Thursday, December 31, 2009


“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep, and they know me.” - John 10:14

I have these joint issues that won’t seem to go away. I’ve got balky knees and bad shoulders. I’ve had, to date, one knee surgery and two shoulder surgeries. It’s bothersome really because I never feel 100%. My problem is that I’m a 100% effort sorta guy. And I’m really into fitness and I am extremely active. Yet, there are days when I can’t do what I want, what I feel I’m capable of because of these issues. I’ve prayed that God would heal me from these things. He is, after all, the Great Physician, right? I mean, I’ve really fervently prayed for healing.

And God seems to be ignoring me. I have to admit; this has really pissed me off. ‘Why won’t You heal me,’ I asked over and over again. Nothing. Silence. Then, I started bitching at Him about it. I’m reminded when I do this that the apostle Paul had a “thorn” in his flesh also. Maybe, I thought, my “thorn” is to keep me humble cause I tend to get full of myself at times.

Recently, I was meeting with some fellow warriors. We were discussing John chapter 10. In this chapter, Jesus refers to himself as ‘shepherd’ a lot. Read it, you’ll see. So we were talking about this and my buddy Tom tells this story. He said he had heard this in a sermon. Listen to this and let it soak in.

Apparently, some sheep have a tendency at times to wander off. When this happens over and over, the shepherd will break one of the lamb’s legs. Then the shepherd will set the leg back and, while the leg heals, the shepherd will carry that lamb. Once the leg is healed, that lamb will not leave the shepherd again. I just sat there, stunned. A light came on in my heart. I could hear His voice in my heart saying, “Are you paying attention? Look at me, I have something to show you.” That’s when He told me what this was all about and walked me through it.

It’s all about the grace of the Shepherd. See, to break a lamb’s leg sounds cruel to everyone but a shepherd. The point is to teach the lamb that, apart from the protection and provision of the shepherd, there is only danger and death. I’m not saying that God is gonna break your leg or give you balky knees to make you more dependent on Him.

What I am saying is that He may allow you to know disappointment, despair, pain and discomfort. This is for our good.

Parents discipline their children out of love, to correct improper behavior. God allows life to punish us at times, cause us pain for a reason. That reason? So that we, the sheep, understand that our provision and protection is in the presence of the Shepherd. When we understand that, we recognize Him as “the good shepherd” and we run back to the fold, back to His arms.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Under a cold and barren sky,
full with the moon,
you come.
Crashing, shattering my solitude
with visions of joy,
Squeezing my soul
with new shades,
bright Dreams.
Powerless before you,
stunned by your touch,
I am undone.
In my dreams a thousand times,
I have longed, wept,
And then...
You come.
Breathless with your laughter,
haunted by your pain,
aching to give a love yet known;
Weeping with surrender before you.
Under a cold, clear moon
you come...
crashing into my heart
with visions of joy,
I am undone.


I really can’t stand those television preachers. You know, the ones who smile at you from their expensive suits and tell you God wants to give you stuff. Cars, houses, money, fame. I always thought that was a little weird cause I’ve never read that in the Bible anywhere. What I loathe so much about them is how fake they seem. Then I look at myself in the mirror and realize how fake I can be. Inevitably, we hear of some evangelist or pastor who falls. Or someone we know falls. And we are disappointed, disapproving. We shake our heads and say things like, “These people give Christianity a bad name.”

The thing I’m most convicted about and concerned about is this; what am I doing to turn people away from Christ? What in my life, in your life is giving Jesus a bad name? Not Christianity. Jesus. He is the standard bearer after all. Not your church or denominational label.


In the book or Romans, chapter two, Paul absolutely castigates the Jewish believers in Rome for their hypocrisy. In verse 1, he says, “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.” But, later is where it hurts and becomes personal for me. In verse 24 of the same chapter, Paul says this. “No wonder the Scriptures say, ‘The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.’”


How many of us who claim His name has turned someone away from Jesus because of how we live our lives, our judgmental attitudes, our unsolved hypocrisy? Jesus put it this way in Matthew 7: 3-5. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Isn’t it time we began to live our lives differently; with honor, integrity, grace, humility and love? If we claim the name of Christ, things should be different about our lives. It’s not easy for me either and I fail daily.

It might just be time for us to “put our money where our mouth is” in our own lives. It might be time for us to live the truth rather than just talking about it.

You live it. He will speak through you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep, and they know me…My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:11, 14, 27 (New Living Translation)

We all hear voices. Don’t look at me like that. You know you do. So do I. The question isn’t whether or not we hear those voices in your head. The question is: which voice do you listen to? Awhile back, I began to seek the voice that would guide me. It didn’t take me long to realize that the voice I was looking for was His.

The voice of God. The call of the Shepherd.

I had a friend ask me, “Yeah but how do you know it’s Him?” I said, “Well, I just know. I know in my knower, ya know?” Seriously, it’s a valid question. First of all, I think we must recognize that we are sheep in need of a shepherd, wandering souls looking for meaning. We must, secondly, know the Shepherd. It’s hard to know the Shepherd at times.

He’s the ghostly figure in the night standing watch over our hearts and minds, protecting us from the predators, leading us to life giving water. He’s the one we so often take for granted and the one who never takes us for granted.

You have to know Him before you can recognize His voice. Once you know Him, you know His voice. It’s already there, we just have to read it in His word, recognize its song in our heart and act on it. The Shepherd will never guide you where His word will not take you.

A perfect example of this was shown to me recently. Every year, my extended family gets together to go Christmas caroling. One of my cousins brought her young daughter this year. Quick hit here: my dad is an identical twin. It has bearing on this story. So, my uncle’s daughter, Lori, brought her daughter, Sadie. We were standing in my aunt’s living room, all of us talking simultaneously. Sadie, being held by Lori, saw my dad. She looked at him, turned her head and looked at my uncle. You could see the obvious confusion on her face. She kept looking back and forth between them with that ‘what’s goin’ on’ look on her face. My dad said, “You want to come to me?” and held his hands out. Sadie again looked back and forth between them. My uncle smiled at her and simply said her name. “Sadie.” I saw her eyes light up. She turned to the voice she knew, smiled and reached out her arms to her grandfather.

Isn’t this true of us? We are so confused so often. We are looking back and forth between our options, considering our lives, choices to be made. Which way do we turn, how do we know which way to go? Then, the Father speaks, our Shepherd calls. We turn and He welcomes us with a smile and open arms.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sons and Daughters

I'm sick of panty-waist believers. I was talking to someone recently and told them we as Christ followers needed to learn how to live out our glory. He said he didn't have any glory, that his marriage was a wreck, his kids were a mess, he hated his job and the pissing and moaning went on for several more seconds. I thought gee, maybe you should go jump off a bridge. Seriously, could we whine anymore? What hogwash, what crap, indeed what lies of satan!

Peep this. "So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord - who is the Spirit - makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image." - I Corinthians 3:18

This is our glory, that we have had the veil of satan's lies removed by Christ and we can reflect His glory. We act like we are defeated, beaten. Christians walk around like their world is coming to an end. Why are we accepting defeat; in our personal lives, in our churches, in our homes, in our walk with Christ? I see far too many believers with their heads down, mumbling their way through life. Stand up! Be bold! Was Jesus not bold? Are we not to follow His example? I'm not talking about beating people over the head with a bible or getting up in people's faces or being obnoxious. I'm talking about living lives of purpose, passion and joy because of who we are!

When you came to know Christ, the bible says you were made new. A new heart, a new identity. II Corinthians 5:17 says, "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" So why are we still living in defeat, like we've lost already? We haven't lost anything, we've already won! Hear the words of Christ from John 16:33. "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

Somewhere, along the way, when we met Jesus, when we came to know Him, He renamed us. Remember Jacob? He wrestled with an angel, with God. He met God face to face. God marked him with a limp and a new name. Israel. When you met Jesus, He marked you for glory, He gave you a new name. He now calls you sons and daughters of God! Did you hear me?! Sons and daughters!

Stand up! Live with the purpose of His glory made yours! This is the glory we have been created for; to be sons and daughters of God! Anything less is surrender, second best. Jesus calls us to more. Take heart, children of God, He has overcome!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All In

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ - Matthew 22: 37-39, New Living Translation

My brother and I taught my parents how to play poker last Thanksgiving. Not that my brother and I are any good at it but we were kinda chilling and we’re a card playing family so we thought why not. Turns out my mother is quite the card shark. She tries to look all innocent and confused. She’ll say, “Is this a good hand?” She says it with a smile while she cuts your heart out and takes all your chips.

While attending a retreat earlier this year, I heard one of the speakers use the analogy of poker chips. He talked about how some people will play and leave a couple of chips in their pocket just so they don’t walk away with nothing. In poker, this is not a bad idea. In life, you’re missing the point if you hold some back.

I think that was the point of what Jesus was saying here. To remind you of the story here, the religious types were questioning Jesus, wanting to try and catch him in an awkward moment to test him. So they asked what the most important commandment was. These verses in Matthew were Jesus’ reply. This is a matter of investment I think He was saying.

Notice Jesus says love with all; all your heart, soul and mind. All. Everything you got. Everything you are. Give until it hurts then give some more. Why would we hold back from God? Why wouldn’t we give all? What are we waiting for? What are we afraid of? He’s not going to hurt you. After all, He gave all for us. He gives all for us. I’m not saying our lives will be easy when we give all. Life is sometimes difficult and there will be pain. Look at Job, for goodness sake. But he didn’t waver. Job gave all and still worshipped God, even when all was taken.

Jesus loved so much that He gave His life, freely poured Himself out as the ultimate expression of Love. How could we think to give less?

This sense of giving should also be true of our relationships with other people. Jesus didn’t stop with just love God with all you got, He included everybody else too. Investing in other people hurts at times and it’s risky, let’s be honest. You will be hurt by others. But look at the reward. I promise you this. If we give to others, all we have in love, we will be rewarded. If in no other way, it’s good for your soul. Think about the last time you poured yourself out for someone. Didn’t that feel good? Didn’t that make you smile and give you that warm feeling? That was God’s way of saying ‘thank you’.

So, what are you holding back from those in your life? More importantly, what are you holding back from Jesus? Don’t keep that chip in your pocket. In life, in Love, in Him you can’t cash that in later. It’s now or never. All in.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I wanna move to Colorado and buy a Jeep. Or buy a Jeep when I get there or something. Seems to me Colorado would be so much cooler with a Jeep. You know, the whole living in the mountains, you gotta drive a Jeep and snow ski kinda thing. Or go back to Africa and do some great humanitarian works that will change the world and people will write songs about me.

I guess we all at times think the grass is greener somewhere else. We spend so much time wishing and dreaming of the other pasture, what’s over the fence that we don’t appreciate the value of the moment we’re in. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with dreaming. But too often we are so preoccupied with the future that we are absent in the now. There may be a reason for where you are and what you are doing or going through. I’m not always happy about it either but this, now is where God has you.

If anyone in the world had a reason to think the grass was greener or dream of a different place, it was Jesus. Think about it. He was from H-E-A-V-E-N. That’s about as good as it gets, right? He was God. And He came here. Not like Donald Trump here. Like a dirt poor carpenter here to a people who were in the bondage of Roman rule. Where He came from was the epitome of peace. He was perfection. Yet He came to a poor family, born in a stable. For what?


Only love could look at this side of the fence and envision greener pastures. Only love would come to poverty and Roman rule, get blisters on His hands from work, sleep in the dirt. Only love would die just for you and me, even if we were the only ones. Only love rose from the grave to prove it was stronger than hate, stronger than us.

Is the grass greener over there? No. So learn to enjoy where He has you, the time He spends with you. Hold on to it. When we dream of greener pastures, just remember that His love is enough. Love exists now for the hope of a brighter tomorrow.

Monday, December 7, 2009


The soft feel of dawn.
A cold, sacred hush
surrounds me, embracing
a new day.
Echoes of your laughter
hang softly in the air;
The sound of your smile
gently lights dark corners
of my soul.
To feel again...
I am overwhelmed by fresh
Hope, a new vision
of consequence, Love.
Understanding flits at the
periphery of joy, wraps its
unfamiliar warmth in bright
shades of new.
I heard Your laugh in my soul,
felt its push on my heart;
To believe in the possibility,
the calm quiet of surety.
I awoke in the soft feel of dawn
to find...

Jan. 20, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009


As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:3-5, 7, 10-11 (New Living Translation)

There’s really a lot packed into this story. Some popular opinion has it that this woman was Mary Magdelene, although the Bible doesn’t say so. Here’s a question I have; where was the dude? You know, the guy she committed adultery with. Where is he and why didn’t the religious types bring him to Jesus as well? Just curious.

This confrontation, this story is an astounding picture of the mercy of Jesus. This woman was, according to the Jewish law, to be executed for her crime. Aren’t some of us glad we don’t live under Old Testament Judaic law? Obviously the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus into something here. Why is it, I wonder, that so may religious leaders then, and today, seem to look for holes in Jesus, rules to govern, a salve for their insecurity? It’s like grace isn’t enough for them. But I digress. So, the Pharisees are trying to trap Him. But Jesus is a smart guy. And merciful. Think about this for a second. The Bible clearly teaches that God is perfect, without sin. In fact, He cannot stand to be near sin. Yet Jesus shows compassion when He doesn’t have to. We could all use some of what He’s having.

Jesus goes even further in speaking to the crowds after this incident in verses fifteen and sixteen of the same chapter. Hear the words of Jesus. “You judge me by human standards but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me.” Ok, did you get that, what Jesus said? “I do not judge anyone.” Contrary to what so much of the religious preach, Jesus does not judge us. He loves, He forgives, He shows mercy. This was an astonishing revelation for me. Not only am I forgiven, He does not and will not judge me. Later in the New Testament, Paul gets Jesus’ back. In Romans 8:1, Paul says, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Read that again. And again. Did you feel that? If you belong to Christ, there is no condemnation, you are not judged. Jesus has already taken that judgment for you when He went to the cross. How can this not set you free to live the life He has called you to? Amazing love! Here’s where our part comes in and this is important. Go back to the woman. What did Jesus say to her? “Go and sin no more.” In other words, stop being who you are not. You are forgiven, set free. Stop being who you are not and live the life He calls you to.

When we are confronted by the love of God, the mercy of a Being who is love, we have two choices. Accept His mercy, His love and live in it. Or, reject it by walking away and living in our own power, living in sin. Why would we not want to walk in His love, embrace His mercy, to “go our way and sin no more”? So I guess the question is; what’s your choice?

Behind door number one, the chains of our sin, a life lived apart from His love. Behind door number two, the love, mercy and life of freedom He offers. Your call but it sounds like a no-brainer to me. Just sayin’.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I was married once. We are divorced now for a multiplicity of reasons. It was my fault and it was her fault. It was both our faults. I did a lot of stuff wrong. I was actually sort of a prick on several, actually a lot of occasions. But, as I said, we both made mistakes and we paid for those mistakes. We paid in the sense that we lost our marriage and we paid individually because something was lost. Something vital, something precious.

I remember praying about it all the time and begging God to help me, show me how to save what I saw dying before my very eyes. Then she would say something that would piss me off or I’d just have a bad day and out would come “the real me”. Things that should never be said to someone you love were said and I’d feel like an ass, a failure. I was a failure at it. I prayed and prayed. Nothing. I heard nothing. Our marriage fell apart around us and a part of both of us died.

I was really angry at God for a long time about that. I ranted at Him, cried out to Him, blamed Him and said some pretty nasty things to Him. I didn’t get it. Over time, there has been healing from all this. Jesus and I had some pretty in-depth conversations and He had plenty to say. I mostly just sat there and took it cause it was all true and terribly humbling.

He reminded me that all the crap that had happened was because of choice. My choice. I could have chosen to respond differently, I could have chosen to love, I could have chosen to be kind…and a hundred other stupid, selfish decisions I made. But, He didn’t condemn me for my bad choices, He merely pointed them out to me so I could learn from them.

There are times when God will swoop in and rescue us. I really believe that. There are times when He parts the “Red Sea” that stands in our way, times when He allows us to walk on water. Then, there are times when He gives us over to our choices, to the consequences. There are times He won’t part the sea cause we decided we’d swim across cause we’re smarter than Him, times He lets us sink under the waves cause we take our eyes off Him just like Peter did. He’s a gentleman and we have free will after all. I think there are times when we’re flailing face down in two feet of water, screaming that we can’t swim. I picture Jesus as the lifeguard saying, “Hey dude, put your feet down and just stand up.” He might just let us learn the hard way. He does that. Tough love some call it. It wasn’t a fun lesson for me either. It’s still not.

So when we make dumb decisions, don’t be surprised when He doesn’t stop us or interfere. He’s not our butler and He doesn’t owe me or you anything. Sometimes He wants to teach us something in the midst of the storm. Sometimes love isn’t fun but true love, His love is always faithful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I’ve been involved in two police action shootings during my career so far. One I pulled the trigger, one I did not. To begin to explain all the emotions that go along with that would be entirely too difficult to do unless you’ve been there so I won’t bother. Strangely enough, the one I didn’t pull the trigger in sticks out the most in my mind. I was on the SWAT team at my former department in Alabama, except we called ourselves SRT, Special Response Team. We were a busy team, plenty of action for us adrenaline junkies and plenty of training to keep us on that sharp edge. During one of our operations, we were assisting the county sheriff’s office on an entry. As our team started in to the door, the suspect opened up on us. Three of the first four guys that made it through the door were wounded, two of them pretty badly.

It was total chaos. I could hear the guys who were hit yelling, “I’m hit, I’m hit. Medic, Medic!” I could hear Dave laying down covering fire and screaming at everybody to get out, get out! Automatic gunfire, people screaming on the radio…seemed like the firefight lasted forever but it was over in a matter of seconds. I helped with the wounded. I was carrying Craig to a car to get him to the hospital. He was bleeding really badly all over the place and, as you can guess, in a tremendous amount of pain. I remember talking to him, telling him he was going to be fine. He was hurt really bad. I remember helping get Dave in a car. He had gunshot wounds to his shoulder and head. I think he was probably calmer than I was. It was surreal. Every once and awhile, I still have dreams about that night. I still hear my friends screaming and the sound of gunfire, I still feel the blood on my hands, soaking my call out uniform, holding their shattered bodies.

I can look back on that now and see some lessons, the turns that Christ has taken on this really horrible night. It is a perfect illustration to me of community. I think too many of us try to live our lives as though we were an island. You know, the whole ‘I’ll do it myself attitude’, as if we were the friggin’ Malboro Man or something. Our culture, for whatever reason, only solidifies that attitude. But we cannot do this alone. This life, I mean. We cannot live it alone. We weren’t meant to be alone. God created us to live in community, with others. Living and doing life together.

Look at Jesus’ time here as an example. Sure, He spent some time alone. The Bible clearly states on many occasions that Jesus went out to be alone and pray in the wee hours of the morning or often all night. But the vast majority of His time was spent with others, his disciples mainly. Doing life, teaching, laughing, crying, eating, griping about their feet being sore. Just living life together. I am learning that I need community as well. This is not easy for me. I’ve always been sort of a loner and spent a lot of time alone. But, as I learn more about Christ, He puts others in my life, draws me closer to other people to show me that I cannot do this alone, that He loves me.

When you are wounded by life…and you will be, know this. Christ is there to hold you and stop the bleeding but there are times when there are others there as well, holding your shattered mind, soul and heart until Help comes. Hold on to Him, hold on to them, cherish those we have in our lives that make up our community.