?

One thing I do know is that my flesh sometimes desires things that are evil. Other times, it desires things that while not necessarily evil, are certainly not good for me. How does one deal with this? And by the way we deal with this, is our walk with Christ defined? Am I “weak” if I do not subdue my flesh? Am I “strong” if I do?

I am learning lately that maybe it isn’t about me. Not that I didn’t already know that grace isn’t about me, and that this world isn’t about me, but that what I do in this world isn’t about me either. I am learning that I live at the mercy, at the good pleasure, of God. How then could anything I do be possible except by His allowance of me at all?

Try coming to that understanding. It takes time, believe me, and it takes a good sound beating, too. No, I have not beaten my flesh; rather, it is my ego which has been beaten, repeatedly. But then I see Paul say, “abstain from every form of evil”, and I wonder, how is that even possible without “trying”?

I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t possible without trying.

I have come to the conclusion that even though Christ’s work on the cross is complete in its spiritual fullness, that fullness pertaining to our flesh, especially with regards to our place in time, is not complete. In other words, we live in vessels that remain unredeemed. It is only by knowing this that I can read Paul saying, “Abstain from every form of evil”, and know that Paul is not a legalist. And yet I can also read it, and know it is possible for us to do.

Does effort then make us legalists? No more than not making an effort doesn't make us legalists. What make us legalists aren’t our actions, rather, it is our attitude toward our actions that has the capacity to make us a legalist.

I admit, there are times I have thoughts the likes of which I believed were gone a long time ago. Thoughts only a hot blooded man can have. When they appear, I am shocked, dismayed, and left wondering sometimes, “where the hell did that come from?” Of this I can assure you, if I do not make the effort to place that thought in the trash where it belongs, that thought will soon drag me with it, not necessarily kicking or screaming. So how can I abstain from doing what the desire is telling me, if not by effort?

I can pray, I can believe, I can hope, I can think other thoughts, I can do all manner of things. But which one of these things isn’t an active thing? If I believe, isn’t it actually me reminding myself of faith which occurs? Because merely believing didn’t stop that thought, did it? So merely believing isn’t going to destroy that thought either. That thought doesn’t belong to faith, to the Spirit, it belongs to my flesh. If I do not take this thought away from my flesh, and claim it as Christ’s, what will happen?

I will tell you what my experience is, and maybe yours is similar, and maybe not. My experience is that if I do not take this thought and subdue it, this thought will in turn take me, and subdue me. Either way, SOMETHING has to happen.

So if I make an effort to abstain from lusts and desires and from evil, what does that make me? Am I a follower of Christ? Or am I under Law? How can I be under law just because I react to something which isn’t good? Is a reaction a law? After all, SOME reaction WILL occur. I will either follow the lust or desire, or I will not. How can not following the desire make someone a legalist?

In fact, isn’t this the very premise under which Paul can say “Abstain from every form of evil” and still not be legalistic? I know this, abstaining is a verb, an action formed from a reaction to a desire.

I think it’s best then for me not even to worry about whether doing something is legalism, or placing myself under the law again, because the fact is, I HAVE to react in some way. Even “ignoring” the desire is a reaction. There is never a time when we are just “being”. We are always reacting to something. So then, it isn’t our reactions that make us under law or not. Rather, it is our attitude towards our reaction that places us in life.

I think this is true. If it is, then “trying” to abstain from evil could never be legalism, for if it could, every one of us would be a legalist, and we wouldn’t even know it, nor have a choice in the matter. Maybe that’s why grace is so important, because it helps us also to see that the efforts we make to “be good” aren’t necessarily bad. I think, possibly, maybe, grace has the power to ordain our efforts as something good, if we just stop trying to judge everything ourselves.



I had to lay off a young man today, because there wasn’t currently enough work on the jobsite for him to do. I hate it.

I don’t ever know what to do, or how to do it. I have a choice as to who I lay off, and the three guys I have working with me right now are all guys I want to hang onto. They all work hard, and get along, which is rare. Usually, workers get along, but don’t work hard, or work hard and don’t get along. I have been blessed by this rare combination for two months, and today, it started to end.

Young Aaron, whom I mentioned in a previous post, recently enjoyed the birth of his son. He also experienced being laid off today, and I don’t know what else I could have done. Of all the people who could be laid off, he is the one who can least afford it, yet the other two guys, Jimmy the Doorframe, and Casey both have more experience, have been with me longer, and are better able to work unsupervised. Aaron is a raw talent, with very, very little experience, and while I enjoy teaching him, when things slow down, the job can’t afford to have someone who needs supervision and teaching, it’s as simple as that.

And yet I can’t help but feel like all I really did was make a business decision. A good business man would applaud me for removing my emotions from the decision, but somehow, I don’t feel like my emotions have been removed. I feel like I’ve just misplaced them momentarily. And…it sucks.

What is he going to do? How is he going to support his family? I am told by some that it isn’t my problem, and I want to tell them, “eff off, what do you know about this?”

I was about to ask a stupid question just now. I almost asked, “How do you learn to not care?”

Know what? I DON’T WANT TO KNOW THAT! Even if caring feels this awful, I don’t want to know how to do this job without caring. I’d rather be dead.

Aaron doesn’t deserve to be laid off, and I wish I could keep him, I wish I had a friend who I could call and say, “Hey, I got a guy….got anything for him?” And that friend would answer, “Yeah, send him over”.

Ahh, but am I just trying to make myself feel better?

All I could do this afternoon was pray for Aaron. I think I even challenged God. I know, a good evangelical Christian never, ever tests God.

Guess what, He can handle it.

I just told God that I know Aaron has faults, and I know his “lifestyle” isn’t what some would call “deserving”.

But he’s deserving to me! I think he deserves to work, to be able to support his family! I don’t care what he does wrong! Hell! I do wrong every freaking day!


Please? God, please?



Just because he has no tears does not mean he isn’t crying.

Just because she has never called you does not mean she doesn’t want to talk.

Even if you never remember the lonely, they still exist.

If you close your eyes and pretend they aren’t there, they probably won’t bug you, but they will still be there.

In this fifth installment of my intimate portrait of Jesus, I can talk about something I am very familiar with. Jesus is a friend to the lonely. Are you?

I won’t use bible verses to write this post, and for some, that might mean the things I have to say here won’t be “biblical”. Good! Ignoring the lonely isn’t biblical either, and when is the last time anyone was so concerned about our actions not being “biblical”?

Jesus is here, with me, always. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t shake Him loose, and believe me, there are times I have tried. Now, do you want to know how hard it is for me to shake someone who ignores the lonely loose? It’s easy.

If I were to ask a room full of people (Jesus amongst them) whether anyone in there knew at least five lonely people, maybe one or two hands would raise, and Jesus’ hand would be one of them. If I were to then ask if anyone in that room actually gave a damn about the lonely, every hand in the room would shoot up instantly.

Next question; “When is the last time anyone here went out of their way to visit the lonely?” Only one hand would raise, and His answer would be, “Well, there was that one time two thousand years ago or so…when I died for the lonely. Since then, I haven’t really had to go out of my way, as I am always with them anyway.”

As I look around the room, I see faces I recognize, people who might know me, and they are clueless that I get lonely. Want to know why? None of them ever bothers to ask. And yet as we all know, this is a room where every hand will raise when asked if they care about the lonely.

I have a best friend named Brett, and he truly cares. His wife does too. Beyond that, if I do not make it known I get lonely sometimes, no one cares enough to ask.

This isn’t a pity party, for I am not lonely tonight, which is the best night to write this post. No, this is simply the truth.

Jesus is here, when I am filled, and when I am not. He is here when I am surrounded by people, and He is here when I am not. No man or woman can be with the lonely all of the time, but isn’t it surprising how “all the time” turns into “none of the time”?

It’s time for me to learn about the new people in our church, and in my neighborhood, and in my city. I am going to find out who is lonely. I used to know, as our church was not all that big, but one by one, each lonely person I knew has seen their lives become filled again with people and hopes. Of the group of ten or so that I knew, I am all that remains of the lonely.

So it is time for me to go out again into the places where the lonely people reside, find them, and be a physical Jesus to them until someone can be there for them more often, or all of the time. It is time for me to do it, because no one else will.

Jesus is a friend to the lonely. He doesn’t write theological treatises, He doesn’t memorize bible verses, and He doesn’t tithe. What kind of a Christian is that?

The kind of Christian the lonely need.



I am wondering about what I have been writing lately. For that matter, I am wondering about what most Christian bloggers have been writing about. Further that, I am wondering what most Christian authors, including the well known ones, have been writing about.

Is it just me, or do we all want to be experts at “knowledge”? Strike that. I don’t necessarily want to be an expert. I just naturally default to that position, as if “I know”, know what I mean?

A thought occurred to me yesterday as I was driving my new-used truck. I wondered how we can seem to know so much about God, and our faith, and yet how we seem to have little or none of the power that comes with the Kingdom. And so I brought that thought up when I was in silence with Abba. Here’s what we came up.

I will talk in the first person, because really, I shouldn’t speak for you all.

I am far more interested in knowledge than I am in practical living. By “practical living”, I mean, as far as a believer goes, I am an infant. Yet I want to discuss the deeper “truths” of our faith as if I have been, or am a mature follower of Christ, which I am not. I go so far with this as to disdain real love so that I can talk about love instead.

There is one statement Paul made once which sticks in my mind. He said, “The Kingdom of God does not consist of words, but of power.” The Kingdom I have lived in mostly consists of words, and I suspect that in some measure, it will always consist of a few words, for I am a man who loves to write and think.

I don’t think God hates me because I talk about the deeper things of Christ. But I do think He has a better plan for me than to keep me here, where I do not understand even the most basic truths about God. If there is one thing I do know, it is that God is a God of action, and I believe He would use me and this big body He gave me for something, rather than have me sit around and talk about doing something.

My problem isn’t words, rather, it is that I have little experience about what I am talking. I would suspect this is true for just about every Christian blogger, and just about every Christian author; yes, even the well known ones.

I say this not to indict anyone, I just consider it to be the truth. Have you ever written a book? I have, even though it was never published. Let me tell you something, it takes TIME to write a book, and some of these well known Christian authors write so many books, that it is very, very hard for me to believe they actually have time left to practice what they preach. In fact, I would say I find it impossible to believe.

What you do with your time is yours to decide, as it is for the well known. But what I do with my time is going to be more than just words. I would rather die than be nothing more than words. I guess you could say this faith in me is moving once again, to a living faith, not just a faith of words without experience.

I may not talk about “doctrines” very much anymore, and even now, I almost regret the talking I have done today about these things. Please do not mistake me, I don’t think it’s “wrong” to do so. But I do wonder, are we substituting experience with words, because words are easier to do?

I have no idea where this life is taking me. I have no idea how to proceed. But I trust that God does know how, and that makes all the difference to me. A part of me feels almost sad in a way; I feel as though an old friend is dying. Maybe that old friend really was words, and maybe those words I typed, and will type are a friend I leaned on when I didn’t know what else to do, or didn’t want to do anything else.

I don’t know.

I do know that what I have talked about are things I think I know, but I have no way of telling. It is possible that living out this life of faith, and this life of power in the Kingdom of God will help me understand the things I talked about better. But it is also possible that the road I am on will show me I was wrong about a great many things.

This blog will probably become a lot more personal, and that intimate portrait of Jesus I was painting will probably become just as personal as well. I think God would have me be honest, and that I would walk and not run, especially since this road is so new to me.

But I will say this, freedom isn’t what we have been led to believe it is. It isn’t the right to do anything we want anytime anywhere, or even the right to do nothing. It’s something far more than that. I am setting out to discover what God will reveal about that, and a whole bunch else, too.

Care to come with?



Tonight’s post may open your eyes a bit, to an untruth that currently floats easily through the body of Christ. It is the untruth that discipline is a bad thing.

I am only writing tonight because writing is a discipline for me. I make every attempt, every day, to write something. It may be a story, a poem, some thoughts, or a post for this blog. Nevertheless, I write something, and it is a discipline.

I have found that although I sometimes have to force myself to write (thus, the word “discipline”), I have also found that if I do not write, I am miserable. What should I do?

Writing doesn’t always come easy to me. Most of the time, it does, but there are times that forcing the words onto the pages are like pulling my own wisdom teeth. You can imagine the agony of thoughts floating in my head that don’t seem to come out right, or maybe just don’t want to come to the page at all. Now, imagine the agony of me never making the effort to force those words to the page.

I can tell you from vast experience that if I don’t force those words out, they bounce around in my head, and literally drive me nuts. I am often irritable, and rude when I don’t write. Why would this ever be so? I’ll tell you why. It is because I discovered a long time ago that my thoughts need to be worked out, they need to be thought about, chewed, and finally written out, hopefully in some coherent form. Whatever the result, my thoughts have to come to the page. If they do not, I will be miserable, and what’s worse, I know the only thing that helps me avoid this misery is to write.

It is discipline to force myself to do something I don’t always look forward to. But the results of that discipline are a clear mind, and a jolly soul. You cannot (maybe you can?) imagine the joy I find in writing, most of the time. Even when I have to force myself to write, like tonight, halfway through, I am immersed in joy, as my hands fly over the keyboard in an attempt to make the electrical impulses inside of my brain into words that communicate my “thoughts”.

I feel no guilt if I don’t write, mind you, I just feel miserable, crabby, irritable, whatever you want to call it. In this case, discipline is a good thing. Oh, I know, my writing doesn’t earn me favor with God, or earn me brownie points in heaven. But it does something almost as good, it exercises my mind, and helps me work through many things I don’t understand, and other things I have finally understood. This discipline is something I have chosen to do, and the results of it are obvious.

There is another “discipline” I have returned to. It’s called solitude, absolute silence, and a visit with God in my mind. For a while, I put this “discipline” off, I put it on the shelf. Guess what? That’s right…I was miserable without it.

Some people make their disciplines their idol, they worship their discipline. But for me, a good healthy dose of forcing myself to do something I wouldn’t “just let happen” is a good thing.

Look, if I am miserable because I decide to not face God, to stay away from silence and aloneness, then what good is “freedom” from discipline? To me, it is a man-made prison, and it is man made exactly because we stay away from that which has the capacity to bring us joy.

Writing brings me joy, but if I don’t drag my butt off the couch some evenings, that writing is left on the shelf, inside of my head, and I am left feeling bottled up and miserable, not having expressed my heart and mind in the best way I know how. Who’s fault is it if I find myself to be miserable because I didn’t do what I knew would in the end bring me joy? The same is true for solitude.

Each and every person is made differently, I understand. But that also means that each and every person has certain things, maybe even gifts, which require work and effort to use. You might even call that work and effort “discipline”. But keep quiet about that part, because otherwise the freedom police will come knocking and call you a legalist. They do not realize that they are the ones in prison, keeping themselves from the joy of spreading their wings and flying, all in the name of freedom from “discipline”.

If you have to “try”, it isn’t freedom, they say. I wonder what Paul would have said about that. If you need to know what he would have said, check out the impressive list below.

Found in Romans:

“I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.

So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,”

“Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.” (Paul talking about being in subjection to governing authorities, nevertheless, his choice of words is “it is necessary”)

Found in 1st Corinthians

“Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.” (huh? Surely Paul would never say such a thing)

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

“The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” (Must?)

“To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;” (If you don’t think this took immense discipline, please recall that Judaism of Paul’s time was ALL about discipline)

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” (Paul’s explanation of his apostleship, as compared to the others)

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (Yes, Paul REALLY did use the words “let us cleanse ourselves”)

Now I know the temptation to say I used these “verses” out of their context is strong, but if you actually do the digging, and find where these words are recorded, you will quickly see that what Paul was saying with all of these things comes to bear with the idea of discipline. So , we know some of what Paul would say. I encourage you to find the rest, and see if it agrees with current Christian thought, and its complete disdain towards asceticism.

There is most certainly a difference between us and Paul, but that difference isn't greater faith, a greater Lord, or a greater hope, for we have all of those same things Paul had. What we do not have is Paul's discipline, his self control. Some will tell you that this is the work of the Spirit. I am telling you, self control is the fruit of the Spirit, and as with all fruit, if we do not eat of it, how can we ever expect to gain sustenance from it? Why are today's believers STARVING themselves of the fruit of the Spirit for fear of legalism? Don't we know that those who starve die?



What is the difference between Paul and us? We all have the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same hope, yet the results of our lives are different. I know of no man who can boast that the results of his life bore as much fruit as Paul’s.

"Paul says to us, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ" 1 Cor. 11:1). He says, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:9, ). We then, within our modern view of life, busily set to work explaining how, of course, we are following him as he follows his Lord. Don't we believe and say the same things he did? But our lives are not like his life at all. We do not do the things he did. Yet it is surely Paul's practice that alone explains his marvelously victorious life in the easy yoke of Christ, for he in faith adopted his Lord's overall style of life. And as he did, he experienced the upholding of God's grace in it. This is the key to the understanding of Paul's life, teachings. and effect on history."

Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines.

So what is the difference? See how Paul told the recipients of his letters to practice what they saw him do, what they learned from him, what he told them. And he, in his part, followed the example of Christ.

What was the example of Christ? Was it to do nothing? If it was, then we are all damned.

Christ mentioned something about the greatest life as being one where a man is the servant of all. But to be a servant, one has to do something. He certainly cannot “rest”, and expect to become a servant. A man must move to be a servant.

I know, I know, there are those who will say, “Must?... sounds like a bunch of legalism to me.” It may well sound like legalism, but I assure you, it is not. It is simply the way the Kingdom of God works. Paul said a man reaps what he sows. If a man sows nothing, he will surely reap nothing. Can anyone deny this as a basic truth of life?

Look, legalism be damned, if you want to reap self-control, which was a strong message of Paul’s, then something needs to be sown. Let’s UNDERSTAND that grace is already received here, shall we? Now what? Nothing? Well, then you’ll reap nothing; you certainly will not reap self-control.

But can we initiate our own discipline, our own self-control. No, faith ignites all of our effort, and what I see in Paul was that he was completely abandoned to his former way of life, BEFORE he practiced what he saw in his Lord. He was sold out, and that selling out came at a great cost.

Paul was a Pharisee, advancing beyond his peers in his religion; he was going to be someone great. How much does it cost to throw all of that away? Did Paul have to try to do it? Or did it come easy, without pain and without sweat? Anyone who believes it came easily certainly must have missed Paul talking about the trials he faced, the beatings, and basically penniless life he lived for the cause of Christ. It cost everything, and Jesus Himself said, “I will show Paul how much he MUST suffer for the sake of my name.”

Paul MUST suffer? That sounds like legalism, doesn’t it?

Was Jesus a legalist?

Paul abandoned everything, and it was suffering, it took great effort, yet all along, he knew, he believed, that it was Christ and not himself, who gave him strength. The difference between Paul and us isn’t greater faith or effort. The difference between Paul and us is greater effort made in faith. Everything Paul did, he believed the Lord was already doing. And so to him, to make the effort wasn’t the goal. Rather, the effort was the road that was traveled to see the result of what he had sown, of what Christ had sown in him. Without that effort, he wouldn’t see the result, someone else would. And we know one thing; Paul desired to see the results. That is a common theme in most of his letters.