For When You’re in the Middle of It

For When You’re in the Middle of It

I have a few friends who are in the middle of it right now. I myself am in the middle of it right now in a few different ways. I mean, life’s alright; nobody died or anything. But we all have those moments when somebody does actually die or maybe it feels like God’s not listening anymore or maybe a couple hundred bucks extra at the end of the month would take a little bit of the stress off or maybe if your kids would just shut up for two minutes you wouldn’t think about leaving.

What I hate when I’m in the middle of it are all the fixers who try make it better. It’s not that they’re bad or anything. And, I mean… some of it’s good. Like, I need a good sermon from time to time about hope and not giving up and trusting the Lord. But the sermon should come on Sunday or from a good podcast, not from across the kitchen table, ya know?

I bet that’s how Job felt, sitting criss-cross-applesauce covered in soot and boils. Then his friends show up and just. won’t. stop. talking… I mean, have you ever tried to read Job from cover to cover? Most of the action is in the first and last chapter. You don’t need much more than that to figure out what God is trying to get across in that book. The rest of it is just Job’s friends yammering a bunch of well-meaning mildly heretical nonsense, save a few chapters where Job tries to defend himself to them and the Lord.

The two obvious things we can take from Job are 1.) God is sovreign and He’s gonna do what He’s gonna do and we need to be ok that, and 2.) if you’re friend is hurting, just shut your mouth and sit with them. Watch tv or play Yahtzee or something, but, mostly, just be there and don’t talk about it unless they want to.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to offer the one thing that gets me through the middle of it, the days I still grieve, the days I’m almost sure God isn’t listening, the days when I’m ready to just quit.

It begins and ends with this great song from Cody Carnes, The Cross has the Final Word. Go listen and then come back.

No, seriously.

Good, right?

Let’s continue.

The Cross has the final word because it was there that Jesus declared His absolute supreme lordship forever. Everything that He did—the suffering He undertook, His descending to hell, His rising with glory on the third day—established that He is indeed the mighty, endless, powerful, omniscient, omnipresent God He claims to be.

And that means we must trust Him, period. No matter how deep or dark the valley, we have no choice but to surrender to His work on the Cross, His triumph in resurrection, and His power by the Holy Spirit in order that we might endure to the end.

And when you’re in the middle of it, that thought doesn’t immediately make you feel better. At least not me. Usually, I’m like “OK GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING HALP PLZ…” but then I think about all of it—the cross, the grave, the resurrection, the tongues of fire—and remember that He is indeed near, that I am going to be ok, that He has a plan.

The Cross has the final word.


A Tale of Two Churches

A Tale of Two Churches

I work at a big church.

We’re not like… huge, not a megachurch by any means. But for our rural farming community, we’re one of the largest. The perception, at least, is that we’re big.

But I grew up in small churches affiliated with holiness denominations like the Church of the Nazarene and the Wesleyan Church. My father attended Nazarene Bible College, and my grandparents are both Nazarene ministers. None ministered in a church that topped 100, to my knowledge.

And what I’m seeing now, and what I’m sure you might be familiar with, is a rift developing between the two churches. The age of denominational separation has essentially passed (thankfully) but it’s evolved now into a rift between small, usually rural, churches and large, not-rural, churches. I say “not-rural” because while large churches are usually found in metro areas, churches like ours operate in a very small cities of about 10,000 people, but our local economy is based on agriculture and manufacturing. So, we’re… pseudo-rural? Is that a thing? Either way, you get the idea. Big churches and little churches don’t exactly see eye to eye.

Here’s what I’ve gleaned to be some of the main disagreements: Continue reading “A Tale of Two Churches”

It’s OK to Hurt

It’s OK to Hurt

A friend of mine shared this blog post from Kris Vallotton, Prophetic Word For a New Season: Leaving Pain Behindand it brought some important issues to mind, issues that deal with human suffering and the character of God. Admittedly, I have a lot of personal emotion stored up in both of those topics due to my own season of suffering when my young wife unexpectedly passed away in 2011. But that season led me to some long arguments with God that He eventually won, and, in light of what Vallotton has to say on his blog, I wanted to share them here.  Continue reading “It’s OK to Hurt”

The Thing about Hugh

The Thing about Hugh

I want to first acknowledge that it seems Mr. Hefner was trying to do something good, as this NPR piece aptly noted:

“My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom,” Hefner’s son Cooper, now the company’s chief creative officer, wrote in the company’s statment. “He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand.”

Hefner’s assault on a what he called a “puritan” America was, I believe, well-intentioned. As such, I applaud him for stepping out to try and make America a better place. It’s much more than the twitter-verse has done to stop pretty much anything it decries and more than most bloggers (such as myself) do to bring positive change to the problems we wish we could fix with a laptop and a cable modem. Hefner certainly achieved his goals.

I’m just not sure those goals were good. Continue reading “The Thing about Hugh”

Why I Don’t Want to Be a Millionaire

Why I Don’t Want to Be a Millionaire

I got in a Facebook fight with a friend the other day about this article from Yahoo finance about how any normal person can become a millionaire.

I’ll briefly sum up the fight for you:

  • I think the article isn’t exactly right because most americans, working full-time, don’t make enough to put away the kind of money the article talks about. 
  • My friend’s rebuttal was that, while my point is true, most people can sacrifice some nights and weekends (the ever-coveted “side-hustle”) to save that much money. Think delivering pizzas, working at a gas station, and so on.
  • My answer was… yes, but I have a family. My nights and weekends are my family time. I work full-time in a salaried church position, and while my income is totally fine, it’s not enough to stash the sort of cash the yahoo article prescribes. Most americans are in the same boat.

And then I realized all of our points were moot because I’m not making decisions the way I should be. Continue reading “Why I Don’t Want to Be a Millionaire”