fire & brimstone

Years ago when I was still trying to figure this faith thing out, I remember observing a plethora of preachers and teachers.  Never will I forget the man effusing fire and brimstone.  You know the kind.  Such are the ones who seemingly attempt to motivate you to follow God because if not, you will rot to death.  You will burn in the blazing fires of hell; and thus, you will be eternally doomed.  “Doomed, I say!”  The stereotypical fire/brimstone address is therefore oft accompanied by unparalleled levels of enthusiasm… albeit also accompanied by rampant rage and rather angry, scary facial expressions (… did I happen to mention the doom?).


Now it would be both fascinating and enlightening to have a conversation about the purported realities of hell.  But the primary motivation for following God — investing in an actual personal relationship with him — is a love response for all he has done and continues to do.  The heart of the Christian, in other words, is not one motivated by fear.


So why do they do it?  Why do some persons still employ the ugly, angry tactics?  Why?  Because sometimes it works.  It makes people move.  Granted, it’s an emotional response; but it’s a response, nonetheless.


As I observe current events, I can’t help but wonder if some ‘preachers and teachers’ are also employing the tactic in non-religious sanctuaries.  Watch what’s happening with the so-called sequestration, scheduled to go into effect on Friday.  Let us first objectively identify what the sequestration actually is.  It is not actual cuts.  The amount the federal government spends will still increase with sequestration in place; the sequester process only decreases the amount of the planned increase.  Hence, there is little validity to too much disappearing.  Yet note the many before the mics…


On Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” Education Sec. Arne Duncan said “as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs.”  Such assumes the entire $2.8 billion in impending department cuts would come from teacher salaries, even though Duncan previously testified there would be cuts elsewhere.  Also, according to, “the bulk of teacher layoffs, if they occur, will be decided by the school districts (not the federal government) and happen in the 2013-14 school year (not the current one).”  [emphasis mine]


Last week Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood warned that we “should expect delays of up to 90 minutes at peak airports during sequester.”  When then asked Friday why the airline lobby predicted no major impact on air travel from the sequester, he suggested the industry didn’t have up-to-date information.


And yesterday, Stephanie Cutter, the spokesman for Pres. Obama’s new political action committee, sent me the following:  “Prepare yourself for job layoffs, reduced access to early education, slower emergency response, slashed health care, and more people living on the street…  If Congress fails to act, we’d see budget cuts pretty much across the board to critical services that teachers, first responders, seniors, children, and our men and women in uniform rely on every day.  It sounds bad because it is.  And with all these cuts on the line, why are congressional Republicans refusing to budge?  Because to do so, they’d have to close tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires, oil companies, vacation homes, and private jet owners. I’m not kidding.”


While the objectivity within that statement is certainly questionable, Ms. Cutter has a job to do; she is attempting to elicit a response.  Granted, it may be an emotional response; but it’s a response, nonetheless.


Note that by most accounts of objective observers — meaning those who stand to gain nothing from the enactment or withholding of the “cuts” — the specifics and severity of the results are at best ambiguous.  We don’t know what will happen.  They don’t know what will happen.  No one knows exactly what will happen.  Pres. Obama does possess some leeway in how the “cuts” are actually administered.  But since the “cuts” are only gradual decreases to planned increases — as opposed to the actual cutting of spending — the predictions of eternal doom seem misleading.


So why do some persons still employ these tactics?  On all sides of the aisle?


Because sometimes it works.  Wise or not, it makes people move.




call me crazy

Last week I had a conversation with my oldest son that was — well, allow me to simply yet transparently say — entirely unproductive.  It wasn’t a serious nor significantly sobering topic; we were discussing what time his friends should be leaving on a school night.


Jake has some terrific friends.  Yet regardless of the high character caliber of his closest friends, we disagreed by one seemingly, incredibly huge, exaggerated hour what time their exit should occur that evening.


When it was obvious that polar opposite opinions existed on this issue — and that his parents weren’t immediately nor automatically going to adopt his perspective — my talented, typically loving son resorted to a tactic employed by a multitude of 15-16 year olds:  he criticized us.  Loudly.  Fairly harshly.  My spouse and I became persons undoubtedly out-of-touch.  And dare I also transparently repeat, “crazy.”


Pause.  Take a deep breath.  I have, and I did.  I do.


I’ve concluded, no less, that one of the most important parenting skills we each need to develop is the ability to refrain from matching our children’s reaction.  Whether it’s matching the fluent tears of a toddler’s fear of first stitches or matching a teen who articulates abundant insult, the parent must always choose instead to model the appropriate emotion…  bravery to that toddler… and yes, respect to a disrespectful teen.  We can’t expect our toddler to be brave nor our teen to be respectful when our response compares so similarly to their initial, often immature action.


As I later processed my son’s response, I was once again hit over the head with one of those obvious, potentially-divine two-by-fours.  My son called me “crazy.”  It was an emotional response.  But he did it because he disagreed with me.


The “a-ha”?


How many times have young people seen otherwise intelligent adults articulate insult of another simply because they disagree?


Watch adults.

Watch Washington.

Watch Congress.

Watch the President.

Watch people on and off TV…

Celebrities.  Parents.  Athletes.  You and me.


What do we do when we disagree?  What do even intelligent adults do?


Instead of working tenaciously to understand — and offering the grace and respect that opposing opinion deserves — intelligent people criticize… fairly harshly… loudly; they call the possessors of the opposing opinion out-of-touch.  Sometimes they even call them crazy.


Not everyone who thinks differently than you and me is bad or mean or evil — or evennecessarily — wrong.  Not everyone who thinks differently than the President nor Congress nor your local legislator is bad/mean/evil/wrong either.  But yet, each of the above — each of us — no matter our individual intelligence — at times resorts to criticism in place of the tenacious seeking of comprehension.  Once again, wisdom and intelligence are two totally, different things.


The reason our 15-16 year olds (and feel free to add any age here) sometimes criticize others when agreement is lacking is because they’ve seen the adults who’ve gone before them do the exact same thing.






my favorite punctuation mark

Years ago I was asked, “What’s your favorite punctuation mark?”  At the time, truth be told, I found it a fairly funny item to be asked.  I pondered for some time.  And some more.  Then we come to days like today where I realize the answer to that question is easy for me indeed.  It always has been…


Random questions… Why?  Because asking is always easier than answering…  and it still leads to growth…


Why is the Chinese government increasing their arrests of Christians involved in “house churches”?


Why does any church have to be underground?


Why (referencing our most recent blog, “The Holy and the Common”) is mocking Jesus Christ considered entertainment but mocking Muhammed prompts an apology by the American government?


Why do congressional men and women — who haven’t balanced a budget since the days of Bill Clinton — continue to be paid and employed?


Why does our government think massive deficit spending is an appropriate economic approach?


Why are we calling sequestration “cuts” when actually we’re cutting nothing?  Sequestration only means we don’t spend as much as previously planned.


What is Pres. Obama’s motive?  For a man who is unquestionably, highly intelligent, how can he continue to advocate spending and borrowing money at an unsustainable rate — overseeing a massive expansion of those dependent on government assistance, while focusing on tax increases that are not expected nor proven to make a significant difference — if any?


How do massive tax increases actually help the economy?


Does the audience realize that many of the Academy Award recipients are actually inebriated when engaged in their passionate, acceptance speech rants?


Does Hollywood really represent America well?


How come wine has calories?


Why are professional athletes paid more than teachers and preachers?


Why is the Pope resigning?


Is the winner of “American Idol” actually an American idol?


Are idols healthy and good?


Is the NFL America’s favorite sport?


Why are we so mad in March?


And…  and…

… what is the Intramuralist’s favorite punctuation mark?


It can only be the question mark… for nothing else has the distinct potential to prompt increased reflection, contemplation, and respectful — hopefully — conversation.


Respectfully… always…


the holy and the common

This idea of a new pope has really got me thinking…


Now while not a member of the Roman Catholic Church (even though some seem to think my membership would be fairly solid), the Intramuralist promotes great respect for all faiths. I appreciate Catholic tradition, and like-faith or not, there is zero doubt the pope has significant, global influence.  Hence, I will be watching which color of smoke blows over the Vatican as the next wise leader is selected.


Thinking about this process, my mind has focused on the role of a priest — not necessarily a Catholic priest — but a leader within the Christian faith.  What is a priest called to do?


Different denominations may assign different duties.  Varied religious rituals may be a part of the process.  Yet time and time again, as I study ancient historical documents, one role stands out that seems to stand for all time.  It is the responsibility of the priest to differentiate between the holy and the common.


The holy and the common…

The sacred and the secular…


As a culture, I don’t think we get that.


Friends, please take that as no judgment.  I include myself among the “we” who doesn’t get it.  We live in an age where all things go, where all is accepted, where tolerance trumps intolerance — well, except, arguably, if you’re tolerant of the reality that some things are actually holy.


Last weekend, “Saturday Night Live” ran a new skit, entitled “Djesus Uncrossed” — a sarcastic spin of the Oscar-nominated “Django Unchained.”  In the SNL skit, Jesus is resurrected, but — and that’s an incredibly huge “but” — instead of returning to save the souls of sinful men, Jesus Christ takes vengeance upon his one-time accusers.  The skit then features approximately 2 minutes of bloody gore, similar to “Django Unchained.”  In pops the narration:  “He’s risen from the dead … and he’s preaching anything but forgiveness.”


The public dialogue since has been fascinating…


There have been claims of outrageous blasphemy.

There have also been numerous retorts to “lighten up”…


Can’t a guy take a joke any more?


I wonder…

I wonder if the joke was on Muhammed, the historic leader of Islam, if that kind of joke would be asked to be tolerated? Can’t you take a joke any more? … especially in light of the fatal September Benghazi attacks, when the American government actually paid to put commercials on Pakistani TV, apologizing for any offense to Muslims for an unrelated, anti-Islamic 13 minute movie trailer by 1 American citizen…


I wonder if mocking Muslims would — could — be considered a joke…  I wonder if they would have been told to lighten up.


Great questions, friends.  Truthfully, I don’t know all the answers.  But what I do know is this…

2 things:


  1. The creators of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” are not “priests.”

And (2) They have no idea of the difference between the holy and the common.


Respectfully… always…



She did it.  She finally did it!


Next Sunday, the 55th running of NASCAR’s signature event takes place.  It’s the Daytona 500 — the first race of the year — and it’s also considered NASCAR’s most prestigious event.  It’s where Richard Petty became a household name, where everyone from Pres. George H.W. Bush to Whoopi Goldberg has been an honorary starter, and where Dale Earnhardt tragically saw his life come to an end.


And so next Sunday when the green flag once again waves at “The Great American Race,” it commences with a historic, new aspect.  Starting in the pole position — for the first time ever — will be a woman driver.  This past weekend, Danica Patrick became the race’s fastest qualifier.  She did it.


While Daytona typically garners more attention than any other racing event, there will be even more attention now on Patrick because of her historic accomplishment.  As ESPN wrote in the initial hours after her qualification, “The spotlight is nothing new.  But never has it been this bright before.”   The attention is big; the spotlight is brighter.  My question today is what that spotlight should be on…


We are a funny people…


On one hand, we say the world should be colorblind.  In other words, when we look at others, we shouldn’t define any of them by the color of their skin, their ethnic background, gender, nor any demographic description.


But on the other hand, we also enjoy celebrating the unique success of the individual…


… the first African-American president…

… the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice…

… the first female astronaut…

… the first (potential) American pope…


Let me unambiguously opine:  those accomplishments deserve to be celebrated.


The inherent contradiction, however, is that in our celebration, we often employ the exact practice we say we wish to prevent; we often identify color; we often promote ethnic background; we often focus more on the demographic than on the greatness of the actual accomplishment.


Danica Patrick is well aware of the historic significance of her success.  But something else is more important to her, as visible via her post-qualifying interview:  “I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl.  That was instilled in me from very young, from the beginning.”


She then received the ultimate compliments from her fiercest competitors, as racers Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, for example, talked about what an excellent racer Patrick is and how she accomplished this in only her 2nd year at the 500.  Interestingly, the focus on her femininity only seemed obvious when prodded by the media.  (… makes one wonder how altruistic and helpful the role of media is in society… hmmm…)


So on Sunday, February 24th, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Danica Patrick will start on the pole.  The Daytona 500.  As their 2013 motto reflects, “The Race of a Lifetime.  Every Time.”


She did it, friends.  She finally did it!


The world will be a wiser place when the focus is no longer on the “she”… when there truly exists no focus on the race, gender, or demographic category…




no hero among us

he·ro [heer-oh]

noun, plural he·roes; for 5 also he·ros.

1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.

3. the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.

4. Classical Mythology.

     a. a being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity.

     b. (in the Homeric period) a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability.

     c. (in later antiquity) an immortal being; demigod.

5. hero sandwich.


(#5 is easiest to unambiguously define.)


For some reason, we seem always in search of a “hero”…  finding that person who is truly heroic, who can do no wrong, whose character is impeccable.


In South Africa this past Valentines Day, a beautiful model, Reeva Steenkamp, was shot multiple times and thus killed.  She was allegedly shot by her boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee runner who caused the world to take notice as he took competitors by surprise in the London Olympics of 2012.  Pistorius is an Olympic and South African “hero.”


The Intramuralist has no idea whether Pistorius is guilty or innocent; what I do know, however, is that the nicknamed “Blade Runner” has reason to lie.  Allow me to put this mildly:  his “hero status” is in jeopardy.  That’s a tough thing to lose — an intangible seemingly incapable of retrieving once lost.


Remember that when our “hero” speaks, we listen.  When our “hero” opines, we believe; and when our “hero” encourages, we oblige.  Our “hero’s” character is impeccable; we have made it so.


Their character is impeccable because we have forgotten that our “heroes” are first human; and short of the Messiah, no human’s character is flawless.  We forget that.  And so, when a “hero” perceives they may suddenly lose their privileged status — falling far, far from grace, so-to-speak — they have significant reason to lie.


Who’s your “hero”?


Oscar Pistorius?  Steve Jobs?  Barack Obama?

Martin Luther King?  Pete Rose?  Margaret Thatcher?


Living or dead — “good people” or not — our “heroes” are first and foremost human.  Human means not a savior, no where close to a messiah, and always capable of error.  Hence, because a “hero” often arises to such status due to the inflating by the people around him/her, when that status is jeopardized, they are tempted to do what it takes to keep it afloat.  They have learned how to juggle and maintain the inflated status for so long, they are then motivated to do what it takes to survive the for-once-penetrable claim.  Lying is an option.  Perhaps lying (egad) was even learned long ago… learned as a means of actually juggling the status…


When confronted with the charges against him, the family of Oscar Pistorius released an immediate statement:  “The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms.”


Of course the murder is disputed…  No hero would do such a thing…  This is impossible!  We should note that the reality is that even though no other person is known to be their house that morning — and that Pistorius has been involved in previous domestic violence incidents — that Pistorius may be innocent.


Innocent or not, our “heroes” sometimes lie.  They unfortunately have reason to do so.




fleeting beauty

Did you notice the reaction to Sunday night’s Grammy Awards?  (… no worries if not a music fan…)


“See Katy Perry’s 2013 Grammys Dress!”

“Kat Dennings Grammys 2013: Actress Stuns In Strapless Dress”

“Rihanna Flashes Toned Tummy For Grammys After-Party”


It doesn’t have to be from the Grammys (… still, no worries…).  From the Super Bowl, for example, much of the post-game reaction was in regard to Beyoncé’s halftime show and whether she was provocative or powerful….


“Beyoncé Is a Sex Kitten at the Superbowl”

“A Defiant Dance of Power, Not Sex”

“Beyoncé’s Sexy 2013 Super Bowl Outfit Slammed by PETA—Too Much Skin!”


Pick your event, awards night, athletic competition, etc.  We have this all too frequent tendency of focusing on the external…  on what we can see, the outward adornment, or appearance.  We make all sorts of judgments and distinctions based on the external appearance of man.  We like to say ‘we’re not a judgmental people,’ yet we draw countless conclusions based solely upon what we can see.


In fact, in a little less than 2 weeks, the Oscars will be upon us.  What’s the initial focus of the Academy Awards?  The beloved red carpet.  Outside Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, for hours fans will flock to the edges in order to gain a glimpse of their favorite star.  And reporters and pundits and commentators and critics will copiously opine how the celebrities seem to be faring these days — all based on how they look.


I’ve frequently wrestled with this increased fascination.  What is it that attracts current culture so quickly to the external?  Why do we feel so emboldened to comment on others based solely on what we can see?


What causes us to judge — when it is a person’s inner disposition that makes them beautiful?


My sense is that as society has digressed, we’re torn with what’s inside.  We don’t always know how to deal with the individuality of a person’s character and heart, and so we accept it, as opposed to being willing to acknowledge certain aspects are unhealthy.


Too often, for example, we simply accept adultery.  Whether it be Julia Roberts, Jerry Seinfeld, or someone nearer and dearer to our hearts, we often ignore whatever lack of moral grounding internally existed that caused them to act upon their unhealthy impulses.  If we actually focused on what was inside the adulterer’s heart, it would be incredibly challenging to deal with respectfully.  We would have to admit that there exists right and wrong in this world, and that persons we appreciate had made a wrongful choice.


Friends, I am not advocating judgment.  In fact, my strong sense is we’ve done an incredible disservice to the younger generation when we define judgment as the acknowledgement of right or wrong.  In it’s most basic definition, judgment means feeling empowered to render the consequences for actions; it by no means equates to a lack of acknowledgement of wrongdoing.


Why then do we focus on the external?  Because it’s easier; it’s far easier than dealing respectfully with what’s inside the character of the person.


At the Grammys Sunday evening, singer Carrie Underwood won her 6th Grammy Award, this time for Best Country Solo Performance.  The Intramuralist has no relationship with Underwood, but those who know her well speak of a tender, beautiful heart.


Did you happen to see her dress?  It served as a fascinating, changing, light up, digital screen!  Supposedly (but not surprisingly) it stole the show.




state of the government

Today marks our 4th annual State of the Government address.  In our initial analysis, we made the following primary observations:


The State of the Government is too partisan.

The State of the Government is too influenced by money.

The State of the Government is too big.

The State of the Government is financially imbalanced.

The State of the Government is too far removed from the Constitution.


The following conclusion has also been expressed these past 4 years:  “The State of the Government has digressed over several decades, and until we responsibly address partisanship, special interests, size, spending, and straying from the Constitution, we will be challenged to admit even the Union is strong.”  My strong sense is the above is still true; the question is what can we do.


Government is too partisan.  Pre-speech analysis from multiple, varied sources suggest that Pres. Obama’s speech will be aggressively progressive this evening.  As Politico states, the President will “pay lip service to bipartisanship, but don’t expect anything like the call for peaceful collaboration that defined his first address to a joint session of Congress in 2009.”  Is the partisanship right?  Is it wrong?  Let me not answer the question; let me only ask another:  does this approach help?  Rightly or wrongly, during both the Obama and most recent Bush administration, the partisan divide has only gotten bigger.  If persons within either party or the media have intentionally drummed up partisan passion in order to propel one side of the divide, then they have done an ethical disservice to our country.


Government is too influenced by money.  Sticks and stones seem to fly on this issue, with people blaming one person or party or a singular judicial decision.  Based on objective research, it’s my conclusion that the moral digression due to money increased exponentially during the Carter administration, when lobbyist restrictions were significantly eased.  Until lobbyist monies are again restricted, the purity of our democratic process will continue to be obscured.


Government is too big.  Let me make this is as simple as possible.  Who watches their pennies more:  a small business on a tight budget… or a massive conglomerate with no budget?  The nonpartisan CBO projects the cost of the federal government to be $47.2 trillion over the next 10 years.  That’s an annual growth rate of approximately 6.7%, trouncing the growth of the private sector.  In a government that was created for the people and by the people, it was never intended to do all things for all people.  There is no way $47.2 trillion is being spent effectively.  And there is no way all those pennies are being counted.


Government is financially imbalanced.  Whether monies are spent on war or domestic programs, the government continues to spend.  They don’t balance their budget; they don’t even have a budget.  No business entity that attempts to operate with continued deficit spending for this long with zero plan to pay it back would be allowed to exist.  The elect continue to simply kick the plan for balanced spending down the road.  Is it because, as some say, in this economic state, we can’t do that right now?  Or, as I believe, do they avoid cutting spending in the sake of political expediency?  Let’s balance the budget.  Let’s make a plan.  Let’s stick to it… like every other wise, existing household in this country.


Government is too far removed from the Constitution.  Far too many are far too comfortable believing contemporary opinion trumps foundational truth.  “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  The above Preamble was written to inspire an improved government (improved from that which was established via the Articles of Confederation).  Our founders desired a country that would be just, internally peaceful, and externally protected.  They desired our citizens would be blessed and free.  Too many today justify legislation that dictates exactly how people should prosper, how tranquility is insured, and what (in their opinion) is a more perfect union.


As said previously amidst these posts, far be it from the Intramuralist to suggest that the State of the Government is the sole fault of the current congress and administration.  But far be it from the current congress and administration to suggest it is the sole fault of their predecessors.  The reality is still true that the State of the Government has digressed over several decades, and yes, until we responsibly address partisanship, special interests, size, spending, and straying from the Constitution, we will be challenged to admit the Union is strong.




sweet grace

There’s that one moment in time…  that moment when circumstances are so intense, so blinding, that you can’t see anything else around you…  when the weight of the world is so heavy that you are forced to ask life’s deeper questions — bottom line Q’s — questions that get to the heart of every issue.


Some days I get so frustrated… at the…


… dysfunction, discord… the arrogance, lack of accountability… in our families, communities, Washington, and world… the total lack of respect for others… the hypocrisy… the judgment… so often justified in the name of passion, emotion, self-focus, or self-inflated-ness…


I get frustrated, too, as to how each of us falls prey…  how I fall prey… how I, too, can justify a foolish response or approach in the name of something lesser…


And then a moment arises that jolts us to the truth… where all else crumbles to the ground and our sense of self finally deflates, as we are forced to ask those deeper questions.


At midnight Wednesday night, the teenage daughter of dear friends kissed each of her family members ‘good night’ and told them how much she loved them.  She then left.  She has not been seen nor heard from since.


… every parent’s worst nightmare…


As of this posting, it has been over 70 hours of not knowing where this beautiful 16 year old is.  Pause for a moment…


Grace was not some troubled teen with obvious, flashing warning signs, where any of us would have previously contemplated the concept that “yeah, this is a behavior I would have expected from her.”  Not at all.  Grace is a beautiful, sensitive, sweet, faithful young lady.  This could be happening with any of our children.  With any of us.


So many (especially) teens get an irrational thought in their head that they then justify acting upon because of how they feel in the moment.  They have all these feelings inside that they don’t know what to do with… fear… anger… failure… They don’t know how to resolve all the emotion inside of them; they no longer want to feel that way.  They don’t know what to do.  And so they run.  They leave.  They are not running to something; they are running away.


How my friends now ache wanting to wrap their arms around their little girl, saying, “It’s ok.  We’re here for you.  We’ll walk through this together.  And there is absolutely nothing in this world that happens, that God isn’t big enough to handle.  There is nothing you have done or can do that will make God — or us —  love you any less.  He is real.  He is here.  And with his help, nothing is impossible.”  In other words, my friends know that circumstances are incapable of changing who God is and how he so desires to have a relationship with each of his children.


But instead, we choose to run.


We run from God.


Ok, ok, so our running may not appear as painstakingly obvious as beautiful Grace.  Adults are a little better (and definitely more intentional) at covering up and managing the impressions other people have of us.  We don’t necessarily leave our homes and abandon our families, but we do get caught up in foolish approaches and responses; then what happens?


We begin to justify the dysfunction, discord, arrogance, and lack of respect for others.  We justify them in the name of passion or emotion.  We inflate our sense of self, as our circumstances now blind the reality of God’s existence and who he really is and what he calls us to do.


Pray for Grace.  That she would come home.  Pray for the family.  That they would be blessed with an uncanny sense of peace and would continue to trust God…  that they would trust him regardless of circumstance.


That’s the message for us all.  Can we trust him?  Can we believe in him?  Can we recognize the reality of God’s existence?  Or will we allow heartbreaking circumstances — perhaps even a parent’s worst nightmare — to get in the way?


Respectfully… for you, sweet Grace…











Hakuna matata.



‘Kids say the darndest things.’  The question is whether our teens are more “kids” or adults — and whether “darndest” qualifies more as foolish or as wise.  One “darnd” thing I’ve heard far too often from these growing young men and women is the colloquial justification that “everybody’s doing it.”


“Everybody’s doing it, Mom…

“He’s doing it.  She’s doing it.  I should be able to do it, too!”


Seemingly suddenly, society’s evolving standard of morality is dependent upon what everyone else does — hence, the existence of a slippery, (un)scrupulous slope upon which current culture continues to ride.  Sometimes it feels like a bit of an ‘adventure land‘ — like riding a roller coaster… hands up… smiles on… the participants unaware of any lurking calamity awaiting at the end of the ride.


Don’t let me be too hard on our teens.  It’s not as if this is merely a problem indigenous to their generation.  They have watched their parents; they have watched celebrities; they have watched the politicians and elected leaders in the land; they have watched them squabble and base their behavior on what others do.  Dare I suggest, they have watched us all a little too well.


Prior to our teens being teens, they’ve watched previous generations ride an often parallel, (un)scrupulous pitch.  We may or may not have articulated our actions via the “everyone’s doing it” logic.  However, the teens have seen our not-so-subtle “keeping up with the Jones’s” act; they’ve seen us subtly (or not) be continually indignant or stubborn or selfish or even refuse to extend grace — again all based upon the behavior of other people.  They’ve even seen us look, act, or even dress a certain way, all motivated by “impression management” — our fairly futile attempts to control the perception others have of us.  Further still, in my semi-humble opinion (emphasis on the semi), the youth in this country have seen reasonably intelligent adults discern what’s right or wrong based on other people.  Worse yet, they’ve witnessed us actually change what we believe to be right or wrong — based upon other people.


“Eveybody’s doing it, Mom…”


On what do we base what’s right and what’s wrong?

Does it change?

If it continually changes, how can it be wise?  … even from reasonably intelligent adults?


From Jan. of 1998 through June of 2000, gifted comedian, Bill Cosby, hosted a comedy series on CBS entitled “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”  The premise of the show was that Cosby would ask a kid a question, and that kid — usually between the ages of 3 to 8 — would respond with a “cute” answer.  The inherent joy of the show was found in the innocence of the child.


While our teens aren’t quite still children nor quite yet adults, the reality is that their justification for all sorts of beliefs and behaviors may or may not be innocent; we haven’t necessarily always taught them well.  The reality also then exists that the articulated justification for their beliefs and behaviors — and the articulated justification for our beliefs and behaviors — is nowhere close to “cute.”


What will we base our belief system upon?


“YOLO!” as the teens sometimes say.  You Only Live Once.  Yet if we only live once, we better figure the basis for that belief system out.