Category Archives: Reflections

On Faith

“What is faith?”

Hearing a friend recently ask this was shocking and it pierced my heart.  If I’m being honest, it pierced for a few reasons:

  • I have no good answer to provide; no tangible comfort to give, only an ear to listen.
  • I’ve come to realize that concepts of faith are hyper-personal and often hard to translate into meaningful words in times of counsel.
  • In the world we live in I find it difficult to know how my faith experiences can soothe the fears so prevalent in our world.
  • My approach to faith is hard to translate because I live in a space where my doubt lives equally alongside and is as prevalent as my faith.
My Faith Story

I’ve experienced incredible moments of what I would call ‘high faith’.  I’ve lived in moments where I put everything on the line for the hope something others may have seen as small.

One of those moments in having the opportunity to live where I do, in New York City, where I’ve seen more than I thought I ever would.  I’ve experienced far beyond what my imagination thought was capable eleven years ago.

I’ve taken great leaps of faith in moments where I chose to remove safety nets placed there by either myself, others, circumstance or mere privilege.  Moments where those I trust told me I was foolish or taking bigger risks/steps than the ‘smart’ person.

Sometimes the path leads where I think it will and other times I’ve been shocked by what I find.  But I know what it means to have faith in a bigger purpose/need.

Our world and Judeo-Christian teachings have left us to believe that faith is equal to success, wealth and comfort and that doubt and questioning is bad and unhealthy.  Yet, I think it’s important to note in any conversation about faith that our valleys of doubt and challenge are still real and are an intrinsic partner in our faith journeys (whether we talk about it the concept of having faith in a higher power or having daily faith in ourselves/humanity).

I’ve experienced this in a unique way:

For the last few years I’ve been walking through a season, though different from others, of coming out as a gay (and Christian) man in my thirties well after many of my social peers have found their footing and are well into trusting their identity.  This process has resulted in the clash of new and old viewpoints of faith and doubt resulting in life’s ever present waves of challenge, discovery, and insight.  It seems these waves always create moments of faith and doubt in all people with each wave containing the opportunity to precipitate surges of growth in our lives.  To step into these waves takes faith but, yes, they come with doubt.

Letting ourselves hold light and truth to the doubt and challenge that comes with faith may be one of the cornerstones that truly give us the strength to stretch and change our world views that are meant to be shared with each other.

With all of the intricacies of faith, I know four things to be true:

  1. Faith is unique to each person.
  2. Faith is complex.
  3. What faith is, is not what we think faith is.
  4. Faith exists on the same plane as doubt – and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as one might think.
Faith In Doubt

I know faith and I’ve seen what it brings but, as much as I’ve experienced the contentment that faith can bring, I’ve known the doubt that is close by.

While many of my early years were filled with pure faith (perhaps on the verge of naive fortitude) I’ve come to realize this pure, high sense of faith is not real because it erased the notion that doubt can exist on the same plane.

Imagine for a second that life is a two lane interstate highway with two separate sections of life, going the same direction, separated by this dashed, white line.  On one side is faith and on the other is doubt with each being as accessible and passable as each other.  One plane but two unique spaces.

Our society tends to look at faith and doubt as separate roads leading to different destinations but in my  experience this is not the case.

Faith and doubt are simply different ways to experience life’s journey — different filters that allow different colors to shine through.

In the highest seasons of faith, doubt or questioning is possible and it can be a healthy equalizer.  One the flip side, even in the deepest seasons of doubt where conversations with God are most likely to be one-sided yelling matches it’s a sliver of faith that pulls me out.

In these moments when I’ve laid my despair out on the table, taken God to task for the challenges and turmoil and I’ve lashed out with threats to give up and move on without Him there have been few times where I’ve lacked a moment…

…Where I don’t cry out his name.

…Where I don’t long for renewal.

…Where I don’t just want the comfort of past seasons.

Is that not faith shrouded in doubt?  When we question and don’t believe but part of us keeps coming back is this not faith?

That’s faith.

Back to Reality

As my friend finishes his question and story, I struggle as I process my thoughts.  I sense in my friend what I’ve felt in my own life – a tension between two equal forces and the desire to describe one as fully positive/healthy and the other as negative/unhealthy.

It’s tempting to want one over another but in the high seasons of faith it’s irresponsible if we don’t recognize that doubt and questioning can have a healthy place in our worldview.  And it’s reckless in our periods of doubt to not recognize that faith can still be alive and practical.

This struggle is not unique to me by no stretch of the imagination and I’m by no means settled in this respect.

From my vantage point, there aren’t many polar opposites in our lives – there’s a lot of fading from one emotional need/feeling to the other and back again.

I see it so many times where doubt and faith are viewed as two separate places of being and I truly believe that this practice is detrimental to one’s spiritual growth.  It’s an endless journey sometimes with no destination.

I’ve seen doubt and question pushed aside as if it’s the plague because anything less than perfect and sure is looked at as heresy.

I’ve also seen faith (or a different interpretation of the word, ‘goodness’) pushed aside in the face of our world’s 24/7 focus on murders, hate, and joblessness among others.

We need to be encouraged now more than ever that it’s OK to let the tension between faith and doubt be real.  Let it be real and tangible.  Let it be something that doesn’t live in the space of ‘black and white’.

If you find yourself in this space, where the tension is more than real, just tell yourself that it’s OK.  I’m big supporter that the most growth occurs in the middle of the tension even though I need to be reminded of this on an almost daily basis.

We’re in this together.

Have Hope

“Have hope.”

This was my response the other night to my roommate who was asking me what I thought we should do in response to the seemingly dark times we live in.

My heart has been heavy since this conversation but also lightened.

It’s so easy to give up hope right now.  Every where we turn – every screen we turn on/open – all we seem to see is bad news, messages of fear or just plain civil division.

As optimistic as I believe I am, there have been times I’ve wanted to give in – either to the fear or to the indifference I feel creeping up at times.  At this point it seems that my heart is torn between this fickle couple with hope taking a far back seat to the reality of the day.

And I’ve seen it in others as responses to fear and hate have been more of the same.  Giving in and responding in kind won’t get us anywhere constructive.

The truth is, though, that nothing good grows in fear, hate or indifference.  The path out is not found there.

The path out is found in sowing seeds of goodness and intentionally forcing/letting light in.  The path out is found in leaning in toward one another and not away.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t deflect reality and ignore it but what I am saying is that I wholeheartedly believe that it’s possible to know, realize and spread a message of hope even in the midst of such terrible circumstances.

Our humanity is found in hope.

Our humanity depends on looking at something small and saying ‘this is good’ and letting that be our cornerstone.

I’ve sensed this for some time, especially with this current political season we’re in the midst of, but we can’t forget that there are good things all around us.  Simply because it demands the most attention, we can’t push out the good in lieu of fear and indifference even if it seems to be what we encounter the most often.

Talking to Jared, my roommate, the other night I about lost my ability to hold back the tears because he was able to verbalize what I think a lot of us are feeling.

‘If it’s all bad, what’s the effort worth fighting against it if we just encounter brick wall after brick wall?’

Good things, hopeful things, must be given space to grow.  I believe that happens when we talk about it together and choose to let what festers out into the wild.  And hope, like most things that counter the dark corners of the world, will need to be jumpstarted in small, intentional ways.

It’s up to each of us to make sure we’re letting the good into the fear and indifference that seems to envelop us.

Have Hope.

Nation of Hate?

I recently sat in a Starbucks on a Sunday morning and tears started to well up in my eyes.

Why you ask?  Did I lose someone, did something happen to me, was there a wrong committed?

Not exactly.  I got emotional while reading the latest political news.

The news.

While I sat there here’s what was stuck in my head:

“When did we become a nation of hate?”

‘People were pepper sprayed in Kansas City last night.

At a political rally.

Pepper spray was used against demonstrators protesting violent and undeniable hate filled rhetoric.’

Why was this necessary?
When did we lose the ability to demonstrate peacefully?
When did we lose the ability to simply agree to disagree?

Why is the natural response to one side of hate just another form of hate?

While this hate begets hate (or violence begets violence) mentality is something that has been simmering in our country for a while now, my mind can’t comprehend the hate that is being spewed in politics anymore – and this is coming from someone who fashions himself a political junkie.

But what truly gets me the most emotional is this:

The hate we’re talking about during this year’s presidential race is not new.  It’s become inherent and intrinsic to the fabric of our communal presence.

It’s become almost normal.

It’s spoken on the airwaves and we’ve all seen it fill our Facebook feeds.  This is the same hate that is present in A LOT of church pulpits on Sundays (whether spoken or unspoken).

This is the same hate that has manifested itself in countless police shootings over the past two years – in Ferguson, in Cleveland, on Staten Island.

This is the same hate that turns LGBTQ children into homeless refugees.

This is the same hate that we’ve refused to name for such a long time for fear of ‘upsetting’ people.

This is the same hate that many of us have refused to stand up against.

I don’t want to tell people how to vote this year but my prayer, my plea, is that we don’t allow hate to win.  I also hope that we push back against hate in our speech and actions.

Don’t let hate be THE voice of ‘reason’ in your mind.  Please, please don’t we cannot confuse disagreement with hate.  As a nation, we hold contempt and hate people we don’t even know — we use definitive and declarative language that leaves no room for civil disagreement.

I’ve seen lives ruined because we we believe that hate can be isolated from the rest of our lives but that is not so.  We’ve confused hate for civil disagreement (because I do believe that we can disagree with one another without tearing the fabric of our lives apart).

We’re losing sight of the teaching power that disagreement can bring.

It’s not easy but it can be done.

Hate is bigger than one person.  I don’t want to admit it but hate can be as communal as love.

If we let it.

And I think that’s why we’re seeing hate at such widespread levels; we’re letting hate become our mouthpiece.

We simply cannot allow hate to fill our world; we must resist the spread of hate into every response, every thought and every action.

We need to spread more love.

The ‘E’ Word

I grew up reading The Good News.


The first Bible I remember picking up was The Good News Bible around the second or third grade.

Church was very new to me when I was 8 and 9 years old having not grown up in a religious family.  When I picked up that first Bible I asked what the name of this particular Bible meant and, of course, was taught in Sunday School about Jesus, The Lord’s Prayer and – of course – The Good News.

It was a few years later that I first learned the word evangelical.  I learned quickly that evangelical could refer to both a person as well as a form of expression.

Evangelicals, I was led to believe, belonged to the more ‘radical’ churches….  Evangelicals in my mind were probably the Pentecostals or what I thought of as vibrant Christians (you know those Christians who made the news for sharing their faith and over-dramatized what they said or how they said it rather than focusing on what they did).

It was this second component, being evangelical, that rounded out my early definition.

Evangelicals proselytized.
Evangelicals spoke in tongues.
Evangelicals handed out tracks.
Evangelicals spoke their minds but more always spoke the truth of the Bible.

Or worse I learned to think evangelicals were synonymous with televangelists and street preachers.

These were the radical evangelicals in my mind.

I grew into the evangelical world when I was in college and I found myself surrounded by college youth group peers who were ‘normal evangelicals’.  We had huge pizza parties like the young evangelicals did back home but if they spoke in tongues it wasn’t in your face.  They were serious about spreading the word of God but they wanted to spread the love of God as well.  It was during this time that I found comfort in the evangelical world because my friends taught me that being an evangelical meant that we were to spread The Good News.

The same Good News I knew from those first Sunday School classes.

THIS was the love of God I was told and believed.

I did it all – the tracks, the retreats and conferences, the Bible studies, the fasting… College was a time where I didn’t demur and openly admitted that I was ‘high on God’.

My very first presidential vote was spiritually motivated because I believed that I needed to vote for the best Christian.

I voted other people into office because my friends told me that they represented ‘our values’; they were pro-life, anti-gay, honorable to God…  These were the same values I strived for.  There wasn’t an election back then that I didn’t use my vote as an outward expression of evangelical dislike, fear or repudiation of gays, Muslims, and people not like me and my friends.

And then something crazy happened: God moved in my young evangelical heart and told me to move to New York City so I could save these people.

Or so I thought.

Little did I know that these people would save me.

Meeting people different from myself didn’t hasten my resolve to ‘change the world’ but it broke it.  The world, I realized, couldn’t be changed by me alone because God was much bigger and was weaving something bigger than I could see.

The people different from me became my neighbors, my bosses, my mentors, my friends.

New York changed me quickly and quietly moved me to shed my evangelical coat though I kept it in my closet so I could pull it out if my old friends ever came by.

Though my status changed from Christian to Christ Follower in search of The Good News it was still very easy to flip between the two if needed.

On one hand I was hip and on the other I was a fading evangelical holding onto an antiquated but still semi-relevant belief system.

This worked until I realized that I, myself, belonged in that same paradigm of seclusion.

You see, it’s easy to be evangelical and outwardly love people who are different (if that’s the depth at which you stay without looking at the inside).  It’s damn near impossible, though, to be evangelical in the sense that I was and be one of those people who were different.

I realized, after long struggle, that my attraction to men was not a spiritual distraction.

Not only did I get to the point that I could openly admit to myself that I was attracted to men but I was OK with who I was and I desperately wanted to continue to belong to the church.

Because I knew I needed that simple Good News from the second grade.

The same good news that was mixed with the evangelical roots of my high school days and the foundation of my college days.

I wanted God to love me because at this point I was convinced that he didn’t or couldn’t.

I gave up my evangelical thirst for Good News long before I came out partly because the writing was on the wall.

I was different.
I was one of them.
I didn’t fully belong in the fold of God.

I had hurt people with my words in the past only to find out that those words applied to me too.

I was hurting people like me by choosing to belong.

I didn’t realize it then but being an evangelical can be a good thing and it’s only now that I learned to be one.  The hunt for The Good News and the declaration of it in our lives IS A GOOD THING.

The Good News is most alive in our relationships.

Being a Christian is not about who we vote for or what we we hand out or what and how we do things in a precise way just to create feelings.

It’s not what we say that matters, it’s what we don’t say.

Christ’s verbal communication is dwarfed in the scriptures by his nonverbal communication.  Christ lived through his actions and that’s what The Good News is about.

I’m coming around to considering myself an evangelical again.  It’s so different this time though.

I’m not conservative anymore but let’s be honest and say that doesn’t matter to God.

I’m not going to necessarily declare anything from the street corner because I’ve seen more lives changed over a cup of coffee or a bottle of beer.

And I’m definitely not going to tell you that you’re wrong because I’ve done the wrong things before in my life thinking they were right.  It’s more important to love and celebrate people, helping them overcome life’s trials.

I am going to share what I do know or admit to you that I don’t know something – and embody both.

I’m going to learn from my past and the present and I’m going lean into it – because this ‘new’ evangelicalism isn’t really new but rather a simplification closer to what Jesus talked about.

This idea of being a new type of evangelical might actually be as simple as it gets since it’s about sharing what  the Good News is, however radical and ‘crazy’ some may think it is.

Mapping The Dotted Lines of Life

Brooklyn 1949
1949 Brooklyn by NuVue Studio

There’s a map of Brooklyn (and the greater NYC vicinity) on a wall in my apartment.  At first glance this map is ordinary with one exception: it’s old and from 1949.

Someone might glance over this map and say “oh, it’s interesting” not giving it a second glance, letting it fall into the background of an otherwise typical Brooklyn apartment.

And yet everyday I find myself enamored by this map.

Not only does the historic nature capture my mind but the details that the map contains keep me coming back to it day after day.

If you’re familiar in any way with Brooklyn and New York City you see all the familiar points of reference – Coney Island, Prospect Park, Atlantic Avenue, Borough Hall, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, the airports and the like – everything that would be on a map of New York City today.

But if you look closely you’ll see differences that only come with the passage of 60 years:

  • Some neighborhoods have disappeared, been renamed, or engulfed by others.
  • Street names are slightly different – some completely unfamiliar.
  • Train lines are present but you realize that there are no subway lines noted.
  • The famed JFK airport is known simply as N.Y. International Airport.
  • Floyd Bennett Field is a large focal point on Brooklyn’s southern exposure.

The most telling difference, though, is found in the City’s highway system.  Parkways reigned in 1949, even within the city limits, and the Eisenhower Interstate System had yet to take shape (both locally and nationally).  Most of the major highways as we know them were still being dreamed of throughout New York City.

On the map there are a series of dotted lines with these notations:

  • ‘Tunnel Under Construction’
  • ‘Proposed Connecting Highway’

The Battery Tunnel didn’t fully exist when this map was made.  The BQE – a now critical artery – was but a proposed idea in a city planner’s mind.  Other major roads are not even noted because they weren’t even conceived of at that early point in 1949.

Many features that shape our City’s landscape were thought of as mere dotted lines in 1949.

But yet now we can’t imagine a map without these critical transit components.

I realize everyday looking at this map of 1949 Brooklyn/NYC that it largely reflects my life as it is but not how I necessarily view it.

I have an imprint of what my life is in my mind.  I know what the past was because I’ve endured and experienced it.  And I have separate, sometimes grandiose ideas of the future that sort of guide me.  But these internalized maps are separated from one another, the dotted lines of proposed features in my life are vague when transposed on the map of my reality.

Not that I don’t have dreams and hopes for the future – I very much do – but there’s a part of my mind that doesn’t connect the future with the present.

The maps of our lives include three rigid views: the past, the present, and the future.  Very few of us, I believe, know how to live with dotted lines to connect our present with our future while retaining an honest and helpful vision of our past.  Unlike the city planner and mapmaker from 1949, we’ve lost the ability to preserve the present and still dream big dramatic changes to our current landscapes with realism and action.

Perhaps this is because dotted lines are tentative – they aren’t real.  They represent a best guess at what’s possible in the future.

2014 is not a time in which we easily or readily accept the intangible nature of dotted lines.

Dotted lines can change.  But dotted lines help us be dreamers of a future that isn’t yet realized.  They help us put on the map of the present not only what is currently changing but they help us make sense of a new landscape to come.

The truth is that in 10-20-30 years the map of my life won’t look the same as it is today.  Truth be told, even more, my idea now of the future won’t ever be the utopian desire I have in my mind.

It will be something better – something real – something that blends past, present and future.

What would it look like if we started putting dotted lines on our current map and we throw away the rigid map of a completely altered future?

Maybe we put these dotted lines down where our faith gets a little shaky and we start to understand what it means to be led blindly.

Maybe we put these lines down for our hopes and dreams – giving them a sense of purpose now instead of waiting for them to come down the road.

Maybe we document the changing landscape of our lives if only to show our future selves where we came from (the good and the bad) and where we have the potential to go.

Make a stake on the future with the full reality of the present.

Things will change as they always do and there’s no way to account for the unknown but maybe, just maybe, the dotted lines of our dreams that we build on today’s foundation will become a roadmap to our future reality.

Time will tell as we adjust our maps based on the ever changing present reality but let’s make a stake on our current lives and our current circumstances for the future.

Let’s be dreamers and walk together on the dotted lines of life.

I Don’t Know

If they weren’t ringing in my ears and always at the front of my mind these words would seem simple but yet there they are – three penetrating syllables that occupy a new and strange home in my heart.

“I don’t know.”

I’m sitting across from one of my best friends on a late Friday night in the City and these words roll off my tongue in an unnatural but yet easy fashion.

Just a few moments ago I had taken a large sip of beer, kicked my ego out the door and I told him that I was gay.

As my friend starts to ask questions these words find an awkwardly comfortable space that might best be represented by the Sour Patch Kids candy I enjoyed as a kid: first sour, then sweet and finally gone – all the while not quite what you expected.

Answering the questions (and being open to them) may be just as good for me as asking them (and being open to the responses) is sometimes for others.

Yes, some questions are easy to answer but I find that others bring unexpected delays.

Sometimes this is because the answer itself is hard to say and lays somewhere between the black and white of normal human comfort.

My friend has asked the question and the question begs an answer but with that sip of beer wearing off I’m finding it hard to answer because the words and the place I find myself, as I said, are still very foreign.

I push on.

It’s not that there’s difficulty in being open.

In fact, each day brings new ease and comfort in being open about who I am.  It’s both healing and cathartic to speak about who I am; I love sharing the version of me that extends past the character I’ve lived for my first thirty years.

No, for me it’s the limited vocabulary that the new openness has brought.

Gone, or at least waning, are the days of covering up who I am. I’m exhausted with the half-truths and misdirection that I lived and rich/verbose language no longer suffice.

The masks fit the person who I was, not the person I know I am.

“I don’t know.”

There it is again.  Another question asked for which there is no good answer.

The questions people ask that I don’t have good answers for aren’t trivial questions.  In fact, they are the questions I ask of myself.

They’re the questions that have risen from the past that now have the potential to create restless nights or long days.  They are the questions that I ask of myself – the who, what, how and why of what has made me ME over the years.

It wasn’t ‘supposed’ to be like this.

‘I’ll come out and everything will make sense.’

‘I’ll have explanations for the years of misdirection and half-truths I told myself and others.’

‘God will speak into my life in ways I can understand.’

‘I’ll come out and I’ll be able to tell the ones I’ve loved and cared for the most.’

“I don’t know.”

Again and again – the words ring out.  It’s at some point in this conversation or the one after that or the one after that I start to laugh.

It’s not a crazy laugh but a subtle chuckle when I realize that there’s something bigger at play.

I realize that I’m not meant to have the answers that I want.  Sometimes the best answer is not black or white.

It’s gray.  It’s neutral.

My heart speaks and says that time needs its space to do its thing to help me find my way – to the answer, to the conversation, to the part where you and I break bread together.

And there’s beauty in that.

It’s the realized beauty that says that “I don’t know” is a resting place.

This resting place is where I stop trying to understand and I learn to just be.

There is beauty in that unknown.


I live between two worlds now.

Instead of places of ‘being’, these worlds feel more like the stereotypes that we grew up with as kids in grade school.  This is ironic because I’ve always struggled with stereotypes because when we use them they inevitably draw larger borders around our worlds than what’s really needed.

I’m gay. There’s a big one.
I’m Christian.  There’s an equally big one.

I may have a clearer sense of my sexual identity but that pride and confidence wanes when I fall into the trap of rationalizing who I am with who I was, not just with myself but with others.

I may trust God more because of the hellish road he and I have journeyed on but I wake up in the morning sometimes wondering what it really means to be a child of God.

Most days I still struggle with what it means to be me – publicly, privately, spiritually…

I know that there’s nothing that makes me different from the person next to me – I’m the same person I was before but now I see more of who God made me than I did before.  I am closer to who God made me but I also know that the closer we get to anything truly of God the more messy things and maybe confusing things get.  What I forget is that with the messiness comes the inherent (divine) beauty that comes on the other side.

Not every question is meant to be given a crisp, packaged answer.  With thirty years of inadvertent misdirection to unpack I realize that some of that may be meant to stay packed.  Perhaps by being openly gay God is teaching me for the first time the essence of surrender found in three simple but humbling words.

I’m still new in this space but I believe more than I have in the past that these words can lead a person, in any situation, to a place where grace and love slow you down leaving you speechless and on your knees.

“I don’t know.”

I say these words when there’s no easy answer and the question turns into a momentary, paralyzing thought.

These words surface when nothing makes sense.

These words are blunt.  They are scary and cause the heart to beat a little faster.

They are also bold and very beautiful – they are words that provide rest.

For me, these reactions can happen all at once.  The words lead me down a path into new territory – they stretch past the stereotypes, they straddle the gray found between comfort and discomfort, and they safely envelope my past but firmly reach toward my future.

There are times that we runaway from the things that are scary and unknown.

Trust me when I say that this is both a good thing and a bad thing.  Sometimes this is the only response I’ve had to something that I didn’t quite understand or couldn’t easily comprehend.

But what I’ve found is this: Running parallel inside and between the scary and the unknown is beauty and contentment waiting to wrap us up in this crazy force of healing momentum.

It may sound like I’ve found a place where I’m OK with not having the answers.

I have not.

I still want the satisfying answers but I know that the way I’ve previously sought the answers was wrong.  The emphasis of my search was on the past rather than from the point where my story continues today.

I strive to start the answers with who I am today – who God made me – and make my way from there.

“I don’t know” is an OK and safe place to be.  It allows me to prioritize questions with the expected answers.  It replaces the emphasis of speaking with the practice of thinking and being.

There’s power and strength when we look into the eyes of the unknown and say “I’m not comfortable and I’m struggling at times but I know who I am and who I am not. I know that in what I lack, God is there.  And all that wrapped together makes things OK”.

My hope is that this will stick with me as I mature.  My hope is that this practice will strengthen my trust in God.

I hope that these raw and beautiful words can be building blocks for a future where I understand more of others, more of myself, and most importantly more of God.

Then again… I just don’t know.

The Angels’ Song

There in the beginning, did you hear the sound of darkness?
There in the beginning, did you hear the angels sing?

In the beauty of  creation, in God’s mighty hand

He was formed and envisioned, to be our one salvation

He lived a life of righteousness

You gave us your love

There in the beginning, did you sense the fall of darkness?
There in the beginning, did you sense the angels’ pain?

At the time of salvation, we nailed Him to a cross

His blood and spirit poured onto the earth you created

We broke our promises and turned our backs

Yet He showed us love

Now at the beginning, do you see the new sun dawning?
Now at the beginning, do you hear the angels’ song?

At the time of darkness, in our lonely state

You remind us of your promises;
in resurrection you’re here to stay

You give us hope and meaning

And in this we find your love

Were you there in the beginning when the angels sang?
Did you hear the angels singing? Do you hear the angels’ song?

We accept the image you gave us setting aside our selfishness

In the beauty of your creation, we are formed and molded

Surrendered to your love

Surrendered to your love

A Prayer For New York

On a day etched in the minds of people everywhere, a simple prayer I have for the City and those live here:

For the city that never sleeps – take rest.

For the people that never stop – pause.

On the streets that always change – remember what has come before…
…. but embrace the here and now.

For the city that moves on – know your full future potential.
Explore the human heart.  Engage in your culture.  Know who you are.

Helps us learn how to invest in one another.

Out of the mist rises goodness and greatness where people endure …
… and hearts can be healed.

We are becoming…  Lead us there, oh Lord.



Half Built Walls

As I write this I’m looking out the window of a coffee shop in my neighborhood at a building being built.  It’s about half completed and it looks ugly.

Some walls haven’t been completely built.  There are no finishing aspects such as windows, air conditioner units, or landscaping.  Floors are visibly unfinished with wall studs open to the outdoor elements.  Construction debris litters the ground.  The exterior of the building is partially covered in ugly gray stone that clearly doesn’t look right and should be rethought by the design team.

I pass this building on my daily commute twice a day and every time I see it I wish they would tear it down and restart their efforts or at worst abandon the project altogether.

With cranes, scaffolding, and other sore sights this building could as easily be a dilapidated building as a brand new construction.  I can draw only two conclusions of the finished state by looking at what I see:

  1. I could be completely right and the building could be a complete architectural fiasco.  Much like this finished architectural anomaly on 23rd Street.
  2. I could be wrong and it could turn out to be a well designed and visually pleasing building that will add beauty and purpose to my daily commute forever and ever and ever.

Maybe that second opinion was slightly over the top but the fact remains that I can only see what I see.  I’m not the designer nor am I the architect with the master plans.  Moreover, I have a vision of what it could be that may or may not line up with the final outcome.

Seasons of renewal and transformation bring points of this important architecture critique (OK, it’s really fairly trivial, right?) to bear in my personal life.  These are the seasons where things are moving and changing, the times of life where I feel most uncomfortable because I am dealing with the tug of war in my heart, with my faith, in my being.  It’s the place of personal importance where I play critic to a process that is not entirely mine.  It’s the place where I want to give up pain for fleeting pleasure.

It’s the tug of war between something being made out of nothing.  It’s about change versus the status quo.  The moments where beliefs are being formed where nothing existed before.

I want to pass judgement, I want to make hasty changes, and most of all I want to believe that my opinion about my current state is in actuality fact.  The truth is that during these times of my life I have very little idea of up from down, let alone the prowess to critique my current state.

When I look at the past, I can see that growth comes often in a messy, chaotic, and disorganized form.

However, when I look at the present I want life to be ideal and orderly – most definitely without complications.

God knows we are broken vessels but from day one he has striven for us to live more fully and completely.  He is the architect and the designer of our lives.  He, not me, holds the vision of the final product – every intricate change, every minute adjustment, and every moment of growth.  Don’t be fooled by the sometimes cliche movement of God’s work.  When you look at the course of human history he has spent more time participating in the formation of mankind than any other endeavor.

Embrace the messy.

These seasons are painful because they challenge me to surrender control in areas that I would rather not.

They hold a bigger vision than what I can see.

Maybe the moment that everything click comes after this season or after the next or even at the end of a lifetime of seasons.  No matter when, today’s moment is worth it because one day you’ll look at it and see the beauty created under such unsuspecting circumstances.

The mess and disorder – the pain and chaos – in our lives might well be indicators of something beautiful, something profoundly important still to come.

Let’s Do This Together

If any of us are truly serious about bringing God’s love and hope to this world, we need to first get over ourselves and then join hands building something together. The only way to create true change is doing it together, putting aside our selfish ambitions – in relationships, at work, in our churches, in our communities, in our hearts, with God…

The only true way to bring effective change is through the denial of the self and embracing the radical concept of community.

One person can maybe make a dent but can you imagine what could be accomplished when we face the difficulties in this world together and not alone?

I need you and you need me.

Believe it – God gave us all different gifts and skills to leverage against one another – I think there was that one piece of wisdom saying “let iron sharpen iron”.  We’ve spent so much time believing that this is about what “I” can do for me and not about what “We” can do for others that the focus of our lives has become deformed, maligned, and malformed.


We were not made to encounter life alone.  Change will not be found unless we’re in it together.  We cannot approach God’s kingdom unless we join with him and with each other bringing love and grace to this broken world.


Stop trying to be a super-man and start being a brother – a sister, picking the other up so both can be destined for success.

This world is not our alone – the responsibility is shared and the work must be done together.  Let me start – what can I do for you?