You can’t share something you don’t have


One night, my four year old daughter refused to let me leave her room because she was afraid. It was bedtime, and for those of you with children, you know that bedtime can be a challenge. I’m convinced that children are born with the innate ability to negotiate. All of a sudden they are starving, or dying of thirst, have an urgent need to go to the bathroom, or just have to be with you. The routine is often the same in homes across the globe. But occasionally, our children are genuinely scared and need our consolation. There are those moments when fear and loneliness stir their precious little hearts. That was the case for my daughter on that particular evening.

“Daddy, please don’t leave my room,” my daughter says.

“What’s wrong sweetheart?” I asked.

“I’m afraid!”, she responds.

“What are you afraid of?” I inquired.

She paused for a brief few seconds and said, “I don’t know…I…I just don’t want to be alone. I’m scared.”

From there I had to assess whether or not she was sincere or just postponing the inevitable moment that she would have to succumb to sleep. I truly believe she was really shaken that night. I didn’t know why. She couldn’t explain it. We hadn’t watched any movies that could’ve scared her, and her day was very ordinary. But she was scared, and that’s what mattered.

For the next 5 to 10 minutes I tried to calm my daughter’s fears by reminding her that she is never alone. I told her that mommy and daddy are in a room not too far from hers. More importantly, I tried to get her to see that Jesus is always present in her life. Have you ever tried explaining that to a toddler? It’s extremely difficult. But I did my best and then we prayed together. I told her I loved her and we called it a night.

When I left her room I was overwhelmed by what had just happened. My daughter’s struggle with fear and loneliness is not all that unlike adult struggles with the same issues. We may not squirm and fuss like a toddler does. No, we’ve gotten much better at keeping it inside. We get afraid, often of our own imaginations. And loneliness hits everyone and some point and time. We’re made to be relational beings which makes being alone really difficult sometimes, especially if we never learned to cope.

What I prayed for my daughter, and what I tried to tell her, was that our hearts can rest at peace. That we never have to be afraid. That joy can fill our minds and our hearts at all times. Then it hit me. Do I even experience that? Am I trying to tell me daughter to have something I don’t even have? Am I at peace? Do I have unspeakable joy continually in my heart? It was challenging…extremely challenging.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.

Philippians 4:6-7 (CEV)

When it comes down to it, I can spout out bible verses like the one above, all day long and give my daughters consoling pep talks about their security, love, and acceptance in Christ. But if I’m not showing them those truths by my attitude and how I carry myself…well then, it’s potentially very empty. Our children are likely to forget most of the things we say to them, but they will always remember how we affected them.

If I don’t feel accepted and cared for by Jesus, then I can’t expect them, or anyone else to. If I don’t overcome fear and doubt by choosing to believe that God has my best interests in mind, always, then I offer them nothing. I don’t want to merely give others, especially my children, words on a page. I want to give them a real way of life. I want to show them that they have a real Savior who died for them, and loves them, and will never leave them. Will I be perfect? Not even close. But I hope to be genuine.


Which Mirror are you using?

lionmirror4None of us can truly change by beholding ourselves, but only by beholding the glory of God.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)

Maybe the reason some of us aren’t seeing results in our lives is because we’re spending too much time looking at ourselves and not enough time looking at Jesus. Eternal change only has one source. We’ll never be who we’re meant to be, until we look at the one we’re meant to be like. The most important reflection we can gaze into is not the one in the mirror above our sink, its the one jumping off the pages on of God’s word.

Let’s follow the leader (Jesus), doing what He does, and leave the rest to His Spirit.

The Little you that Could

0UTqVWN7-AlTsvZOEOne of my daughter’s favorite kid books is the Little Engine that Could. She loves trains like Thomas and all his friends from the show. But none compare to the Little Blue Engine from her book. She even calls this little blue toy engine Millie (from Thomas and Friends) the Little engine that could. Her eyes light up whenever we read it together or whenever she talks about it. Funny thing is, it was one of my favorite kids books growing up too. But now, it holds an even fonder place in my heart.

A couple weeks ago my daughter was doing something pretty new and difficult for her. She is wanting to be a ballerina and she has been accepted into a local ballet class. She’s had to practice a couple poses and moves that she had never done before her first class. Keep in mind, my daughter is only four years old so this is all brand new. One of the evenings, while I was helping her practice, she made a breakthrough. She had learned something new that she had been struggling to get for several days. She was ecstatic! She said, “dad I’m just like the Little Engine that could. I kept trying and trying and I got it!” I almost starting crying. But I kept it together and said, “that’s right my sweet girl. You just keep trying and you’ll achieve great things in life. I’m so proud of you.”

I read a story today about a girl, Katie Gallagher. She had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning Autism) when she was seven years old. That means she had a lot of struggles ahead of her in life. Her motor skills were not the best, relationships were difficult, and criticism was a near constant. As a child, her parents read her…you guessed it…The Little Engine that Could.

“I used to read Katie ‘The Little Engine that Could,’ and I would tell her she was that little engine,” said Gina Gallagher (Katie’s mom). “I told her, ‘You’re going to get to the same place everybody else is. It’s just a harder journey for you.'”

While all of the doctors and ‘experts’ were saying she would never leave home, never finish high school, never drive a car, never go away to college, never get married, Katie’s parents were giving her hope. The now 22 year old Katie has been the Little Engine that Could. Despite her struggles, she drives a car, she is graduating from college, and she has held a part-time job at Macy’s for the past two years.

In the story ‘The Little Engine that Could’, there is an old rusty black engine who is known for saying, “I think I can’t, I think I can’t, I think I can’t.” I have known so many people who live their lives by the same motto. They’ve been told they couldn’t and they chose to believe it. Some have been told that their disadvantage will dictate their life, and they’ve believed it. Some have been crippled with fear because of something tragic that has taken place in their life. Others have been dependent on someone most of their life and now they don’t believe they can do it on their own. That is not living. That is not what God intended any of us to experience.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

God didn’t make any of us to live in fear and doubt. He didn’t make us to live in regret. We are made, fearfully and wonderfully made. My four year old daughter has this verse memorized. She believes that she is the Little ANNA that could. I hope she always knows that and knows the God who made her with purpose. Katie Gallagher was no mistake. My daughter is no mistake. You are no mistake. God made each of us out of His great love. We are all made to be that little ____ that could. Just plug your name in the phrase. Whatever you’re facing, you can overcome it in Christ. God’s image is on you. If you’re a believer, His Spirit is in you.  Live empowered. Refuse to believe the lies you’ve been told. Cast off your fears and run the race. Life is too short to cut yourself short. Remember who you are, and the God who made you.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

The Man in the Arena Speech by Teddy Roosevelt, Paris, France on 23 April, 1910



The Cost to be Clean


I’ve been on a journey through the book of Leviticus the last few days. Anyone who has read the book knows that it has the potential to be a difficult book to read. To study the book, on the other hand, is way more impactful! Very few of the 66 books of the bible reveal the Holiness of God quite like Leviticus.

The book comes as a response to Israel’t blatant betrayal of God in the exodus journey. While Moses was on the mountain speaking with God, the people of Israel decided to go above and beyond in breaking the very first commandment that God had given them.

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:1-6 (NIV)

Israel’s response was to construct a golden calf as a god for themselves and have a wild party celebrating it. It was probably the worst possible thing they could’ve done. Leviticus is God’s response to that betrayal. Instead of rejecting Israel and destroying the entire sinful nation, He provides a way. A way for them to still, yes still, be in His presence. That’s pretty amazing! That’s love! But it came at a major price.

In chapters four and five, a method of atoning sacrifices are laid before the priests and people of Israel. These sacrifices make it possible for a broken and sinful people to be in community with a holy and perfect God. When we stop and just consider that relationship with any deep thought whatsoever, we would realize that there is no cost too high. Here are some highlight verses from those chapters:


“‘If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed. (v.3)

“‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting. (v.13-14)

“‘When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the Lord his God, when he realizes his guilt and the sin he has committed becomes known, he must bring as his offering a male goat without defect. (v.22-23)

“‘If any member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, when they realize their guilt and the sin they have committed becomes known, they must bring as their offering for the sin they committed a female goat without defect. (v.27-28)


“When anyone is unfaithful to the Lord by sinning unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord’s holy things, they are to bring to the Lord as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering. (v.15)

Keep in mind, this is a small list of a rather large list of sacrifices for nearly every situation you might think of. What hit me the hardest while going through the book was how much, and how often, I would’ve had to make sacrifices for myself if I lived under this system. Every, and it says every, unfaithful act or sin committed required payment. When I think about my life, that’s a lot! That’s sacrifices every day. These sins don’t even need to be intentional. The verses above are sure to cover everything, intentional or not. That’s a lot of goats, doves, and pigeons that would have to die for my choices. Sin is so costly. My sin is so costly. And the price to be made clean is beyond expression or calculation.

While these sacrifices made it possible to remain in God’s presence, they never fully satisfied the sin problem that we are all plagued by. For that, God would take matters into His own hands as the one who made the ultimate sacrifice.

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near…But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10:1-7, 10-14 (ESV) (my emphasis)

I was pretty overwhelmed by the price of my sin when I read Leviticus. I am even more overwhelmed when I think about the unimaginable value of Christ’s sacrifice. The lonely, the broken, the depressed, and the hurting, need look no further than the cross of Christ to see how loved they are and that there is a God who will never leave them.

Don’t forget my brothers and sisters…

  • To always be captivated by God’s unfailing love and desire to be with us.
  • To know, deep down, the cost of our sin and that we have a God who would spare no expense in paying our tremendous debt.
  • No matter how dirty and stained our life choices have made us, we can be made clean. And we have a God who wants to make that happen.

Come and wash in the love of His grace and mercy. It’s an endless stream.

I will sing to the LORD because He has treated me generously.

Psalm 13:6 (HCSB)


Forged in the Fires


I’m a history teacher. You probably already know that. I also have a biblical worldview. So I can’t help but to see spiritual undertones wrapped up in historical events. A recent lesson in my US History class involved the Great Depression. We explored causes and effects of what would be considered the worst economic crisis in recent memory. The well accepted dates of the depression (at least for the US) was 1929 to 1939. It came on the heals of one of the most prosperous decades in US history; the Roaring Twenties. As we had been covering this topic over a couple of weeks, I had been considering other forces at work besides the economic ones.

Here’s what I mean. The 1920’s were regarded as a carefree era for many, full of parties, and absent of the dread of war and international conflict. Many Americans were making it big with the stock market and booming business. Some historians label the decade as America’s adolescent years.  When the economy slows, and the stock market comes crashing down in 1929, the adolescents comes to an abrupt end. Thus begins the depression.

I believe that God allows certain things to happen in our lives in order to makes us who we were created to be. The Bible is full of stories where God gives people over to their lifestyle choices, knowing the tragic effects it will have, in order to forge a new person. Just read through the book of Judges and you’ll see several generations that needed to be drawn back to God through the trials that they brought on themselves. Now, I’m not making the claim that all hardships faced in life are brought on by ourselves, but many are. I’m NOT saying that people deserve hard times. I’m saying we NEED them.

Many of those who’s lives were shaken by the cumulative effects of the economic depression had nothing to do with causing it. But the benefits could be gained by all. When we are in the process of going through hard times, it’s difficult to see the benefits to be gained. We can see our struggles. We can see pain. We can easily drown in doubt and despair. But that can’t be the end of our story. And for that to not be the end, we have to make a choice.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…

Romans 5:1-4 (ESV)

Those who fought in World War Two are often referred to as America’s greatest generation. That generation was forged out of – you guessed it – the Great Depression. Those men who fought on the front lines, and those women who worked as nurses and factory workers, grew up in the fires of the Great Depression. They knew what it was like to fight. In a time when unemployment spiked over 20 percent, a nation had to come together and had to persevere, or it would crumble. That generation took the lessons learned in fighting poverty, and applied it to fighting for freedom from Nazi and Japanese aggression. A people who grew up with nothing, knew how fragile it all was. A people who had to persevere are a people who value God’s goodness. A people who have suffered loss, know what humility is all about. A people who have had to struggle, know what it is to lean on God, and on God’s people. You can’t place a value on those lessons.

In another unit, I teach about how steel revolutionized America and Europe, paving the way for a major industrial boom. That became possible because William Kelley and Henry Bessemer developed a new process of making steel. In simple terms, you take the iron ore, melt it down with intense heat, and inject high pressure air into that molten metal. The combination of the heat, air, and pressure burn of the impurities. The end result is a much much stronger metal. Without purifying the ore like this, it would not be possible to build the expanded railroad system, skyscrapers, or the massive bridge networks that linked cities.

The trials of life are hard, no doubt about it. But trials are also helpful in making us more useful in life. Those who know what it is to struggled in life are the best equipped to help others who struggle. I’ve had a spouse commit adultery which led to a rough and hurtful divorce. I’ve lost my father, grandfather, and grandmother, all whom I was extremely close to. I’ve suffered physical challenges that caused me to give up something I love. I’ve held my children as they battled through illnesses. I’ve been broke. I’ve been turned against by those I care about. I’ve battled depression and addiction. I am no stranger to trials, and I’m guessing, neither are you. You have your own story of hurt, disappointment, betrayal, and loss. That is your fire. And it’s meant to make you stronger. Your fires give you a voice into the lives of those who are hurting. Your fires draw you closer to the God who made you. Your fires can make you burn brighter as the light of the world that you were created to be in Christ.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

2 Corinthians 4:6-11 (ESV)

I hope that you find encouragement in your time of need. Know that there is purpose in pain, and hope in your hurt. Don’t keep your story to yourself, whether your in the fires now, or you’ve come out on the other end. Your story is important. Feel free to share them here if you’d like. Your struggles are important. Don’t give up but take heart. God has not abandoned you, and never will.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters


Haircuts for the homeless

I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love.

-Gandalf (J.R.R. Tolkien) from “The Hobbit”

heart-in-hands1-300x212Brennon Jones is a 29 year old, ordinary folk, doing his part to show love to those who rarely experience it. He is a former barber who spends a lot of his free time driving around neighborhoods known for high number of homeless people. He goes with personal mobile salon, his arsenal of love, that consists of merely a tray and hair cutting clippers.

It’s not complicated. Jones strikes up a conversation, gets to know them a bit, then offers them a free haircut. Jones is not wealthy. He can’t give everyone he sees a home, clothes, or money. But he has a talent. He has a heart of compassion. That combination is all we need to make a difference in anyone’s life.

The Lord is rewarding Mr. Jones for his service to others. Sean Johnson, a barber and business owner in Philadelphia, has given Jones his very own barber shop. That’s right; just gave it to him! Wow! For the full article check out

How are you gifted? Do be falsely modest and say that you have no gifting. God has made each and everyone of us unique, with passions, and talents.

What resources do you have? Hey, I’m a high school teacher, so I understand being limited financially. But that’s not the point. No matter how little or how great our resources, we all have something we can share with those in need.

What time do can you spare? If we think about all the time spent on our phones, watching TV or movies, or playing around with our hobbies, we can all spare some time to be with those who have no one.

Look around your community, your school, your place of work, your church…anywhere…everywhere. People are going down all around us. People are people. No one deserves to be ignored or overlooked.

For who makes you different? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it…

1 Corinthians 4:7a (ESV)

We are all one step away from being in a desperate situation. We’ve all needed the help of others. No one has made it to where they are on their own. Behind it all is a good and gracious God who intends us to be good and gracious to others.

Generosity that costs nothing, can be absolutely priceless.

Check out this video and try not to cry.