Community Bible Experience Week 2

Okay people, it is week two of our read through the Bible in 40 days campaign!  I hope you are getting as much out of it as I am.  I am looking forward to talking to my group this evening about what I’ve read.  Please find a group of people to hang out with that will be willing to do the same!

Today I was impacted by the passage in Acts 2.  Here’s the part that struck me most.  When Jesus came, He provided salvation to those who believed as well as unity.  To explain that, let’s go to the passage:

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.  

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.” Acts 2:2-6

Okay, now that we are all sufficiently weirded out, let me explain.  This was the early church and Jesus had just ascended into heaven.  I know…still weird.  The point was that Jesus had left the disciples and then went to be in heaven with God.  When He left, He left the Holy Spirit as a helper.  Without getting into too much explanation, the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity.  One God in three persons.  Don’t over think that last point, let’s just keep moving.  The Holy Spirit was left to help guide the Church on this new mission that Jesus had left them which is to “be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

My favorite part of this verse is the response of the people that were listening.

“They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?” Acts 2:7-8

So the disciples were to be about the business of being witnesses but they were all from different backgrounds and cultures.  How were they to communicate?  The Holy Spirit fixed that issue, at least temporarily.  I really don’t want to get into the issues that surround the whole “speaking in tongues” movement, I simply want to point out one thing, God allowed them to hear one another and unite them so that they would all be on the same page and go about the business of being witnesses.

It was almost as if, God was undoing what was done in Genesis 11 at the Tower of Babel.  There, He confused the people and their languages so that they would not perpetrate a greater evil.  Instead, God unites them in language for a period of time so that they could accomplish the greatest good they would ever take part in.  The great news that Jesus came to save humanity and that He was back from the dead!  This offer of salvation was free and by grace alone through faith alone.  This is AMAZING news people!!!

I think we could all take a few moments to consider this in our own lives.  Am I taking part in Jesus’ plan  by focusing on being a witness to my neighbors, Facebook friends and family?  Or, am I getting distracted by politics, personal agendas and being right?  What would we have to do as the family of God, to make Jesus our priority instead of being heard?  How can we unite under the common language of love and deeply impact a hurting people group, nation and world?  Something to consider for this week.








Community Bible Experience Day 1

This week our church began a 40 day journey into the New Testament.  I am so excited that we are all doing this together.  I wanted to take a moment and talk about what I am finding on the first day of this epic adventure!

Today in my reading I came across this verse in Luke 1:68-79.  In this passage, Zechariah speaks about his experience as the father of the one who would pave a way for Jesus.  He was after all the father of John the Baptist.

He says,

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his only covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear…”

My takeaway from this passage is that God’s plan, regardless of how long it takes, will be accomplished.  That is not to be confused with my plan or my dreams.  Sometimes we get sideways with God because He has not accomplished our plans but we are talking about His plans here.  God’s plans to connect in a relationship with all people and deliver them regardless of race or socio economic background.  God will accomplish His plans and He will not forget His promises.

He will also not forget our cries to Him to be delivered from the Enemy.  If we are down because we have sinned against Him or have failed Him for the MILLIONTH time, He still forgives.  It is not our place to abuse that or take it for granted but we should never forget that when we ask for deliverance from our Enemy, Satan, God will give it.

I hope that’s a comfort to you today.  It was for me.  We’ll talk more next week.  Peace to you.


Tired of the Circus

I know, you’re tired of even hearing the word “election” and I don’t blame you.  I’m sick of it too.  The rhetoric, the lying and the hate speech back and forth is enough to make you consider moving to Canada.  Nothing against Canada.  Its a beautiful place.  Its clean, has great scenery and you’ll experience most of the seasons there.  I hear that the health care might not be too bad and the people are nice enough….whoa, sorry I had to shake that off a little.  I was beginning to talk myself into it.  Back to the topic; the election.

There have been multiple times during this process that I have turned to my wife and said, “In my 44 years on this planet, I’ve never experienced an election this horrific.”  We will then say a toast to the end of the world, clink our glasses together and then watch the circus once more.  I know, I shouldn’t watch the circus but I’m having trouble helping myself.  We have been conditioned to watch reality TV and the expectation of it getting worse is too much to pass up.  It would be highly entertaining if we weren’t witnessing the unraveling of the democratic process and if they weren’t being interviewed for the most powerful office, possibly, in the world.  Then it gets real y’all.

It is then that I get really sad, cue up the Pink Floyd music and begin to stockpile duct tape and ramen noodles waiting for the end to come.  I literally can’t believe that we are in a place where this is all that we have to choose from.  So, in my desperation, I began googling independent candidates, surfing channels and reviewing everyone that I know, in search of an independent candidate.  You’ll be happy to know that I found one.  A really good alternative to the circus.

This individual, I’m trying not to give away the gender until the end, is loyal and trustworthy.  When it comes to national security, my experience has been there is no one tougher on people who are suspicious or sketchy than this one.  You won’t have to worry about your borders at all, they will be secure.

I’m sure you are probably wondering, “would I be impressed with his/her character?”  The answer is unequivocally YES!  Once you get to know this individual, you can’t help but love them!  If you need a friend, he/she is there.  I truly believe that foreign leaders would warm up to this president quickly and he/she would single handedly change our perception to the onlooking world.  This newly elected leader will be all about people.  A government “of the people and for the people” would be first and foremost on their agenda.  No one loves their people more than this individual.

How about their view on the budget?  This candidate is fiscally conservative.  He/she needs literally needs nothing to operate and can do a lot with a little.  This choice for president is a minimalists and usually pretty content at heart.

I will say that if there is a weakness, it is that occasionally this person likes to eat cat poop and at times, though very infrequently, has peed and pooped on the carpet because this candidate is my dog: Harley Quinn Snellings.  I’ll be honest and tell you I’m not sure about a running mate because the cat occasionally attacks the dog but I think we are all used to that.

Guys, my dog is a better candidate for President of the United States than what we have right now.  Sure, that was a long way to go for a dig at the current selection, but from my vantage point…it was well worth the journey; very cathartic.  Have a great week and don’t forget Harley Quinn Snellings for president in 2016.  Write her in and you won’t be disappointed.  Unless you throw a tennis ball and want her to fetch it, because she doesn’t quite have that down yet.

The Parable of the Bricks


If you will allow me the room, I’d like to tell you a modern day parable. A man was walking on a beach with a sack of bricks slung over his back at nighttime. Up ahead of him were he could see campfires spaced apart by a few miles. As he reached the first campfire, a friend approached him. “Let me take your bag.” Relieved that someone was willing to take the weight from him, he agreed.” As they walked and talked about sports, the weather and politics, his friend slowed down and said “I guess this is where we part ways.” He then handed him back his bag. Only the bag seemed a little bit heavier than before. He slung the sack over his shoulder and kept walking.

The journey to the next campfire was a little bit more arduous. His legs strained a little bit more. His back was sore from carrying the bag of bricks. He was relieved to see that he was almost at the next campfire. Another friend appeared and asked to carry his bag once more. The man was so relieved and thankful to his friend for agreeing to shoulder his burden. He was able to rest for the second leg of his journey. The two talked about raising children, marriage and work. It was a great conversation. His friend began to sweat from the burden of carrying the bricks. The man felt a little guilty that his friend had to carry it for him. They finally reached their limit. His friend told him “I guess this is where we part ways.” The man thanked his friend for being willing to go this far with him but he realized it was too heavy for him to bear.

When the man slung the bricks over his shoulder, it was heavier than he had remembered. Even heavier than the first time a friend had helped him. Pain shot up his back and his legs were moving in slow motion. The sand shifted beneath his feet and he had trouble getting traction. He looked up ahead and the fire seemed so far away, he wondered how me might make it. Eventually he did. Sweat was pouring from his forehead. He threw the sack down and it hit the earth with a thud. Another friend walked out of the darkness and took his burden. He had trouble lifting it but he finally managed it. He put the bag on his back with a groan and trudged forward with his friend. The conversation wasn’t as easy as before. The man worried about his friend bearing this heavy load. The conversation was forced but they were able to talk about how beautiful the night was, how warm the fire was that they were leaving and how life was at times unfair. His friend was only able to carry the weight for a little while before he reached his limit. “I’m sorry friend, I only have strength for this far, I must get back to the fire and my family. God’s speed.”

The man looked at the bag. He dreaded the thought of picking it up again. He took in a deep breath and exhaled. He then mustered what strength he had left and picked up the sack. He strained as he lifted it to sling over his shoulder. When it reached his back, he crumpled to the ground from the weight of it. He looked forward to the next fire and wondered how he was going to make it. He dusted off the sand from his clothes and prayed for the strength to make it to the next fire. The wind blew and it was cold. The tide began to come in and the water was lapping at his feet. The water and the wind were cold and his feet and hands were getting numb. He once again lifted the sack and slung it over his back. This time his legs strained to straighten so that he could continue his journey.

Every step the man took was a victory. His legs trembled and his back was shooting with the pain from the massive weight he was carrying. His eyes lifted up to the next campfire. He realized he was only half way there. He slowly moved forward but his legs weren’t holding and he could no longer feel his hands because they were numb from the weight and the cold. He took two more steps and then fell into the sand. The bricks had landed on his back and he was pinned face down in the sand. He lay there unable to move and wondered how he would get out of this mess. He cried out to God for someone to help him. Then something miraculous happened. The bag was lifted off of his back. The man managed to roll over in the sand and stared up at the beautiful sky. He saw the stars and the full moon. The cold air blew over his face but this time it was more refreshing that painful.

A face appeared over him. It was a stranger but at the same time this man seemed familiar. He had the bricks slung over His shoulder and did not look tired. He extended His hand to the man. The man reluctantly took it. He was soon on his feet. “Please let me take that. It is too heavy for you. My friends were only able to bear the weight for a time and that is the heaviest yet!”

“Your friends were only able to bear the weight for a time and even though they were not aware of it, they only added to the weight in the end. They had bricks of their own to bear and you took on your bricks as well as theirs.” Confused, the man asked, “Will you add to the weight as well?” “No friend, I will take away all of it from you. If you only ask.” He then handed the man an empty bag. “This is yours to carry. It is My burden. It is light and easy to carry.”

This book is one about faith so you can guess who the stranger is. It is Jesus. I like this parable because it illustrates something very important. Friends can carry your burdens for you but you also carry their burdens as well. That’s a good thing. It is what we are called to do. The important thing to remember is that Jesus removes the weight of our burdens. He trades us in fact. We give Him our worries and He gives us His yoke.

 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

You don’t look happy yet. Maybe you don’t understand what a yoke is. I get that. Since we don’t live in an agricultural society, it sort of loses its punch. A yoke is something that was placed over then neck of oxen to keep them in step with each other as they plowed. The “yoke” that Jesus is talking about is the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees. Their rules were oppressive and rungs of a ladder that you could climb to show others how righteous you were.

There were around 600 laws that a devout Jew was to follow in the Old Testament. The Scribes and Pharisees would pile laws on top of laws. There were certain ways you were to wash your hands, things that defined what “work” looked like on the Sabbath and how much you were to tithe. They would even define for you how much of your spices you were to give! That’s pretty detailed. I’m exhausted just thinking about it; imagine what it would be like to live that way.

Jesus is saying, “My yoke, is easier than theirs. It is light by comparison. My plan and direction for you is one of love and mercy. It isn’t contingent upon your obedience or your ability” In other words, my kingdom is not about how good you are, it’s about how good I am.” This is why Jesus came: to live a perfect life, because we could not, and to die for our sins, which we could not pay for. He did all to make God’s name great. Al it requires from you is belief and trust. We call that faith.

That’s why Paul says this in Galatians:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

The Promised Land was the destination of Israel for centuries. They finally made it to Canaan and possessed it briefly. Due to disobedience they were kicked out of Israel and it was given over to a laundry list of landlords like Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. When Jesus addresses the crowd in this verse, He is telling them “The rest that you sought in the Promised Land, is finally here. I am that rest.” Jesus is telling them, “Stop searching for home, I am your final destination.”

All of the struggling that you do for finding rest can cease when you find Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, your struggles will not cease but ultimate struggles for purpose and acceptance can and will through faith. Your struggle to succeed so that you will feel worth something can cease. Your relationship hopping doesn’t have to continue. That love that you’ve been looking for is found in Christ. Through faith, you can journey toward a life of love without having to date one person. I know, it sounds too simple. It sounds like every Sunday school lesson you’ve ever heard and every sermon that you listened to growing up. But what if it were true? The only way to know is to trust and move forward in the love with God. He will transform you.

Being “Christ like” means we imitate Him in carrying others burdens, all the while knowing that He alone is capable of removing them entirely. Once we trust that God is the bearer of burdens for us ultimately, we can become imitators of that act of love. Later Paul tells us this:

 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

No Easy Answers

I am saddened by the recent attacks on the police officers in Dallas.  I have been praying since I heard the news and my heart is heavy for the city that I once called home.  I have also been extremely disturbed by the deaths of young black men that have occurred time and time again.  Too many times to count.  I am frustrated that we are unable to find a way out of the mess that we’ve gotten ourselves into as a country and upset that the racial divide has turned into a chasm that seems like no bridge can make it across.

I have dear friends that are police officers.  Honest and hardworking police officers with an impossible job.  A job that has been complicated over time by intense racial relations that have, in some cases, been exacerbated by the reckless actions of a few.  They are looked at as racists that abuse their power and I know this is not true of my friends.

I also have friends that have been judged by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.  Friends that have been profiled because of their race, religion or country of origin.  Friends that have been pulled over, not for speeding or expired registration but for being black.

Yesterday a peaceful protest that was meant to draw attention to an epidemic in our nation has been turned into an opportunity for madmen/ or a madman to exploit a situation and hurt and kill innocent people.  Now the cause that was being highlighted by good people, has taken a back seat to a crime scene.

I have no easy answers to this problem.  I am exhausted by the mental gymnastics that I’ve had to do to figure out what the right course of action is.  To walk just the right line so that one side of the argument doesn’t explode at my well intentioned but sometimes inexperienced opinions about racism and law enforcement.

To be clear, I am white and quite honestly, I’ve never experienced being judged by the color of my skin.  Sure we can talk about “reverse racism” but I think that is a cheap substitute for the real thing.  I’ve never had to worry about being pulled over because I’m white.  I’ve never had someone eyeball me in a convenience store to make sure I wasn’t stealing anything or wonder if I have a weapon. I have never felt as though my life or my children’s lives were in danger because of their race.

I simply do not have to worry about someone judging me based on my ethnicity or religion.

I’ve also never had to worry about pulling someone over and wonder if they have a weapon or wish me harm.  I’ve never been put in a place where I was responsible for the safety of others and to serve and protect a city that may or may not want my help.  A city that might consider me a racist before I even have a conversation with them.

I do not have to worry about the mantle of responsibility for protecting the lives of citizens in our cities.

There are only a few things that I do know and I will stick to them.  The only thing that I know to do is to love others unconditionally and to pray fervently.  I know that it sounds naive but I really believe that this is the only way to change things and it has to happen personally.  Each person must make an individual decision to love and pray.  Violence begets violence and hate begets hate.  Blaming one another will not accomplish change and only incites the other side of the argument.

Sure, people that commit atrocities have to be held accountable for it and we must strive to make sure that this happens on both sides of the aisle.

Love demands that we fix things that are broken.

Love starts in your heart and mind and then works its way out into every day living.  Let’s kick politics out of the argument, the media and agendas that must take a back seat to our love for each other and the world that we live in.

Love seeks understanding.  Understanding leads to action.  If any of this is to change we have to at least start there.

I am committing myself to prayer and time with God to plead with Him to make changes that only He can make and to use me when He sees fit.  I am starting a journey toward understanding and action.  Please join me in doing the same.

“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

2 Corinthians 5:18-19




I Did It!!!

I can’t believe it.  I DID IT!!!  It has been over a year in the making but I finally did it.  Nope, no need to call the police or send me a cigar for that matter.  It may not be what you are thinking.  I finished writing a book!  I can’t tell you how awesome the feeling of accomplishing something on that level feels.  Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of work ahead of me.  There is editing, promoting, finding someone to publish it but I took a concept from being an idea to being a reality!  Pretty freakin’ cool.  The credit really goes to God because this project has been soaked in prayer and started with a, dare I say it, holy discontent with how our nation and world looks right now.

All you have to do is look at the current presidential election to find examples.  You see fighting, muck raking, personal attacks and dishonest tactics and that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Quite honestly, it is a pretty good illustration of the American public right now.  We are so incredibly divided that it is unreal!  The candidates that we have are a pretty good representation of our schizophrenic nature as Americans.  I won’t go into details but I think you can draw your own conclusions.  You’re smart people.  I mean you’re reading this right? 🙂

Because of the contention that exists in our world and due to the fact that believers in Christ are not helping to heal this situation but instead are throwing gasoline on a flame that is already kindled, I have written this book.  I think I can sum the book up pretty well in one statement: Relentlessly loving others in a world that is bent on tearing them apart.  That’s it!  That is easy to understand but not easy to practice.  First off, people don’t view love as strength anymore.  It is seen as more of a weakness.  Besting someone in an argument, getting your own way, “winning” in our jobs, those are all examples of what strength entails.  Love is much harder.  Love means sacrifice, considering others as more important than ourselves and doing good for others despite what they do for you in return.  They might not reciprocate that sentiment after all.  How does that make YOU look?  That’s where strength and courage come in.  You have to push through appearances and self doubt to continue to love others regardless of how they treat you in return.

So I’ve written an entire book on that topic.  I really believe that it is timely and that most believers in Christ need to hear it.  I hope there are sections that will make you laugh, some that will make you think and others that will make you put the book down all together because it is just…difficult.  Please pray for me in my next steps because I am venturing out into unknown territory.  This project is far from over but I have made some pretty significant steps toward making it happen.  I love you guys and appreciate your support!



Well, I thought the day would never come.  Today, I turn 44.  Some of my friends, the meaner ones I might mention, have explained to me that I am a lot closer to 50 now than I am 30…so that basically means that I’m 50.  First off, no it doesn’t.  Secondly, okay you got me.  50 isn’t that far away, much like Sarah Palin and Russia, I can see it from my house.  It really is hard to believe that I’ve been on this planet for 44 years!  At this point, you think I might buy a Shelby Mustang, get a gold chain, go to the doc for some peck implants and get a spray tan.  Since none of that, save the Shelby Mustang, is really me I guess I’ll have to opt out.

Honestly, I’ve seen quite a few people freak out at this point and go through their “mid life crisis” and I really hope I never go through that.  Instead of feeling desperate to make my life count for something, at 44 I guess all that I feel is…grateful.  Grateful that God has seen fit to give me two wonderful kids, a beautiful and kind wife and a job that I love to go to every morning with people that I love to be with.  Grateful for amazing friends and extended family that cares so much of us and the feeling is definitely mutual.  Instead of feeling desperate to make an impact, I feel a responsibility to keep going and make the next 44 count in a really big way!  I feel like I owe that to God for His uncommon grace that He has shown to someone who really doesn’t deserve it.

My prayer for the next 44 is that I could embody grace and truth to the people that surround me.  That God would continue to use my talents as a ministry to others, as odd as my talents may be.  Have you ever stopped to take stock in the talents God has given you?  I’ll list a few of mine in no particular order.  I love to make people laugh, to comfort others in pain, to teach the Bible in living english and I can do a pretty mean Sean Connery impression.  The crazy thing is, God has used all of my talents over the years to minister to others in one way or another.  Maybe all except the Sean Connery thing, the jury is still out on that one.

Let me encourage you to think about the talents and gifts that God has given you.  List them out.  Thank Him for what He has given you, no matter how weird or few those gifts may be.  Then ask Him to give you the strength to use those gifts to bring attention to Him so that others might be blessed through you.  When that happens, then maybe your next 44 will be the best of your life.  Take care.

“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-11