Friday, October 11, 2013

You Are Allowed to Believe

I know this may sound strange, but in light of our cultural shifts of the past few decades I think many of our brothers and sisters in Christ need to be reminded that you are still allowed to believe. Despite what politics, “political correctness”, culture and media may tell you, you are still allowed to believe in Jesus today.

You are allowed to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Go on, believe it. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. You are allowed to believe that Jesus is part of the triune God who created the earth, then joined us in human flesh to save us from ourselves. You are allowed to believe that we killed him. And you are even allowed to believe that it was all part of his perfect plan. That he rose from the dead to show his sovereignty. That his blood covers our sins.

You are allowed to believe!

No need to hide it. No need to whisper it. No need to be afraid to bring it up in conversation. Yes, there will be those who are offended, but the Gospel has always offended. Some will push back. It’s ok. That doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to believe. Some will argue, some will shun. Some will ridicule. But at the end of the day, rest in this: you are allowed to believe!

You are allowed to believe that sin is sin. And yes, you are even allowed to call sin a sin. Because God gave you that authority. Too many of us are terrified of calling out sin for fear of having that very well-worn scripture that reminds us to “judge not, lest ye be judged.” So let me lay it out for you. When you stand on scripture to call sin a sin, you are not judging. You’re simply relaying the judge’s message. You’re the court clerk. You’re simply reading the judge’s decision. Judgment has already been made on what is sin and what is not. The Supreme Judge made that decision. And yes, you’re allowed to believe that too.

Society today is trying desperately to tell the Church that you are not allowed to believe homosexuality is a sin. This is a lie. You are allowed to believe. Not because “in your heart you know it’s wrong” but because God said so. And you are allowed to believe in what God proclaims. It is a sin, just as pride, stealing, killing, lying, cheating, coveting, envying, praying to false gods, dishonoring your mother and father, and a whole list of other sins. And it should be treated as such. With prayer, love, understanding that we are all flawed, weak and in need of that very same blood of Jesus I mentioned earlier. For too long the Church has been silent on this issue. Afraid of calling sin a sin. Is it the most horrendous sin man can commit? No. But it is sin. And you are allowed to believe it.

This world will tell you that marriage is nothing more than a contractual agreement that can be defined by government. But you are allowed to believe otherwise. You are allowed to believe scripture that tells us God’s design is for marriage to be between a man and a woman. You are allowed to believe that God created marriage as a holy union, not a mere piece of paper to be used for political posturing, financial gain or social climbing. You are allowed to believe.

This world will ask you to bow down at the feet of celebrity. To celebrate those who would use money, sex and power to hold your attention. They are the flash and bang of sideshow magicians of centuries past, only their tricks are more impressive. But you are allowed to believe that honesty and purity are better attributes than half-naked women gyrating on stage for self-gain. This may surprise you, but you are allowed to believe that it’s wrong for commercial products to appeal to sexuality to market their goods. You are allowed to believe that good music doesn’t have to be about sex, drugs, committing crimes or degrading women. You’re allowed to believe it. You’re allowed to believe that television programs don’t have to force offensive characters into their dialogue to make them interesting. You’re allowed to believe that movies don’t have to glorify sex, murder and other worldly ills. You’re allowed to believe it!

This is a great country. A powerful country. But we are quickly becoming a country that says you’re only allowed to believe in everything but scripture. Don’t believe that. You are allowed to believe. And scripture tells us that God will bless any nation…any nation that trusts in God. If we want God to truly bless this nation, we must remember that we are allowed to believe.

But for too long, we’ve been afraid to say what we believe. We fear we have no right. And that is so wrong. We are allowed to believe.

And finally, this: you are allowed to believe that Jesus loves you. You are allowed to believe that he desperately wants you to know him. Seek him out. You’re allowed to believe that he has a plan for your life. Yes, you. And his plan is good. Better than good. It’s beyond your comprehension. You’re allowed to believe that if you just place this life in his hands, the next one is going to be amazing.

So believe.  It’s okay, you’re allowed to.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

So What's the Story Behind My New Song, I'm No Superhero?

My oldest son Morgan and I have this ritual at bedtime.

"Daddy, make up a song!" he requests. So I'll sing a silly song or a lullaby. Eventually, that morphed into a challenge to be more specific:  "Daddy, make up a song about elephants" or "Daddy make up a song about what we did today." It's a good songwriting exercise for me. Though I'll admit my rhyme schemes are typically pretty predictable when I'm making stuff up on the fly. One night, he hit me with this question:

"Daddy, are you a superhero?"

"No, son. I'm not. I can't fly. I can't break through walls. I'm just an ordinary man. But I'm trying to be the best daddy I can."

"Make up a song about it Daddy!" So this song began as a lullaby—at least the chorus anyway. I spent the next few months perfecting the lyrics, putting together verses and giving the song a deeper meaning. How often do we put people on a pedestal? In our marriages, our relationships, at work...perhaps even at church? At the end of the day, we're all just ordinary people trying to be better. Better dads, moms, co-workers, bosses, employees, believers, whatever.

So I initially wrote this song at bedtime with my 6-year old. But it has become much more than that.

It's a declaration of humanity. 

It’s an honest, self-assessment. And it's a reminder to the listener, to not expect too much from me:

"I am just an ordinary man, trying to do
my best and I still get hurt when I fall."

But then there's the bridge:

"But I'll wear this cape if you want me to.
Be your escape in this shade of blue.
Bullets can't stop me from being with you."

Sometimes we have to play the role of superhero, even when we don't believe it about ourselves. Sometimes, that's what it takes to profess our love, our devotion, our commitment. To my son, I say, "You need me to be a superhero today? Then I'll put on a cape and do my best to fly for you. Because that's how much I love you."

So that's the story behind my new single, I'm No Superhero. I hope you enjoy the song as much as I've enjoyed writing it…especially now knowing the story behind it.

If you haven't heard I’m No Superhero yet, you can buy it now for just 99 cents on iTunes. 

Friday, February 22, 2013


So I’m pulling into Target the other day and this car is sitting in the “no parking” zone. Of course, it’s blocking traffic for people heading in that direction, so we’re all having to wait for openings in order to get around the illegally parked vehicle. I’m sure the driver thought, “I know it says no parking, but it’s just for a second.” Once I get into the store, I grab my items and head to the register. I’m waiting, waiting, waiting. Then a new register opens up two aisles down. “I can take the next person in line!” the cashier shouts. Three people behind me, who had just shown up, rush over to take the spot. They weren’t the “next in line.” But no worries.

Then I go to 7-11 and a car zips into the handicapped parking spot. The driver jumps out. No, handicap sticker, no special plate. But she’s just running in real quick to get some cigarettes. Seriously, it’s only 30 seconds, what’s the big deal?

I make my way to the grocery store, where a woman is buying a boatload of sodas and chips. Limit 3 per customer, the sign says. So she has her kids pushing separate carts as well. Technically, they are separate customers so…what the heck?

Driving to work this morning I was doing 55mph in a 45mph zone. Hey, it’s just 10mph over the speed limit. No big deal, right? And besides, that road has six lanes. There’s no reason for it to be only a 45mph zone. It’s a stupid law. And I’m a responsible driver. I can handle this stretch of road at 55. Let those who can’t handle it drive the speed limit. I’m “different.”

When did we, as Americans, no as human beings, decide that some rules just don’t apply to us? Because we’re “special?” Because the rules are silly in the first place? Or perhaps because “I’m not really hurting anyone?”

I have a friend who gets paid in cash for his work. The government doesn’t need to know about that income, right? Hey, the IRS screws over so many people, it’s time some of us screwed them back. It’s only fair.

We’ve all heard the stories about people on welfare and food stamps who own iPhones and live rent-free on the government. And for some reason, those stories infuriate us. But at the end of the day, they are no different than the rest of us. This sense of entitlement in our country isn’t just for the poor. It’s all of us. We all want to believe we deserve to be treated differently. That some rules just don’t apply…or at least they shouldn’t. And, if you’re completely honest with yourself, you’re probably guilty of it somewhere along the way.

To you, parking in a handicapped slot for only a few seconds may not be a big deal. But to someone else it is. Speeding is a prerogative. Or jabbing Uncle Sam is okay. He’s not gonna miss my few bucks. But to others, those are serious offenses. You can’t choose how your sense of entitlement, no matter how big or small you view it, is going to impact someone else.

And that’s my beef with people who are against stronger background checks for gun sales. I know the majority of gun owners are responsible. They keep their guns locked up and out of the reach of their kids. They don’t clean loaded weapons. They never point a weapon at another person, not even jokingly, unless they seriously intend to use it. Good for you. But it’s not you I’m worried about. It’s those who say, “Hey, it’s a silly law. I should be able to sell my gun to whomever I want. It’s not my responsibility what they’re going to do with it after they’ve bought it.” And the gun ends up in the hands of a gang-banger or someone who doesn’t have the mental capacity to be a responsible gun owner. Even a farmer passing down a rifle to a grandson could have major repercussions down the road.

Now, you responsible gun owners are thinking, “that’s stupid. I shouldn’t be legislated because of a handful of irresponsible people.” Maybe YOU shouldn’t. But some should. Not everyone is as responsible as you. And while you see this as trivial as parking in the no parking zone for 3 minutes, it may have tremendous impact on someone else.

I would think that gun owners would be all for this legislation. If you’re truly a responsible gun owner who doesn’t want weapons to get into the wrong hands, if you’re tired of the image of gun owners being tarnished by the nutjobs who misuse a weapon or get one illegally, then why not be for stricter background check laws? Imagine what it would do for the image of the gun industry and for gun owners to whole-heartedly endorse this idea. It says, “We want ALL gun owners to be responsible ones.” It’s a win-win. Sometimes, the rules DO need to apply to everyone.

But maybe I’m crazy. I’ll just shut up now, skip out of the office early because my boss is out of town, stop by the front desk on the way out and grab three lollipops from the jar on the counter that says, “Take One!”, head to the movie theater where I’ll take up two parking spots because my car is nicer than anyone else’s and I don’t want it dinged, cut in line because I want to make sure I get the best seats and put a coat in the seat next to me so I have some more elbow room.

After all, I’m entitled.