"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Hurt and the Healer

Collide: to strike one another or one against the other with a forceful impact; come into violent contact; crash: The two cars collided with an ear-splitting crash.

Below is a letter I received from a High School classmate almost 30 years after we graduated. The letter is true. The letter is sincere and heartfelt. The letter is difficult to read and it is encouraging. Letters like this is why I write. I truly have to give all of the acknowledgment and praise to God. Friend, and you know who you are, thank you for sharing. I'm a better person for knowing you. Shawn 

 Sometimes it is very difficult to see the incredible beauty while enduring crippling pain.

Who would know my first thoughts of attending church would originate from a 5 year old little boy; “Mommy, why don’t we go to church”?

With a few conversations with him on this matter I set out to find a “church". I myself knew nothing of church, religion, God, Christianity and WOW all the choices---- Lutheran, Catholic, Pentecostal, Methodist, Denominational, Non Denominational . I wanted to go to “Church”. Why so many choices ? What if I make the wrong choice ?  So this started my search…

I eventually moved to Groveport, Oh, worked at a market, and met many awesome people along the way.  One day I was invited to church….. Madison Christian! Years went by, I attended regularly and grew to love, and find understanding in something I had never known before.    

Faith, Prayers, Worship. WOW! I grew to want to know more. I was growing, learning loving GOD!

All the while living and raising kids, working … life was chaotic but I had a faith and God was good. I could conquer anything or so I thought. My children attended church with me. Some days were easy, some weren’t, but that’s life. I had a newly founded love like never before and I was so eager to learn. 

I had the music playing, the books, a Bible, the bumper sticker…

I had that feeling of  “Protection” an umbrella of God over my family and of everything in this world I could give my children “faith”, Prayer, Hope, a relationship with God! Although it wasn’t easy, I was happy; content. I felt as long as my family was growing toward God what more could a woman ask for?

Then one day my protection did a major flip flop on me.

Now there are many sessions of life, good and bad, that I am leaving out, but that 5 year old little boy at 16 decided to take his life. My world stopped I became numb, people talked … I couldn’t hear. I just wanted to wake up from the misery of a bad dream that was about to define my whole existence.

Well long story short. 

That bad dream has since taken 12 years of “me.”

No one saw inside of me because eventually I could fake everything. Smile, Happy, Bubbly, full of life, but inside I was distraught, disappointed; I failed. I failed at religion and raising my children.


Why would God cause me such pain, why was he punishing me? I had so many emotional hang ups to distant me from God. I didn’t want to believe in God! This wonderful comfort that I found I thought I was giving something so special to my family.

Life for me, the plan, the future, it was done.

God, through the years would reach out and say; “ I am here, let me comfort you, let me ease your pain." I refused. I knew too well that comfort also brought a great deal of pain and I didn’t want more pain. I don’t know why things happen, there’s still so many unanswered questions, but I learned during those 12 years without Gods comfort, my doing it alone … Pushing God away. I didn’t want to accept that “My God” would do this to me and if I accept this then I can’t hate. 

I will have to let go and I didn’t want to let go. I wanted to hold on. I wanted to hold on to my anger. My anger was my therapy; my strength.

Then one day out of nowhere a person casually asked me; “Why do you fake your happiness ?” “Why are you so angry with God”? My answer: I am not angry at God. I don’t even know if I believe in God.

That person challenged me: the words he said to me, and what I heard, were not the same. But that day my son died, on the way to him I felt Gods presence saying; "It’s okay I am with you!” I remember that moment. God reaching to comfort me, through the years I read it wrong. For me that reaching out to hold me meant another tragedy was about to take place and honestly his comfort scared me. I felt him when my son enlisted in the Marines and went to Afghanistan, and I remember thinking if I accept this I will lose another child. 

So I pushed him away again.

So the moment this new person challenged me I heard God again. He screamed so loud at me.  He said: Haven’t you punished yourself long enough Why won’t you accept my love?  Why don’t you come home? Where you belong. I yelled back, I cried, begged for understanding.

All I know is for 12 years I denied God. I didn’t want to love him. I couldn’t forgive and I couldn’t admit that I felt this way because deep down I knew it was wrong. I just didn’t know how to accept it all. So I denied, I hid behind my walls and kept it for me only.

Sometimes things happen.

Bad things, horrible things. God promises to be there with us along the way. He can’t promise we won’t struggle or lose people along our journey of life. But he does promise to be there for us. 

If we choose to allow him.

For whatever reason–--- the day I finally prayed and cried and begged God to forgive me for pushing him away---- It was like a boulder had been lifted from my shoulders. I am not faking my smile anymore.

I went through my sons belongings 12 years later and threw them away. I have allowed God back into my life. I hear him saying; “I am so glad you are here.”

I would rather have one day with God then 12 years without him.

It’s ironic to think that the one reason I found a relationship with God was the same reason I denied it and suffered; putting my healing on halt.

God knew I would need him. 

If I wouldn’t have had those years of hope, then the years of denying I wouldn’t have anything to compare it to when I heard God again. I remembered the feeling of his love and I remembered the feelings when I denied him.

So the question now that has been presented to me is: "Do I believe?"

I more than believe. I know! I feel, I see, I hear. I listen! I have allowed myself to heal though Him.

I am ready to live, learn and love again.

He can move mountains. All I can think of for me is the song by MercyMe. This is MY story of when “The Hurt and the Healer" meet. 

It is truly awesome when they collide.

"a letter" 
February 2, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"I Mart"

Wisdom: the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight

St. Paul - First English Lutheran School
New Orleans, Louisiana (1950)

 "O Lord God, fulfill the promise you made to my father. You have made me king over a people who are so many that they cannot be counted, 10 so give me the wisdom and knowledge I need to rule over them. Otherwise, how would I ever be able to rule this great people of yours?”
-2 Chronicles 1:9-10

Truth be told I'm not that smart.

I know, I know… shocker! I realize that it's boring to state the obvious, but I had to divulge this truth and put to sleep the long running "rumor" surrounding my intelligence . Let me share three examples how fragile and flimsy my intellect can be.

Example number one: when I was on my first honeymoon, yes I said first, you haven't lived until you've experienced more than one. Trust me on all of this. Anyway, it was during my first honeymoon in 1986 when I was listening to a news account of Imelda Marcos and her failure to obtain a visa. I suspect you know where I'm going with this. I remember saying to my wife: why can't Marcos get a visa? We have one and we don't even have any money; she's rich! " My wife said; "she is trying to get in the country not buy a new wardrobe." Oh, but they get better!

Example number two:
While I was a pharmaceutical rep in Jupiter, Fla. in the late 80's there was one doctor's office that really didn't care for me. I know, again, shocker. Anyway, this one cardiology office in Jupiter, where one of the nurses, a nurse that wasn't pleasant and really didn't care for sales reps, made me her number one target. I tried as much as I could to pour on the charm believing that I would soon win her over. Well, that didn't happen. Actually, the complete opposite happened. One morning when I stopped by their office, to a completely packed waiting room I might add, I tried to make small talk. I would like to take this moment and encourage as many people as I can not to try to make conversation unless you're very talented at doing so. Making small talk is an art, not a science. With that being said, as I began to open my mouth after noticing the unpleasant nurse putting away files something told me to just shut-up. I heard this tiny voice before, and I heard it more than a few times in the span of 15 seconds of standing there. As fate would have it, I didn't heed the protective advice of my internal nudging and I proceeded to ask the nurse when she was due? Oh yea, you see the picture I'm painting. Like I said; small talk is an art, not a science. As I'm sure you've surmised by now she wasn't pregnant. She wasn't even over weight. It was just the way she was standing. As I looked at her from a side view, with her nursing scrubs on, her top was billowing out like she was trying to hide a small balloon. The ensuing look that was directed my way still resides deep within my memory bank to this day. She growled her response at me like serial killer: "I'm not pregnant," she said. As I tried to explain my self it only got worse. At this point I was sweating like a prostitute in church. As I turned away from the glare of the office staff I noticed the completely full waiting room looking at me like I was trying to peddle pro-Nazi material in Israel. Needless to say, it wasn't pretty. I never went back to the office again.

Example number three: Upon graduation from Wittenberg, "Magna Cum LUCKY" as my Mom likes to say, I decided that I wanted to read many of the classics that I was "supposed" to read while in college as an English major. The first book I began with was "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky. And it was while I was reading this book in bed one night that I realized three sentences into the book that I was completely over my head. The sentence reads like this; "His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house and was more like a cupboard than a room." As I read that sentence I ask my wife; what is a "cup" - "board?"  Yes, you read it right. I said the word cup, as in a "cup" of coffee, and the word board, as in "backboard." My wife looked at me with astonishment and said; "it is cupboard you moron, there are a bunch of them out in the kitchen." At that point I didn't know what was more embarrassing: the fact that I could be a 22 yrs old college graduate (English major mind you) and not know how to pronounce cupboard or the fact I spent a lifetime opening and closing them in my parents kitchen and I didn't know how to spell cupboard. Even today, anytime I see that word in print I immediately go back to that fateful night in West Palm Beach in 1988 when I had to ask what a "cup-board" was. I've yet to attempt reading "Crime & Punishment" since.

I could go on and share more, like the time in my junior year at Wittenberg I took my "cliff notes" pamphlet for Don Quixote to class and sat in the front row for a literature lecture on said book. I can still see the disbelief on my professor's face. 

It was classic. 

The truth of the matter now is that I read everything from the Wall St Journal to the "classics"; "1776" to Malcolm Gladwell's book; "Outliers", and though my knowledge and intellect can be invaluably increased by engaging in this practice, and passion, it can never make me wise. Only God can provide me with wisdom. Only He can provide the type of wisdom that can sustain you in the "joys" and the "pains" of life. 

I've often said; "knowledge is knowing the right thing, but wisdom is doing the right thing." 

It's one thing to be "mart", but it's an entirely different thing to be wise.

sbb 25.4.13

Monday, April 22, 2013

Grow Up... (re-post 10.19.10)

Aged: having lived or existed long; of advanced age; old: an aged man; an aged tree.

One of the most important things we can accomplish as we grow old is to grow up. Growing up isn't only about becoming a mature adult, though that is a part of it, what I'm referring to has a much deeper and significant meaning. Proverbs 29:22 states; "The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old". Another version of this verse explains it this way; "...and the beauty of old men is the gray head." Growing old is to be honored, respected and admired but we have to be careful that it isn't our only intention to grow old.

...loafers, no socks. (My personal favorite)

And while many of us would love to stave off old age and remain young and attractive; strong and invincible, and many of us try to do this very thing with mindless medical procedures and thoughtless use of pharmaceuticals, the fact remains that we will grow old. Walt Whitman points out to us that growing old isn't a bad thing and describes it to us this way in "Youth, Day, Old Age and Night":

 Youth, large, lusty, loving-youth full of grace, force, fascination,
Do you know that Old Age may come after you with equal grace,
force, fascination?

...Doesn't hurt to be young & rich too.

It is a fact that we will take longer naps and more medications; we will ask more questions like, "What did you say?" and we will never be heard saying, "I heard you the first time". Our bodies will fail us and our minds will betray us from time to time. We will take less walks and do more crossword puzzles. 

Growing old is a part of life.

Growing old is a natural progression of life but growing up isn't necessarily a given. 

...naps are great companions because you can take them anywhere.

But if we are intentional, blessed and a little lucky we will become less rushed and more purposeful. And as our eyes lose their sight many of us will experience life with more focus and less pretense. From time to time I'm reminded of this fact when I see an older person walking through the airport with an easy smile and a purposeful walk. The same can be said when I've notice an aged person sitting at a table at a bookstore drinking coffee, reading a book and writing notes in the margins with the intent of becoming more knowledgeable. There are many examples, ones better than the two I gave, of people choosing to forge on with the same energy, vigor and focus of a thirty year old. The common theme with all of these examples is that they are choosing to live and not to die. What I've come to admire about many of these people, national treasures as I like to refer to them as, is that they have come to the point in their life where they realize what is truly important. And most of the time it isn't them, their needs or their desires. 

And they are at peace with it...

...grandparents are so valuable and have so much to pass on.

As I mentioned earlier many of us are familiar with what getting old looks like but what I think is important is to understand what growing up looks like. I do believe it to be someone that chooses to live and not to die, but what does that really mean? And more importantly what does that look like? And finally will I recognize it when it's right in front of me?

...focus on his eyes.

As I became more focused and reflective in my thinking I realized that there are a few, four to be exact, qualities that are common in a person who is growing up. And while I don't think that the four I share with you are to be taken as gospel I do believe that they are keys to advancing towards growing up and not just growing old.

Allow me to share.
  • Affirming...
    • Most people that are affirming choose to positively embrace the goodness in everyone around them. They realize that each one of us entertain weaknesses and display faults on a daily basis but would much rather identify with and encourage the best that resides within all of us. To affirm another is to encourage them and validate who they are and what they are trying to accomplish. We all need people in our lives that will affirm us when it is deserved and needed; they are of value to everyone they come in contact with.
  • Flexible...
    • People that are flexible are people that are willing to negotiate away their needs and desires for the greater good of all those around them and with whom they are involved. They don't argue their right to be right and they don't need to have the last word. For the most part, people that are flexible are selfless; not selfish. Their ideas don't have to implemented, their actions don't need to be acknowledged and their thoughts of kindness don't have to be recognized. They have released themselves from the words "always and never". They are principled but not rigid.
  • Compassionate... 
    • A compassionate person is an understanding person. They realize that hurt and pain are real and often they cannot be explained away or ignored. Prayer doesn't seem like enough to be offered and shared acknowledgment of the circumstance seems hollow. A person that is compassionate is a person who cares. They care enough to close their mouth and open their ears; they listen and don't talk. They share your tears and they embrace you with a hug that is reassuring, loving and protective. Compassionate people are action oriented people with their attention and focus directed at you. They often save the day.
  • Confident... 
    • Confident people are often people with strong conviction and resolve. They are not arrogant people. If they are arrogant they are not confident they are just arrogant. Arrogant people are insecure individuals that make up for their insecurity with false acknowledgment of who they truly are and can only feel good about themselves when they can make themselves superior to another, and in turn, make another feel bad about who they are. A confident person lacks internal dilemmas because they have resigned themselves to the fact that others are more important than self. There is no confusion about who they are or what their purpose is. They are free and when you are free you are confident. Confident people have purpose and they are secured in who they are. They are comfortable in their own skin and at the end of the day they don't complain nor do they explain.

...Two men and a boat.

Finally, this past Sunday a good friend contacted me concerning a text message he received from the husband of his ex-wife. The text emphatically challenged his manhood and character when it came to the raising, or lack thereof, of his older children. My friend and his ex have been divorced for 17 years and have two college age boys. There hasn't been much admiration between the step-father and father for many years for many different reasons. And as my friend read the texts that he received, out of the blue, that questioned his financial and physical involvement with his children over the years he became perplexed. When he shared with me the situation; asking me what I thought and what he should do, I asked him what he thought and what he "planned' on doing.

He replied; "nothing". "I'm going to pray for him and for myself; he is being human and I don't want to be human; I don't want to be guided by my natural human instincts... we both need God's help" he stated.

He went on further to say that the unfortunate reality of a blended home is that when a divorce occurs the kids are with the mother more than the father. It is a known fact that the burden of the day to day trials and tribulations fall upon the lap of the mother and her spouse if she is remarried. That doesn't omit the children's father from any responsibility but it still remains a fact that "life" falls at the feet of the mother. Ask any single or remarried mother and she will tell you the same.

"Everything is a trade off" he said; "the mom gets more money and less free time and the father gets more free time and less money."

So true, so very true. Nobody knows this more than I.

My friend also revealed to me that his ex wife and her mate have been having troubles for some time and that at the end of the day he lashed out at him more out of fear than anger. "Does he dislike me" my friend asked..."yes, yes indeed he does but often times men display their fears in the form of anger and violence. We often have trouble when we can't explain something away... so we go looking for things to blame and that often involves other people" he stated. He finished with saying that I have too much respect and love my children's mother too much to get involved in a battle and add another layer of stress upon her.

When my friend shared with me his thoughts I was reminded of Proverbs 17:14; "Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so drop the matter before a dispute a breaks out."

There is much more I could say about the situation but I don't need to because I realized that my friend was displaying exactly what I had been thinking about for days. He displayed what it looks like to grow up and not just grow old. He was affirming by recognizing the other person's weakness but not willing to focus upon it. He was flexible with his anger and his desire to retaliate; he didn't need the last word or any word for that matter. He was compassionate towards the circumstances his ex-wife and her husband have found themselves in and my friend realized that it was better to pray for another than to argue with another. 

At the end of the day, my friend was confident in who he was and what the right thing was to do. He was comfortable in his own skin and he didn't need to be affirmed by someone that wanted to do him harm.

I have to say I'm glad he is my friend. What a good example of how to properly handle a situation.

I thanked him for sharing his particular circumstance with me because I learned something. 

I learned what it looks like when you grow up and not just grow old.

sbb  19.10.10

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Truth Be Told Tuesday

Transparent: having the property of transmitting rays of light through its substance so that bodies situated beyond or behind can be distinctly seen.

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." -  Romans 12:3

A good High School friend of mine has encouraged me to start a "Truth Be Told Tuesday" after I posted a sarcastic comment on why we only share the good things about our kids and ourselves on Facebook. 

At first I thought I was going to share something funny, but after yesterday's events in Boston I really don't feel like it. So with that my "truth" for today is that I often worry that my children will not be close to each other because of multiple marriages ( 4 moms and 6 children). 

Someone mentioned yesterday that people look up to me... not really.

Their ages are 22,21,17,8,7 & 3... looks like lottery numbers. 

                                        Christmas 2011                                         
Two from my first marriage, 1 from my second marriage, 1 from a former girlfriend and 2 with my current wife; the one I will be spending the rest of my life with. So there you have it... the truth is I worry they will not be close and when they get together everyone will act like visitors at a family reunion who meet some cousin from Virgina for the first time. 

So, what have I done to try to protect this from happening? 

What I've done is I have assigned one older child to one of the younger children for life (Logan 22 to Addison 7 - Austin 21 to Ryan 8 - Bryce 17 to Reese 3) I've ask each one to take care of and to look after each one they've been assigned to for as long as they live. That, and having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, is all I want, and hope, they do and have.

That is my "Truth Be Told" on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. 

sbb 16.4.13 
Voices Carry . Til Tuesday


Monday, April 1, 2013

I'm Gay

Choice: the right, power, or opportunity to choose; option: The child had no choice about going to school.

"I'm a traveler... Going somewhere, to some destination, (only) the somewhere and the destination do not exist."
  - Van Gogh

"Free Will" 

I think it's safe to say that every life is shaped in large part by the choices that one makes. Even when a tragedy befalls upon us, or we're mistreated and abused in some way we still have a choice; a decision to make, that will in many ways determine our future and shape our destiny. Ask any parent that loses a child to a reckless and irresponsible drunk driver or spouse that is betrayed by unfaithfulness and, or abandonment, and they will share with you that at some point they had a choice to make on how they would precede with their life going forward. C.S Lewis stated; “Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do." The good thing about choices is that we are free to choose them, the bad thing about choices is that we are free to choose them.

In the end, we are free to decide what, if any, path we would like, but what we are unable to choose is the consequences, intended or unintended, of our decisions.

I've often stated that the two greatest gifts God bestows upon us is eternal salvation and free will. God has offered us His mercy, redemption and grace through the sacrificial blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. His offering is mine if I so choose it. 

The choice is mine.

Our decisions, and the choices we make, unite and divide us as a country as well. Many, if not all of us, believe it's the right decision to hold free elections, pursue and punish pedophiles, and to afford the right to every human being the ability to express themselves in a religious manner. Other issues were prepared from jump street to separate and divide many us. There are the issues of gun control, immigration and what constitutes free speech that actively separate our country on a daily basis. Then there are the big two: abortion and homosexuality, both has held our country hostage for far too long. These two issues elect presidents, create hate speech (from both sides), and openly display the worst in terms of human nature and civility. And as I observe the fallout over these and other social issues, as they create a chasm filled with hatred and harm in our country, I see over and over the profound outrage one persons belief instigates in the individual with a differing opinion.

It should not be this way.

Everyone believes their views are the correct views and their agenda is the one agenda that should be pursed by all involved. Many times we commit these errors in judgement and behave this way at the expense of the free will every individual was born with. We often make this type of mistake because of our unwillingness to glean deeper into why a certain person makes the decision they make. The one thing we all can agree upon is the decisions we make are almost shaped by our past, the environment in which we were raised, and because of the training we received in the first school of human instruction; our family.

I believe in many of these social issues if we were to pursue listening as much as we do wanting to be right we could change the discourse and conversation in this country surrounding our differing thoughts and philosophies that divide us. 

This fact is no more evident than when discussing the issue of homosexuality. 

The issue of homosexuality has been on my mind for more than six years. For most of that time I've been discouraged by the behavior of "Christians" centering around this issue and equally disturbed by the homophobic rhetoric that is so easily offered by the homosexual community to anyone not agreeing with the homosexual lifestyle, or their desire to recognize the union of two people of the same sex as marriage. I understand any time you tackle a polarizing issue such as this that it is without question someone will be offended by your stance and beliefs. Like most situations in my life, I almost never have all the answers and rarely do I understand the correct questions to ask. This case is no different. With all this being said, I do believe there is a better way to discuss the issue of homosexuality and more rewarding way to interact with everyone involved.

Allow me to share.

Judging is a bad quality that just gets in the way.

Mother Teresa once said, “When we judge people we have no time to love them.” I couldn't agree more. This is where I believe the religious right, the born again Christian group and the Evangelical crowd has failed mightily. Do I believe that all involved that disagree with the gay agenda and lifestyle have failed in this area? No, I do not, but I do believe there has been enough failure in this area giving the many segments that represent the socially progressive media, whom support liberal social agendas, enough ammunition to project to the public the "judgmental and self righteous" narrative of the Christian. Think Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas and you will understand what I'm saying. When Jesus came in contact with the prostitute he didn't chastise her, He presented her with grace, mercy and forgiveness. Now, before any one goes sideways on me, in no way am I saying that prostitution is equivalent to homosexuality. But if we are to gain our truth in the context of God's word, they are both considered a sin. The reason I share that story is because my beliefs are grounded in God's word, and because of that I wanted to give an example of how Jesus didn't point a finger at the one who was trapped in sin, but at pharisees who wished to humiliate and punish her in a public forum. Sound familiar? As I just mentioned earlier, my beliefs; the foundation upon which my opinion on this sensitive topic rests, is based on my belief in Jesus Christ and God's infallible word. God's word states:

"For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."  (Romans 1:26, 27)

God's word also states:

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." (Matt. 7:1-6)

I believe God's word to be a two sided coin. I think it is natural and well within the right of any individual to have a strongly held belief, but I think it is wrong to treat another human being poorly because there is a difference in opinion on a certain issue. I think judgement can be made about the behavior, not on the person. Being judgmental limits productive conversation and carries with it a stench of self righteous and arrogance that stinks to high heaven, and projects an attitude which states; "I'm better than you", because of the decisions made by another goes against my beliefs. As the latter passage teaches, when we evaluate and judge other people, our natural inclination is to ignore our own faults and to make critical judgments of others. 

Jesus is not forbidding critical thinking in the positive sense. Its vital to evaluate the words of others and observe their actions carefully so we can discriminate between truth and error, right and wrong (see Matt. 7:15-16). What I believe God is warning us against is our inclination to make critical judgments in the negative sense, looking only at the faults of others, and forming unfavorable opinions without valid and,or sufficient reason. In simple terms, it means looking for the worst in others. (Judging others by Ken Sande)

Sadly, we tend to do this when we don't agree with another person on sensitive topic.

In the end, judging is a self righteous behavior when it is directed at the person in a way that denigrates and marginalizes who they are as a person. We can, and always will, judge the behavior we see, but it is a dangerous transaction once we begin to judge the destiny of ones soul and their inferiority to another because of their beliefs. 

We would all do well to remember everyone was/is created by God. 

Both sides in this heated debate have made poor choices in regard to the right each individual has in making decisions based on the God-given free will each one of us has been born with. On issues that do not break the law or criminally harm another we are free to choose what we want, but remember, though the decision is mine/yours to be make, the choice of which consequence we get to experience is not. There are always consequences for the choices we make.  

Tolerance is a misused and misrepresented term.
I often hear from both sides the word tolerate. I've discussed the issue of homosexuality many times, with many well meaning Christian people that sympathize with the struggle and pain that is endured when a person makes the decision to go down the path of being gay. More times than not I hear a sympathetic plea and a preached word that we should tolerate them, and to pray for them.

I agree with the praying part, everyone needs prayer... you, me, Tom cruise... everyone.

On the other side of the Atlantic ocean, in terms of position and belief on this issue, I often hear that "they" (the homophobes, religious right and the born again christian set) should be more tolerate of the gay communities decision to live in the manner they've chosen, all the while, displaying an incredibly defensive and intolerant attitude towards anyone who doesn't promote, or agree with, their agenda and/or lifestyle. Hypocritical? Yes, no, maybe? I also believe we have moved into a dangerous realm that carries with it a mandate stating it's not good enough to just acknowledge and encourage the homosexual agenda, but that it's to be celebrated. Why should I celebrate something that I don't agree with?

To the gay communities defense; maybe they have a strong leaning and tendency to behave this way because they've been conditioned to? There is a mountain of evidence, and a not so glorious past and present, that points to the poor treatment of homosexuals by supposed Christians that profess to love the Lord so much. This profession by the Christian is often accomplished without any evidence of compassion, mercy and grace that God champions in His word.

" 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is 
no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:31) 

Maybe it's because many gay people have seen time and time again that the evangelicals and born again Christians feel very comfortable telling them that they are going to go to hell - by the way, this is not a great way to have a meaningful conversation with anyone... besides, as my mother so often states: "you attract more bees with honey than you do vinegar"-. I often find this behavior towards homosexuals ironic, hypocritical and somewhat funny. I, you, never see a rally of God fearing believers standing on a street corner shouting down lying, adultery, stealing, gossiping and/or fornication. Can you imagine a public rally denouncing fornication? I can not. And if you can, I'm with little doubt this demonstration would be displayed with the same kind of hatred that the anti-gay rally's generate. You very rarely see anyone with their bullhorns sounding off in the name of God concerning the many young boys that have been abused by priests, but many find it so easy to spew venom towards someone who is gay. I'm not saying anyone who gathers in a church pew every Sunday morning thinks any of these qualities, behaviors or actions are good, I just don't see many, if anyone, denouncing these "sins" with equal amounts of venom and hatred as they do homosexuality. Maybe it's human nature to view acts we might commit, or have committed, with a less stringent eye and chastise with a less stinging tongue compared to the sins we're less inclined to commit? Like I said; maybe. Anyway, this action of public persecution is often pursued by many Christians as they conveniently look the other direction concerning their own life and any personal behavior that would most definitely grieve God's Holy Spirit, making it very difficult for any non-believing person to confuse these so called Christians with someone that truly follows God and has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


Here's what needs to be remember by all involved when it comes to tolerating another person: crowed elevators, traffic jams and poor little league coaching are to be tolerated, not human beings. Well, maybe I got it wrong with the coaching thing, but still, I think it's important to recognize every human being is special in his or her own way, and because we all are created by God, the door is slammed on tolerating something as magnificent as God's creation, the human being. No one wants to be tolerated no more than they want to be pitied. People shouldn't be tolerated, they should be celebrated. Not in a narcissistic way, but in a way allowing all us to recognize and realize we were created by God with special gifts that, when used correctly, can make a difference in other people's lives.

I wish we as a county would stop tolerating one another and begin respecting one another.

I really do.

Truth: we all have a reason for what we believe.

Truth can be tricky. You don't believe me; just look at our inability to agree on anything in this country. No matter the the issue and how much we think something to be true, you will always find a crowd that doesn't necessarily see it that way. We all have at some point in our life behaved like the parent of "little Johnny" that has no athletic ability, but his parents, us, you and me, believe that he has the potential to be a D-1 athlete. More times than not we as a people seek affirmation over information. I see this all the times in little league, Jr. High and High School sports. It's not pretty. I will repeat: it is not pretty.

Everyone wants to be affirmed. This is not good.
The reason it's not good is because rarely does the truth make us feel good or affirm us in the beginning. The truth will set you free, but not before it smacks you in the face. 

Truth often hurts.

This is no more evident than in the stance many, if not all, Christians take against "gay marriage". The Christian will tell you the reason for their disapproval of marriage being redefined and between the same sex is because it is a sacred union ordained by God. Marriage is to be protected. But let's look a little deeper and evaluate the poor divorce rate within the Christian faith. 

Bradley Wright, a University of Connecticut sociologist who recently wrote "Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites ... and Other Lies You've Been Told" -- nice title by the way... that honey/vinegar and bee thing works every time -- conducted a study that combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42%. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50%.

When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 "evangelicals" who never attend church had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38% of weekly attendees. And though many Christians take exception to that figure most recognize, and accept, the divorce rate in Christian churches around the country to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 32-37%. I would advocate that the lowest divorce rate among Christians is among those who attend church regularly, pray and read the bible daily, participate in a small group of believers weekly and tithe consistently, but even then everyone must recognize there is no guarantee your marriage will work. Even so, I would like to see a study with those parameters and see the numbers that are generated. I think it also interesting to note that "atheist", yes atheists, have been acknowledged to have a lower divorce rate (21%) than Christians. 


What's also interesting is when you look at the divorce rate geographically in the United States we see that the "Bible Belt" in America has the highest divorce rate in our country at roughly 50 percent above the national average. Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma round out the Top Five in frequency of divorce, and the "evil" academic, and cultural, elites of the northeast has the lowest divorce rates in our country. 

Ask your self; when was the last time you saw a hate-filled rally railing against Christians that are divorced in this country, and letting them know, in no uncertain terms, that they were going to hell?

Remember, God hates divorce.

I know, I know, we can make statistics (and Bible verses) say anything we want, and many Christians do, and have also stated that they believe the figure of 42% is too high, but I think it is important to recognize, and acknowledge, the poor marriage record that is held by the very people that are trying to protect marriage. And let's not forget about the dirty little secrets of adultery and fornication. The rates of these two "sinful" behaviors are much higher than 42% amongst born-gain Christians.

And the last time I checked God had some strong feelings concerning those two issues too.

So, if marriage is in any danger in America, perhaps "part" of the threat comes from the unstable marriages of conservative Christians, not the relationships of gays or the marriages of godless atheists. Because of this, it's easy to see why non-believers and homosexuals regard most Christians as hypocrites and Bible Thumpers. We as a community of believers have more than a plank in our eye and "we" at the same time are taking great exception with the splinter our brother/sister has in their eye.

I believe that their is a lot of house cleaning that needs to take place in our own home before we begin to offer our services in our "neighbors" home.

And while we're looking at the pain of being truthful, let's review Hollywood's undeniable truth that it shares with everyone that is, well, willing to watch. 

Hollywood brings with it a strong desire to affirm the gay community and all people that inhabit it. Imagine if the "born-again" Christian were shed in the same positive light that almost all gay characters are on TV. The gay characters are almost always portrayed as smart and intelligent, good looking and upper middle class, and almost always male. They are most often the sympathetic figure in the piece, and Hollywood goes out of its way to pull at our collective heart strings to reinforce the fact that gay people are just like us, and that we should respect them, not fear them. I agree, gay people are just like me. They have hopes and dreams, they have goals and aspirations, and they have the ability to experience joy and to experience pain just like me. 

Plus, we all have in common the One that created us.

I think all us, gay or straight, catholic or protestant, black or white, have more in common than we do not. If this is to be true, then why no equal representation in Hollywood? Why can't born-again Christians be offered to the film going community and TV watching public as normal, everyday people? Why can't Christians be portrayed as smart and intelligent, good looking and rich, funny and witty. Why? The ratings of the history channel mega hit The Bible suggests there is a market for this type of narrative. So why? Why isn't this a truth we see played out on the silver screen and on our flat screen TV's? I believe the reason is simple; the truth is that Hollywood and the secular progressives pursuit is not one that seeks its truth through God's word. I believe the secular philosophy is based upon a belief that renders all religious beliefs, and institutions as meaningless in society, and relies upon a belief and a narrative that allows everyone to become their own god, eliminating all shame and guilt in any decision they make. There is no accountability.

I don't think it's any more than that. 

And they, like me, have the right to stand on any truth that they believe as long it doesn't violate or infringe upon anyone's, civil and or constitutional rights, and that it isn't criminal based upon the laws that are set forth in this country. That is their right. I would reiterate and gently remind anyone who cares to pay attention; be careful, be very careful, concerning the decisions you make because they will always have consequences that are out of the control of the decision maker.

I recognize the importance at this point to once again share with you that my truth is based on God's word.

My belief is based within the context of the bible, yours may not and I respect that. I don't have to agree, and I hope you don't either, with something, or someone, to respect the fact that you are entitled to your belief and opinion. I just believe if I'm going to tell you what I consider to be true I owe it to you, the reader, to share with you why I believe it to be true.

The truth in God's word states:

"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination."  (Leviticus 18:22)


"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."  
(1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

God's word makes it pretty clear His beliefs on this issue. God created a man and women in his image:

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"  (Genesis 1:27, 28)

We have to live with the choices we make: "Adam and Eve and serpent"
by Michelangelo 

Does it end there? I believe it does not. I don't even believe it begins there in the context of government and our judicial system. 

Here is why.

The problem is that our Supreme Court, our federal and local governments, and our judicial system do not make decisions solely based upon the religious merit, and or, the religious ramifications concerning an issue or case. The government's truth, and how policy is shaped in this country, isn't determined on religious value, merit or truths. This is no more evident than in the case of gay marriage. And though gay marriage is of significant religious importance to the Christian, it isn't a religious issue to the government, it's a "civil law" matter, not a civil right matter. Do I believe that a marriage, by definition, is between two men and or two women? No, I do not, I don't assert that position in the least, no more than I believe a red car is a blue car. I support the belief that marriage by definition, in the traditional (I know... bad word) sense is a sacred, God ordained, union between a man and a women.


But our court system, and our state and federal governments can decide otherwise. That is the right we the people have afforded them within the framework of our countries constitution. I believe the key to the entire issue is to embrace the gay communities desire to be recognized as a union, but not as a marriage, but affording them all the rights and liberties of a married couple. At the end of the day, the Supreme Court has no legal authority to say if a group of people can or cannot wed. Besides, not all gay people want to be married. The really smart ones don't want anything to do with it.

All kidding aside, I believe the great debate surrounding this issue will take more work than pointing our fingers at the other group and changing our profile picture on Facebook to a symbol. The real issue concerning gay marriage is it is centered around civil law. This is a certainty.  Marriage law has long been a state matter, and in the United States that has meant, literally, a state rather than a federal matter. In any case, the law has until now taken for granted that marriage is an institutional bond between a man and a woman. Moreover, marriage is something people of all faiths and no faith engage in. Churches, synagogues, and mosques may bless marriages but they do not create the institution. In that sense the question of marriage is not first of all a religious matter in the sense in which most people use the word "religion." The real remedy to this dilemma is to let the people decide on a state level what they will accept and what they will not accept in the area of gay marriage, and then, and only then, we can all sit back and observe the consequences of our collective decision. 

The real remedy for the Christian surrounding this issue is prayer. 

I believe both of these solutions can work.

One of my strongest, non biblical, reasons for opposing gay unions recognized as marriage is based upon a Gallup report published in October 2012 by the Williams Institute. The study reported that only 3.4% of US adults identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Only 3.4%. I will round it off to 5% for good measure, and for those who believe it's a much larger pool of people, but that the figure is misrepresented due to the fact that many gays choose to remain in the closet. I think it's important to put this percentage into perspective, *5% represent 15 million people. Since when did we start making decisions on a institution that has been around for over 2000 years solely based on the desire of a small number of people that so desire to change it? Would we as country actively pursue drafting a new constitution, or government, or court system based upon the desire of 5% of our population? Would we elect our President, or any official for that matter, who only had 5% of the country's support and vote.

I know, everyone knows someone who is gay, but that doesn't mean everyone is gay. 

We as a country should look closely, and with a critical eye, the changing and redefining of certain institutions like marriage. Marriage isn't an institution that needs to be redefined, it needs to be respected by all involved in this national debate. Would we legalize the use of drugs, increase the speed limit to 85 and decrease the drinking age to 18 if 5% of population so wanted it? But those are safety issues you say. I agree, and in-turn I would ask this simple question; "isn't protecting the institution of marriage a safety issue also". 

Are they? 

The number one reason our country is failing in so many areas is because of the breakdown of the traditional family unit. I know and would have me believe differently based upon the movie; "The Kids Are All Right", but the kids are not all right. Study after study supports the best environment to raise a child is when there is a mother and father fully engaged, fully present and fully married. The number one predictor for poverty in this country is being a single mother. Are there many situations that display single mothers do very well? The answer is yes. There are many situations that all of us can point to where a single parent is doing a fantastic job, but we have to admit (or maybe not) that we as a country have been trying to marginalize, reduces it's significance, and eliminate the importance of mariage and the traditional family unit every chance we can get.

And we are succeeding.

Listen to the review that is promptly placed on the one sheet (movie poster) for "The Kids Are All Right" by Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly:

"Funny, smart and sexy! This picture perfect movie charms audiences into a state of enlightenment."

Tell me who doesn't want to be enlightened in a funny, smart and sexy way? Now let's just imagine for a moment that the characters were born again Christians and they were standing on the belief that marriage should be protected and that it's exclusive to a man and women?

So, where do we go from here as Christians, and as a country.

I believe the real heavy lifting begins after the reading of those "selected few" pieces of scriptures I shared earlier stating God's truth. I believe this is where everything that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit embodies and represents needs to shine through each one of us as believers:

  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:14-16)

I hope that we, as a country, a group of citizens and a body of believers, can get to a point where our truths, our beliefs and our words, that are shared in love and in confident belief, don't have to separate us, or confine and limit us to becoming enemies. 

But wait a minute...

What if someone that is racist says in the most loving and confident way that they hate blacks, Jews and Mexicans? What if they say with a tender heart that these groups of people are inferior and should be regarded less than of a human being? What if that is their truth? 

I would only say this:

The race and ethnicity of a human being is, like the union between a man and a women, a very sacred thing that has been ordained by God. And the God I know would never except the poor treatment of another human being based on something as sacred as their gender, race or ethnicity.

What if I don't believe in the bible and God? I would simply say; I do, but my belief doesn't limit me in respecting your right to choose any form of thinking you see fit... just remember this, you may be able to choose your truth, but you will never be able to choose the consequence of that truth. 


Logan turns 1 in Jupiter, Fla.

In July of 1990 my first wife, Tracy, and I welcomed into the world our first child, a little boy. We named him Logan James Bailey. Its safe to say that Logan was, and still is, one of the great loves of our life. I say "one" because we had another child together, Austin, and we have a total of eight children between us.  

With all that being said; Logan is extremely special to us. 

When Logan turned 15 there were grumblings that he might be gay. He didn't care for sports, no real male friendships, played with dolls as a young boy, loved fashion, and all of his closest relationships were with females in a non-dating scenario.

Many thoughts entered my mind, countless feelings flooded my heart, and a litany of conversations ensued.

I wondered could this really be true? Is Logan truly gay or is he enjoying the acceptance he is experiencing from this community of people? Whatever the reason was it became pretty evident that Logan was gay or he was doing an unbelievable acting job worthy of an academy award. 

So when I ask Logan if he was gay around the age of 18 he shared with me he was not. I told him he could be honest with me and there would be no judgement from me, his father. 

The answer was still no.

Mom, Logan & Dad (2010)

Fast forward two years later and my son and I began to have more substantive conversations around the issue of homosexuality. And after he said I could share with others that he is gay in this piece I shared with him my thoughts:

I told him that I loved him and that there was nothing he could do that could ever separate him from my love. I told him that I would never be embarrassed by him and that I would always support him by sharing with him what I believe to be true. I confessed that my faith doesn't allow me to agree with the lifestyle, but in no way does it command me not to love him or any of his friends any less. I verbalized the fact that I could no more judge him than I could ignore the significant relationship I have with Jesus Christ. I shared with him that my God is my God and at some point your God will have to become real to you. I reminded him that he is on a journey that can lead in many different directions and difficult paths if he limits his availability to God, and God's will for his life. I ended our conversation with words that reaffirmed that this is his journey; his life, and everything he encounters will be part of his testimony someday. I told him I loved him, that I will support him, and that the only prayer I will pray is for his safety, and that God will convict his heart if this isn't the lifestyle God had planed for him when he was created.  And, if it this path is God's will for his life that he will experience the peace only God can provide when we are living in the center of His will.

Logan & his beautiful roommate (2012)

A lot has been said in this piece, and all of it is what I believe to be true for the reasons I laid out, with the fact that my oldest son being gay as the least of them. I believe what I believe because of my belief in God's infallible word. I believe the path of homosexuality to be a cruel path to travel for many different reasons. It's my conviction that many gay people are like the "traveler" in Van Goth's letter when he says: 

"I'm a traveler... Going somewhere, to some destination, (only) the somewhere and the destination do not exist."
I regard it as a truth that the final destination that a majority of gay people are searching for is a destination of peace and joy that doesn't exist for them in this lifestyle. I don't say that with a harsh tone or a hateful attitude, I just believe that to be true and share it with with a very heavy heart.

The choice I've decided to make is the decision to be honest with my beliefs and deliver them with compassion, understanding and love. I want to walk hand in hand and talk with those I differ with on certain issues; talk, not scream. I want to hold hands, not point fingers. I want God's spirit to permeate throughout me, and to communicate "I'm not your enemy and you're not mine", and for it (God's spirit) to aid us in the acknowledgement that we simply have different beliefs. 

I will end with these words from the book of Peter:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. -1 Peter 3:15-16 

I think it's important to be reminded that we as believers need to be ready to give an answer on the many issues that are shaping our culture. Answers that are well thought out and thoughtful, answers that are based upon the context of God's word without one thing, or one word, being added or subtracted. We should always seek to do this with humility, respect and gentleness

At the end of the day, God didn't create me with the ability to convert others to Christianity or judge others; conversion and judgement is God's business, not mine. What God has gifted me with is the ability to be a humble servant, sharing the "Good News" and living a life, dependent upon Him, that doesn't contradict my testimony, belief and faith.

I hope I was able to accomplish that with this piece.

My goal was to afford the opportunity to all involved the ability to agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

I hope my words were a step in that direction.

In the end, it's our choice to love or to hate.

sbb 5.4.13