Tuesday, January 17, 2012


So you think you've been called to do "missions." You believe that God has chosen you as one of His elite people who will go out into the poorest parts of the world and see some messed up stuff and then fix it. You can't wait until you finish high school, finish college, tie up your loose ends here so that you can someday go somewhere else and start your ministry.

If you feel that any of the above statements are true to you, I implore you to reevaluate your mindset. 

Answering the question of what you are going to do with your life by saying "mission work" is like going to a restaurant and saying "yes, I'll have the food for lunch today."

When you decide to follow Christ, you've already entered into that calling to live a life that exemplifies His love and sacrifice to the people around you. It's no different whether you're a lawyer, school teacher, dentist, or missionary. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it is not the "what" but the "why" that matters. If you think your abilities are best used building up an impoverished nation, I wouldn't dream of stopping you. If you are a gifted surgeon, by all means keep cutting people open. 

You don't have to leave to live a meaningful life. There is need everywhere, and if you don't think America needs help, you are severely mistaken. 

The point I am trying to make is that there is nothing separate about living a life of missions and living a life. If you are seeking to follow the Lord, there is no better place to do it and no better time to start than the exact moment and setting you are currently emerged in. 

I'm reading the New Testament right now with some friends and co-workers. Ever since I read this passage:  
 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
The word, immediately has been stuck to my brain. I can't stop thinking about it. How often do we say to ourselves that we will start doing something after we've finished something else? How often do we feel like our lives are just too busy right now, or we're not ready to give something up? (one of the girls also reading it had a similar experience reading this passage. Check it out: http://livrae.wordpress.com)

I want to end by saying this: we are all called to missions. We are all called to missions now. It does not matter where that is. It does not matter how small or large of a scale it is on. It just matters that you're doing it, both here and now and there and later. 

Stop separating what your life currently is from what you think your life will one day be and get started with it now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I got a tattoo today. I'd been thinking about it for over a year and finally turned thought into action. The idea was inspired by a Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not."

Basically, unless we rise up and actually do something in the world, nothing is ever going to change.

People will keep being hungry, orphaned, enslaved, and broken unless we take action. Life's not going to get better unless you choose to find things to enjoy about it. This fleeting earth will keep wasting away unless we care about it.

There's just so much resting on the unless. It's the difference between things happening and remaining stagnant.

When I look down at my hand, I see a reminder to get off my butt. I see a plea against lethargy and a cry for action. I remember that my life is not for my own pleasure and nothing else; that I desire change in the world.

It's a challenge every day to live on the right side of the unless, but it's a challenge I extend to you.

Unless you try your hardest, you'll always wonder how much more you could have done.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Have a Good Idea.

At work there are certain things I always say.
Sometimes I think of it as a sort of chant.
Blah blah price today. Thank you. Here you go.”
It’s a chorus of numbers and repeated phrases,
A ballet of credit cards and coffee cups.
Corporate choreography through a sliding glass window,
Thrust horizontally apart then back together.

Once the dancers have descended
It is time for the last line of the opera
And I am the fat lady who bids them good day
In a sing-songy voice.
But today is not the same.
My diction derails somewhere between
Mind and body, takes a course of its own
and comes out:
“Have a good idea!”
I didn’t mean to say it but I decide to mean it-
This appeal for innovation by the slip of a tongue.

And so I say again to you,
Have a good idea.
Hold onto it like the last word you read
Before you looked up from your book;
The word you’ll return to when you’re
Trying to find your place.
Have a good idea
And then turn it into something else.
Plant it and grow it and pluck it and use it.
Refuse to let it die.
Have a good idea
To do something about your life.
To help someone else’s.
To change anything as long as it’s for the better.
And if you can’t think of anything, at least
Have the good idea to have a good day.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Recent themes swimming around my mind have been secularity and time management. My whole life there's been this divide between Christian and everything else. There's Christian music, Christian literature, Christian t-shirts (which are awful, am I right?). There's this entire closed off community of religion that we're taught will keep us pure and holy. We're urged not to fall into the temptation of listening to rap music or watching movies with profanity. This, to me, is a load of poop. 

Everything doesn't have to be so black and white. There shouldn't be a difference in our lives between "secular" and Christian. Every talent that we have is from the Lord. We don't have to be singing a song about God, writing some allegorical tale of Christ's life, or painting pictures of crosses to be using our gifts to serve Him.

We are so focused on compartmentalizing our lives when it should all just be one big thing. We should be glorifying God in everything that we do, but that doesn't mean we have to be street evangelists or nuns. Be whatever you want to be when you grow up, watch movies, sing along to the radio. If we let our love for the Lord encompass our lives, then there doesn't have to be a "secular".

This leads me to the other aforementioned topic of time management. I am always hearing people talk about spending time with the Lord. In bible studies my whole life I have been taught that it is imperative to find separate time from my regular life to pray and be with the Lord. But I've been thinking lately, what if that's what we're doing wrong- thinking that our relationship with the Lord is dependent on scheduled time away from our lives to talk to God.

Once again, I think this begs the question of why do we need a separation? What if we just incorporate God more into our daily lives instead of trying to squeeze him in as an entirely separate concept? I'm as guilty as the next lad of feeling too busy for said time with the Lord. Between work, school, and (ironically) church, I've, at times, felt like I was failing because I couldn't set apart any time for the Lord. The more I thought about it, though, the idea of setting apart time didn't sit right with me.

I'm just sick of this whole this-or-that mentality. Do the things you love to do. Do them for the Lord. And do them awesomely.

I know that we are to be "in this world and not of this world." We're not supposed to be conforming to the patterns of the world. I agree with that. But it is possible to love life without losing sight of eternity. It's possible to find this fleeting earth beautiful. It seems to me that creating worship songs that are nearly identical to every other worship song ever is in direct violation of the no conforming rule. Don't just glue your feelings about Jesus onto some G, C, D chords and call it good. Express those feelings through the creativity you've been given. Go against the grain. Be radical, be passionate, be genuine.

Be like Mumford and Sons who are not classified under Christian music, but whose lyrics are immersed in a spiritual beauty more profound than nearly any praise band I've encountered. At their concert in June they started into "Awake My Soul" by saying that they were going to sing a gospel song. I don't know if these men are actually Jesus-loving dudes or not, but either way, their expression of blatantly Christian themes in otherwise secular music has given me some of the most intensely worshipful experiences of my life.

Bottom line, I just think that life should be life. We're given it from the Lord and we should use it for the Lord. It doesn't matter what or how. It matters why. If we're taking our gifts and using them to their fullest potential to glorify the Lord, that will be clear and that will be powerful, and that is what matters. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving More Than Thanks.

This may not be your typical Thanksgiving blog post. Instead of listing all the many things for which I am grateful, and I assure you that list is long, I want to challenge you.

You probably spent today doing a combination of the following: eating a lot, enjoying great company, sleeping, planning your day of shopping tomorrow, getting ready for the Christmas season. Undoubtedly you took time to reflect on all of the things you are blessed to have; the things you too often take for granted.

Perhaps some of you even took a moment or two, or maybe even more, to think about the people in this world who have fewer reasons to give thanks. I want to take that a step further. Last Sunday I went to different church (Restore Church in Liberty, MO) than my home church. The sermon was about giving, and it has been swimming in my mind since then. Too, too often I am an extremely selfish person. I do give, but not as much as I should, and I tend to want people to know about it when it does happen. I am not proud of that fact, and I am working to change it.

Today I challenge you to give. Take some of the money you would have spent on yourself and spend it on someone else, someone who needs it. As you are filling out your Christmas list, instead of asking for 10 things, ask for 5 and say that you want the rest of the money to be spent on something great.

In terms of selfless giving, the options are endless, but I want to focus on one particular organization that is close to my heart.

His Voice Global.

This organization creates opportunities for orphans. So far they have built 3 orphanages and a church in Sudan. They have seen many approaches to these types of ministries that end up hurting the indigenous people, and for that reason they've taken their own approach.The staff of these orphanages are completely indigenous so as to build up the community and economy in each location. Their goal is to "strengthen the local church by promoting the reality of God's holistic vision to reach people." They want to see the local church in the states partner with the local church of Sudan. His Voice Global is doing incredible things in the world, and I can't explain how much they inspire me. There is no way this little blurb does them justice, so I encourage you to visit their website: http://www.hisvoiceglobal.com and learn more.

I also encourage you to support them. Right now there are two major ways to do that:
1. HVG is currently working on raising money for a fourth orphanage to house 100 orphans. Not only that, but they hope to also build a school for the orphans and other village children, a medical clinic, a church, and a freshwater well. This is a hefty goal, for which they've already made a lot of progress. Your help would do wonders.
2. Their goal this Christmas season is to outfit each of the orphans with two new full sets of clothes (shirt, skirt/shorts, and shoes). This means 410 sets of clothes! It is $20 dollars to send one set. It might sound crazy, but think of how radical it would be to tell your loved ones that instead of getting them a Christmas gift this year, you clothed an orphan in their honor!
For specific information about option 2, visit http://www.hisvoiceglobal.com/orphan.php.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am grateful for you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Say "I love you"

This weekend was my sister's wedding and it was wonderful. She looked amazing, and even better she looked so happy. Everything went smoothly and I think everybody had a great time. I know that Jon will be good to her and I am really excited for their life together.

This is a video of the toast I gave at the reception, and below are the words to the poem I wrote for it.

Say to each other "we can do this"
Say that you love the way that they kiss
    And you'll miss them for whatever time you're apart.
Say all the things you've said from the start,
    And any good thing you've said since then
Say it too, as long as it's from the heart.

Say that you're sorry, but more importantly
Say that you forgive. Don't keep score.
Say that you know they're worth fighting for
    But do your best not to fight.
Say to her "you're beautiful"
    Even when you wake in the middle of the night,
    Or in the morning when she'd never say it about herself.
Say that he's strong and ask for his help.

Say "I need you. For you I am grateful."
    Bite your own tongue before you let it sound hateful.
Say goodnight, good morning, goodbye, and good luck.
    Don't ever say words to each other like... schmuck.
    Let all that you say have the intent to encourage
    Let all that you say make your love flourish.
   When you think of something nice,
Say it, and mean it- however small.
   When you think of something mean, just
Say nothing at all.
Say "yes."
Say that you care.
Say that you're scared.
Say "it'll be okay" and believe in all the things you say.

Say "I love you"
    And when you say it, let the words carry the weight of their worth,
Say it like, of all the people on this whole earth,
    You'd choose each other every time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Prayers and Poetry.

This is the first piece of my spoken word poetry that I actually performed in front of people. Afterward, some of them asked me for the words and I said I'd post it on here. It's still in the making, and I'd love your feedback. Perhaps I will perform it, and others, someday. Happy November, all!

Dear God, thank you for sun
And thank you for rain
Thank you for the growth that comes with pain
And that moment of healing when only beauty remains.
Thank you for scabs that turn to scars and don’t hurt anymore
And thank you for metaphors about windows and doors
That make us want to get out of our chairs and say yes to the world.
Thank you for beds at the end of days we wish could be erased
For grace
And for mace, not that we would use it, but it makes us feel safe
       on those nights when we walk home alone.
For the ability to hear smiles over the phone.
And for bodies that cry out to You from the depths of our bones.
For brains that send messages to the rest of our parts
That tell us how to feel, when to stop and when to start.
And thank you for the messages that say “feel joy right now.”
For our hearts that pump blood up through our bodies and all the way down
To our toes, to our nose, and even our elbows.
For hearts so strong that we made them our symbol for love.
And for love so true we can never be deprived of it.
Thank you for love.
Because forget the hokey pokey, love is what it’s all about.
And thank you for those times we start to doubt,
Because waiting on the shore of our sea of fears is true understanding coming out.
Thank you for the beauty of blue skies
And for the people in our lives so wise we can see the truth in their eyes.
Thank you for making mornings worth it just for the sunrise.
For jobs that start early and for the ones that go late,
Even at times when we want to say things like I hate
Thank you for always reminding us that isn’t true,
And helping us find ways to love what we do
Because we know there are people who do much more for much less,
And we should never, for one second, forget that we're blessed.
For the people who have shaped who we are.
Who inspire us and motivate us to go far.
Thank you for making us whole always
For the promise of better days and for glimpses of glory in broken clouds’ sun rays.
Thank you for forgiveness, and the ability to forgive.
For redemption, salvation, restoration- the death of abomination
For knowing we'll never die, but through You can only ever truly live.