MLK in 2021

If you want Dr. King at his, “I have a dream,” then you have to have him at his,

“We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”

Take Five: A Poignant Jazz Playlist for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  Curated By Our Hosts | WBGO

I cannot help but think that we have not moved out of the trap of gradualism. Dr. King’s words from his famous speech are just as relevant and challenging as they were in 1963, as are his numerous books, sermons, and letters.

Don’t forget, he was assassinated. Voted “the most hated man in America” in 1967. His stance on better wages for garbage workers, challenge to vote racist members of Congress out of office, and opposition to the Vietnam War made the right people mad.

And he paid for it with his life.

Does the phrase “black lives matter” bother you? If so, then you can put away your Dr. King quote about how “hate cannot drive out; only love can do that,” until you understand what he was really advocating. Dr. King did not stop at desegregation. He wanted true equality. He wanted white people to believe that black lives matter. That their vote matters, their culture, perspective, influence, and ideas matter. This is what dreaming about little black boys and girls holding hands with little white boys and girls means. When little kids play together, they use their imaginations together. They listen to one another and build upon each other. It involves sharing laughter and making memories. Can you imagine a little child telling another child that their life does not matter? Would you not sit down with your kiddo and explain how their friends’ life is just as important as his or hers?

Black lives still matter and always will. To believe that does not come at the expense of any other lives mattering. It gives dignity to people who had dignity stripped from them for hundreds of years and then received no recognition of that plight in terms of assistance. They were simply set free without a plan to educate or employ.

I’d like to quote a friend of mine, who wrote this during this past summer while protests were going on.

“Of course ALL LIVES matter. But until we start treating the black citizens of this world with the same decency and respect that we show white-supremacist murderers, I’m going to keep learning, keep fighting for justice, and keep imploring you to stop being offended by 3 words, and instead try to imagine what it’s like to be someone else.” –Adam Wright

I remember when learning about the Civil Rights Movement in college, someone said that it didn’t accomplish all of its goals. This blew my mind. “What do you mean all the issues back in the 60s weren’t fixed?!” I had the luxury of being naïve and sheltered, blinded by my status. America seems to be waking up on a larger scale to what the underlying evils of systemic racism have created. May we not only wake from our slumber, but may we shake off the wooziness to make real changes in our society. Dr. King never thought America was perfect, but he still had a dream he thought worth pursuing. Do you dream with him?

I want to leave you with another quote from Dr. King’s fateful speech, which is still unfortunately relevant.

“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”

We must listen when voices cry out about an injustice like police brutality. We cannot simply dismiss those cries as false perceptions that do not mean anything. We cannot have unity until we both agree that an injustice like a white supremacy mindset, however difficult it is to pinpoint, is eradicated.

While Dr. King held out the call for unity, it came at the expense of comfortability. Addressing systemic racism is uncomfortable. We want to deny it and we for sure do not want to own up to any complicity that we may have in it. Until we are ready to strive to make progress on what Dr. King dreamed, we need to refrain from using his inspirational thoughts if we are unwilling to listen, seek understanding, and make changes.

Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

God > COVID-19

I was having one of those existential moments after dropping off my girls at our day care (which is absolutely phenomenal). I had to remind our 4 year old to take off her mask so I could kiss her goodbye. It choked me up! I mean, she’s used to it already??! A little bit later, I sat down in my office to read & randomly opened to Jeremiah 23. Here’s what jumped out to me, from verse 8.

but they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

Biblical history time! There are 3 huge stories that shaped the Israelites (and Old Testament) up until Jesus of Nazareth comes onto the scene. In order, they are creation, exodus from Egyptian slavery, & being exiled from the Promised Land.

For a long time, creation was the big story for the people of God. Then, for a much longer time, being rescued from Egypt overtakes creation as what the biblical authors discuss.

Then, tragedy.

A civil war plus idolatry eventually leads to exile. (I’m skipping a LOT of history here.)

Instead of the Egyptian enslavery being the most relevant narrative, the exile becomes the bigger story for the people of God. Maybe like how the Civil War eventually eclipsed the Revolutionary War? Not that one is more important than the other, although the first doesn’t happen without the second. But not only do both events become major historical memories for the nation, the more recent one has more relevancy.

And so the promise becomes how Israel is able to come back to the Promised Land from a greater geographic region, a greater scope than what the Egyptian enslavery held for the Jews.

God’s promises get bigger & bigger throughout biblical history (a.k.a. God’s involvement with humankind). It goes from just one empire dominating God’s people to multiple empires or nations keeping Israel from experiencing their faith by being close to the Promised Land.

For us in 2020, we’re scattered. The virus has regulated us to our homes. It’s kept us from high fiving, hugging, laughing, & singing. Our mental health is under attack.

But God is bigger. God > COVID-19.

Through Jesus we have victory over sin & death. And this includes viruses.

The author of Hebrews said this about things we cannot see.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

While we cannot *see* the virus, it’s just as true that we cannot see God.


While we can see how the virus alters our health, lives, & society, we can also see how God is at work in the world.

The goal I have for myself is still this: to be a part of the visible body of Christ, which is still at work. To remind others that our hope is in WHO we do not see.

And to remember what that guy named Paul once wrote:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

People & History & Statues & Statues of History – #Charlottesville #racism

Livvy 1st day 3rd grade - 1Today my oldest daughter started third grade.  I’m so proud of who this girl is becoming.  I have such high hopes for how she can make a difference in this world, and how this year in school will get her closer to figuring out how she can do that.  For me, third grade was my absolute favorite grade in elementary school.  My favorite teacher, Jill Huels, was amazing.  There were so many seminal things that I learned that year.

Primarily, it was the first time I ever heard about slavery.

I remember my shock and confusion.  I had to raise my hand and clarify that this actually happened in the United States.  I remember how much I loved my country and how it didn’t make sense that we could do that to people, that anybody could do that to someone else.  I didn’t want to believe it.  At that time, I already knew about our nation’s heroes like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  (I even attended Lincoln Elementary School!)  I guess I just assumed that something this evil would never have been tolerated.  The idea of racism didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now.  I also remember crying as Mrs. Huels told us about our nation’s ugly history.  That day in class is a core memory for me.

People sure are getting upset about some statues.  I totally get why they are mad, upset, and outraged that certain statues still stand.  “But they represent history,” people on the other side of the argument say.

They do, in fact, represent history.  They represent a history forged by hate, human trafficking, and oppression.  They represent ungodly, awful history.  History that shouldn’t be covered up or forgotten.  Our nation’s past should be taught to third graders who are at the perfect age to learn that racism is not right.  They need to learn that it is an evil that needs to be systematically killed off through education, love, forgiveness, and Charlottesville postbuilding relationships.

You know why people are upset by statues of men who systematically abused their ancestors, right?  You can then understand why this is upsetting and probably should have been addressed decades ago, right?

I learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. in third grade, too.  And I’ve never stopped loving who he was and the things he did, wrote, and said.  Such powerful forgiveness and conviction for someone not too far removed from being alive in a slave state himself.  He sowed love when he had every excuse to return hate with hate.

I wonder what our reaction to MLK would be if he were to address our nation about whether those statues should come down or not.  You know what he would say about what went down in Charlottesville, right?  Would we respond with our “yes, but” to him, still?

At first, I thought that the statues should come down, but my thinking is starting to turn around on this.  Maybe what we need to do instead of taking down statues of Robert E. Lee and his contemporaries is to add to them.  Make them more historically accurate.  That’s why people don’t want them taken down, right?  They want to be able to remember history and the major figures who helped forge that history?  I get it.  So let’s keep them up but add some details.

What I propose is that we add something to Robert E. Lee’s statue, and any others that fit the same category.  Let’s add a family of slaves, chained up and bound, to the statue.  Make it a husband and wife, along with a couple of children.  A good sculptor could make sure that the beatings show up on their faces, along with the scars that hide their dying souls residing inside them.  Robert E. Lee could even hold a chain that keeps the family together as he rides on his horse.

I’d actually be in favor of that kind of statue.  After all, that’s more historically accurate to represent the kind of oppression and bondage that Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis led the Confederate states to protect.

Now, a little note about historical accuracy.  I’m sure that Robert E. Lee had several white guys in his employ who were the main ones holding the chain as they led around a family of recently purchased human beings.  Robert E. Lee had a lot more on his plate, specifically all the work he put into promoting and securing an oppressive regime on which, in today’s world, our country would place major embargoes on and possibly intervene with military action.

Am I off on this?  Am I too bold in thinking that people > statues?  My third grade curriculum taught me otherwise.

I didn’t learn everything I needed to know in Kindergarten.  I didn’t learn that the human condition is as equally able to sell other people into slavery as it is to forgive the very people who enslave others.

People > statues.  Let’s start wrapping our brains around that idea, because it’s as true for 3rd graders in 1985 as it is in 2017.

Oh yeah!  One other thing about today that I want to add: Poppy, my third daughter, turned 1 today!  Here’s a cute picture of a freaking adorable baby with food all over her face.  I pray that she never has to see racism on display like it was in Charlottesville this past weekend.

Poppy messy eater point #1 - 8-15-17

Now I need to stop procrastinating and get back to the sermon I’m preparing for Sunday.  The topic is Hell.  Seems apt since we, as a nation, seem hellbent on recreating Hell for others with our racism and unwillingness to stamp racism out.


Posted in character, discipleship, faith, forgiveness, God, grace, justice, politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If you’re angry & you know it, shake your fist (a post to read regardless of who you voted for)

Your Vote CountsThe results are in.

Maybe you’re happy.  Maybe you’re angry.  I doubt you’re indifferent.

No matter which boat you find yourself in, if you follow Jesus Christ, there are some things we need to remember and continue to practice.  For some of us, we need to return to practicing them.  For others, we need to begin to take some of Christ’s teachings more seriously.

If you’re angry and you know it, put your shaking fists down.  Pray.  Breathe.  Take time to remember that we live in a country and time in history where Christ followers have the privilege to voice their opinions for who governs.  This was not always the case.  In fact, it is a pretty new concept for the people of God.  Two thousand years ago, Christ followers were the ones in the margins, the ones threatened with deportation, imprisonment, or death.  And do you know how they responded to such threats?  They loved everyone.  They forgave their enemies.  They took care of the leper, the sick, the dying, even when it might adversely affect their own health.  They turned the other cheek.  They died in the name of Jesus.  They prayed for Caesar–not for his death, but for his redemption.  The Kingdom of God did not grow because of Facebook posts.  They did not change the landscape of the Roman Empire–history itself–by spewing hate for hate.  They loved because Jesus loves.  They prayed.  They took care of the orphaned, widowed, and cast-offs.

If you’re happy and you know it, don’t clap your hands to rub it in other people’s faces.  Be humble.  Look for the alienated and include them.  Do not fear, for perfect love casts out fear.  The enemy is not another human being, regardless of nationality, race, creed, or orientation.  The enemy is our own sinful nature and spiritual forces working against the Kingdom of God.  Remember that the Kingdom of God is not led by who governs any country, even one with historical and current aspirations such as ours.  Remember that the best way to prevent the things you don’t want others to do is to model it and engage in dialogue.  Build a relationship with The Other.  Listen.  Hear the concerns of those who disagree with you.  Be willing to listen to their stories.  Maybe become a part of their stories!  They have voices that are hurting and want to be included, to be heard.

Our country is torn.  We are a nation that is hurting deeply.  What better chance do we have to unite and be the kind of people our national documents claim we can be than by adhering to Jesus and what He teaches?

May you pause today before every conversation.  Reflect on what you are about to say.  Ask for guidance from our God and figure out if you will add to the hate that is swirling around or if you will add something that seems to be missing: love.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Freedom Hangover

America is currently sleeping off a hangover.freedom hangover

From 1776.

Yesterday I was running through a neighborhood when I passed a family of a different ethnic background than me.  I was in a great mood and thinking about Independence Day celebrations.  Suddenly, I had the urge to exclaim to the family, “May you experience racial freedom in addition to political freedom!”  It was going to be an epic moment.  I envisioned the family smiling really big all day and growing hopeful about their future as they celebrated July 4th.

I chickened out.  I didn’t do it, for a couple of reasons.  First, that statement was really cumbersome to say.  Second, I’m giving myself a lot of grace here.  I don’t think it would have come out better than a few huffs and puffs of incomprehensible gibberish as I’m running jogging past them.

“May…*huff*…you…*puff*…experi rasheedom…in addishhhhhhh *collapses onto the ground*

I don’t know if racial freedom is even really a term.

When the framers of the Constitution and signers of the Declaration of Independence all got together to dream about the future of our nation, do you wonder if they pictured that we would be in a better spot than where we are, 200 years later?

Racial tensions are just as high as they ever have been.  Ethnic groups feel misunderstood by every other group.  No one listens to each other.  Pick a hot button issue; it doesn’t matter which one.  We have freedom of speech to voice our opinion and all we do is tear each other down.

This week, we are all about celebrating freedom.  Freedom from King George, freedom to own firearms.  Freedom to speech, freedom to assembly, freedom to like Nickelback, and freedom to your own opinion.  But no one is celebrating the freedom we have to love one another as Christ loves us.

Do you want real freedom?  We have real freedom in Christ.  The kind of freedom we receive from God is better than any kind of political freedom this great nation gives us.  I love the United States, but what we have in Christ Jesus blows away everything else.

Jesus of Nazareth gives us so many more freedoms, the kind that even slaves can possess.  Freedom from sin ruling over us and from death being the final say.  Freedom to reconcile with people from other nationalities, ethnicities, and political beliefs.  Freedom to let love rule our hearts, instead of hatred.

1“It is for freedom that Christ set us free.  You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” [Galatians 5:1, 14-15]

Christ followers living in the U.S. are too hung up on the wrong kinds of freedoms.  If you’re constantly plugging your freedom to bear arms, when do you have time to lay down your life and love your enemy?  If you are always touting your freedom to choose, are you also advocating for the orphan living on this side of the uterus?

We find real freedom when we actively love those who are difficult to love.  When we do this, we free ourselves from fear, distrust, and hatred.

No one feels good after a hangover.  It’s time we wake up, reap what we have sown, and work to reconcile with our brother and sister.  It’s time to exercise our freedom to love.


Posted in faith, Jesus, love, politics, spirituality | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Flash Gordon – #1Word5voices #HolySaturday #Lent #Easter

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon never heard from this woman again.

My wife gave my dad a nickname pretty early into our marriage. Whenever I would be on the phone with Mom and Dad, it was usually Mom who spoke unless I directly asked Dad a question. He would talk but typically liked to jump into the conversation rather than lead it. He always tossed in lots of jokes, too.  So when Rachael came into my life and we talked to my folks on speaker phone, it would crack her up when Dad fired off a joke because she wouldn’t know that he was even on the line. Hence the nickname she bestowed upon him: Flash Gordon, jumping into the conversation like a flash out of nowhere. 

Many times in life it seems that God is silent. Historically, this is something people have always felt. It’s a common experience for the ages. We long for a personal God to interact with us because we are made in God’s image: personal. The nation of Israel saw 400 years go by before they felt like God was speaking again. 

Do you ever feel like God is absent? Jesus felt God’s absence while on The Cross.  The disciples’ hope in their Messiah was dashed upon Jesus’ death. God seemed like He would go without speaking, again.

Take heart. God is not silent. On this day, Holy Saturday, God was still at work as Jesus lay in the tomb.  His body may have died, but He was far from being done.

You might be in a place in your life right now that feels like God is gone, or is refusing to speak into your life. That is a valid feeling. But God is never silent for long. You never know what the next day will hold.  Be ready for it!  Mary Magdalene wasn’t ready when she came across The Gardener.  She thought Jesus was done speaking. 

Death cannot keep God from speaking, for Resurrection Sunday is coming!


ACheck out what my friends are writing about during our crazy Lent experiment we talked each other into doing. Shawn, Lindz, Bones, or Steph.

Posted in #10questions6voices, Easter, faith, God, Lent, resurrection | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chaco-crazed, grimy love – Maundy Thursday thoughts – #40days #Lent #1Word5voices #MaundyThursday

chaco 1Do you know anyone who is obsessed with their Chacos?  Twenty years ago, Tevas were the thing.  I wore my pair until they disintegrated.  I was a camp counselor at Camp Lakewood in Potosi, MO.  My Tevas were on my feet every single day.  When I wrapped up my tenure there at the end of the summer, I noticed how nasty my heels were.

Beyond nasty.

My heels had black dirt that was encrusted into my heel.  [I told you that it was nasty!]  I had to go out and buy a pumice stone to sand off that dirt.

The thing about these types of sandals people love is those who wear them typically will not shut up about them.  They Instagram them (see picture).  They will wear them at every chance they get.  They need them.

They have obsessive love for them, even if it leads to grimy feet.

If reading about my disgusting feet from 20 years ago is gross, you’re probably someone who could not fathom washing someone else’s feet.  This was common practice in Jesus’ day, but only reserved for the lowly servant to do.  On Maundy Thursday, we read about Jesus washing the disciples feet…and most of us cringe at the thought of it.

The thing about voluntarily washing someone else’s feet is that only love would lead you to do it.  Maybe you love your carpet more than the person, but love is what would be the motivating factor in washing someone’s feet.  Jesus is the ultimate in proving His love, since He washed 12 other men’s feet (and possibly anyone else who was present at the Last Supper that isn’t mentioned).

Twelve grimy pairs of feet.

Everyone forgets that Judas was at the Last Supper, too.  Jesus washed his feet, alongside the rest of the disciples.  We seem to pass judgment on Judas rather quickly, but conveniently forget that deserting your Rabbi in His greatest hour is almost as painful as betraying Him.

When we read that Jesus is pained as He tells Judas to go do what he is going to do, it’s because Jesus loves Judas as well.  Judas was around Jesus for those entire three years–as long as Peter, John, James, Bartholomew, and all of the rest of those yahoos.  He saw the demons driven out.  He saw lepers healed.  He experienced Lazarus emerging from the tomb. 

Our world is obsessed with protecting our own spaces, but Jesus pops the disciples’ personal bubbles.  He washes their feet, their nasty, grimy feet.

Even the feet of His betrayer.

Jesus has love for you, too.  He has love for your enemies.  Can you extend love to yourself and others like Jesus?

A pastor I know once said, “People are more important than the wound they give you.”  May we remember this, as well as Jesus most certainly did.


ACheck out what my friends are writing about during our crazy Lent experiment we talked each other into doing. Shawn, Lindz, Bones, or Steph.

Posted in Church, discipleship, forgiveness, God, grace, Jesus, Lent | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do you have good peoples? – #1Word5voices

people 2 march 16One line I like to quote from time to time is from The Muppets Take Manhattan when Kermit is expressing how hard it is to survive in New York City.  His boss/friend, Pete (played by Louis Zorich), gives some sage advice.

Peoples is peoples.  No is buildings.  Is tomatoes, huh?  Is peoples, is dancing, is music, is potatoes.  So…peoples is peoples. OK?

It makes absolutely no sense, Kermit leaves utterly perplexed, and I love it!  Pete is getting at something pretty deep, regardless of how he explains his idea.  Let me translate.

Peoples is peoples.  Don’t worry about if you’re going to make it in this town, Kerm-dawg.  You’ll make it.  Because when you boil it all down, New York City is just a city full of people like you.  [Well, pseudo-people.  You’re a frog and I’m not for sure what that hooked nose weirdo in the corner is.]  But I digress.  Everyone has insecurities but, somehow, they dig down deep inside themselves and figure life out.  You’ll make it because we’re all in this together.  We’re people, after all!

Pete is telling Kermit to lean on his friends, his community.  It’s a great lesson I learned as a kid.

This past week, my wife had a family emergency that took her to Phoenix to be a supportive daughter.  That meant that we suddenly had to find some people to be with our daughters while I was at work events: Wednesday night (3 hours), Friday night at 5 pm to Saturday night at 5:30 pm (24 1/2 hours), and Sunday night (2 hours).

Here’s the amazing thing that still stuns Rachael and me: we didn’t have to worry about a thing.

Not once.

people 1 march 16We don’t have any family in town and the closest to us are 3 hours away in Des Moines or 5 1/2 hours away in Galesburg, IL.  So we had to go to friends, people from our church, for help.  These people are more than work friends, more than people we met through our children’s schools or daycare.  They are our community.  They are people who share the mission of Christ and the love, forgiveness, and mercy God has shared with us.  They are people who love us and our girls, even though we do not share biology.

They are people who amaze us.

I have been thinking all week about how this would have gone down if I didn’t have a faith community like this in my life.  What if I didn’t go to a church or only went casually–even once a week–but wasn’t invested in other people’s lives?  I can’t imagine that I would have been able to find friends to be with our kids during this time.  It would have been so stressful.

If you don’t have a community of people like this, invest in a local church.   Off the top of your head, who would you be able to count on to help you out in a pinch like that?  In my experience, the people we find in a Christ following community are always there to back us.

To the people who were our super heroes last week [you know who you are], THANK YOU.  You are loved by us Swansons.  We absolutely cherish that we have community with you!


The family emergency situation is working out as well as it can, which makes my community and everyone involved super relieved and happy!


ACheck out what my friends are writing about during our crazy Lent experiment we talked each other into doing. Shawn, Lindz, Bones, or Steph.

Posted in #1Word5voices, community | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Judgy eyes – #1Word5voices

Have you ever had someone give you those judgy eyes? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see my adorable 7 year old’s impression.

 Sometimes all it takes is a sideways look from someone to set off our judgemental alarms.

“She thinks I’m not good enough!”

“He isn’t working hard enough.”

If you’ve ever caught someone tossing you a sideways glance of judgement and it sent you into a spiral of insecurity, you know exactly what I mean.

There’s a passage in the Gospels where Jesus is teaching in a synagogue when the ceiling starts to cave in. A bunch of guys start digging through the roof to lower their paralyzed buddy for Jesus to heal. As Jesus is gearing up to heal the guy, and because he’s thoroughly impressed with everybody’s faith, He says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” The Bible jocks in the room get all judgy eyed about this and Jesus catches it.

I’ve always assumed that the following statement was something that happened because Jesus is God in human form.

“Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?”

But I think that, while I do believe that Jesus literally knew what they were thinking, He probably saw their judgy eyes and deducted from that what was going through their heads.

Can you relate to Jesus in this?

We react to someone having a judgmental spirit because it is one of the things we hate about ourselves.  No one likes being judged, yet we do it all of the time. Why is that?

This story, which is one of my favorites with Jesus starring in it, resonates with me because I feel like this kind of situation happens all of the time with people who are trying to do good in the world. Jesus is simply trying to honor their faith, heal this poor guy, and demonstrate the power of God’s kingdom. But these judgemental dorks throw some attitude around.

If you are reading this and you are experiencing judgement from someone because you are trying to make a difference in the name of Jesus, KEEP GOING. Take encouragement from Christ, who went on His merry way and healed the guy regardless of what those hypocrites thought.

[Don’t forget, Jesus forgave the paralyzed man’s sins while He was at it, too!  I love that because it’s almost a divine jab at the spirit of judgement.]

In the name of Jesus, forget about any judgy eyes throwing shade your way and keep going.


ACheck out what my friends are writing about during our crazy Lent experiment we talked each other into doing. Shawn, Lindz, Bones, or Steph.

Posted in #1Word5voices | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Stick Figure Doubting – #1Word5voices

“Doubt is Faith’s ugly stepsister.”

Have you ever doubted God’s existence? What about doubting whether or not God even cares about us insignificant, violent speck of a species down here?

Me, too.

I would love to start coining the phrase “Doubt is the ugly stepsister to Faith” and put a trademark on it. The only problem? I want to qualify this statement and thus render it less catchy. If only this would be as memorable:

Doubt is Faith’s frequently non-photogenic, misunderstood sister.

I truly believe that doubt is essential to having a deep, meaningful faith in Christ. Doubt has served me well as a Christ follower over the years. I remember when someone posed questions that got me to wonder about God’s existence for the first time. During my senior year, my friend Jack Justus and I were sitting on the gym bleachers when he rocked my newfound faith. His question was pretty simple, but it really threw me for a loop.

“Why do you believe in God? You can’t see him, hear him, touch him. How can you believe in something like that?”

I sat there with my mouth slightly ajar. I know I responded with something, and although I don’t remember what I said, I am convinced it was pretty weak. That conversation has been forever imprinted on my soul. I began to dig into reasons why I believe, much like we are instructed to do in 1 Peter 3:15. Today, I would love to catch up with Jack and have tons of conversations about this whole God thing. In fact, now it’s one of the things I enjoy talking about with students involved in our youth ministry who bring them up. While I still have some doubts that I don’t think will ever leave, there is too much that points to God’s personal involvement in our world, as revealed through Jesus.

witness mar 1

notice how the artist captures movement

Doubt gets a bad rap. If we were to compare faith and doubt to art, then most people would call Doubt the stick figure drawings in the world of art.  For the sake of argument, I believe that there is a place for stick figures. If you don’t believe me, compare this Brian Swanson original to one of my favorite van Gogh’s. It’s pretty obvious how much more amazing art can be when it’s compared to something quite uninformed in technique–not to mention talent.

witness 2 mar 1

van Gogh’s attention to avian biology is impeccable. Truly an inspiration to the aforementioned drawing.

Doubts gives life to a vibrant faith because they can exist in a beautiful partnership. As you wrestle through doubts, if you are honest, I believe that you can come to a stronger faith.

One of my strongest doubts resides in God’s existence before creation. How can God have always existed before creation? What was God up to? Did the members of the Trinity kick it old school? If creation came out of nothing, then what was reality? I understand the concept of “forever,” as in “being in God’s presence in Heaven forever once we die,” because of my high school English class. That classroom clock went backwards! So, I have a hard time believing in God’s infinite existence before the creation of the universe. I even understand that time is one of God’s creation, but this never helps because even that statement renders my brain into bubbly goo.

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

One of the many things I love about Jesus is how He seems to take doubting God in stride. Thomas is one of Jesus’ closest followers, as one of the 12 disciples, and even he doubted in Jesus before seeing the physical evidence of The Resurrection. Jesus had every opportunity to chastise Thomas, skewer him, and hang him out to dry–but He didn’t.

Want to know what answers my doubts, singlehandedly, every time? The eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after The Resurrection, told the nations about this miracle of miracles, and then willingly died gruesome deaths because of this world changing message.

That is what my faith brings to the dialogue to doubt: the witness of over 500 people who saw The Risen Christ and were willing to die for their faith. It doesn’t mean that I never doubt or that I have all the answers I’m looking for. But it does feed my faith, time and time again. A lot of other things help bolster my faith, but the eyewitness thing is what I come back to the most often.

What are some doubts that you wrestle with constantly? I would love to dialogue in person or even do a series of posts engaging them.


ACheck out what my friends are writing about during our crazy Lent experiment we talked each other into doing. Shawn, Lindz, Bones, or Steph.

Posted in #1Word5voices, faith | Tagged , | 2 Comments