Anger and Jest

Crises bring out our fear; they also bring out our humor. As John Q. Public has seethed, the comments left on the fast-paced string of articles at news outlets has been, well, entertaining. I offer just two I’ve enjoyed:

You mean you might actually have to pay for the services that you want now? Dear heavens no… I don’t have credit card debt. I don’t have a mortgage. I don’t have school loans. I have a single car loan. Come and get it… I’ll walk…

This is a crisis we will tell our grandchildren about. Let us hope we are not telling the story at the mouth of a cave while munching on roots and fighting the dog for his bone.

Anybody else have some to share? Maybe your own?

Warren Buffett Wisdom

Call my crazy, I’ve always had a small fetish for economics, investing, capital markets, etc. I even was a stock broker for a couple years in Denver. I’ve been trying to make sense (as most everyone has) of the credit meltdown and its cataclysmic domino effect.

Warren Buffett, one of our wisest financial voices, did a 30 minute interview on CNBC, and he explains a couple of the angles of what we are up against (and solutions) about as good as anyone I’ve heard. One thing I found very interesting was his belief that this bailout may well actually end up being a profitable investment for the government coffers. Buffet’s words: “If I could borrow 700 billion at treasury rates [the interest rate the government will pay for the capital to make this investment, aka “bailout”] to buy these assets at these prices, I’d be doing it.”

(this is 30 minutes long, but the first 10 give a good overall perspective)

For God I Row

Keep yourself from continually converting your occupations into disturbances and anxieties of spirit. Even if you are being tossed around on the waves and blown about by the winds of many perplexities, look up constantly and say to our Lord: “O God, it is for you that I row and for you I sail; you are my guide and my helmsman!” {Padre Pio}

How difficult it is to give ourselves to peace, to calmly rest in the heart and power and purposes of God. Most mornings recently, I awake refreshed and eager for the day. It isn’t long, though, before some fear or worry or pressure pushes against my soul. What do I do then?

Unfortunately, too often I run off after the angst. Thing is, though, no matter how hard I run, I will never never catch that ol’ fox.

Much of my anxiety and frantic activity comes from the fact that I do not hold to God as my true center. I buy into the lie that my identity depends on my ability to produce, to make something happen. If I am a good dad, a devoted husband…If people take me seriously as a writer…If my books sell…If I lead well in this process of forming a new spiritual community…If I’m witty and smart and keep losing weight… Lots of ifs there. It’s enough to keep me sprinting, always sprinting, heart and soul and mind always darting about. Never at rest.

Thing is, I don’t (or don’t want to) live to produce. I don’t live to be noticed, to secure approval. At my core, I’m a simple bloke – you’ll just find me: a man whose full hope leans on the belief (with doubts and questions and screwups still intact) that God is and that God is for us and that God has created us for immense goodness. Connected to that truth, I am free to discover who God has truly made me – to unshackle my true self and walk into the wild wind and the brilliant sun: bold, care-free, unguarded. I don’t live to have people like my writing. I write because the art is in me; and to be true, I must give it away. I love my boys because my heart is for them; and I want to live from my heart. I am madly in love with Miska – not because I’ve set out to be a romantic throwback – but because a mystery has captured me, the mystery of deep communion when two people give themselves, soul and body, to each other.

And this is what I believe – all this comes from God, a gift. Just a gift. Open the hands and receive.

But when I feel I am losing grip on any of my “roles” (husband, friend, dad, writer, pastor) – that’s when I’m tempted to thrash about, to work and get busy and pace around, to just do something, for crying out loud. And the noise grows deafening. The fear kicks in. It’s a mess.

What I want to do in these panicky places is to remember. To remember who I live for, what I live for: God, whose heart is immensely good. I love for God. I write for God. I hope for God.

And, then, let go of the rest.

Calm yourself. Don’t pay any attention to these vain and useless fears. Fill the emptiness of your heart with an ardent love for Jesus. {Padre Pio}

Winn’s Been Had

So, apparently the video posted below is a scam. If I had been up to date with my friend Justin Scott’s blog, I would have had fair warning.

Piecing all this together, then, two conclusions:

[1] I obviously am a scientific imbicile because, according to Justin, “[i]f you know a little bit about physics and/or electronics you can figure out pretty quickly that this is a scam.”

[2] I am not alone; David Zimmerman is right there with me 🙂


Ladies and Gentleman, there has been a tragedy in New York city. A commercial jet has apparently veered off course and crashed into one of the Twin Towers.

I was in my maroon Toyota 4Runner, driving into work in downtown Denver, when the words split across the radio airwaves. A horrific disaster. I could not imagine the fear and agony of one who, at that moment, was living through this nightmare. And then even more terrifying words followed.

Oh my God, this was not an accident. Another jet has just crashed.

The nation sat stunned. How could this happen? Why would this happen? Who would do such a thing? I walked into the fifth floor of the Schwab building, the television monitors filled with scenes of smoke and tears and fire and grey dust and bodies flung out of high windows. I called Miska – had to talk to my wife, to hear her voice and know that the entire world wasn’t going down in flames.

I remember these words, these feelings, these horrors. I remember feeling angry, sad, beligerant. I wanted somebody to do something, anybody to do something.

And many more grief-stricken words have come since then. Words from a father in South Dakota, a mother in Afghanistan, a relief worker in Iraq, a dauther in Texas.

My son is gone. My husband is gone. My neighborhood is gone. My mother is gone.

Sad words that remind us of how much we need redemption, how lost we are as a people. I must add my words to theirs.

God, help us. We are killing ourselves. In the name of love, stop our violence. Give us hope. Please.

The Bible Said So

My interpretation of Scripture is not the same as the interpretation of Scripture. Sometimes it is (I certainly hope). Sometime it isn’t (and no, I don’t know where – if I did, I’d change).

Recently, Irving Bible Church made what was for them a monumental decision. After eighteen months of prayer, theological discussions and consultations with three theologians from various perspectives on the issues of a woman’s service in the church, the church elders invited a woman to preach on a Sunday to the entire congregation. This was a pretty big deal, given their historic alignment with a movement that has long held rigid lines on such issues.

Personally, I applaud their decision. However, that is not why I write. Really, it isn’t. I mention this story because it touched on one of my growing concerns about the way the game gets played in many of these theological squabbles. Rather than making a commitment to thinking clearly with or acting charitably toward those differing from us, we often make rash judgments and illogical leaps. We do not really listen. We do not trust that the truth can stand on its own two feet, with no need for our knee-jerk and emotive rhetoric or our appeal to fear (particularly of the “slippery slope” kind). And when we come with that unhealthy posture, when we think we must defend our position at all costs, we say things that simply don’t hold water.

One example was the response of a well-known pastor in an interview with the Dallas Morning News: “If the Bible is not true and authoritative on the roles of men and women, then maybe the Bible will not be finally true on premarital sex, the homosexual issue, adultery or any other moral issue.”

Did you catch that? If the Bible is not true and authoritative… The accusation (and assumption) here is that this church has gone into the heretical territory of distrust in the Bible’s authority. Why? On what basis? Reading the offending church’s story, the elders’ never asked whether or not the Bible was “true and authoritative.” Rather, driven by their conviction in Scripture’s authority, they felt compelled to ask whether or not they had gotten Scripture right. However, the ideologue among us simply can not conceive of such a possibility: if you go against my interpretation (what I clearly understand the Bible to say), then obviously you are going against the Bible.

Such a posture is untrue, spurious and unchristian. We ought know better.

I know the church the pastor who made this accusation leads. There are many places where they have interpreted various passages to mean something other than what their most literal reading would suggest. This church does not demand women to wear head coverings in worship, even though the plainest reading of Paul suggests it is necessary. The church does not believe the communion bread and wine literally is Jesus’ body and blood (even though Jesus said, “This is my body. This is my blood.”) However, when another church wrestles with the text and interprets some of the restrictions on women to be related to context (like head coverings) or in need of wider Scriptural reflection (like the eucharist elements), then suddenly they do not believe in the authority of the Bible. Nonsense.

Again, my point is not about this particular issue of women’s service in the church. One can piece together strong textual arguments for both sides. I simply hope that in our disagreements we can remember at least these two things:

[1] the Bible and my interpretation of the Bible are not inherently the same thing

[2] we should listen well and live charitably with our brothers and sisters – that might actually stun our neighbors who have grown accustomed to Christian dogfights being played out around every theological battleground

We can debate and disagree and even get irritated when things get a little fiery. We can have strong convictions (and should on those things we deeply care about). But the truth resides best in those who don’t feel the need to defend it by means unworthy of the Jesus who is the truth.

Miller Time

Even though Donald Miller has sold more books than me (and when I say more, I really mean more, by like maybe 300:1 – but who’s counting?) and even though Don and I apparently hit a similar theme (that will go unmentioned) at a similar time and now everyone thinks I’m the copycat and even though Don was an unwholesome influence on my wife Miska in her innocent high school years, goading her (at least the way I see it) into an altercation with the Colorado Springs Mall crack security force, I still think that every gifted, artful voice can use all the promotion they can get.

And, anyway, this is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a very long time.

The Folly of Being a Savior

I’m tempted to believe that I would make a good Savior. I’m not so brazen as to actually suggest myself a replacement for the true redeemer of the world. However, if my actions belie my convictions, then on most days, I fancy that if Jesus wanted to take a long weekend and leave the world in my hands, I could pretty much keep it together without much of a hitch… {this is a post on my Relevant Blog. If you want to view the rest, you can find it here}