Monday, March 7, 2016

The Audacity of Forgiveness

For quite some time now- almost a year, in fact- I have been struggling with forgiveness.

I haven't been struggling with believing that the people who said, "I forgive you" really forgave me, though that certainly was a battle at the beginning.

And I haven't been struggling with forgiving myself, though even now I'm not sure exactly where I stand on that. My thoughts of forgiveness have been more externally focused (naturally, as I am a rather extroverted person). They've been on God, and they've been on the morality of it. They've been burning with my unspoken reaction of...

"But I don't deserve to be forgiven."

I don't deserve mercy because what I did was bad, and bad things don't deserve good rewards. They deserve punishment. And the thing that's so hard to fight about that train of thinking is that it's true. We all know it's true. The Bible declares it's true. Evil deserves punishment. Disobedience deserves correction. Guilty actions deserve a sentence. Our inner sense of justice (even if you believe that morality differs among different people and people groups) begs us to do something; we rightly believe that sin should be dealt with and righteousness, kindness, and bravery should be rewarded.

And I have fought and fought God over His forgiveness because I know that I didn't deserve it.

I still don't.

But the problem comes in this.

The problem is that God has shown Himself in Jesus, and Jesus forgave a bunch of people who didn't deserve it.

As I was driving to my job this morning, I told God, "I need you to forgive me. I need to know that you forgive me, even though I don't deserve it." And God told me to think about Jesus. He told me to think of all the people Jesus forgave- the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Peter for his denials, and, most notably, His crucifiers. Jesus forgave the men that killed Him as they were killing Him.

Then God said to me, "And do you think you're the exception?" It was as if He said, "Oh yeah, right, out of all the people in existence, you, David, are the one exception to my grace. I'll forgive everybody else for all the horrible things they've done, but you're the one exception (all of this said in a sarcastic voice that God knows I respond well to."

The reality is that none of us have ever deserved God's forgiveness. We do not earn His forgiveness, and none of us is the exception. And the thing that makes God's forgiveness so amazing and appalling and sometimes literally unbelievable is that we haven't earned it. God's mercy is free and He charges us nothing when He agrees to take our sin and throw it as far away as He can (and God has a pretty darn strong arm).

If Jesus can forgive His closest friends betraying Him and His crucifiers for killing Him and Paul for slaughtering His followers, He can forgive me and He can forgive you. We are not exceptions.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Looking Inside

I look inside myself and I find this new need to be constantly distracted- with something. It could be video games or a tv show or funny images on the Internet, but whatever it is, it's a tool to silence the way I really feel and what I'm thinking.

And it's not a way to live. It's a way to die. It's a way to wither and shrivel- to acknowledge that there is a problem but take no time to mend it. It's like using air freshener to drown out the smell of smoke filling your house. Sure, it's possible that you'll remove the smell that reminds you of the fire, but the fire will continue to burn your house down and everything will be lost.

But our hope is this- that we have a God that is big enough and strong enough and loud enough to get our attention and wake us up, and He can give us his Spirit so that we have the strength to fight the fires of our hearts and our relationships and our world.

Really though, this is shallow. This idea that God needs us to cooperate in order to save us.

He doesn't.

He is strong enough and loving enough to save us from our fires without us even asking- though I think that sometimes He wants us to ask. He wants what is best for us and what's best for us is Him, but we get so self-focused that when God saves us, we credit ourselves. And the worst part of that isn't even that we are proud and arrogant and ignorant, or even that we're lying to ourselves. The worst part is that when we relocate and the new house catches on fire, we won't ask for help and we won't trust Him and we will miss out on how amazing He really is. The worst part is that we pass an opportunity to be intimate with the God of everything.

And it's such a sadness that God shows His kindness and we are so blind as to think that we are good and we are capable in and of ourselves.

I assure you that the other bad part of self-focus is grief. When we focus on ourselves too much and too long, we realize how incapable and small we are, and that's a helpless and hopeless thought- to think that you can't fix others and you can't even fix you. To look inside and know that you can't save yourself.

But God is and was, and is coming to the proud and the broken and those in burning houses, and He is rescuing. If your heart can't believe that and your soul still aches and you question all that I write...well, I still won't worry about you. God is not in need of your request, your belief, nor your approval in order to show loving kindness to you and bless you and saturate you in the goodness that chases you.

And so I will love you and He will save you, and one day...well, one day there will be no more fires and no depression and no distractions. One day we will simply live and love and grow warm in His house, and He will prevent fires and make our food and reign as we worship.

And that is a comforting thought.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Broken Beautiful?

Before I get too deep into this, I'd like to make a preface.

This entry is for broken people. It's for people with brokeness of all kinds. Maybe what broke you was a relationship, a death, a divorce, losing your kids, depression, loss...maybe it still breaks you, but whatever it is, this entry is for you. And what I'm going to type here on this bright little screen in a big dark room isn't meant to say you aren't beautiful, because you are. It's to say.....well, lemme just get into it.

Broken Beautiful?

Over the past couple years I've heard several songs on the Christian radio (and I'm sure this KISS FM's play these too) that talk about brokeness, and that somehow desperation is more beautiful than a hallelujah. Or I've heard that the way we fall apart is beautiful. Or that we're broken and beautiful. Or yada yada yada yada fill in the get my drift?

Before I say the big punch in the face to all of these poorly thought out and philosophically unsound songs, let me say that I understand their point. I understand it's for irony's sake. I understand that their goal is to remind you of your value and beauty that's sustained because of who you are, not how you are. I'll be the first to admit that I've needed one of these songs before...

But my's a lie.

A big fat lie.

Because your brokeness isn't beautiful...your brokeness sucks. It sucks to wake every morning with an ache in your heart so deep that words can't even describe it. It sucks to have that person you lost on your mind every moment of every day all the while knowing you'll never be with him or her ever again. It sucks to help your dad move into an apartment with his new girlfriend. It's painful to wake up everyday already tired before you even get out of bed.

It's even worse to feel tears stream down your face like razorblades onto your pillow every night. And my dear friends...

That is NOT beautiful.

I refuse to believe in a God who would want us in that place. I refuse to believe in a God who would desire for us to suffer sleepless nights and bloodless wounds for the rest of our days on this earth. I refuse to believe that a good Dad wants that for His children.

In's what I believe.

I believe in a Jesus who took all of our brokenness, sin, pain, suffering, and death upon Himself so that we wouldn't have to bear that punishment and weight. I believe in a Jesus who walks next to me every single day even when I think I'm alone. I believe in a Jesus who loves to see His friends smile. I believe in a Jesus who saves; I believe in a Jesus who doesn't create ashes, but who takes our ashes and sprinkles them on the dirt so that something beautiful could grow because of them.

So is your brokeness beautiful? No. But what God makes out of it is.

I believe in a Father who's in the business of mending wounded souls, in a Father who's arms are wide open and warm for His beloved children. I believe in a Father who can intervene at any moment and turn our storms into peace.

But I don't believe in a Father who thinks the storms are peaceful, or who thinks our fallen state is desirable, or who wants us to  be broken.

And so my friends, you are beautiful because you are made in His image, His are fearfully and wonderfully and beautifully made. But don't think that God wants you to stay broken. He sent His Son so that you could be healed, delivered, restored, redeemed, joyful, whole, and free.

Your friend,


Sunday, July 21, 2013


Pain is like a river. Though it can sway left and right, it always carries you down. Sure you can fight it, swim against the tide, conquer the impossible for a little while. But eventually you will get exhausted and end up going the same direction you would have gone in the first place- to bigger and greater waters...

Unfortunately pain is not a gentle river. You can't grab a canoe and gracefully row down and down. Pain isn't even a clean river. This river has sharp twists and turns, fish, algae, and dirt swirling about. It's a quick fall in some parts, and a shallow one in others. But one thing is for certain-those who endure it always arrive somewhere better.

But my hope for you this morning isn't simply to let you know that there's an end to your pain. After all some rivers are much longer than others, and who knows how long yours will be? But my comfort to you this morning is to let you know that you are not paddling alone- there are others who, though in different rivers, are also paddling and enduring. Though we may not be together in location, we are together in experience...and to me, it is a nice thought to know I am not alone.

And lastly, above all this, there's a mighty God, who in mercy just as great, got in your boat and He paddles with you. No, His promise isn't to take you out of the river to dry land. And no, His promise isn't to do all of the paddling alone. But He does make a much greater promise, and that is to be with you the whole way, to be some one you can talk to, some one you can confide in, some one you can trust. Through this pain, He will always prove Himself.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

At the Seams

A darkness has been revealing itself in the world for some time now, but especially in the last few years. We as communities of people and countries and government have seen the horror that men of twisted and perverse doctrine can bring. We have seen it in the murder of innocent children at Sandy Hooks Elementary. We have seen it at a movie theater shooting in Colorado. We have seen it in a bombing at a marathon in Boston. And we have found that this darkness is truly deep and black. We have found that it shows no mercy and seemingly no end except death. We have found that even the atheists and secular media will turn to religious explanation and spiritual direction in these times.

But we have also seen that as we tear the seams of humanities fabric good people do exist and light can shine and overcome the darkness. We have seen that at the core of our very nature there is a tendency to destroy, but also a tendency to heal and help. I have watched in wonderful astonishment how God weaves our broken world back together everytime we shred it, and I am so in love with how He loves us. I have seen that His principles of unity and benevolence can stand strong even in the face of bleeding wounds and blasted limbs.

It is a lovely thought to think that people will come together when what really matters- what we all agree matters, which is life, love, children, healing- is being made to seem fragile and falling apart. I love that people will turn to God in their need, even if they are turning to different gods. I love that hope will rise out of the chaos, and that politics though messy and entangled are fought over for the sake of the lost, wounded, and oppressed. I love that though we have a tendency to run from God and break His law, He has a tendency to chase us and even shine His light through us. He is the God of light. Of life. Of hope.

In conclusion, I am happy not because of the losses we have endured and the bombs we have triggered, but I am happy because of the hope I have seen and the unity I have watched come out of it. I am happy because God is still moving to rescue us, and we are in such need of rescue.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Faith. Faith is how we walk, and that through which we are saved.

Love. Love is the pressing on and the reason we press on. Love is the movement. Love is the sacrifice.

But hope? Well hope is born of the other two. See, without faith in a good God above it all- faith in His benevolence and intervention- there is no hope at all. Who else has the words of eternal life? who else is perfectly pure and omnipotent?

Without love we have a flawed God whom we cannot have faith in.

Without love there is no intimacy, no passion, no trust.

Love is what we all hope for most. The longing to be fully known and utterly cherished is bred into all of us.

But oh how we have fallen. How we have twisted and turned and broken all good things. We have turned sex into a bargain or a short term contract. We have turned money into the dependable- into a savior of sorts. We have prized our prizes over each other.

We have turned kindness into manipulation and humility into weakness.

Is there any hope at all? Is there hope for the rich sinner basking in his lusts? Is there hope for the addict who can only wish it's the last time but knows it isn't? Is there hope for the poor and powerless? For the widows and orphans?

My friends, our system has not worked. We have fought for high places, but some one must end up low. We have seeked pleasure over commitment. I too am guilty of this.

There is not a righteous man on earth who always does what is right and never sins. So where is hope? Is it in rulers & kings? In government and contract? Is it in good men? Is it in wealth that hungers and pierces? I would believe a resounding no.

But...there is hope. There is hope of a brighter day when Love will come and wipe all tears away.When Light will shine in even the darkest deepest places. When captives will be set free and the weary will have rest.

And even now Love is moving deeper still, making wrongs right and turning wounds into memories.

Love is in our words and compliments. Love is the story of an autistic child being caught from an air conditioner by a bus driver, and a seal nudging a desperate man to the shore, and red and blue buying shoes for a homeless man. Love is in the students donating thousands to save thousands.

Love is in the colors of the sunrise and the taste of sugar on our tongues.

Hope is here, and His name is Jesus.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Any Hope at All

Dear God,

If there is any hope at all, let it be found in you. Please don't let my eyes simply see it, but let my heart feel it.

If there is any hope at all, let it be beautiful and passionate as you are beautiful and passionate. Let the light shine so bright that we ache in our repentance.

If there is any hope at all, please use me as strength for the weak and food for the hungry. Please be my strength.

If there is any hope at all, speak that we may hear it, and love so that we may send it. Move so that life is here, and break us until life is found.

If there is any hope at all, may Your voice grow louder and all the others grow softer. May Your words be heard and all others forgotten. May You be the path we follow.

And dear Healer, if there is any hope at all, heal the broken hearts and mend the broken spirits.

And dear Redeemer, if there is any hope at all, save us from our own selves. Save us from our sinful and twisted ways.

And dear Father, who is our hope, let there be peace and comfort found in Your presence, and draw us into You.

And dear God, if there is any hope at all, hear my prayer and move in power. Your love is everlasting. Amen.