It’s Okay to Admit that Losing Friends Hurts

friendsLosing friends hurts.

Sometimes I think that if all the energy we pour into avoiding that fact were spent elsewhere, we’d have cured world hunger by now.

The memes clutter our feeds.

“We never lose real friends, only fake ones.”

“Those who can’t handle your worst, don’t deserve your best.”

“Be yourself and the right people will gravitate towards you.”

“If they didn’t stay, they were never meant to.”

And today I found myself wondering…Who are we trying to convince?

Over the years, I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost them because someone moved. I’ve lost them because they got “too busy to call”. I’ve lost them because they married. I’ve lost them because they got married and wanted to stay friends but were female, and it was no longer appropriate. I’ve lost them because they forsook God and all the awkwardness that causes in the coffeeshop (I should have fought harder for those). I’ve lost friends simply because one of us changed, or revealed their darker side, and the other decided they didn’t like what they saw.

I’m no special case. Life winnows things away, and friends are no exception. It’s left me with a small but committed group of close friends I know I can count on, no matter how many the miles and misunderstandings. We’re in it for the long haul. I want to hurl myself into a lake with joy when I think of those people.

And sure, some people are best left in the past.


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All Paid Up for My Czech Trip!

Praise God. He has raised all the money I needed for my upcoming mission to the Czech Republic.

(This actually happened a few weeks ago. I would have posted about it sooner, but a medical issue arose that briefly called my participation on the trip into question. I’ll write more about that soon – suffice it to say that everything’s now fine.)

I want to thank you, dear reader, for any prayers you sent up for my fundraising efforts since I first posted about my trip. I really believe that prayer makes a difference, that God allows prayer to make a difference in order to get us involved in his work and draw us closer to him. Today is a great example.

When God provides financially for someone, he gets creative. It’s fun to watch. My barber called my haircut free the other day as a donation. Someone I barely knew offered me a donation in exchange for an old, non-working guitar of mine (her class used it for a project or something). My mission team did a dessert auction. GoFundMe is creativity. A lot of people enjoy GoFundMe because it’s simpler and easier to use – point and click – than a cornucopia of checks and support forms and where do I mail this and what do I write on the check and so forth.

Even if your only contribution to my trip was prayer, that is no small contribution. I now consider my prayer supporters part of the team. Those folks will receive updates and appreciation out of my desire for you to see your investment.

It’s not too late to join that team, by the way. Please pray for the hearts of the Czech citizens I’m visiting. Pray hard.

Anyway, just a little note on my progress. Thanks so much for your support.

Late Marriage is Not a Curse

picmonkey_imageOK, this takes the cake.

I just ran across a blog post vigorously arrayed “against” late marriage. The author was praying for his release from any sin or curse that might be keeping him in the “cage” of late marriage. He went through everything imaginable…generational sins, unfaithfulness, betraying others, demonic sacrifices, everything but the kitchen sink. And then ended with visualizing the fulfillment of his expectation that he would marry soon. All in Jesus’ name, of course.

Double take.

I want to be clear that I do practice spiritual warfare. I’ll even admit that an idea isn’t automatically ridiculous just because it strikes me so. I’ve heard respected Christian authors say that great couples are opposed from before their meeting. So who knows, maybe a few people do have to fight that battle.

And I certainly agree that marriage sounds good. I’m the family type, always have been. Some people are simply built that way. Independence is overrated for me. (My readership is now skewing their heads quizzically: are we sure he’s male? Yes.)

But the assumption that late marriage is always a curse?

Can’t get on board with that.

I wonder what this blogger does with Paul, who chose lifelong singleness for the Kingdom’s sake. I wonder what he does with Matthew 19, where Jesus bluntly tells us that not everyone is cut out for matrimony. “His plans are for my good,” this blogger chants. But how do you know what’s good for you? Perhaps singleness is better. Perhaps Satan isn’t a convenient catch-all for every circumstance you dislike. At the risk of flipping your worldview upside down, what if it’s God holding you back?

I must be clear on another thing: I don’t believe every Christian single is being “held hostage” until they check off “enough boxes”, or reach “Expert Level” on being satisfied in God, before God marries them off.  That all-too-common theory knows nothing of grace, and it leads singles into an awful existence running around in circles rummaging for internal flaws so that God might “lift his hand”. A terrible motive for pursuing righteousness.

But…I won’t make a principle either. I do believe God does this with some people. He’s certainly entitled to. This blogger is obviously operating from a prosperity gospel mindset where his definitions of “good”, not God’s, are in effect.

Such richness is lost that way.

Waiting is transformative. It’s given me time to grow, to stabilize, to accomplish tasks for the Kingdom I couldn’t have otherwise, to get deeper into God’s Word and become a better potential head for a wife. I cannot tell you how valuable the wait has been. Thanks to God opening my eyes and ears to the realities of marriages around me, I’ve been able to beat back the ignorant albeit near-subconscious fantasies that singles buy into (marriage is a cure-all, etc.) and start plugging into the Thing that matters most. It’s forced me to reckon with God. It’s forced me to acknowledge that I’m not in control and that his ways are best; that he is my ultimate validation, strength, and peace; and that he really is enough.

That’s a shipload of treasures that would have missed the port entirely had I married when I wanted.

Believe me, I look forward to tying the knot someday. But I won’t try dictating to God what’s best, and I won’t claim that singleness is the absolute nadir of human existence, to be avoided at all costs. There are things far worse. Like living life without God. Thus the Gospel and its theology of hardship keep their place as the Main Thing, above every other consideration.

One Way Loyalty

So good. Avoid obeying in order to get something from God – we need not do so!

Susan Irene Fox

It is a mistaken belief that God requires our loyalty. Believing this makes our God a small and punitive God; He is the opposite.

The truth about our God is that both His Love and His Loyalty are One Way. Because of our Father’s character, He loves us. Because of Jesus’ character, He bestows Compassion, Grace and Mercy. Because of the Spirit’s character, He is loyal to us. And God never expects anything in return.

God was in my life before I was ever in His. He watched over me and saved my life countless times. This is not hyperbole, it is literal. And if you read my blog consistently, you know my testimony. Did God bestow His Gifts upon me because I did good deeds? Of course not.

I was given unconditional, irrational Love, generous, lavish Grace and steadfast, unwavering loyalty expressly because my…

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God’s Not Done with Your Dad

Father’s Day isn’t a holiday that I get to celebrate with quite the same gushy giddiness as my friends.

My father and I have been estranged for…gosh, it’s been 16.5 years now. The reason isn’t important at the moment. Over the years, there have been halting efforts at reconciliation; the last couple years have been mostly good. We had a nice conversation last night that highlighted how good God has been to both of us in the last year.

And that’s the thing – God’s gone right on being good to him.

You see, Level One of Father’s Day blog posts is to talk about how great your dad is. Level Two is to talk about how to handle things if your father perhaps made some mistakes, to extend sympathy, to make sure the fatherless are not left out of the blog audience, and to glorify God as an unfailing father. It’s important to let the fatherless know that their pain and lack is seen and cared for by God.

But Level Three – to which God has leveled me up in the last few years, somewhat against my will – is recognizing that God’s grace extends to your father.

That can be a gigantic stomp on our pride. When we feel our fathers have not done right by us, we retreat to a place of safety in which God is on our side. There is good in that, at first. God does take umbrage over this stuff.

But eventually, God turns his eyes on us. He starts asking whether we have forgiven. And we must ask ourselves, what right do I have to hold against my father a sin that God has forgiven?

That was a difficult moment for me. I preferred my safety and injured pride. There was a moment when I thought I’d never speak to him again.

But I saw God working in my father’s life. He was continuing to bless him (though his life was not perfect). He was gaining wisdom. He was fiercely committed to God’s Word. He was even using his experiences to counsel others. He’s still a good man, in many ways. It was humbling – and awe-inspiring – to see that God was not done with my father. I couldn’t ignore it. I had to respect His work. God was being generous, and I had two options – get with the program and learn about God, or walk in ignorance and be the lesser servant.

It’s hard to know what our future relationship will look like. Obviously, it will never be quite the same. But things are looking better.

Most importantly, my perceived horizons of God’s grace have widened, stretching across the Montana sky. He is truly amazing.

Losing My Religion

No shame in my “Reblog Matthew Winters” game.

Matthew Winters (Comeback Pastor)

If you’ve said, “I almost lost my religion”, I hope you go ahead and lose it. Go all the way with it. Don’t just get rid of some of it. Get rid of all of it!

Great advice coming from a pastor, huh😀? I think so. Religion is manmade. I have probably encountered more people with a manmade, mustered-up version of something God never intended. That kind of religion has created some of the meanest, snootiest people I have ever met. This is the kind of religion where people try to be good enough. They know the right things to do, say, wear, etc. The problem is that it is fake. The outside conforms, but the inside is dead and empty. Religious people strive to be “good enough”, and the only way to measure that is by comparison. We compare ourselves with others to see if we are better or…

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When Good Theology = Good Feelings



One thing I’ve discovered about God: he’s offering a great deal more “good feelings” – more joy, peace, serenity, and even enthusiasm – than most of us are experiencing.

The explanation for the disconnect is this: we are not receiving it.

Why not? Possibly because we’re never told it’s available.

Discernment bloggers love to tell us that good theology isn’t about good feelings. I appreciate their vigilance. Good feelings can come from bad sources – promises of earthly wealth, skewed talk of miracles, or even just an unhealthy focus on good feelings – and we must be aware of such deer trails. It’s a cross, not a bed of roses.

But what about Philippians 4, which promises “a peace that transcends all understanding”? Or the repeated command to “rejoice” in our sufferings? Or God’s offers of inner healing (Psalm 34, Isaiah 61)? Or, oh, I don’t know, the promise of heaven? David seemed stoked out of his mind by, of all things, God’s commands. That’s almost weird. My generation prides itself on being more drawn towards God’s compassion and love than his commands. Yet Psalms 119 shows a man absolutely head over heels in love with God, giddy, intoxicated, elated.

There’s more to this “Christianity” thing than some of us know, methinks.

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