What Would People Think?

this is not like me.

i promise you. i talk about a lot of things and write about even more but even this is a taboo topic for me normally. i don’t really like to talk about my personal thoughts about Jesus.

but.

i probably should.

usually i am most moved by music and most of my material for writing comes from songs i randomly hear. this is no exception.

i heard this song from the 90’s the other day… “what would people think if they heard that i was a Jesus freak?”

and i began to think about it. what would people REALLY think if i said i was a real Jesus freak? i mean, i have a rule, i don’t talk about politics or religion unless i know how the outcome of that conversation will be. why stir up the hornets nest if you don’t want to get stung?

but here’s the thing. i do love Jesus. a lot. why should i be afraid to say that?

it’s so much easier to argue about sports, because in the end, does it really matter? no one is losing sleep because i love the yankees more than the tigers. it is not going to affect anyone else. even in politics, will people really be angry if i am a democrat? even if i claim to be a Christian? that’s really not my problem. but talking about my faith? do i really want to put myself on a pedestal? what if people don’t feel the same way? worse yet, what if people expect me to live up to the expectations?

the song goes, “i don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak, there ain’t no disguising the truth.”

i guess that is what has always made me nervous, that there might be some disguising of the truth. that what people see in me is not what should be seen. i am not always a nice person. i have little tolerance for things or people that annoy me. i don’t love the way Jesus loves. i don’t care for everyone the way Jesus does, so how can i call myself a Jesus freak?

i wish i had those answers. but i want to be a Jesus freak. it’s actually pretty cool. i don’t expect to live up to the high and lofty expectations everyday or ever. i am going to stumble and i am going to crack and fall. maybe that is what makes being a Jesus freak so enticing, because i know i can’t do it under my own power. i will never be the bible-thumping door to door Jesus salesman. i won’t always initiate conversations about the end times and whether there is a purgatory or wonder about the age of the earth. those things might be for some people. i just know that as a flawed person, there must be more for me than the everyday. and being a Jesus freak, it might just be the way to go.

what if i stumble?

“What if I stumble, what if I fall?

What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?

Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?

What if I stumble, and what if I fall?

I hear You whispering my name

 ‘My love for You will never change’ “

DC Talk

so sometimes i sing in the shower. no big deal. everyone does. this morning for some reason i found myself singing an old DC Talk song, “What If I Stumble”. if you don’t know DC Talk, they were pretty much THE Christian music band i could listen to back in the 90’s when i was in my teenage years.

this song always resonated with me for some reason, maybe because of the fear that was dripping from the lyrics, asking God, really… what if i did stumble… what if i became a “somebody” and my actions caused the walls to come crashing down… would the love continue?  i was always fearful that maybe i would lose that love if i screwed up or did something stupid.

i find that these days… in my seemingly never-ending pursuit of the suddenly incredibly elusive career job i desire so badly… that i become sometimes overwhelmed with that question. “what if i stumble?” what if i take a job and i can’t do it and i make fools of everyone? what if i am not smart enough, what if i can’t do it the way i said i could? what if… what if… what if…

i think so many of us think that way. what if whatever i try to do in this world doesn’t matter. what if i stumble? what if i’ve already stumbled? what if i don’t feel good enough?  what if the walk becomes a crawl? will the love continue?

when i was singing this song in the shower, i started singing the part where it says…

“I hear you whispering my name, my love for you will never change”

and i hesitated and then smiled, because i knew that the only fool is me… i am a fool if i think stumbling or failing is going to change anything. His love for me never changes, no matter what I do. that is pretty crazy. i worry so much about all the things i cannot control that i fail to recognize the one thing that really matters… is truly never ending. never changing.

as the song ends,  the singer states in his sing-songy voice… “you are my comfort and my God”

no matter what we go through in this life. no matter how many times we have stumbled or fallen, no matter how many times we have lied, stolen or cheated… his love for us never changes.

where has all the innocence gone?

when i was a little boy, i was very curious about the world and what it was, who was in it and where it could take you. I would daydream for hours about the different things that could happen in a lifetime.

one day i would be a top-5 basketball recruit on a straight path to the nba. the next day i was the next willie mays … a blast from the past baseball player who could do it all and do it with a smile the size of lake michigan. another day i was a world-traveler solving crimes like the hardy boys and busting up criminals like the dukes of hazzard while driving a van like the one the a-team drove.

i had a crazy imagination.

i think part of this curiosity came from the incessant reading i did as a kid.

i read everything

hardy boys to henry huggins to biographies about the great American heroes. Books about sports figures and Bible heroes and I would even memorize stats about athletes from the 400-page sports encyclopedia-like book my mom bought me.

books have a way of creating this imaginary world in a kid like me.

as I grew older, my curiosity about the world got stronger, but one thing that stood the test was my belief that people were inherently good.  i really believed the best about people. some of you who know me best probably laugh a bit at that, but it’s true. I always believed the best and thought that everyone would think the best about me.

i never realized that sometimes, people don’t have the same perspective. so now, in my early thirties, I have been struck by this new emotion the last couple of years.

disappointment.

when i was a kid, i could never have imagined that i would ever be disappointed in other christians. i never thought that my favorite sports athletes would let me down. i never thought that a local politician that i know personally and has helped me out in the past, could be considered a bigot and a racist yet shake my hand.

it never crossed my mind that people in positions of authority would take advantage of others. that in a normal day we would hear about sex abuse cases and babies disappearing and domestic assaults on women and foot-stomping athletes.

i guess it just makes me wonder… where has all the innocence gone? i used to love my curiosity and my need to know what was going on in the world. i don’t want that to change. but i wonder what this world has truly come to. how did it happen and where do we go from here? i wish i had a cute solution wrapped in a bow that made us all feel better.

i’m not sure a solution wrapped in a bow is attainable… but i would like to hope that there are still kids growing up with the same curiosity that i did.

mysteries of life.

i admit.

there are some things i do not understand.

I do not understand how simple things such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can be turned into a dream of crushing someone else to get what you want.

or how a melting pot can be stirred into a burning desire to build a wall to keep people out.

or how a segment of Americans can be so viciously opposed to one type of death (abortion) while cheering another type of death (war) and supporting yet another (capital punishment). when did we get to decide who dies and when?

it boggles my mind that a local politician, who claims to be a conservative and moral Christian, seeks to take funding away from programs that clothes children in low-income families. there is nothing moral about that. this politician claims to be a “public servant”yet hopes to deny his own constituents. where is the humanity there? 

it is a mystery to me that in West Michigan, where there are churches on almost every corner, the biggest of these churches seem to war with one another.

it is a strange and sad phenomenon that in trying to show a God that loves everything and everyone He ever created, a pastor is vilified for suggesting that there is actually hope for everyone.

i do not remember when Christianity became a members only club.

i admit, i do not understand.

i do not understand how a segment of Christianity can rail against all conventional theory regarding global warming, but in the same sentence can say that the earth is dying and it is their God-given responsibility to take care of it. isn’t the theory of global warming just a nice way of saying that the earth is in decay? if we already knew this was going to happen, why and who are we fighting?

there are many things i do not understand. these mysteries of life. i just wish there was not so much hatred and fear that captures so many people. just as that local pastor describes God’s love, he is besieged with hate from those who claim to have received that love. it is an unbelievable phenomenon. just as local politicians claim to be about the people, they cut funding that benefits the poorest and neediest of those people. many churches put up billboards and have signs stating that all are welcome. however when all show up, many feel anything but welcome. a sad cycle that continues down long roads with many twists and turns. is there any of this you understand? is there any of this that makes sense?

the streets are on fire


it’s all about the people. unless the people are the problem. it’s all about the people. unless the people get in the way.

right-wingers, left-wingers, tea-party activists and the Nader-ites. who is different from the other? one party says yes and the other says no just to spite the other.

Atheists, Christians and Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus. What is your claim? We sit and clamor about right and wrong and tell each other how much better we are than them.

Christians vs. Christians

we cannot wait to get in the face of the other. My belief is better than your belief. My God is better than your God.

Meanwhile, the streets are on fire.

Do I really have to remind you?

Rwanda.

Hurricane Katrina.

What about Darfur?

the AIDS epidemic.

The sex slave trade.

or the Tsunami that wiped out 250,000 men, women and children in Asia in 2005.

or Haiti last year?

now Japan.

and you want to argue politics? now? now is the time to argue about your belief being better than mine?

the streets are on fire. and you are concerned with being right? or more, you want me to be wrong?

what is the difference between religion and politics when both claim to be about the people but then deny the people the love and concern necessary for survival?

What is different about the religions of the world when they all claim to know God, but never stop to remember that God said He was in the people?The same people we fight with.

Christians cannot agree on global warming, “it’s a government money-making machine!” says one side, but forget that the God they say they serve commanded them to take special care of the world they say He gave them.

The issue at hand is the people. not politics or religion or why Al Gore claims the ice caps are melting.

The streets are on fire. The people are dying in them. and yes, the ice caps are melting. What are we going to do about our policies and beliefs and our opinions when the people are gone and no one is here to argue with?

The streets are on fire.

a mystery.

[ editors note: this is a post under the page previous writings on this website that I thought I would edit and re-post in this section. It is something I wrote a few years ago.]

What would I gain if I could explain him in a few words, or even a sentence? What if in a paragraph?

I could use every adjective to explain the existence of God.

What would we gain?


Life is a mystery and that is exactly how he wanted it to be. That is where the truest forms of faith reside.
The key word.

Faith.

Let it hang in the air as you speak it.

Faith.

What does it mean?

the Bible explains faith as the evidence of things unseen. How could there be evidence of things unseen?

The entire idea of evidence is the fact that it is seen.

Yet God is telling us the opposite.
He is saying that we must believe in the existence of some unseen evidence.

Some unknown evidence that supposedly no one has seen.

We must base our entire belief around this ideal of the unseen.

Can you imagine a murder trial, the prosecution bases their entire case around a murder weapon that they can’t find. The head prosecuter stands before the jury and announces

“we don’t know where that weapon is, but we believe it exists, so therefore so should you. The Prosecution rests your honor.”

Right. Not even close.

That would never fly in the courtroom, but it needs to work in our lives.

It has to.

As a Christian, its all I have. I have to believe in the existence of a supposedly unseen God.

But the idea is important. He is not unknown.

He is not unseen.

I think we just look in all the wrong places.

I wonder if ancient civilizations were  all wrong when they worshipped the sun and moon and stars and the ground and mountains and what not.

Wait.

I didn’t say we should worship only the elements, I just wonder if that is where and how they saw their God.

Misguided? Maybe not.

I remember the time when i was riding in a bus in the Andes Mountains in Ecuador, we were so high up, we drove through clouds.

We were driving in the clouds.

There was just something about that moment. There was nothing unseen about it.

God is everywhere man.

Even in middle of combustion and chaos of city and suburbia living.

Even in the mountains, or next to a Great Lake, or on an island in the Caribbean.

So I wonder, is God all that unseen?

Or do we just look in all the wrong places.

Why is it that we insist that He lives in the church building that man made? When did he move in then? When we approved it?

Sometimes to find something, we have to stop and realize

What we were always looking for was right in front of us the entire time.

am i wrong?

if i don’t believe in what you believe…

does it make my belief wrong?

or are you wrong?

why does anybody have to be wrong?

this is what is hard to understand

why do people attack what they don’t agree with with such ferocity?

i am a man of strong opinions, and i get that not everyone agrees with me. we don’t always agree on everything, or anything. thank goodness for that. variety makes life interesting and a little debating is healthy.

a good, healthy argument stirs something within us to acknowledge our belief system regarding a topic.

but why argue? Seriously, why is there such a raging debate about what another person believes? Are we truly that terrified of our own beliefs? if you truly have confidence in your beliefs, then the thoughts and opinions of others should not shake yours. In the same way, if what we believe in is true and right, then nothing will hold back truth for too long. The term, “the truth will set you free”, applies here.

It should not be a motivation to force others to believe what we believe.

one | divided

‘we’re one

but we’re not the same

will we hurt each other

then we do it again’ – one – U2

one.

 

one world. one love. one people. one human race.

really?

are we really united as one?

does it feel this way to you?

wars

murders

crimes against each other

political back stabbings and finger pointings

burning the religious teachings our ‘neighbors’ treasure

it really seems difficult to consider us ‘one’ these days.

we live in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. why does it seem difficult to conceive the notion of us being a truly united nation? is this what the idea was? to conjure up an idea of constructing a wall to keep our neighbors out of our country? one nation we stand? oh well if you look like you might not be from here than we are going to need some identification to prove you belong here. that would make sense, if only there was such a thing as being one hundred percent American with no biological ties to other lands.

one?

we are truly losing grasp on what America was built to be. once there was a time when we wanted to be considered a melting pot. a land where people could assimilate their cultures. we once believed that here, on this land, we could practice religion the way we chose, in our own manner and to which ever god we believed in. we deserved that freedom. is that still the case?

a pastor decides he wants to burn the Koran. the holy book of millions of people worldwide. because he wanted to ‘warn’ the radicals. what is truly sad to me is that his fear of other religions overrides the truth of the God he supposedly follows.

one?

this nation continues to fight internally over political endeavors. blaming the ‘other side’ has become the normal way of life. republicans. democrats. tea party loyalists. the ‘one’ thing in common with them is that they blame everyone else. this is not how the system was supposed to work.

we are one?

even if the Koran was not burned does not mean that pastor altered his hatred of the Islamic faith. sadly he has missed the main message Jesus taught regarding others. this is not the idea Jesus had in mind when He said He was the way. He never said that hatred for others was a relevant part of being a Christian. quite the opposite actually. it is sad how little love has come from such a large group of people.

we are truly losing the battle we created for no particular reason. we demanded that the Berlin Wall be torn down but we threaten to build our own. we claim democracy and unity is what the world needs. but we have created barriers within our own borders that make freedoms harder to come by. we send troops overseas to fight wars on foreign soil but we ignore the wars waging everyday here. the wars against the homeless, the addicts, the poor, the flood victims etc. etc. etc. we have lost sight of reality. we have become a people we fought against. we have become the oppressors of freedom instead the ‘beacon of light’ we dreamed of being.

we have become one | divided.

It’s What Separates Us From the Animals

If we don’t stand for something, what is it, don’t we fall for anything?

People die and we barely blink. War is tragic and it is senseless, but we say it’s a necessary evil to fight evil. Have we not become the monster we intended to destroy?  Bono asks…how long do we sing this song? How long?
It’s war, people die…that’s what we say…as if it makes it okay. Handing a mother a folded flag instead of allowing her to see her child grow into old age…that is not necessary…even if it is dignified.

Children are dying because we are looking the other direction. On purpose. People curl up and die on sidewalks, but we are concerned about suburbia, economic growth. What about keeping hearts beating? Generosity? Genuine concern? What have we become?

What is our gift?We have a soul, and we have a conscience.That is our gift.

It is what separates us from the rest of the animals.

God granted us that. For a reason.

When does humanitarianism count? Genuine care for each other? When did that become rare? Why do we praise people for actually caring about others? We give them awards and keys to the city. Why? Because it is rare. But it doesn’t have to be.
Are we not supposed to care about each other? It’s not just Christians banding with Christians. Jews with Jews. Muslims with Muslims. Blacks with Blacks. Whites with Whites. Rockers with Rockers. Rappers with Rappers. Hipsters with Hipsters. We are a “melting pot”.

Life is here. Heaven comes to earth. We should not wait until we reach heaven. Heaven on earth. Peace on earth. How dare we live just to survive?

There is a song that says, “this world is not my home, I am just a passerby”…is that what we are doing…just passing by? How many people do we “pass by” without a second glance…because we are on a higher calling?
Life is here. People should live. Here. Especially if we have the chance to keep them alive. Children should not die before they have a chance to live

This is what would separate us from the rest of the animals