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

North

Imagine you are walking through the woods with a group of people. You’re in an unfamiliar place you’ve never traveled before. You are responsible for leading the group to your planned destination. But there is one big problem: You are lost.

Fortunately, you have a compass. You know the place you are headed is to the north, so you just take your compass out of your pocket and proceed to head north.

But before you get very far, someone in your group asks, “So how do you know where we’re going?” Your answer of, “We know we need to head north,” is met with another question: “How do you know which way is north?”

“Because I have this great compass that tells us which way we are headed.”

“How do you know the compass is correct?”

“Because it relies on the earth’s magnetic field to get its information.”

“What if it’s wrong?

“It’s not.”

“But what if there’s more than one north?”

“What?”

“What if different compasses give different interpretations of north, south, east and west?”

“They don’t. There is only one north, one south, one east, and one west. We’re heading north.”

“Why are you so narrow-minded and intolerant?”

“What?!”

“Why can’t you be open to the idea that there might be more than one north?”

“Because there is only one. If I were open to that idea, I would also be opening us up to being completely lost out here while we guess which north is the right north. Then, what—we draw straws? Take votes on whose north is right? No way. That’s crazy. And by the way, I’m not open to two plus two equaling anything other than four either. Is that intolerant?”

“Wait—what? You don’t think there is more than one answer to two plus two? Why not?”

“Because there is only one answer to that math problem.”

“But what if I want two plus two to equal five, and someone else wants it to equal five thousand?”

“That’s absurd. Math doesn’t rely upon what a person wants. It just simply is.”

“You’re being really closed-minded. What about all the people who really believe those to be the outcomes of adding two and two together?”

“Those people should go back to a first-grade math class—and pay attention this time.”

“So you’re saying you don’t believe in more than one ‘true’ north nor more than one answer to two plus two?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

“Wow. You’re such a bigot.”

“Excuse me?”

“Well, I mean, that’s a really intolerant viewpoint of all the people who really do believe those things are true.”

“It may be intolerant, but I guess I don’t tolerate blatant lies invading my thinking. Here’s why: There is only one true north and there is only one answer to two plus two. If we’re all allowed to just make up our own answers as we go, there will be no way for anyone to, for example, give directions to one’s house or share a fantastic cookie recipe.

“If we all get to decide which way is north, we’ll all be lost. If we decide the answers to each of our own math problems, we should just abolish schools and forget about advancing science and technology—let alone recipes—because we won’t be able to communicate with each other using an agreed upon set of principles. Is that intolerant? Or is it wise?”

“You are such a hater.”

Can you imagine that conversation actually happening? If you have a three-year-old, maybe you can. Except for the part where she called you a bigot. Young children question everything and have to be convinced several times to believe certain basic facts.

That’s good for them. Imagination makes them believe they can do anything. It’s the best deterrent for all the barriers life will throw at them as they grow up. We all need imagination. It takes imagination and creativity to solve some of the world’s most complex problems.

But at some point, children have to learn that they can’t actually fly off of the top bunk, even when wearing their best Superman pajamas. Gravity is real. (I learned that lesson the hard way.)

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”
―C.S. Lewis

And just as there are some basic truths we must learn about as we grow up—things like geography, math, science, and grammar—I don’t believe an education is complete without at least providing some ways to find answers to life’s most important questions.

But as a society, we are not providing our kids either the answers or the means of finding them. Check out what Stephen Colbert recently said to a group of graduating college seniors at their commencement ceremony:

(Relevant comments start around 10:10)

“You fill out your own report card.” “Decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong.” Colbert is of course a comedian. And these quotes I pulled are surrounded by jokes. But these were the bits of “wisdom” sandwiched between the humor.

When he’s saying that creative output is subjective, and the noise of the critics shouldn’t slow down those who take risks to produce, he’s right on. But “decide what’s right and wrong, and then please expect as much of the world around you,” sounds a lot like “there are many different answers to two plus two.” This is a great speech because (aside from the fact that it’s hilarious) it is representative of the greater conversation going on in our culture. He is articulating in a funny way the things we are generally teaching our kids and students:

If it feels right, then it is true—for you.

But if truth is relative and each of us can make our own truth, what is truth? How can we even call something truth if everything is relative? And if that’s what you believe about truth and finding your way, how can you even feel confident telling that to someone else? As Conor Oberst brilliantly wrote, “If you swear that there’s no truth and who cares, how come you say it like you’re right?”

I’d rather believe there is a truth. There is a true north. There is one solution to two plus two. There is gravity. There is a truth and it is discoverable. There are answers to life’s deepest questions. We may not know them all—and neither do Siri or Google—but I’d much rather believe the answers exist, and that there are still some mysteries in the universe, than to believe that I can just make up my own truth.

Because what if I’m wrong in the end? What if my relativist compass points me to previously discovered dead ends? What if my way ends up leaving me lost and stranded?

I don’t know about you, but I trust my compass. I’m heading north.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
John 14:6

We’re Going on an Adventure

The adventure has begun. After months of praying for direction, and weeks of hard work, the day has arrived. There is now a big sign in our front yard declaring that our home is for sale. It’s very surreal and exciting—and a little sad and scary at the same time.

We’re not moving far away. At least we don’t plan to. We aren’t even sure where we are going to live next—probably an apartment for some time while we figure out what’s next. And in case you are wondering, no, we are not going bankrupt.

We do love this house. This is the first house Kim and I bought together. The first time we moved beyond renting or living in someone else’s home. We love inviting people into our home, and this place is perfect for that. We have hosted several gatherings, from large parties to small groups. We have a guest bedroom where a few people have been able to stay with us overnight, an office where I can do my creative work, a toy room for our girls, and even a formal living room where, for the first time, we have space for a piano. Trees, and the sights and sounds of nature that accompany them surround us. It’s beautiful. We love it here!

I love it here. Maybe too much. Which is probably part of the reason we’re selling it.

At the beginning of this year Kim and I decided that we are done with debt, which for us is a student loan and the loan on our minivan. We decided to make it our goal to have those two eliminated from our lives this year. But we also didn’t know how that would be logistically possible, given the amounts coming in and going out each month. We knew that in order to meet this goal, God would have to come through. Some people would call it a God-sized goal, because it’s definitely bigger than what we could do on our own.

Knowing we had a big goal in front of us, we began chipping away at it, doing what we could do, while praying for guidance and wisdom for the next steps.

Prayer can be dangerous. Sometimes you get what you ask for.

A few months ago, one of Kim’s friends mentioned how challenging it has been to find a house recently. Houses in our area are being listed and sold within days, often at or above the seller’s asking price. Bidding wars—where two or more buyers make offers on the same house and drive the price up—are common right now.

We had a choice: Keep plugging away and hope God sends something our way—or realize that giving up the house we love may be God’s way of helping us reach our goal.

I agreed with Kim that we should at least have a realtor run the numbers and recommend a list price for our house. I kind of assumed it wouldn’t be enough to make any significant dent in our debt—we have only lived here for two and a half years after all.

I was wrong.

When our realtor came back with his comparative market analysis and showed us the price he thought we should list for our house, I didn’t know how to react. The number was almost exactly what we thought it would have to be for us to make a move. It would be enough to pay off our debts, fully fund our emergency fund, go on a honeymoon (which we skipped when we were married because of our mountains of debt), and start saving the down payment for our next house. On paper it made complete sense—we should absolutely list it.

But all of a sudden, it was too real for me. I didn’t want to sell this house I love so much. That’s when I realized I really had a deeper issue going on, and a much bigger choice in front of me.

Do I want to follow Jesus, no matter where He leads, or do I want to hold on to stuff?

It felt weird at first to put my house in the same category as my stuff. I’d sell my phone, TV, furniture, extra clothes if Jesus asked me to in order to follow Him. But my house? I need a place to live, right?

True. But in America we tend to tie lots of emotion into our homes. It’s the first house we lived in when we were married, it’s the place we brought our baby home to, it’s the street on which our daughter first learned to ride her bike—the list goes on. And I’m one of these people.

In the book Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert Kiyosaki says, “a nice home is an emotional thing. And when it comes to money, high emotions tend to lower financial intelligence.”

I do love my house. But in the end, a house is just a house. A nice house is a nice house, but all houses serve the same purpose. Walls to keep the rain, snow, cold and heat out; rooms to gather, eat, sleep, bathe and work. Maybe a garage to park the car. It’s just a building. Walls, floors and ceilings. Stuff.

So the choice became more and more clear: Live in this house and keep this set of walls, floors and ceilings; or jump into the adventure of what could be next—see if we can make a large return in a short amount of time, become completely debt-free and untied to a permanent space, and see where this journey leads.

After praying about it and getting advice from people we trust, we came up with a plan, a price and a date, and got to work sprucing up our house to get it ready to sell.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
Psalm 119:105

“A lamp for my feet.” As my friend Prashan points out, a lamp shows us just enough to take the next step. It’s not a floodlight that shows the entire journey ahead.

We are on that path right now: Lamp in hand, looking to God for the next steps. Trusting His provision and believing He will come through for us—because He always has.

We don’t know what’s next. We don’t know where we will live next. We don’t even know how seeing life through the filter of debt-freedom will impact our family.

When we were married, we never thought we would be able to buy a house like this. And when we moved in, we never imagined we would sell it before our kids graduated high school—let alone preschool. But this is the adventure we are on. Here we go!

Work Hard


I was reading my Bible the other day, making my way through a one-year reading plan (which I’m only halfway into, after starting a year ago—but that’s another story…).

As I was reading, something grabbed my attention. So much so that I just had to share it.

In Acts 20 Paul is saying his goodbyes to some close friends. He has spent lots of time with them, and is pretty sure they won’t ever see each other again. Along with saying goodbye, he’s reinforcing the things he did and taught them while they were together. You can read it all to get the full story if you want. But as I read his words to the leaders in Ephesus, this part stuck out to me:

I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’Acts 20:33-35

Here were my immediate take-aways from this. I hope this might inspire you, like it did me:

  • It’s much better to give than to receive.
  • It’s also better to work hard and take care of those around us than to envy other people’s wealth.
  • God will always provide our needs. We are more valuable than the birds and the lilies. We know that. But if we are able to work hard and earn more than enough to take care of our most immediate needs, we should look for ways to bless others with our wealth.

This inspires me. I want to work harder, bless more people and be more grateful for what I have, rather than wishing I had more.

I Want to be More Like This Guy

I want to be more like Thomas. No, not Thomas Jefferson (though I am grateful for his work, especially the Declaration of Independence—but that’s another post entirely.) I’m talking about Thomas, the disciple, the follower of Jesus. We usually refer to him as “Doubting” Thomas. He’s the guy who wanted to see the holes in Jesus’ hands, feet and side, in order to be convinced that Jesus had indeed resurrected from the dead. Because of that, Thomas is known not for his faith, but for his doubt.

There’s a lot more to “Doubting” Thomas though that isn’t as well-taught or -known. I only learned last year that he was one of the first to bring the gospel of Christ to India. “Saint” Thomas, as he is known there now, even has a mountain named after him. Check out this video on Thomas’ impact in India, shot from the top of St. Thomas Mount:

I’d like to think I have a lot in common with Thomas. I think he was a guy who wanted to make sure he had his facts straight and that everything made sense—before he believed. But once he knew the truth, he dove in and gave 100%. There was no stopping a believing Thomas. Check out this passage, from John 11, well before the whole little doubting incident:

6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

That little line in the middle of a story of resurrection says a lot. Thomas wasn’t necessarily sure Jesus would come out of there alive (perhaps he was doubting?) but he had seen enough evidence, and believed in this Jesus so fully, that he was ready to give his life at a moment’s notice for Him.

That’s what I want. I know I won’t always have the answers, and at times my human mind—not capable of fully grasping a life other than the fallen-nature of this present world—won’t be able to comprehend a way out. But I want to be a person who doesn’t believe blindly, but with the passion that only asking questions and finding the Truth can bring.