Finding God in a Dark Bathroom

601631_10152708652060643_280127811_nHudson had to go pee last Sunday. So we ran quickly at church to the bathroom. The lights were off because we were closing up and leaving, so he said “Dad I scared”. I of course turned on the lights, but I thought while using a urinal would be a good time to have a little talk.

So I told him we don’t need to be scared with mom and dad around. Then I told him that even better than that, you always have God with you. He loves you, and is with you even if things are dark, so we don’t need to be scared.

I thought I had done a great job explaining things, but little did I know Hudson would do an even better job. He said to me, “Oh yes daddy, God, I know him. We have him at our house, I do devotions with him” and he ran out of the bathroom.

Nothing as a dad, or a pastor makes me happier than little moments like that. In case though you are picturing me and Hudson sitting down and reading the Bible together having deep prayer moments, that’s not what it’s often like. It’s often like what every interaction with busy boys is like: loud, sometimes difficult, and sometimes frustrating. Hudson is often jumping around, getting out of the covers, singing, making car noises, playing with a car he snuck into bed, and most often not looking at our devotional book. But we press through and do it every night in spite of the ups and downs.

And as Hudson ran out of that bathroom saying, “I know God, we do devotions” I realized something. That the very rhythm and action of trying to lead him into a deeper relationship with God is in fact leading him into a deeper relationship. The point isn’t perfection, it’s perseverance. We might not get it right every night, but the very act of trying is leaving an impact.

I tell you this, because I don’t know if you’re at all like me, but sometimes faith is tough. Sometimes following Jesus isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s a struggle. Sometimes our nighttime routines are beautiful and wonderful. Sometimes they seem like an utter disaster. Sometimes I wonder if me reading our devotions to a jumping boy making car noises is having an impact – if it even matters. But what I realized on Sunday was that sometimes just sticking it out is succeeding. Sometimes the very act of us not giving up leaves a bigger impact than we might imagine.

So even if tonight goes rough, I’m not going to quit doing devotions, praying, and following Jesus with my little boy because it’s making a difference. Because on Sunday after months of up and down devotions, I’m so proud to share with you that Hudson told me that he knows God, he’s at our house, and we all do devotions together.

Lent, Suffering, and Bonhoeffer

“Only the suffering God can help.”  Dietrich Bonheoffer.

1208573_69660271This is brilliant, true and full of hope for us during Lent. During Lent the disturbing reality is that we focus on a God, who in the person of Jesus Christ, was beaten, broken, and buried. This is the God we follow, one who died. Is it any wonder Paul said preaching the cross was foolishness…The world follows power, display, and strength; our God demonstrates sacrifice, weakness, and a willingness to enter even into death.

This though is why only the suffering God can help. We do not follow a God who is above suffering, empathy, and distantly removed because of his power. Instead, we follow a God who knows what it is to be beaten. We follow a God who knows what it is to be broken. We follow a God who knows what it is to be buried.

So if you have ever felt beaten down by life…have hope. If you feel broken in body or soul…have hope. If you have lost someone, or feel like you yourself are being buried under darkness…have hope. Because our God felt all those things, but broke through them to show us the way. Our God didn’t stay in heaven removed from the muck and mire of humanity and our struggle. Our God chose to enter into our struggle, to empty himself of all power and privilege to join us. This is why only the suffering God can help, because only the suffering God can understand what we go through. So you are not alone. God knows what it is to feel betrayal. He knows what it is to look forward and see darkness. He knows what it is to die. But the message of Easter is he also knows about resurrection. He is the resurrection and the life. It is through him that all of the world is changed, in a blinding moment of new creation, new life, and a new future. He enters into suffering to lead us out…so may we reflect and remember that this Lenten season. Let us not rush past the suffering to the resurrection of Easter. Let us remember that only the suffering God can help…

Finding Something to Die For…

380639_10152357546245643_786204358_nI think a lot about the future. I think a lot about my sons’ futures. I sense both of them have different paths in life. I’m already sensing their different personalities and as I pray for them I’m sensing God will use them both in deep but different ways.

But what I’m realizing is that how I raise them will affect what they live for. So already I’m praying for strength to be able to raise them to be courageous, grateful, grace-filled, and to have a sense of wonder. But this will be tough. This goes against what the world, marketing, and society teaches us. Namely that what we want out of life is personal happiness. Unfortunately nothing can be further from the truth…

Stanley Hauerwas writes, “What you want out of life is not happiness but to be part of a worthy adventure you want to have something worth dying for.”

The difficulty is as a dad how do I help them to see this? How do I teach them that they don’t need stuff to be happy they need someone worth following and life worth leaving. That’s right leaving. They need something worth dying for. They need something bigger than themselves to give themselves to. They need Jesus.

So the question is how do you help little boys who love fire trucks, and Kraft dinner to see and learn this? How can you help them to see past TV and see the poor, hurting, and broken around the world and in our neighborhood? How do you help people see the Kingdom that is hidden all around them?

Well what I know for sure is you can’t force it. This type of life has always been an invitation. Jesus says, “Come and learn to die with me” (Luke 9:23) A statement that on the outside makes no sense, but it’s an invitation I can’t refuse. Yes, giving grace to people who don’t deserve it doesn’t make sense. Giving generously to people who will never repay you doesn’t make sense. Forgiving enemies, welcoming the broken, making room for the messy, and making your life about others doesn’t make sense. And while it might not make much sense, it does make a difference…

So while I’m not totally sure yet on how to help my boys find an adventure worth following, I know it will require a few things. It will require many prayers, sleepless nights, and a lot of sacrifice on behalf of Krista and myself. But it’s worth it because one day I hope to sit with both my boys and share with them Jesus’ invitation to take up your cross and follow him. And I hope that we might do it together…

Finding and Seeing God in the Midst of a Mess

Bob Goff is a really brilliant guy. He’s the type of brilliant person who writes short simple sayings that are really deep. Here is a tweet he shared the other day:

“When we keep asking God to show up at places He’s already at, He isn’t mad, He probably just figures we didn’t recognize Him”

This really got me thinking…

How often am I asking God to show up somewhere and he already is but I don’t have eyes to see it? How often am I missing Jesus all around me?

And as I started to reflect on those questions I realized…I’m missing him probably more than I should…

The reality is that in really difficult situations, relationships, and even places, it can be hard to find God. When life is messy we ask God to show up, but the way God shows up in a mess isn’t to clean it up. The way God shows up in a mess is to enter into it and to start changing it from the outside. This type of involvement is slow, it is subtle and it is the most powerful.

This is really seen during Christmas which we just past. The world was broken, it was a mess, and people asked God to show up. So he did in the person of a baby, in the forgotten place, mostly alone and definitely in the dark.

The point is that we are often asking God to show up when he might already be there, working from within, and giving glimpses of grace. So for me personally I’ve moved from asking God to show up, to asking God to give me eyes to see him. That little difference has made all the difference…now I’m not waiting in God’s absence, I’m searching for his presence

Can I Go to Church Daddy?

Hudson has started getting into this habit. Here is what it is. He keeps asking to go to church.

Now this is a great habit, and no he doesn’t ask to go to church as much as he asks to watch the movie Cars. But he still asks it consistently.

The question for me is…why?

I mean I love our church. It is a huge blessing. It is an amazing place. But I spent a lot of time thinking and wondering why does Hudson keep asking to come to church. This matters to me because I’ve seen and known lots of pastor’s kids who didn’t want to go to church or to be associated with church. So put more succinctly I was wondering: what is it about this church that draws Hudson to it? What is it about these people that make Hudson want to go to church on a Friday morning?

I don’t think it’s just the nursery toys, although he does love the giant Mater that is there. I think the reason he loves to come to church is this: it’s his family.

You see on Sunday I saw how a dad here chased Hudson around for 15 minutes playing with him. I saw how older people in our congregation gave him cookie, after cookie, after cookie. I saw how people talked with him, helped him, and even saved him from falling overtop a chair (our little boy is a big climber). People picked him up, laughed with him, and asked him about Asher.

In essence, I saw people care. I saw people include him into the church family. And this is what makes church beautiful. Because church isn’t a building, but a people who welcome others.

This is what the church is to be: a family that welcomes. And this is why I love our church, and why I know Hudson wants to be there. Because people make him feel special and a part of things and our church does this not just with Hudson but with others too. I’ve seen parents showing off their new baby, I’ve seen seniors down on the floor playing with new kids, I’ve seen teenagers watching other people’s kids so that the parents can talk and connect. And this is a beautiful thing.

So I know why Hudson wants to go to church…because it’s a place he belongs. And I hope you too feel like you belong, because Jesus is clear, in his Kingdom, if we follow him we all belong…

Change, Control, and Our Lack of Both


I want to ask you one simple question today: “Are you being faithful?”

This is possibly the most important question you can answer in your life, job, calling, and relationships.

The somewhat harsh reality of our lives is this:

  • We can’t change anyone
  • We can’t do as much as we wish we could
  • Things get difficult and dark sometimes at the worst times
  • We aren’t in control as much as we would hope

This is the reality that we live in.

I think deep down we know this. We know that trying to force a 17 year old to change is next to impossible. We know that if we could there are so many people, situations, and lives we’d love to be involved in. We know that there are more needs around us than we could possibly meet. We know that life happens and for the most part we can’t control any of it. But this reality isn’t a reason to be apathetic or hopeless, because there is one thing that you can control. There is one thing you can change: Your own life.

We might not be able to change others, control the world around us, or fix the hurts of our friends but we can still act. We can focus on being faithful friends, spouses, parents, and family members. We can focus on doing our part in that friendship or relationship. We can focus on meeting the needs God is calling us to. We can focus on being faithful to what God is calling us to do.

We don’t need to do everything possible to make an impact. We simply need to be faithful to God’s calling.

So today I want to ask that question again: “Are you being faithful?”

Think through your role as a parent. Think through your role as a spouse, a friend, an employee…whatever. Are you being faithful to what God is asking you to do in that relationship? If you can say yes…then trust that God will do his part of healing, leading, guiding, and giving grace.

Our responsibility has never been to fix everything, to change others, or control the world. Our responsibility is to be faithful…so focus on that today…

Shhhh….I’m Hiding

A couple of months ago we were leaving my Mom’s house and I told Hudson it was time to go. His reaction was to hide because he didn’t want to go. Here’s how he did it…

So he hasn’t really gotten how to hide yet. But it is super cute. But in the midst of his small cuteness I realized something about myself.

Isn’t this exactly what I do with God? Hide in ineffective ways?

When I sin, when I fail, when I screw up, I often try to hide from God. I try to cover up my shame, my guilt, and my failure, hoping that God won’t see. This is something that I think is part of human nature. What do Adam and Eve do when they mess up? They hide. What do children do when they screw up? They hide. Rather than dealing with the mess, we hide, hoping no one will notice us hiding in the bushes.

The point for me is simple: in so many ways I’m still a child. What I mean by this is that my desire to hide, my desire to cover up my shame shows that in some way, I’m fearful of God. That at some level I haven’t truly grasped the truth that God is grace, that God is love, that God is a gift. That in some ways I haven’t grown up and matured to realize that God cares about me more than any mess I create. And instead of going confidently into his presence, as Hebrews tells us, I hide. Rather than dealing with God, I try to cover my face in some branches.

So while this picture makes me smile, it also makes me think about what I truly believe about God deep down. Do I fundamentally think that God is someone who I need to hide from? Do I believe really that Jesus is someone I wouldn’t want to meet in the middle of my mess? Because the picture of Jesus and God in the gospels is someone full of grace. It’s a picture of someone who drew to him all the broken, messy, and sinful people. It’s a picture of someone you never want to hide from.

So the next time I’m tempted to hide, I’m going to trust in the God revealed in Jesus Christ. I’m going to trust in grace, I’m going to trust in his gift, I’m going to trust in God. And I’m going to walk up to him and say, “I screwed up, here is my mess, help me.”

But what about you? The next time you feel full of guilt, shame, and sin, rather than hiding, why not start talking? Why not open up with him about anything that you’ve been shoving down and away? Why not bring him in, so that healing and grace can be part of that area of your life?

Because I’ve also learned something from Hudson: putting your face behind branches doesn’t really work anyway…