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REVISITED: Mountain Mover

Read Matthew 1:1-21


“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

04.11.21-05.09.21 mountain mover series_11042021123054Both of my children have always been smart and studious, always striving to do well in their studies at school. They have each done very well in their grades and my oldest has even won the Presidential Award for Academic Achievement.  At the end of this last school year, my oldest daughter was told that her teachers were recommending her for honors classes for the next school year.

One of the honors classes she is going to be taking this year is Literature. She has always been an avid reader, and reads countless books. One of the requirements for eighth grade honors Literature is for them to read three books during the summer, two of which are classics: “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens and “Call of the Wild” by Jack London. For those who have read those books, they know that is a pretty high bar for an eighth grader.

Just the other night, my daughter was stressing out. She had read up through chapter 20 in the book, and she felt that she just wasn’t understanding this book.  “I am not sure it is really making sense Dad,” she confided in me. “I have to read this book and be able to answer questions about it, and I just don’t think I am going to be able to.” Clearly, she was distressed about the work that lay before her.

We’ve all been there, we’ve all had moments that we felt we just weren’t up to the challenge. We’ve all been overwhelmed by the circumstances and challenges that faced us and have felt at a loss for just how we were going to survive. Perhaps even some of us have had negative attitudes toward those challenges. Perhaps we have told ourselves that we couldn’t possibly rise up to them, let alone above them; of course, such an attitude almost always becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

All we need to do is recognize and embrace our faith. Jesus taught his disciples that if we had faith the size of the tiniest of seeds we could move mountains. There is nothing that God cannot get us through. There isn’t any fear, doubt, obstacle, or task that is too large for God to handle. All we need to is to have faith that God would not allow us to be crushed by this world or it’s circumstances. All we need is a little faith in God’s ability to work through our circumstances.

This is not to say that God CAUSES our circumstances. Life happens as it does, and we are constantly being affected by our own choices as well as the choices of others around us.  That’s the reality of living in a community, of living in a world with other people. Yet, God never ceases to be with us, regardless of the challenges before us. God is constantly working for the good of those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose (Romans 8:28).

So, have a little faith! Pick your chin up and know that you are not alone in your circumstances. Know that you are God’s and that God would never forsake you or fail you. Have faith in God, but also have faith in the abilities God has given you. God is constantly preparing us and equipping us with the abilities and tools to handle the challenges before us.  Have a little faith and be a mountain mover! Know that you are empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to rise up to any challenge that comes your way, no matter how great or small. Remember, all things are possible through Christ who gives us strength!


“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” – Helen Keller


Lord, open the eyes of my heart so that I may see that through me, you can move the mountains. Amen.

REVISITED: Unanswered Prayers

Read Matthew 6:7-13

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26)

Garth-Brooks - Unanswered PrayersWhile I am not too much of a country music listener, I have always had a liking for Garth Brooks. His flashy, rock-like performances, his charismatic charm and his wild and crazy persona have always captivated me and millions of others.  But beyond all of that, he also happens to be an incredible song writer and has, as a result, befriended and worked with many other worthy songwriters such as Billy Joel.

One of my favorite songs of Garth’s comes from his album, No Fences. On that album is a song called, “Unanswered Prayers.” The song tells the story of a man who goes to his old high school to watch a football game.  While at the game he runs into a woman whom he had a fling with back when he was a teenager, which triggers a flood of emotions and memories.  I am sure he remembered the good times he had with her, all of the things they used to do together, how she smelled after putting on her perfume, or how she looked on their first date. I am sure he was flooded those memories and more.

He also recollects how he used to pray to God, begging him to keep them together. Perhaps he prayed for the relationship to go further than it had. We can certainly use our imagination for the things he was praying for; yet, there he was, years later at a football game with a different woman…his wife. In looking at his old fling, and looking back at his wife, he realized that the woman he had prayed for all of those years ago, didn’t turn out to be who he had thought she was; whereas, his wife was everything he ever needed and/or wanted in a loving partner.

Brooks sings, “Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers. Remember when your talking to the man upstairs, that just because he may not answer doesn’t mean he don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” I can relate with these words. There are many times I prayed for things to happen one way or the other; however, looking back on those things that I wanted, I am glad that they never happened. People pray to win the lottery, yet when they do their lives are often ruined by the sudden rush of wealth. People often pray to be come famous only to find themselves more empty than they were before the world knew them. We often strive and pray for what we want; yet, what we want is seldom what we truly need.

And there is one more point to make regarding “unanswered prayers.” God is not some magic genie in the sky that appears to bestow three wishes to us every time we rub the lamp.  God is not some catchall spiritual inbox for every request YOU need to make. God is the source of all of our lives. God is the very breath we breath and the very life we feel coursing through our veins. God is both in us and transcends us and it is this God who calls us to live in LOVE…to live in the very essence of GOD. Thus, if our prayers are self-centered and all about US, then chances are those prayers will remain unanswered.

Rather than pretending that we know what we need and what is best for us, rather than seeking our way, our truth and our life, let us turn to our Creator, our Redeemer and our Sustainer and remember that God will provide exactly what we need. Knowing this we will not need to ramble on and on only to find our prayers go unanswered; rather, our prayer will simply be: “Lord, let your will be done in me and on earth as it is in heaven. Use me in the way that you will.” If that is your prayer, I guarantee you it will NOT go unanswered!

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” – Søren Kierkegaard

Lord, let your will be done in me and on earth as it is in heaven. Use me in the way that you will. Amen.

REVISITED: Ride the Waves

Read John 21:1-18


“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1, NLT).

I LOVE THE OCEAN. No, seriously, I do. As much as I have traveled, have been to places like Pittsburgh, PA, Columbus, OH, Indianapolis, IN, and Denver, CO., I do not think I could ever live in an area that is extremely far from the ocean. My whole life, I have lived with in an 1 ½ – 2 hours from the shore and day trips to the beach are commonplace.

When I was a young boy, I remember being afraid to go into the ocean. It all started when I was “down the shore” (this should clue you in as to where I live if you are not already from my state) with my parents. I was super young, but old enough to remember the experience. My dad took me in to the ocean and I clung to him, enjoying the waves but also fightened by them.

That day the water was particularly rough and the undertow was strong. At one point, a large wave overtook my dad and I became separated from him. Tumbling through the water and foam, I can remember my terror in slow motion. Of course, I did eventually get my bearings as I washed up on the sand; however, that certainly put a fear of the ocean in me.

For the longest time, I would not go into the ocean. Eventually, I got enough courage to stand at the edge and allow the waves to crash on me where I could stand and they hit no further up than my legs or hips. But the fear of wiping out and possibly drowning kept me from experiencing the sort of freedom and adrenaline the ocean offers.

Eventually, as I got older I became more and more courageous because I knew that  a grown man couldn’t be afraid of the ocean. Eventually, I would have children and a family of my own and would bring them to the shore. So, eventually I forced myself to go in the ocean, but I still felt the fear crop up every time I entered and exited through the waves.

Overtime, though, I learned that, while it is important to respect the ocean, there is no need to fear swimming in it. The key is to ride the waves. If you are entering and you cannot get over a wave, ride it and head back out. Or, better yet, you could dive into the wait and ride the water underneat the wave. Either way, you are going with the flow, or underneath it, as opposed to resisting against it. It saves a ton of energy and is a rather fun experience as well.

In our lives, we often try to have such control over our situations that we find ourselves resisting the waves. When things don’t go according to the plan and we find waves pushing us back from where we want to be, or we find a rip current pulling us further out when we want to stay comfortably close to shore, we are best to not resist, but to let go, trust God, and go with the flow. Ride the waves, follow the current, and trust that Jesus Christ will bring us back to the shore at the place we need to be.

Do you trust God that much? Are you willing to let go and let God guide you through the waters? Will you be willing to let go and ride the waves? Will you be willing to ride the current and not resist the movement of the Holy Spirit? If so, you will eventually find that you belong in the ocean, you belong riding the waves, you belong catching the current of the Spirit and that you would want it no other way!

Let us be a people who fully put our faith back in God. Let us trust Jesus Christ when he tells us to NOT BE AFRAID. Rather, let us ride the waves and let God carry us to the next place the Gospel is needed to be shared. That way, we will be effective and faithful ambassasors to the Kingdom of God, in which we have our membership.

If you stand on the beach staring at the waves, you’ll never be refreshed by the water.

Lord, remove my fear and help me to put my trust in you so that I may go wherever you send me. Amen.


Read 1 John 5:1-8

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4, NLT).

Just recently, I was listening to the 60s Essential Rock Playlist on Apple Music. For those who may be unfamiliar, Apple Music is a subscription service that allows you the ability to download and/or stream any of the millions of albums that they have. Virtually, any and every  artist’s album is released on Apple Music as well as in it’s physical CD or record form. It’s a really great subscription for those who love music…and who doesn’t love music?

Anyway, back to the playlist. As I was listening to it, the song “Good Vibrations” from the Beach Boys came on. My goodness what a great band they were and, no doubt, when their music comes on…the good vibes are certainly flowing! Just pause for a moment and remember that song. Listen to it through your memory. Hear the beat percuss its way across your head. Ba bum bum bum bum good vibrations. Hear the harmonized bops and the feel of summer in the air!

Yeah, what a great song from a legendary band! It truly spreads good vibrations when you listen to it. The song itself is about how he is checking out a girl and, as he does, he notices her checking him out back…through a subtle, playful, side-glance. That side-glance sets off those good vibrations and the rest is history. Of course, that song could be about blowing things up and it would still give you those good vibes. It’s just the way it is.

Seriously, who doesn’t like good vibes? I mean, isn’t that the greatest part of summer. It’s warm, free, and filled with sand, beaches, waves, picnics, hikes, and of course, good vibes. Yet, the truth is, humanity often falls way short of producing the kind of vibes that the Beach Boys created with their music. Why is that? Because we are human.

This is true in the church as well. The church is made up of broke n human beings who sometimes end up being good vibe killers.

In church, I am doing a worship series called “Summer of Love”. To compliment the series, we have decorated the sanctuary in tie dye, wallflowers, lava lamps, and other late 60s décor. As for me, I am wearing each week a long-haired wig, a tie-dye bandana, a psychedilic paisley shirt, a peace sign, earrigns, and a bracelet. Some people will come in and feel the good vibes when they see that décor in church; however, others are not going to appreciate it as much. The vibes might be a little too good for their liking and they might complain about it.

That hasn’t happened yet, thankfully, but I use it as a hypothetical that points to the fact that some people just kill good vibes. In fact, to give us a dose of humility, we all are good vibe killers. In fact, conversely, my setting up hippie decorations and dressing in “far out” threads, might kill what others see as the good vibes of a traditional, reverent church.

The truth is that killing good vibes is a part of reality and one person’s good vibes is another person’s fingernail down the chalkboard. Still, shouldn’t the church generally be seen a place with good vibes? Shouldn’t people see a church and instantly think, “that is where we go to be a community, help others, and feel good.” Yet, friends, most people (if there are any at all) do not think that when they pass a church.

What’s more, they might not even have noticed they passed a church at all. That is the case for more people than not, I think. People who are busy going about their day and not paying attention to all of the locations along the way. But if somone is specifically seeing the church as they pass, they most likely are thinking, Wow! Pretty building, or that’s where people go to worship, or I would never step foot in that place, or my mother got married there. Or, as mentioned above, most people are probably not even noticing the church let alone thinking about attending it.

In other words, when thought of, churches are seen as places. They’re pretty buildings, places one would go to worship or places one would never step foot into. With that said, few churches ever get to the place where people think, Wow! There’s where those nice, friendly people with the good vibes hang out.

So, how do we, as Christrians, begin to promote good vibes? Well, let’s think about what constitutes as good vibes. That is simple evidence to produce. Anything that makes you to feel good would constitute as “good  ibes”. What could more great about the news that we are saved from the things that make humanity suck!?!?! That is truly good news and that should transform us into a people who are not only hip…but also a people who spread good vibes and invite others to do so as well!. Let us plant the seeds of the kingdom of heaven to grow and flourish! Amen.

If you won’t plant the seeds, who will?

Lord, give me the strength and the conviction to sprerad the Good News!

REVISITED: Go with the Flow

Read Philippians 4:4-9


“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Imacon Color ScannerMy family and I often go on a vacation down to South Carolina. While there we sometimes spend part of our vacation at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort. One of the things my wife, daughters and I have done while there is go on a two hour kayaking tour of the bay. We all have been kayaking before and I remember the first time we did that we thought that it would be a relaxing way to spend the last morning of our stay at Hilton Head. As we got into our double kayaks, paired up with our children, we quickly realized that the kayaking tour was not going to be a “relaxing”, lazy river experience. The winds had kicked up and the current became rather strong.

At one point, my youngest daughter and I started to get pulled in the opposite direction from the way that the group was going.  I started to paddle harder and harder, but it was to no avail. The current was simply to strong. My arms got tired and I became panicked and concerned that we were in a hopeless situation. No matter how hard my daughter and I rowed, we just could not get our kayak to turn around and head in the right direction.

Finally, a light went off in my head. I realized that the whole time we were trying to row against the current. We were trying to rely on our own strength to turn ourselves around and row upstream.  Yet, the forces of nature were simply too powerful for my arms and the arms of a 9 year old to row against.  But what if I began to row with the current, what if I let go my desire to go against the current, what if I stopped fighting so hard to do what was ultimately impossible?

“Row right, row right,” I called out to my youngest daughter! The second she heard me she caught on to what I was trying to do and began to row with the current in synch with me.  As we began to pick up speed, I plunged my paddle into the water on the left side of the kayak and began to feel the vessel turn around. “Shallow ro, shallow row,” I called out! With those words, my daughter began to row quickly on both sides using the double paddle. As she rowed the kayak picked up momentum, turned and before we knew it, we were paddling quickly upstream. With in a moment or two, we caught up to the group and, shortly after, were able to see a pod of dolphins swim gracefully by us only a few feet away.

What this experience taught both my daughter and I is that, often times, we find ourselves caught in a current. Rather, than letting go of our fears and going with the flow, we often find ourselves fighting the current. At best, we find ourselves paddling in place and never going anywhere. At worst, we find ourselves exhausted, lost and hopeless.

If you find yourself in such a situation, if you find yourself rowing against the stream, if you find yourself fighting the current, today’s challenge for you is to let go. Allow yourself to go with the flow and to gain momentum. Remember, you do not have the strength alone to fight the tide. But if you let go of your fears and go with the flow, through the grace of God, you can build moment enough to turn yourself around and paddle to where God is calling you to be. With God, there is no such thing as hopeless. Remember that, let go, and let God take you to those rewarding, refreshing waters.


“Don’t stand about on the edge of life afraid to venture in. go with the flow of circumstances. Follow the voice within.” – Unknown


Lord, help me to realize that I have little control over the circumstances in my life; however, I do have the choice to hand my desire for control over to you. Guide my life in the direction you see fit and lead me to where it is you are calling me. Amen.

REVISITED: Fleeing the Mob

Read Mark 15:1-20

“Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead.” (Acts 14:19 NLT)


Perhaps you have seen the old Universal film, “Frankenstein”, starring Boris Karloff. If so, you will certainly remember the scene of the townspeople forming a mob  and chasing after the monster accidentally killed the little girl while playing with her on the dock. The girl had stumbled upon the monster, well, the monster actually stumbled upon her. All the same, the girl was trying to teach the monster a game of throwing flowers into the water of a pond.

She threw one and it floated. The monster imitated and his floated too; however, when all of the flowers were floating in the water and there were none left to throw, the monster decided to try the same thing with the little girl. It was, in all honesty, an innocent mistake. Unfortunately, the little girl could not swim and ended up drowning. Add that to the fact that this creature, this “monster”, was pieced together with the body parts of dead corpses by a crazed and mad scientist, and the people in the girl’s village were riddled with fear and rage.

Of course, fear and rage make for a deadly combination and, so, an angry and vengeful mob was the result. For those who remember this film, you will remember that this mob chased after the monster and trapped him in a windmill. In their rage, they torched the windmill and the monster inevitably burned alive after the windmill caved in on him. Following the film’s conclusion, one is seriously left wondering who was truly the monster: the creature, or the neglectful mad scientist and the raging mob.

Another film comes to mind when I think of mob mentality. In the Walt Disney film “Beauty and the Beast”, Gaston riles a mob when Belle tries to save her father from being committed in a mental institution. In order to show that her father isn’t crazy in his ramblings about a “beast” living up in the castle, she shows Gaston and the crowd the beast through magic mirror the beast gave to her as a gift.

Using fear to persuade them, Gaston is able to easily persuade the  crowd into believing that this beast is ferocious and will come in the night to steal away their children and sink his sharp fangs into their flesh. Belle tries to counteract Gaston by telling the villagers that the beast is actually friendly and means them no harm; however, they’ve already mobbed together with pitchforks and guns and there was no way that reason was ever going to break through to them.

The mob ignored her completely, locked her up with her father, and ran off into the night to go kill the beast. In the end, they did so to their own detriment and at their own peril. Gaston, himself, ends dead as a result of his fear mongering. Thus, both “Frankenstein” and “Beauty and the Beast” can be seen, among other things, as a sharp and potent warning against mobs and the mob mentality.

We are so prone, as human beings, to run to the mill with what “could happen” that we often throw caution and reason to the wind in order to attack what we fear most. I see this happening right now in this country during this election cycle, and it is most certainly happening in our world as well. The more we are attacked by terrorists, and the more people’s perceptions of our stability and security become cynical and/or negative, the more people use that fear to drum up support for action that may or may not be reasonable, let alone practical or warranted.

The challenge for us is to flee the mob, to stay clear of it, to separate ourselves from the ferver, the fear mongering, the hype, the rhetoric, and the polarization that goes on in our communities and in our worlds. We need to put ourselves in an open space where we have room to take a deep breath, think, pray and allow God to guide us. It’s not that we shouldn’t heed warnings and/or look at all fear-inducing warnings as false or bad. They very well could be true; however, it is how we react to them that makes or breaks us. When we react like the common mob caught up in a rageful ferver, we fail to use our heads, our hearts, and our faith. God is calling us to flee the mob and seek God’s guidance and wisdom out in all that we do.

“The mob is the mother of tyrants.” – Diogones

Lord, help us to not to get caught up in the mob mentality and to seek only your ways and your guidance. Amen.

REVISITED: Human Again

Read Daniel 4:8-33

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:49 NRSV)


One of my favorite Walt Disney films of all times is an animated film called, “Beauty and the Beast.” It is one of those rare stories that transcends its medium (e.g. animation) and reflects a truth and/or reality within its viewers. On the surface, the story is about a beautiful french peasant girl named Belle (whose name means beauty in French) who wants nothing more than to escape her present reality and live more than “this provincial life.”

Of course, based on the classic fairytale, we all know that Belle gets more than she bargained for. She finds herself locked up in a castle by a ferocious, hideous beast. Overtime, though, the Beast finds himself falling in love with Belle and, in turn, Belle finds herself falling in love with the Beast. It is, of course, that mutual love between them that will lift the curse on the beast and his castle, and will transform him from a beast into who he was created to be, a charming prince.

What I love about this tale is not so much the “happily ever after” end of it, but in the dark reality that leads up to the need for a “happily ever after.” In the Walt Disney version, each of the characters are shown to have inherent flaws. The prince, at the outset of the film, was cold-hearted and self-centered. When a beggar woman came to him to seek shelter from the cold, he rejected her because of her haggard appearance. Of course, that woman was really an enchantress and she cursed the prince, making his external appearnce match his internal self: a cold-hearted, fercious beast.

His court ended up cursed with him. While they had nothing directly to do with prince’s wicked actions, they were cursed as well. Perhaps some were undeserving of the curse but, as is often the case, they suffered the consquences of the sins and evil of someone else. Some of them were cursed to be transormed into the objects that represented their daily duties. For instnace, the maid became a feather duster, the head master the staff and spokesman for the prince, became a clock. The womanizing servant Lumiere became a candelabra. In essence, the very castle that objectified its subjects, and saw people as a means to an end, became doomed to be objects as well.

Moving beyond the prince, the other characters are imprisoned by their flaws too. Gaston is imrisoned by his own vanity and pride. LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick, is imprisoned by his desire to have status by virtue of his association with Gaston. The townspeople are imprisoned by their fears and ignorance. Maurice, Belle’s father, is imprisoned by is preoccupation with his inventions, allowing them to take precedence over his time with his daughter. Finally, Belle is imprisoned by her desire to have more than what she currently has. She doesn’t want to be stuck living the simple life, with simple people, settled down in a family that keeps her from exploring the world.

In the Broadway play, as the Beast and Belle start to fall in love, there is a musical number that the enchanted objects (e.g. Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Cogsworth, etc.) begin to sing entitled, “Human Again.” Seeing that the Beast and Belle have begun to understand what actually means to selflessly love, there is hope that the kingdom can be restored back to being “human again.” The heart of this song has an important message for us all. If we are to be truly human again, if we are to be as we were created to be, we will be consumed by selfless, unconditional love. In the meantime, we are only shadows (some of us even beastly shadows) of our true selves.

While not everyone will learn what it means to be love, those who do will be restored to their true humanity. Jesus Christ showed us what it means to be truly human, and what we need to do in order to be truly human again. Our challenge is for us to study Jesus teachings and examples one what it means to be love, and to begin to allow Christ, through the Holy Spirit, to perfect us in being truly human again. Let’s not  just admire Christ, but begin to live and love like him.

“Like a real human does, I’ll be all that I was on that glorious morn when we’re fin’lly reborn, and we’re all of us human again!” – Alan Menken and Tim Rice, “Human Again”, Beauty and the Beast

Lord, free me from everything that is keeping me from being truly human. Amen.

REVISITED: Born to Follow Revisited (An Alternate Perspective)

Read Galatians 3:23-29


“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34)


Along with being a pastor and a chaplain, I am also the co-coordinator of the district youth team in the district that I am serving. As the District Youth Co-coordinator, I am act as a bridge between the youth in each of the local congregations within the district. This past weekend I co-led a district wide Open-Mic Night which turned out to be a wonderful evening of listening to all of the many talents that came out and shared their gifts. I also performed and, being that I just recently wrote about it, I chose to perform Bon Jovi’s “We Weren’t Born to Follow”, among others.  It really is an awesome song and it is a lot of fun to sing to. So, I gave that song my all and enjoyed rocking out to it.

Prior to singing the song, I explained to the people present that I had just written a devotion about the song, and how we ARE actually BORN TO FOLLOW. We are born to follow the ONE who created us. We are born to follow LOVE and to be LOVE wherever we may go. I basically succinctly summed up what I had written in that devotion, because I feel that it is important to take the stigma off of following. There is NOTHING wrong with being a follower…depending on who or what it is that one is following.

But I didn’t end it there, as I had in the last devotion. It is absolutely true that WE ARE BORN TO FOLLOW, that we were made in our Creator’s image, and were born to follow the example and the path that our Creator laid before us. That being said, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora weren’t talking about that when they both wrote the song; rather, they were talking about following what others tell us about ourselves…about following in line with who and what world tells us we are. I am not sure where Jon and Richie stand spiritually, especially regarding this song; however, there is definitely some wisdom to be found in their words.

This world often tells us that we ought define ourselves based off of what we do for a living, based off of our status in life, based off of what community we live in, based off of our income, and based off of other such things. The world tells us how thin to be, how pretty to be, what clothes to wear, what foods to eat, and how to continue to hollow ourselves out into shallow, empty shells with no purpose or meaning to fill our lives. If we turn to the world we learn about might makes right, strength (aka force/violence) equals peace, and that there is a pecking order that we need to submit ourselves to.

But WE ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY WERE NOT BORN TO FOLLOW THE WORLD!!!! We were born to follow God, in whom there is no longer Jew or Greek or French or Iraqi or Russian or American. We were born to to follow God, in whom there is no longer slave or free, male or female or transgendered or whatever other label the world wants to impose on each of us. That is not to say that we should ignore the unique value of each individual, or that we should pretend we don’t have differences, but that we should stop limiting our sights to the “labels” that we use to define each individual!

In the end, we are all CHILDREN OF GOD! That’s what matters! Each one of us was born a child of God, which makes each one of us related to each other in and by the Spirit of God. We weren’t born to follow the World’s labels or definitions. We weren’t born to follow the things of this world but, rather, were were born and are called to follow our Creator who had deemed us to be one, to be united as kin! Let us stop getting hung up on what the world tells us to think and/or to do, and let us preoccupy ourselves with following the ONE who created us with a purpose and a plan in mind: TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS GOD HAS LOVED US!

“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.” – Oscar Wilde

Lord, help me to tear down the walls of division in my heart. Heal me and teach me to love others as you love me. Amen.

REVISITED: Born to Follow

Read John 21:15-22

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)


It is no big secret that my favorite band in the world is Bon Jovi and that I have been listening to them faithfully for almost as long as I can remember. As a boy, I heard their songs on the radio and loved it every time they came on. My parents, who wouldn’t just buy me anything I wanted, allowed me to listen to them (and even bought me some of their albums) because, for the most part, their lyrics were clean and often inspirational…especially to a young boy from Jersey.

This band, which is also from New Jersey, have written and recorded 12 studio albums, have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, and have performed more than 2,700 concerts in over 50 countries for more than 34 million fans. Over the years, their music has spoken to me in many ways. With all of the ups and downs that comes with life, there is literally a Bon Jovi song for each of them. That is powerful stuff, and that is why they have been so successful. People can relate!

With that said, in 2009 Bon Jovi released the single, “We Weren’t Born to Follow” from their album “The Circle.” The song itself delivers everything a Bon Jovi fan has come to expect from the band. The lyrics are calling for people to become leaders, for people to pick themselves up off the ground and live life to it’s fullest no matter what comes their way. The chorus of the song is as follows: “We weren’t born to follow, come on and get up off your knees. When life is a bitter pill to swallow, you gotta hold on to what you believe. Believe that the sun will shine tomorrow and that your saints and sinners bleed. We weren’t born to follow, you gotta stand up for what you believe.”

At first glance, one might be questioning what is wrong with those lyrics. They seem to have a positive message and seem to be pushing people to be independent and to persevere; however, it is in that message that lies the problem. The lyrics are very heavily self-reliant. “We weren’t born to follow” implies that being a “follower” is bad and being a “leader” is good. Yet, I find these lyrics to be inherently backwards.

WE ARE BORN TO FOLLOW. God created us in God’s image and has been calling us to follow God’s way of living…of loving. It is is when we think we are INDEPENDENT…it is when we think that we can DO IT ON OUR OWN, that we run into trouble. It is our thinking that WE are the answer to our problems and self-reliance is the key to surviving life that leads us down a road that not only hurts others, but also brings us to the brink of self-destruction.

God has called us to lead in being followers. With God as OUR leader, we are called to lead others in following God…in following LOVE. That is the key to not just surviving life…but living it abundantly. So long as we are following the ultimate source of LOVE we will never be led astray and that LOVE will pick us up and carry us when we fall. God is not calling us to a life of INDEPENDENCE, but rather to a life DEPENDENT on GOD.

Like any parent, God wants us to live abundant and fruitful lives and wants us to recognize the source of our lives. If we fail to do that we will never see the great hope that lies within us, nor will we see the great hope that lies within others. Today’s challenge is to recognize that God is with you, that you are dependent on God, and that God is calling you to follow in order that you might lead others, by example, to a life of following!

“One cannot lead without first having followed.” – Rev. Todd R. Lattig

Lord, I submit myself to you and follow your lead. Lead me toward following your example and leading others to do the same. Amen.

REVISITED: Killing Strangers

Read Revelation 13:1-4

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put the sword back into its place. All those who use the sword will die by the sword.’” (Matthew 26:52 CEB)


Is it just me or does it seem like the world is spinning completely out of control? The news is daily filled with stories of people killing other people. Growing up, I remember hearing of murders here or there, I remember the shock that would bring to me everytime I heard of someone’s violent demise. It was shocking because it didn’t happen to often, or it was at least less often brought to my attention, so that when I heard of such violent acts I was horrified by it.

Nowadays, I must admit, that I am not shocked to hear of such things at all. If anything, like most in our society, I have grown numb to it. That’s not to say that I am apathetic to the people who suffer. I am an empath, meaning that I can easily put myself in the shoes of others and will often feel the pain others are going through, not to the same level as the suffering, but enough to empathize with them. Yet, overall, I have grown numb (in that I am not shocked) to the constant barraging of violent extremism in this country. It has, sadly, become the norm.

We live in the age of the sword. People no longer can look at the other, despite the differences they have, and see common humanity in them. Rather, they see the other as being the enemy. They embrace the spirit of Satan, which is the spirit of divisiveness and enmity. They avoid, at all costs, the long, hard road of open, honest, and painful communication. They avoid seeking to understand the other, as well as seeking the other to understand them, and they resort to pointing the finger, scapegoating, warring with others, and taking lives. From our politicians modeling this kind of enmity in their campaigns to common protestors who are outraged over injustice, violence is becoming the modus operandi for getting oneself or one’s group heard.

It is understandable how people can resort to violence. When groups of people suffer seemingly endless injustice, while others are treated with respect and dignity, that is angering. When groups of people who are being discriminated against feel like the majority of people are not hearing them out or understanding their woes, that adds fuel to the already stoked fire. Even more, when the majority of people want to keep things exactly as they are because it suits them at the great cost of others, and they discount or deny the experiences of discrimination that others are going through, that can be a rallying cry for those who are fed up with being silenced in their suffering.

Yet, violence almost never helps anyone’s cause, but often begets more violence. We saw that in the shootings of Minnesota, Louisiana and Texas. The shootings of two black males by police officers, resulted in someone angrily taking justice into their own hands by shooting unwary police officers who were just trying to ensure the safety of protestors in Dallas, and they were officers who had nothing to do with the previous shootings. We also see this at the often chaotic and sometimes violent rallies of our presidential candidates. People in both of these instances, and beyond are fed up with NOT being heard and are, unfortunately, venting their frustrations violently. As one candidate’s followers get violent toward the other’s, the other candidate’s followers retaliate.

This reminds me of two Marilyn Manson songs. In his song, “Killing Strangers,” Manson writes that “we’re killing strangers so we don’t kill the ones that we love.” This is a profound truth, in that out of frustration we resort to killing the other, the stranger, in order to “protect” those we love and care about. The problem is that those “strangers” often did nothing, and would do nothing, to deserve being killed.

In his song, “Antichrist Superstar,” Manson writes, “Cut the head off, grows back hard. I am the hydra, now you’ll see your star.” This, of course, is imagery taken straight from the book of Revelation. While Manson is writing about how the church created the “evil” they perceive him, and others, to be, I believe that these lyrics apply here as well. We use the sword (proverbial or literal) to cut down our perceived enemies, only to see those enemies rise back up to strike us back.

The question for us is this, when does the violence stop? Surely, there is truth in Jesus’ warning that “those who live by the sword will surely die by it.” I am not saying that all violence is uncalled for, but when we are reactive in violent and destructive ways as a result of our fear and anger, that almost always leads down the path of destruction. We may be killing strangers to begin with, but we are killing pieces of our own souls in the process, and reaping the harvest of our seeds of fear and anger. Let us, as Jesus taught, lay down our swords and seek the better, more righteous way of responding to injustice.

“My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realizing Him.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Lord, help me to find constructive and nonviolent ways of harnessing my righteous anger, for the elimination of injustice and the transformation of this world. Amen.