Love Never Fails

As a Christ-follower, I love everyone. And I believe there is a Truth that is greater than all of us, and a way to Life which we are all invited to follow.

As a sinner, I am profoundly grateful for Grace, and I don’t hold myself in higher regard than anyone else.

As an American, I’m grateful for the liberties protected by the Constitution, and the freedom to worship God in the way I please.

As a libertarian, I don’t care what you do as long as it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket.

As a human, I will always respect and tolerate my fellow man, and do my best to live in a manner worthy of the respect of others.

As a free person, I’m deeply disturbed by the Supreme Court’s recent decision to take power from the people and their representatives and to legislate new rights.

As a Christ-following American libertarian, my opinion is a little more nuanced than the caricatures often presented by others as my beliefs. And I bet the same can be said about people of all political, moral and theological beliefs.

Let’s love one another, even when we disagree about the ruling of nine judges who have their own sets of beliefs, opinions and standards.

Because in the end, #LoveWins

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13

Letting Go

Instagram photo by gcccreative

Last weekend I played guitar at Granger Community Church for what may be the last time. This wasn’t an easy decision to make. I love music. I love playing guitar. It’s the only thing I’ve done really well since I was 19 or 20 years old.

It really comes down to two things: Taking care of my family, and discovering where I’m headed.

Our second baby is due October 7, and Kim has been very sick throughout this pregnancy. Kim is an amazing working mom who takes care of Kiersten and I in ways I never completely realized before the last few months. It is difficult for all of us when I need to leave for the weekend to help lead worship at church. Serving the Church is amazing, and in my opinion, a necessary part of being a disciple of Christ. But putting others before the needs of my family in order to serve in this way isn’t good for anyone, including the Church. My family needs to know their husband and dad loves them, and I believe the Church (and society as a whole) needs more examples of engaged husbands and fathers—not less.

I’m also trying to seek God and discover His will and direction for this stage in my life. That’s not necessarily a new thing. Hopefully I’ll always try to be aware of where He’s leading and how I should follow. But this is a time of increased introspection and scrutiny for me.

I believe God made each of us for a purpose. And I believe that we are uniquely gifted with, experienced in and passionate about the things that will help us live out that purpose. Playing music, and guitar specifically, is something I’ve done for most of my life. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. It has taken me to New York, Florida, Nashville, Los Angeles, and India, among many other places. It has been a great way to meet people, and I have friends around the world that I never would have met if not for music in my life. It’s something I’m good at, something I enjoy, and something that has enhanced my life in more ways than I could ever enumerate.

When I was younger I thought playing music was what I was going to be doing with my life. I poured everything I had into it. It was my dream. It was my goal. And a career in the music industry wasn’t just some lofty pipe dream. It was where my band was headed. But when we called it quits at the end of a long record contract-negotiating process my dream slowly dissolved with it. Since then, I’ve moved on.

Somewhat.

I married, started a family, and bought a house—all the stuff grown-ups do. And for the past 6 years I’ve played guitar in various settings, mainly at church and with a couple bands.

As my life has changed and my interests and passions have morphed and grown, I’ve sort of held onto my guitar as a sort of security blanket. I want to embrace what’s next and God’s plan for my future, but I haven’t let go of the familiar, the comfortable. I’ve wanted to make sure I have something to fall back on, even if it’s only a faint memory of my past identity and the passion I once lived with.

Instagram photo by gcccreative

And that’s where this decision came from. If I hold tightly to the things I used to know and the old dreams, goals and passions I once had, I won’t be free (either in my heart or my time) to find and pursue other abilities and new interests, or to dream new dreams.

This may be completely psychological, but I feel like by completely letting go of the me I once was, the possibilities for the future are endless and wide-open. That is simultaneously exciting and daunting.

I don’t intend to spend years wandering or drifting. I feel a great responsibility to leverage my gifts, talents, experiences, passions, and resources for the God who made me and loves me and who wants the world to know He loves them. Wasting these things (in essence, wasting my life) would be just as bad, if not worse, than just lingering on in the same way I always have without ever stopping to evaluate where I’m going.

I love my church. I love the people, the leadership, the mission, the heart, the style, the excellence at every level—you name it, I love it. And I’m going to miss playing music on stage. I love the team I’ve been so privileged to serve with over the years, many of whom are some of my best friends.

I can definitely see coming back to play guitar. But if I do I want to come back either as a passionate, fully committed musician and guitarist who’s constantly working to become better at his craft, OR as someone who’s secure in his identity in Christ, has other passions and dreams, and who knows music will always be a part of his life—but isn’t clinging to dreams or an identity from the past.

I’d love to hear from you. If you’re going through a similar time, let me know how you’re processing through this, and if there’s any way I can help you. If you’ve come out on the other side of a time like this, I’d love to know what resources or practices you drew upon to find the insight and wisdom you were seeking.

I want to live my life intentionally. Passionately. On mission. This is a time of recalibrating and refocusing. Please pray for me. Thanks.

Richard Mourdock is coming to my church! Why am I not ecstatic?

It was in the news this past week that US Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock is coming to Granger Community Church this weekend. When I heard it on Friday, I was less than impressed, despite the fact that I like the candidate and love the church that my wife and I have been actively involved in for years. Why don’t I think this is amazing? Two main reasons:

  • Church isn’t a campaign stop. I’m all for politicians going to church, and I think the influence of the Church in our government is just as vital today as it was in the Revolutionary Period and in the anti-slavery movement. But being a part of a church is one thing. Showing up once and alerting the press is quite another. If he’s seeking a new church, anyone, including him, is certainly more than welcome. But, knowing that Joe Donnelly has been coming to our church’s annual Food Drop for years—without telling the media—it seems likely that Mourdock is trying to sway potential religious voters from the second district which Donnelly represented as a Congressman.
  • Endorsements of particular religions or denominations are forbidden by the Constitution’s First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is the precise language. Granted, by showing up, he’s not passing a law, or even endorsing my church. It just seems like somewhat of an implied endorsement. I understand that this church happens to be the largest in the area, and therefore, has the most potential voters, but what about the other churches in the area? I would have a different stance if the press release stated that Mr. Mourdock was spending a few weekends promoting the value of religion in a democratic republic, and that he was going to be making visits to the local mosque, the large catholic church nearby, a tabernacle and our church. In that case, it wouldn’t be as much of a political move as a person of influence promoting something our nation’s founding fathers felt was very important. It would be difficult to argue against that.

Having said all that, I do prefer Mr. Mourdock’s stances and policies to those of Mr. Donnelly, so at this point, he’s the one I’ll be casting my ballot for in November. But if I may borrow an analogy from baseball (since the playoffs are approaching), if Mourdock wins and goes up to bat as Indiana’s newest US Senator, he will be stepping up to the plate with one strike against him, in my opinion.

This Mutiny in My Soul: My “Acting” Debut

This past weekend, my church showed a video, featuring my “acting” debut. Acting is in quotes because I’m definitely not an actor. I don’t even feel like I did any acting in this piece. Let me explain:

When I was called a few weeks ago and asked to do this, and explained the concept of the video, I knew it wasn’t a coincidence that the director’s first choice had a family emergency and couldn’t do it. I knew this was a perfect fit for me. But like I said—I’m not an actor at all. If I start telling a joke and realize how funny I think it is, I typically start laughing halfway through and completely ruin the delivery. If I’m happy I laugh; if I’m sad I cry. I’m not an actor. And I’m definitely not a boxer. I’ve never trained to be a boxer; if I ever stepped into a ring and there was actually a fighter opposing me, instead of acting with me, I wouldn’t last long. That’s why I also didn’t have to act out the parts where I’m running away from Tyler Hufnagle. They call him “Tuff” in the MMA world for a reason, and if he caught me, I’d likely go down in less than 57 seconds just like his most recent opponent. So I’m neither an actor nor a boxer, in any sense of either word.

No, I knew this was perfect for me, because I felt like I was getting to play a part in telling my own story. It’s the story of evil, crouching at the door, waiting to attack. It’s the story of every human, who, in our weakness, though we want to do good, sometimes seem to lose more often than not to the whims and lies of our sinful nature. The apostle Paul talks about this quite a bit in the New Testament. He says in Romans 7:

“I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”

It didn’t take any acting to call up the anger and frustration I feel when I fall victim to the evil of this world and my own sinful nature. It didn’t take any acting to learn how to strike a blow after getting knocked down and beaten up—it’s just taken a lifetime of falling and getting up and, after failing God over and over, relying on His grace and love to save me.

Paul says in Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” He also points out that “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

It’s good to know I’m not alone. Neither are you. It’s with that idea in mind that the incredibly talented Cody Baker wrote his original poem which he then read in the short film he also wrote and directed, Mutiny:

To see the video in the full context of the service in which it was used, watch this.