Yesterday’s Embarrassing Events in the Nation’s Capitol

There is no point recounting the events of yesterday in our nation’s capitol. What a sad day in American history. One of the only highlights is that democracy prevailed by the end of the day, and this is due in large part to the actions of Vice President Mike Pence.

At least the Vice President was willing to clearly condemn the actions of the mob yesterday, as the President of the United States continues to hide and not step up to the plate to address the absolutely immature and wrong behavior of Americans.

I have heard of an absentee father; we are now witnessing an absentee president.

I desire that the President of the United States would take the loss like a mature adult, and lead this country for the few remaining days that he has left. True leadership is needed, and Mike Pence did a fine job yesterday, especially in his statement as the Senate convened.

I cannot help but to think of my son. We love to play games where one of us wins and the other loses. Winning is exciting and rewarding, and I let him rejoice when he does. However, the other lesson is not so easy: losing with a good attitude. How do I celebrate the other person and what they have accomplished even when I lose? How do I respect the person who has defeated me? How do I walk in humility and simply admit, “I have been beaten” when it occurs? These are questions that we all have to face. It is sad that the President of the United States is not setting a good example.

Was their voter fraud? I am sure. How could there not be? But to the measure of almost seven million votes (Biden with 81,283,485 of the popular vote versus Trump with 74,223,744 of the popular vote)? That is hard for me to believe.

I am grateful for the voice of Vice President Mike Pence yesterday. He was clear and firm. He condemned immoral and atrocious behavior. And he lead a process that ultimately finalized even his removing from office. That is an example that my kid can follow.

~An American citizen and dad

Note: Someone has just informed me that President Trump did condemn the mob’s actions on Twitter, but Twitter removed the post. However, this is not good enough. As the President, you can go on live TV at any point and condemn this in a more forthright manner. Twitter is not enough; we need our nation’s leader speaking out like Mike Pence did.

Church, Online Giving, & What Your Kids May Be Missing

I get paid once a month, and as a family, we give a certain percentage to our local church as our way of investing in what God is doing in, among, around, and through us in Edinburgh. Though I don’t believe that tithing is a command in the New Covenant (I agree with Wayne Grudem, Sam Storms, and several other evangelical theologians on this matter), I do believe in giving significantly, even sacrificially, to the local church, and find it hard to believe that anyone who claims to wholeheartedly love Jesus can choose to not give. After all, how does one love Jesus but not care for his future bride?


Anyway, I have had the following thought lately: if we are not intentional in our online giving to the church, then our kids will grow up never knowing that we are actually giving on a consistent basis. So, for all of us that are using online giving or paying at kiosks in local churches, we need to find creative ways to involve our children. It would be a shame to give as a family on a consistent basis but do so in a way that our kids never see it. As adults, we are called not just to obey Christ in our giving, but to also make disciples. When Jesus talks about giving in hiding in Matthew 6, I seriously doubt that he was talking about our kids, yet if we are not careful, that is exactly what we will do. They will never see us supporting the local church with our hard-earned money.

So give, but be in intentional, and allow your kids to see every dime!

Disconnecting: steps that I am taking

shutterstock_310726148I am thinking more and more about how my phone can be such a nuisance, or most honestly, a thief. I can check email when I sit down on the computer. This will make more more intentional. I seldom use my twitter account. The computer will work for that as well. I like Instagram, but don’t use it much. I will leave it on my phone for now. I already removed the Facebook app several weeks ago. I have not missed it a bit.
By taking things off of my phone, I am attempting to turn it into a phone that is not so “smart.” Use it for calls. Use it for texts. Use the Lothian bus app to go places. Use it for GPS when driving. But all of the rest? I want peace. And even more, I want to be more present when I am walking around, standing in queues, playing with my kids (which I usually do a good job of leaving devices on my desk), connecting and worshipping at church, talking with my wife, or going for a walk.
Let’s be honest: people are not lined up to see what is going on in my life. That is okay. Also, most people are only using social media to try and impress others. Insecure? Can we not feel important and valuable without letting others know what is going on? God is watching and he cares (Psalms 139 and Matthew 6:1-18 are great reflection points): isn’t that good enough?
I have just taken the following steps: 
  1. All email apps removed from phone. I will now have to check the computer for email which requires greater intentionality.
  2. Work email is also removed from my phone. I must use a computer for this also.
  3. I will use my blog more and social media less.
  4. Because I live internationally, I will keep my FB messenger app; it enables me to text my brother and other friends for free.
  5. I will not use social media platforms out of a motivation to “stay relevant.” If I want to use them in a way that is meaningful, fine. If I want to use them to communicate, that is okay. But I will not have it at my fingertips inviting me, out of guilt or a need of influence or a feeling that I will be a dinosaur if I disconnect, to use it when I do not want to.

Ahhhh, I feel better already. I have a feeling that this is the first of many blogs on this subject. I want to know the Lord, enjoy beauty, listen and talk with people, and not have the minute-by-minute interruptions that literally suck the “life” out of life.

Be less important: disconnect!

The Most Helpful Book I Read Last Year

As we embark on a new year, let’s do it with courage. What kind of courage? The courage to admit that no matter how much we pray, read our Bible, serve others and our local church, or give money, we might not be loving ourselves and others very well. We might be emotionally unhealthy. We might have emotionally unhealthy patterns of dealing with failure, disappointment, stress, people’s expectations, hurtful comments, family members, friends, and authority figures. You fill in the blank.

At our church here in Edinburgh, one of our pastors, Ben, introduced me to the author, Peter Scazzero. He has written several books, one of which I’m only 30 minutes from finishing. The title of the book is Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. The subtitle is even more illuminating: It’s Impossible to be Spiritually Mature While Remaining Emotionally Immature. I’ve enjoyed listening to the audiobook version as a nice break from reading with my eyes (I do plenty of that in my PhD studies). As a current pastor who admits to being an emotionally healthy person and pastor for much of his life, he writes about busyness, stress, the need for a Sabbath, how we hide behind religious activity, healthy ways of dealing with others, being honest with people including ourselves, noticing and admitting and working through unhealthy patterns of behavior that are learned from our families growing up, and so much more. He quotes authors such as Martin Buber, Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

In a nutshell, the book is an invitation to a spiritually healthy life that includes, at its center, emotional and relational health. The honest truth is that for some people, their “religion” has made them unloving, unkind, and horrible to be around. Part of the catalyst for me reading this book is that a few weeks ago, I looked myself in the mirror and confessed: “I am emotionally unhealthy in several ways.” It immediately released a sense of peace and freedom in my heart to pursue Jesus and his health in a new and more genuine way.

I highly recommend this book, especially now as the new year has dawned and we have a renewed hope that his year can be better than the last. Ultimately, emotionally healthy people can lead to emotionally healthy churches, and emotionally healthy churches are better positioned to bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ by their freedom to love well.

Some of his other books include:

10 Great Questions for the New Year

8B663066-E743-4531-B9F1-2BBEA10E2327In a couple of days, the sun will set on 2019 and 2020 will dawn. Whether it is rational or not, it is part of our experience in much of Western culture to feel a small dose of extra hope when we reflect on the year to come. We cannot help but think, “Who knows what good might come my way in the upcoming year?” There is nothing wrong or anti-Christian about having such thoughts. A renewed sense of hope is wonderful regardless of the avenue through which it comes (with a few exceptions, of course).

With this renewed sense of hope that things might improve, there is a window of time around the new year when people seem more willing to introspect, consider what changes need to be made, etc. We take stock. This is a good practice for Christians so long as this introspection is graciously and truthfully guided by the Holy Spirit. After all, introspection by itself can be quite brutal and hopeless. All of this to say, this is a time when we look ourselves in the mirror, make resolutions, and ask ourselves questions. The other day, I came across an article on and I was shocked by how good the questions were. Honestly, most questions and exercises around the new year seem lame and futile, but these questions were refreshing for their honesty and Christ-centeredness. Tonight, my wife and I are discussing the first one (and maybe the second) and will continue until we are done. I strongly encourage you to do the same with someone you care about. The questions are taken from the article titled, “Ten Questions for a New Year.” Here are the questions:

  1. What’s one thing you can do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
  2. What’s an impossible prayer you can pray?
  3. What’s the most important thing you could do to improve your family life?
  4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year?
  5. What’s the single biggest time-waster in your life, and how can you redeem the time?
  6. What’s the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
  7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently?
  8. What’s the most important way, by God’s grace, you will try and make this year different from last?
  9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
  10. What single thing can you plan to do this year that will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

I hope that you will take these questions to heart, share them with someone you care about, and allow the Holy Spirit to begin working in you as we prepare for another year.