3 Words That Will Set You Free: “I Don’t Know”

I remember standing behind the lectern, laser pointer in hand. Teaching, leading, I imparted knowledge and inspired action. But to be honest, I was no expert. I just learned how to study and how to relay the finer points.Hundreds of times I looked at eager eyes from the chairs pulled into a circle. Opening the book, pointing out history and theology and imagery, everyone said how great it was.  I really didn't know anything more than anyone else.A long time ago I took a position behind th … [Read more...]

Not Like Me: A Series on Finding Commonality through Difference              

Next week I’ll begin a new season-long series here at Red Letter Believers called, “Not Like Me.”I will be specifically seeking out people who are different than me and then we will have a conversation. I want to know what makes them tick, what motivates them and what the hopes and dreams they carry with them.It’s my hope that through this series I can learn about “others” and that you’ll come along for the ride.We live so much of our lives through assumption, stereotypes and putting … [Read more...]

“What were you thinking?” Overcoming the pains of regret

My brother rode over the home-built jump at the end of the road over and again, circling around to get just a little more air or turn the handlebar in a circle before landing.My pant leg was full of grease from getting caught in the bicycle chain, but there was no stopping until the darkness pushed us grudgingly indoors.The next day, we started all over again. I found a matchbook in the middle of street and flipped open the cover to see five matches were still unused.This was our l … [Read more...]

Finding Purpose: Will Retirement Be My Social Insecurity?

When I was in college, I remember having a conversation with a few friends about one of our classmates who was 30 at the time. We called him “the old man.”As young men, we talked about aging in dire terms, framing it in the context of our parents and grandparents. We decided that the 40th birthday indicated a point of no return. And 50? That was one-foot-in-the-grave territory.Eventually I turned 30. And then 40. And now I’m past 50. I blew past all of those supposed stop signs on my life and now … [Read more...]

The Broad Brush: Why must we stereotype?

He’s in a union? Certainly he’s a Democrat!“Don’t Tread on Me” bumper sticker? Yup, libertarian.Subaru driver?  She’s feeling the Bern.Sandals, beard, sunglasses and a Jesus sticker? Megachurch goer.<Add your own stereotype here ___________>It seems that we are too quick to take sides these days, categorizing people like bins in a hardware store. The screws go in this bin. The nuts in this. The washers over here.It’s like we an obsessive compulsive societal condition … [Read more...]

Will the flags ever fly at full staff again?

There is another shooting just now on the news.Men in blue in Louisiana are gunned down, just a few days after a similar incident in Dallas. Families and friends are no doubt directly affected, and so are the men and women who go to work every day to protect us from ourselves.  And like you, I'm angry and sad at the same time, and a little numb.When the protectors are unprotected, then we all feel vulnerable. Why ask why? For a few days we’ll wring our hands, trying to find some mo … [Read more...]

Beyond Black, Beyond Blue, What Really Matters

I was too young to remember the 60’s. As a toddler I only cared about nap time, snacks and my Tonka trucks. I was innocent while the world around me exploded with violence, riots, racial tension and war.I remember my father telling me about the 60’s, what he felt when Kennedy was assassinated and then Martin Luther King. It wasn’t black. It wasn’t white. It was just wrong and he felt it.That’s how I feel today.With just a few minutes of network news and I’m longing again for those day … [Read more...]

“My Son is a Heroin Addict” – A Mother’s Story of Love

I read her Facebook post. It was honest. Heartbreaking.  Raw.  I was shocked when I read the words, “My son is a heroin addict.”She told a story of discovery, of how the light switches in the house had a sooty substance that she was always scrubbing off. She told her story of how the clues unfolded, one terrible fact at a time.  And then there was the moment of confrontation and resolution.“We’re in this together.”Her story of fighting for her son is to me quite brave. She holds a se … [Read more...]

Flunking First Grade: When suffering holds us back

When you are six, there's just a few things that could be called "devastating." Not advancing to Second Grade would be one of them.I remember when my mother threatened to hold me back a year. I was the youngest in my  class, an anomaly of the school calendar. I wasn’t adapting well and she thought I might do better by starting over again.Somehow, I talked – or cried - my way through the threat. But the truth is that I probably wasn’t ready.It’s that way for me now. The simple truths i … [Read more...]

Dear Dad: I wish I could have one more conversation

My Dad was born in 1917 in the living room of a house in North Dakota. The wheat waved in the wind and the heat bore down on that simple home on the Rupert Ranch.The dust bowl rolled in the 30's, laying the ranch to waste. They sold everything and moved to California, a place of great promise.Dad entered dental school but withdrew when his father died. He worked to provide for his mother, landing a job putting shingles on subdivision homes. It was a "temporary" job that he kept for 50 … [Read more...]