I Suck At Easter

I have a conflicted relationship with Easter. I understand it’s the holy grail of Christian holidays, but I’ve rarely celebrated with the appropriate religious verve. While my friends are tweeting their casualties of Lent and claiming to re-watch Mel Gipson’s Jesus movie, I’m searching for the best brunch deals and hoping church won’t go too long.

Blasphemy, I know.

I told you, I have a conflicted relationship with Easter.

Perhaps it’s not Easter I have a problem with but the way we go about celebrating it. Growing up, I always felt Easter was the weekend we pretended to be more excited about our faith than we actually were. It was like a spiritual pep rally for the overdressed, thoroughly-caffeinated middle class. We were obligated to show up, we cheered on cue, and only the pretty people were allowed on stage.

Pep rallies aren’t all bad, but the holiday’s unforgiving dress code drove me further into spiritual ambivalence. With each annual Easterpalooza I was required to put on a necktie, uncomfortable shoes, and a reverent attitude — I don’t wear any of those things well.

But recently I’ve begun to wonder if Easter is about more than the way we celebrate it. What if Easter isn’t defined by pastel church banners, over-the-top lily arrangements, or operatic specials belted out by amateur sopranos?

What if Easter is about something simpler and better? Like the brokenness we don’t have to live with any more.

I think the power of the Gospel is that Jesus came into our brokenness. Broken laws, broken systems, broken religion — a broken world. He didn’t observe through heavenly binoculars with disgust and disdain. He showed up and walked with us in our darkness. He felt our burden. He understood our suffering. And then He went about the task of fixing it all.

Something beautiful happens when you fix what is broken. Though my children seem to be aging faster than genetically possible, they still occasionally bring me their broken things. What used to sound like, “Dada, toy broken. Fix it, peas,” now sounds like, “Hey, Dad, this game system won’t work. I need you to fix it.”

And even though it’s not as cute as it used to be, the request is the same: This is broken. I can’t fix it on my own. I need someone to help me.

This is the world Jesus came into. We were broken. We couldn’t fix it on our own. We needed someone to help us. And His death, burial, and resurrection provided a way to fix the brokenness. In one triumphant weekend, sin was overruled and death was overwhelmed. Jesus cast off the noose of oppression all humanity had been straining against since the Garden. Finally, we could breathe again.

Though we’ve been reconnected with God, the painful reality we all know to be true is that we still deal with brokenness. Broken promises, broken dreams, broken hearts — broken lives. But just as He did before, Jesus shows up in our darkness. He forgives our failures. He heals our wounds. He restores our hope. He goes about the task of fixing every broken thing we can’t fix on our own.

So this Easter I’ll choose not to get caught up in the production of the holiday. I’m sure church will be fancy, my shoes will be uncomfortable, and there will be a preposterous lily extravaganza on display. But I’m not going to focus on the celebration. Instead I’ll focus on the Savior. I’ll thank Him that He’s powerful enough to fix the brokenness of the world — but He’s personal enough to fix my brokenness too.

That’s something to celebrate.

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Valentine’s Day — The Power Of Red

Red is no accident.  It is stunning on purpose.  It shocks, excites, invites and intimidates all at the same time. The blush of beauty. The glow of heat.

Red — the perfect color for love.

My life used to be cast in grey. I knew only shadows and charcoal. My days were structured and cold, ordered and still, static and pale. I was living but not alive. Not really.

That was before Heather found me. She changed all that.

She showed me red.

Heather is a catalyst. A woman who electrifies the air around her. Her laugh, infectious. Her eyes, wild. Her touch, intoxicating.

Kinetic. Untamed. Dangerous.

Red.

She is the paragraph you read again and again. Crafted perfectly. A woman who smiles like she knows a secret, sighs like she hears music, kisses like it’s forbidden. She doesn’t just color with red – she seems to burn with it.

My life changed when fate let me love her. And it changes every day she decides to love me in return. I thought women like Heather were only found in Hemingway novels.  But I was wrong. I find her every day in my home, and she finds me every night in my dreams.

So each year on Valentine’s Day, when the whole world seems to celebrate red, I just celebrate Heather. For me, she’ll always be the girl who chased away the grey.

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3 Resolutions Too Important To Break

Most people don’t like New Year’s resolutions. That’s true, I think. Resolutions are unrealistic and disingenuous and self-absorbed, and people don’t like things that are unrealistic and disingenuous and self-absorbed.

In theory, an oath of annual improvement sounds inspired, and the timing is nothing short of perfection. We’ve spent December swiping credit cards, packing on pounds, and sharing videos of cats in Christmas trees. Something has to change—surely, we’re better than this.

So, on January 1, 20EVERY YEAR, we shake the Etch A Sketch of our lives and vow to be amazing. We climb the ladder of naiveté, spring wildly from the diving board of self-loathing, and plunge headfirst into the frigid winter waters of This-Year-I’ll-Be-Better.

And then we sink.

Every year we sink.

We join the gym . . . but only work out four times.

We buy the book . . . but never make it past Chapter 3.

We enroll in the class . . . but neglect to show up.

We throw away the junk food . . . well, some of it.

Like I said, most people don’t like New Year’s resolutions.

But what if resolutions were different? What if resolutions were less about self-improvement and more about self-acceptance? What if resolutions were less about changing our lives and more about living them?

I think it’s possible that your best resolution isn’t finding the inspiration to change, but finding the courage to carry on. With that in mind, here are three resolutions I hope you’ll keep in the new year:

1. Keep Fighting

I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the way, we started evaluating our lives based on the battles we’ve won or lost. Like military historians, we look back on the skirmishes we endured and write a personal narrative that is either victor or victim. When someone asks how the year was, we celebrate the successes or lament the losses, wrapping our identity around our ability to conquer.

But life is rarely as simple as advance or retreat. Things would be much simpler if it were; but it’s not. Many times, life is just surviving. It’s about getting up when you’ve stumbled or been pushed down. It’s about scratching and clawing all day to gain an inch, and then waking up the next day with the audacity to do it all over again.

There will be good days and bad days in the year to come, hard-earned victories and inexplicable defeats. So resolve now that regardless of the battles you win or lose, you won’t give up. You won’t give up on yourself. You won’t give up on your family. You won’t give up on the things most important to you.

2. Keep Dreaming

People tell me that dreams die, but I don’t believe that is true. Dreams are too strong to die. I think dreams just hide. They hide behind disadvantages, they hide under disillusions, and they hide inside disappointments—but they don’t die.

This is why dreams never have to be resurrected; they just have to be rediscovered. No matter how long it’s been and no matter how neglected they appear, dreams can be pulled from dark, dusty shelves and given another chance. A chance to grow. A chance to inspire. A chance to do what dreams do best—soar.

What was your dream? How long ago did you hide it? When did you quietly tuck it away, far from the warmth of hope and the light of expectation? When did you accept that life had to be wearisome, spiritless and without color?

Perhaps this is the year for you to dream again. It’s easier to do than you might think. Dreaming is an instinct. It doesn’t have to be taught, simply allowed.

Regardless of past mistakes or present misfortunes, resolve to dream for a better future. As long as there is a dream, there is a possibility—and possibility is what resolutions are all about.

3. Keep Loving

Is it just me or does it seem like Rom-Coms are making a gallant effort to ruin love? With every new movie depicting love as a giggle-inducing conglomeration of serendipitous meetings, absurd misunderstandings, and climactic sprints through New York City airports, love is devalued and misunderstood.

The truth is this: love is more than grand gestures and goose bumps. You often feel love, but not always. Love is deeper than a feeling—love is a vow. It’s one person saying to another person, “I love you . . . because I choose to.”

Love is dedication. It’s holding hands because you know they like to hold hands. It’s calling just to say hi. It’s showing up and cheering too loudly. It’s ignoring the worst, seeing the best, and promising to stay.

A new year is the perfect time to choose love once again. The arctic winds of time, hardship or misunderstanding may have tried to put out love’s flame, but dying embers aren’t dead yet. You can breathe new life into that relationship one choice at a time. Make a gesture. Send the card. Meet a need. Put them first. Love because you promised you would.

 

Whatever resolutions you’ve set this year, I sincerely wish you the best. If you are on a new diet plan, I hope it works. If you are going back to school, you should be proud of yourself. If you signed up at a gym, stick with it.

But most importantly, whatever the new year may hold, I hope you’ll resolve to keep doing the things that are really important. You only lose if you give up. So fight, dream and love your way through the year to come—those are the resolutions too important to break.

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Healthy Eating . . . Yuck!

I didn’t grow up eating healthy food. For me, a healthy option was “fried” rather than “deep fried.” So I’ve always assumed I would be dead by the age of 60, with my last wishes scribbled on a nearby take out menu . . . and I’ve been okay with that.

Apparently, Heather wants me around longer because she keeps trying to sneak healthy ingredients into my food. I’m not the least bit happy about her well-intentioned but fraudulent culinary actions, and I’ve told her so! (Take note, men.)

To her credit, no matter how much I complain, Heather just smiles and keeps working to prolong my life. I’ve tried to be more cooperative lately, but it isn’t easy. Every time Heather asks me to try something organic or green or non-artery-clogging, I make this face . . .

 

And when she tells me I can’t go through a drive-thru because it would be a bad example for the kids, I immediately make this face . . .

 

I have a feeling I’m destined for a long life of frowning at my food.

 

(Special thanks to Mel Gibson and Tommy Lee Jones for helping me communicate my emotions to my wife. You guys make my marriage better.)

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My Racist Childhood

I was raised in an environment that was deeply southern, highly religious and staunchly conservative.  Rules and humidity were ever-present.  Cornbread was a staple, Hollywood was satanic, Robert E. Lee was a hero and everyone I knew was afraid of libruhls [sic].

Some might call my upbringing strict and religious.   I call it paranoid and shame-based.  Potatoes, potahtoes.

As you might imagine, growing up in a John Grisham novel gave me access to the good, the bad and the ugly of the American South. (Cue banjo music.)

The good?  Short winters and sweet tea.

The bad?  I know all the words to the Hee Haw theme song.

The ugly?  Racism.

You see, when I was growing up, people important to me still indulged in bigotry.   It was rarely displayed but never hidden.   Like the vodka bottle your dad keeps in his cabinet or the “romance novel” your mom stashes under her bed, it was the thing we could all see but never acknowledge.

Family members whispered the n-word, mocked political correctness and screamed about reverse discrimination.  I remember being taught that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a “troublemaker” and that people from different races shouldn’t marry because “it makes things difficult.”

To this day, I still regret rejecting the advances of the most beautiful girl in my ninth grade class because she was biracial.  I really liked her, but I didn’t want to make things difficult.

I told you racism was ugly.

Recently, I overheard my young children discussing Rosa Parks.   Because their conversations usually revolve around BeybladesSuper Mario Brothers or flatulence, I eavesdropped anxiously, wondering what they might say.   To my great delight, they spoke about this civil rights icon in heroic terms.   Michael wondered aloud if Parks understood the long-lasting impact of her bravery, and Sydney simply declared, “I’m sure glad she didn’t give up her bus seat.”

This is when I knew things could be different.  This is when I knew that times are changing.

I realize that we haven’t solved all racial divides or cured all ignorance and hatred.   I understand that there is still a battle for equality and there is work left undone.

However, I have new hope.  We don’t have to perpetuate ugly lessons.   We can reject the lies passed down to us.

Bigotry isn’t permanent.  Racism isn’t immortal.

Even children can vanquish them.

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Why Is The Church Silent On Gun Control?

How quickly things change. Just a few weeks ago, the church was a symphony of political opinion. The voices from our religious leaders crescendoed in a cacophony of diatribes against gay rights, national healthcare, abortion, immigration reform and re-election bids.

Moral outrage caused our spiritual shepherds to dive headfirst into the political deep end, and we were all too willing to dive in after them. The water was polluted, and we sank like stones, but we were convinced that our cause was just.

No longer will we be silent! This was our holy mantra.

On “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” preachers defiantly focused on politics rather than Jesus, offering a righteous middle finger to the 1954 law banning them from doing so. Pastors, leaders, Christian talk show hosts and every sword bearer with a King James Bible and a YouTube account reminded us:

“It’s time for the church to speak up! We must be heard!”

My leaders spoke with such passion and vigor I began to think they must be right.

So pardon my befuddlement at the sound of crickets coming from the church this week in the aftermath of Sandy Hook’s nightmare. After days of appropriate mourning and prayer, I keep waiting for our call to action, our righteous anger at the laws (or lack thereof) that allowed this brutality.  But nothing has come. It seems the microphones are muted.

If silence is golden, we’ve become fabulously wealthy overnight.

I must confess, in the wake of gun violence so grotesque it sends a collective shudder down the spine of our nation, I’m aghast that the church has lost her political voice.

The populace has bravely taken up a debate over gun control — a conversation that has significant legislative and moral points to be made —but our once politically-inclined leadership seems to have come down with a terrible case of stage fright.

Sure, we’ve said prayers, but who hasn’t? We’ve offered condolences and had moments of silence; so has everyone else. Finally, our coup de grâce was asking Jesus to end the evil. I guess we did that because it’s easier than ending the evil ourselves.

The President, congressional statesmen, pundits and even sports commentators all have the guts to at least question the morality of gun proliferation. Why not us?  If ever we should be heard, shouldn’t we be heard now?

Conspicuously, the only institution quieter than the church this week is the NRA.

Let me clear: condolences and prayers and weeping are important. In fact, I’ve done them all myself. Indeed, the church should ultimately be a source of comfort, a haven for healing. I’m glad that houses of worship were safe places to gather last week (even if our schools were not).

But here is the question I keep asking, and no one can answer for me:

In the wake of our recent love affair with all things political, why have I not heard one pastor, one spiritual leader, one respected voice stand up and say three words: Gun control now.

Be they right or wrong, whether you agree or not, shouldn’t it be considered?

Assault weapons are legal instruments of unspeakable carnage in our country. People are dying in supersized quantities. Churches are not safe, theaters are not safe, malls are not safe, and now our elementary schools are not safe.

Is this not a spiritual issue? Is this not a moral outrage?

People keep telling me this circumstance is not about guns — it’s about something bigger. And that sounds impressively far-sighted and supremely spiritual, except guess what? This actually is about guns.

There is both a macro issue and a micro issue here: evil and guns. The admission of one doesn’t absolve the existence of another.

Accusing evil without acknowledging its weapon of choice is like renouncing lust while viewing porn or bemoaning cancer with a cigarette dangling from your mouth. Evil has to be more than denounced; it must be disarmed.

I went online earlier in the week to see what leadership was saying in response to our myopic idol worship of the Second Amendment, but I found few answers.

One prominent Christian blogger decided Monday was a good day to post about cats. Another well-known pastor of a large suburban church disturbingly Elfed himself on Facebook. And yet another high-profile blogger saw his website crash when he wrote about “Christian boob jobs.” (At least we’re keeping it classy.)

Is this our best response? Is this the voice we belligerently declared would not be silenced just a few short weeks ago?

If this were all just an issue of indifference, I could scratch my head and move on. But even worse than our inaction is a Christian subculture that rushes to defend the very weaponry that brought hell to Newtown’s first graders.

“We don’t blame spoons for obesity, so don’t blame guns for violence.” “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” These are just a couple of posts I read within moments of Sandy Hook. And they were boldly posted, retweeted and shared by my most devout churchgoing friends.

I’m bewildered by this response. It’s impossible for me to understand how we — followers of Jesus — can champion instruments of death, and we’re ready to do so mere moments after those instruments have done their very worst.

I fear history will remember the church as Gotham City’s Two-Face when it comes to “gun violence”: loving guns but hating violence.

I get it. The church thinks this is a political issue, so we’re hesitant to speak out on it. (I happen to think it’s a moral issue, but that’s a different debate.) If you don’t want to wade out into political waters, I can understand that. Though, I must confess, it’s hard for me to respect your spiritual laryngitis when I remember how loudly you were shouting just moments ago. . .

  • You told me that homosexual unions kill the institution of marriage.  But assault style weapons literally kill people.
  • You said that healthcare is killing our budget. But high-capacity ammunition magazines literally kill people.
  • You hinted that illegal immigrants are killing our work force. But . . . one last time . . . military-grade guns literally kill people.

Why aren’t we talking about this?

Weeks ago we were political agitators, ready to make our voices heard. Today, our silence is deafening.

How quickly things change.

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Please Stop Witnessing To People

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for grace. Not “saying grace,” Nancy Grace, or even Grace Adler (all lovely in their own right), but real grace. You know, grace grace. The I once was lost, but now I’m found grace that is messy and hard to explain and a little too much like Jesus. That’s my jam.

I think this is why I have an issue with “witnessing.” (And by witnessing, I mean “evangelism.” And by evangelism, I mean “winning souls” — emphasis on winning.)

Whatever you choose to call it, this used-car salesman technique of spiritual solicitation rarely works. And it rarely works because it lacks grace.

I saw this absence of grace on full display this morning at my local Starbucks. While I sipped a tepid latte, my attention was drawn to a stone-faced soul winner on the prowl. His suit was noticeably unpressed, but his technique didn’t have a wrinkle in it, seared stiff from years of evangelistic pressure.

He strode through our third place disinterested with holiday mochas, breakfast sandwiches or the untouched stack of archaism known as newspapers. He was focused—pursuing only the holy grail of evangelism: a convert.

This was a Sunday morning, and Stone Face seemed determined to make his way to church with a new trophy in tow. I imagined his adrenaline spiking at the thought of bagging a rare Bible-Belt miscreant and wrestling him or her to the house of the Lord.  This was witnessing at its finest, and it turned out to be a sad sight.

Like a starving predator prowling the Serengeti, no prey escaped his notice. Though his demeanor was casual, his senses were on full alert, eyes darting wildly behind rimless bifocals. From the coffee bar to the love-seat semicircle, every caffeine seeker was unsafe under his gaze.

He tricked people into conversations about church, he told others who professed to be saved that they probably weren’t, and he questioned the veracity of each conversant’s faith, reminding them that they were in Starbucks instead of church that morning.

Now, in all fairness, I’m sure assuming his motives were right, but his methods were all wrong. I listened in as he met my fellow coffee addicts at the bar to remind them of their putrescence. You’re a sinner. You’ve made a lot of mistakes in your life. Hell is going to be hotter than you can imagine. While they added cream, he added condemnation, and he added it in heaping amounts.

He stayed at it for about 2 hours, but no one took the bait. I got the feeling that condemnation was nothing new for the coffee shop prey. They had heard it all before from the internal and external voices that haunt us all.

We all know we’re flawed. We all recognize our imperfections. We’ve all rehearsed our failures. Spiritual table-pounders aren’t offering us anything new.

And this brings me back to grace.

I believe people aren’t fascinated by a list of their sins, they’re fascinated by a God who is willing to throw that list away. They already know they’re broken—they can feel that—they need someone to tell them they don’t have to be broken forever. They want to hear about acceptance and healing and fresh starts.

But more importantly, they want us to do more than talk about these things; they want to see us prove them. They want to see people who choose to act like the Christ they claim to follow. Grace is a life lived, not a conversation starter.

This is why witnessing is more than a five minute proposition. It can’t be done in shopping mall parking lots or in Facebook posts. Jesus isn’t an infomercial, and salvation isn’t an Evite. Evangelism takes time. It has to be lived, demonstrated, proven.

This is how we point people to Jesus—we demonstrate the grace that changed our lives. We accuse the accusers, we embrace the prodigals, we fight against injustice, and we love people who are convinced they’re unlovable.

When we do that, we follow the example of Jesus. He didn’t hand out tracts, shout at sinners, or ruin a morning at Starbucks. He did something far greater. Simply put, He loved us at our worst, and He offered us His best.

I think that’s grace. And I think that’s enough.

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The Unfortunate Politics of Heroes and Villains

Despite the brisk temperatures in western New York that November evening, the air felt thick and heavy. Students were huddled together in the dorms and lounges of my small Bible school weeping. Some were offering up somber prayers in muted tones, others simply sat in silence, stunned by the news. Faculty had just informed us that our nation was under siege. Not by communists, terrorists or the latest boy band. Something far more ominous had taken place . . . Bill Clinton had been elected president.

The villain had won. The hero had lost. God have mercy on America.

Just as vividly, I remember the Christian euphoria that swept these here United States when George W. Bush was elected in 2000. It was nearly Tebow-esque. Those hanging chads from Heaven were all it took to restore balance to the Force. Our churches celebrated wildly as Carman’s The Champion played out in the political arena before our very eyes.

This time the hero had won. The villain had lost. God bless America!

Evangelical anecdotes aside, history will attest that our country was neither a utopia nor a dystopia under either president. They both left a significant footprint in our ongoing national march, but neither saved nor doomed us.

In the throes of another closely contested presidential election, very little has changed. The church is once again telling the same story we tell every four years. We don’t seem to be reading a political narrative as much as reciting one. And with each new election cycle, we recite it with increased vigor. It goes like this:

In this presidential race, there is a hero and there is a villain. One will save us; one will destroy us. The fate of America hangs in the balance. Whom will you vote for?

We’re not talking about policy or substance or even the faith of the candidates. We’re just rehashing the “plot” of The Avengers: one candidate will surely rescue us, and the other candidate will be our imminent doom.

Heroes…villains…‘MERICA!

Is this really the best narrative the church can embrace?

Granted, it’s a compelling story; it’s just not an accurate one. If there is one thing history teaches us, it’s that politics are more nuanced than finding one man to save Metropolis. Yet we continue to shout the “Our Man is God’s Man” storyline to all who can bear it. Our man celebrates Christian faith! Our man upholds Christian traditions! Read the link I put on Facebook and you’ll see: Our man quotes Scripture!

However, we’re living in complex times, and culture is blurring the once distinct boundary lines. Our political narrative stumbles a bit when the Hall of Justice nominates a hero from the Mormon church. Christians have adjusted quickly enough by focusing on morals rather than faith — good men rather than good theology — but still, our decades-long plotline is beginning to show its age.

Perhaps now more than ever, we’re starting to see that our solution can’t hinge on the election of one person. A president can’t save us.

This is an opportune time to rethink the Heroes vs. Villains political melodrama. It won’t be easy to do; after all, this is the tale we’ve been telling since phrases like “moral majority” and “national coalition of Christian yada, yada, yada” began decorating the bumpers of our gas-guzzlers. Nevertheless, it’s time for a change.

The oversimplification of presidential politics is beyond unbecoming for the Christ-follower; it is dangerous. In this narrative, our sole hope rests with one person; therefore, political outrage becomes the point of the spear. We have to win and we have to win now. Understandably, our faith is sidelined. Debate becomes battle; concern becomes fear; involvement becomes rage.

The sad but logical conclusion in this myopic, all-or-nothing, political viewpoint is that the people around us become our enemies. The Lex Luthor candidate we love to hate isn’t the only one guilty of destroying God’s nation—neighbors, coworkers, and, yes, even fellow church members are culpable, too.

But this was never the example of Jesus. He didn’t villainize people; He loved them. Jesus didn’t die to change someone’s politics; He died to change their hearts. This is why Scripture is so thankfully devoid of political hand wringing. On every page, in every story, God is portrayed as more than enough.

And because God is more than enough, we fight a different kind of battle. Ephesians 6:12 tells us we battle not against flesh and blood. This is perhaps the most overlooked text in the church every fourth November because battling flesh and blood is so convenient — flesh and blood have a name, a face, and a sign in their front yard telling us how they plan to vote.

For the Christian, battle doesn’t begin and end when the pundits announce it’s election time. Our battle is fought every day as we reject bitterness, decry injustice and undo hatred. This was the model of Jesus. He walked with purpose; He spoke with grace; He forgave with love. Is His example not enough?

At the end of the day, we must realize that politics are not black or white. Truthfully, they’re not even left or right. The political process is a frustrating walkabout in a landscape of grey. And the two candidates we have this fall have dutifully traversed this landscape for years.

Let’s be honest, neither presidential choice on the ballot is aiming to start a national revival. It’s doubtful the first item of either agenda will be: “C’mon, America. Let’s put Christ back in Christmas!” and I doubt either man will be blasting Crowder through the Oval Office speakers.

Conversely, neither candidate wants to steal all our money, eradicate democracy, or loose sharks with lasers on their heads against the general populace. I know this fits well in the old narrative, but it simply isn’t true.

Presidential politics is about two people who both want you to choose them to serve our country in the best way they know how. Candidates aren’t saviors or superheroes; they’re just civil servants.

So let us take a more faith-filled approach this political season. Let us tone down the expectations and the accusations, and decide instead to approach the voting booth in a way that is fueled by hope in Christ.

Remember, the early church revolutionized the world, not because of their great political rallies or shining debate performances, but because they chose to live like Jesus every day.

That was enough for them.

Could it be enough for us, too?

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Photo: Pre-Church Photo Op

(Left to Right: The woman who lives in my house and is related to me by marriage, the world’s funniest and most beautiful second grader, some kid who eats all my food)

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The Questions I Would Ask You In a Mall

One of the perks of living in the Metroplex is going to malls. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but my family lived the past fifteen years of our lives in a town best known for its pawnshops, so the mall is a big deal for us Clampett’s.

There are three things I do well at the mall — nay, three things I do magnificently at the mall: 1) pick out killer outfits for my wife, 2) shell out money in the food court, and 3) deftly avoid the survey takers.

It’s no small feat avoiding these persistent and ever-present survey takers. Like every girl I ever dated, they are skilled in the art of talking and vulnerability: a pretty powerful combination.

But just because I have successfully dodged their piercing stares and beckoning pleas doesn’t mean I’m not curious as to what they’re asking. These 20-somethings are holding clipboards and wearing khakis, so I assume their inquiries matter.

I’d like to think the underpaid interrogators of North East Mall are asking questions about voting preferences, immigration, or health care, but I suspect I’m wrong. Maybe they’re just asking about body sprays or Soledad O’Brien’s likeability.

I don’t know what they are asking, but I do know what I would ask. If I were gathering information in your mall on a bustling Saturday evening, these are the questions I’d bother you with:

  • What is one word you would use to describe Christians?
  • What would you consider to be a fair price for a latte?
  • Is it helpful or creepy when pastors preach about sex?
  • Do you think God is pleased with you?
  • What’s the most important factor in choosing a church?
  • How many non-Christians do you know?
  • What is your favorite Denzel Washington movie?
  • When were you the happiest?
  • Does your church understand culture?
  • Does my clipboard make me look important?

These are my questions. I realize they probably reveal more about me than they do about you, but I’d ask anyway because I think they’re important.

So steer clear if you see me in your local shopping mall. I’ve got some questions I’ve been meaning to ask you.

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