Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Okay so I have this problem; Forgiveness.

See the thing is that I am really good at cognitively making sense of an issue and figure out how and why I need to forgive. I am good at that. But the emotional piece is a completely different story.

Okay so story time. A few weeks back I was talking to a friend who had been hurt by someone’s choices. This person’s friend eventually came back and apologized and has since made amends. So as my friend told me this story, the first thing I said was this, “I don’t think I would want to be friends with a person who did that in the first place.”

Let’s be honest, that doesn’t sound like a very forgiving attitude. But here is my favorite part of the story. Immediately after I made that statement, my friend replied with this gem, “I have needed forgiveness from my friends before. So I am going to forgive [this person] now.”

It has seriously been weeks since that happened and I can’t get that quote out of my brain. It bowled me over then, and it continues to do the same.

What kind of selfish jerk am I to think that I should withhold forgiveness? Especially when I have needed forgiveness myself so often…

But I think that is the answer. I was being a selfish jerk at that point.

How dare I withhold forgiveness when I have needed it so much?
Am I really so arrogant to think that I haven’t needed forgiveness?
Or do I just try to deceive myself?
Do I really just want to just be a little better than this other guy?

Here is my favorite part. The Bible repeatedly tells us that God will forgive and judge us based on how we forgive and judge others. (Luke 6:37, Matthew 6:14 & Mark 11:25 to name a few)

PLEASE watch this…

I am bought with blood. Accept and rejoice. For freedom has come.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


What am I thankful for on Thanksgiving? Let me put it this way…

I walked into my day after working what feels like every day for the last month. My emotions, psyche and body feel like it has been to Hell and back. I have been a less than admirable friend and family member.

So as I walked into work on this Thanksgiving Day, I need to communicate to you the attitude that I had. To say that I was “sour” would be a nice way to put it. To say that I was “a straight up jerk” would be slightly more accurate. Ill let your imagination fill in the rest…

I spent my day doing these things…

Being really, really tired.
Seeing co-workers.
Dropping off children at family visits.
Picking up children at family visits.
Being complained to.
Being complained about.
Seeing others volunteer their time to cook a meal.
Being cussed at.
Watching children miss their loved ones.
Watching children be hurt by their loved ones.
Repeating myself.
Giving advice I should never have to give.

I must say, though, that my favorite moment of the day was when I got the privilege to sit back and watch my children load their plates up with the phenomenal feast that my co-worker had prepared for them.

When I asked the kids what they were thankful for, they listed a variety of things. Not one of them said they were thankful for the wonderful, healthy food prepared for them. Not one listed our warm shelter, clean clothes and bedding, or a safe environment they have to sort out their issues.

So here is the cool thing. It occurred to me that my kids were not even aware to be thankful for the most basic needs that were being fulfilled. But how often do we make the same mistake? How easy is it to list the typical answers to the “what are you thankful for” question?

I am not saying don’t be thankful for these things. I am, however, wondering how many blessings and mercies are being rained down on us that we aren’t even aware of?

Yes. Count your blessings and be thankful. But, perhaps, you could also take a moment to consider the blessings and mercies that you aren’t even aware of.

So here is the real point. What am I thankful for on Thanksgiving?

I am thankful that I can find God in all of the things that I listed.

Let us return to the Lord.
Let us press on to know Him.
Let us press on into Him.
Let us find the healing in Him.

And as sure as the coming of the dawn, He will respond and He will revive. (Hosea 6)

For that, I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

King of Lawlor

Okay so I had the absolute, God-ordained privilege of meeting with an old friend today who always has this way of whipping me into shape.

So as I wasted two hours going on and on about the garbage that is my life right now, apparently the sad state of my life transferred to him because I continued to be on his mind. When I finally got home from this visit, I had an email waiting for me.

He included these two verses:

"Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." 1 Timothy 4:12-16

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 'Make level paths for your feet,' so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed." Heb 12:11-13

My friend said he thought that was God’s way of saying “man up.”

Anyway, it’s no wonder that I have been struggling. However, the thing I am really learning is that I desperately need to intentionally be putting good things back into my brain.

Garbage in, garbage out. Good stuff in, good stuff out.

I believe I am being disciplined, corrected, taught and refined. So what I need to do is to set my sights on the righteousness, peace and strength that will come from my diligence to my calling and gifts.

So perhaps you could help me come up with good things to put in my brain???

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I am not clever

Okay, so I just went off on this 15 minute storytelling thing that morphed into a rant. Weird. I know. I was shouting!! Then I got home and started writing this really spicy blog post about all the garbage going through my mind right now.

Apparently it is time for me to calm down. I mean, I was actually called feisty today. Twice.


So my challenge is to figure out how to channel all of the ridiculous amount of frustration and life garbage fragments into something that is actually productive.

I think this is another “I don’t know” posts.

See here is the thing. I am in the middle of working 10 out of 11 days. It’s a pretty crazy stretch. That’s fine. I am glad to be working. The problem occurs when my brain starts to misfire and malfunction from lack of normal human interaction. If I am this strange with 4 days left… I want to be able to make something of this stretch rather than just survive and complain it away.

I am pretty sure this is just a complaint post. There is nothing productive that my brain can produce. It can only focus on the American Music Awards which is playing beyond the top part of my computer screen.

Ill stop pretending I have answers and just ask for your help.

Ideas about how to make the best out of a crappy situation?


Friday, November 18, 2011

which way?

“Our temptation is to look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers.” –C.S. Lewis

I’m not sure how to describe the feeling… but it’s sort of like getting the wind knocked out of you. I get it every once in a while. It comes for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I need to find clarity. Sometimes I need to make better choices. Sometimes I need to resist temptation. Sometimes I need to trust in someone else. Sometimes it’s when I am just getting by.

But here is the common ground that I always feel about it; I am always being convicted about something. Now that I say it… it’s the same feeling I would get when I got busted doing something I shouldn’t.

Maybe it is the feeling of being seen through and knowing a fa├žade does no good and the thing that always gets me is that I turn into this crazy emotional spastic person.

So I think this is where I need to be reminded that God wants my heart more than my ponderings.

I feel as though Jesus is simply asking me, “Do you love me?”

I am not sure how to say yes. So I will trust. I will quiet my mind and my heart. I will not listen to the doubts. I will not listen to criticism. I will not listen to the accusations.

“Trouble comes when we navigate solely based on what we can see. God is always doing more in and around us that we know.” – Louie Giglio

I think I am going to answer the question by paying attention to Him. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Welcome to the 1800s

I had three references to Gettysburg in my day today. So I figured I would go with the prompting and see where my brain took me.

It seems that Honest Abe makes two points; first about words and actions, and then about dedication to a cause.

Busted! I found the connection.

I was just speaking with a friend about how I try to hold myself to a higher standard when I find myself the most frustrated. And the thing is that it is easy for me to talk about how I want to be good, loving, wise, honest, truthful and free… but I want to raise that standard when it is most difficult.

But here is my real thing. So many people have gone before me in this world. People have dedicated their lives to a multitude of causes and we all know that there are those that matter and those that don’t.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

                                          --Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863

Here are my two questions for you…
What are you dedicating your life to?
How can you truly honor those who have fought the battle before you?

church and Church

It is a temptation to try to capture God within our church activities. We assume that Bible studies, prayer meetings and devotions equal a relationship with God. Love this quote from Thomas Howard in Christ the Tiger.

“[Christ] was a figure we could neither own nor manage. We claimed it as our special possession and exacted tribute and built shrines and established forms in which to incarcerate it, only to discover that it had fled. It would not be enshrined. It was the figure of a man, and a man must live and walk with other men or die, and this man was alive. He challenged out attempts to shelter Him and prop up His doctrine. What He spoke, He spoke loudly and freely, and His words were their own defense. When we tried to help things by urging sweetness and light, or by interdicting what looked threatening, or by tithing mint, anise or cumin, we found Him towering over us, scorching our efforts into clinkers, and recalling us to wildness and risk and humility and love. Just at the moment when we thought we had guaranteed our own standing in His good favor, He escaped us and returned with His hammer to demolish things. Try as we might, we could not own Him. We could not protect Him. We could not incarcerate Him. For he always emerged as our judge, exposing our punctilio and fright by the candor and boldness of His love.”

I think this struggle is as old as the Apostles. And I think that we must always remember that Christ’s Church is not a substitute for Christ Himself. Jesus Christ is the ideal and the actual. 

Christ is our Judge and, therefore, when we raise our meetings, church services, altars, prayers and annotated Bibles above Him, He is not our focus any more. 

The meetings we find boring, bore Him too.

"Return, return, and think again what I have asked of you: to follow justice, and love mercy, and do your job of work, and love one another, and give Me the worship of your heart--your heart--and be merry and thankful and lowly and not pompous and gaunt and sere."

Give your heart to Christ. He will save it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Penn State

Here is what you must do. Read this now and then proceed...

Wow. I guess its time to take some responsibility for our society. However, its hard to change something so non-specific as "society".

"Its one thing to have a conscious. Its quite another to listen to it."

So ask yourself this; what action do you need to take to stop yourself from sweeping things, big or small, under the rug?

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

Monday, November 14, 2011

Please. Help. Me.

I am in a struggle. And I feel compelled to share it with you.

I recently have been feeling drawn back to youth ministry in a local church. But that is as far as I get. Because as soon as I have that thought, I get this image of me being in a job interview, with a pastor asking me what my ministry will look like.


Okay, so parenthetically, I would like to clarify that I am not struggling with my calling… I am struggling with the vision of my calling. I love teenagers and I can’t imagine doing anything else… but its what would the job look like. Get that?

So back to my question… what would my ministry look like? I don’t know. Really, I don’t.

I did the whole Bible study, small group, Sunday morning routine. It was effective at what it was meant to do. But as I have grown and changed soooo much from my time in a local church, I am struggling with figuring out how to reconcile my new passions with what the traditional vision of suburban youth ministry has looked like.

I am passionate about leading hurting people towards the Healing Christ.

And yes, I am speaking about a shift in the paradigm of youth ministry.

Consider this part of my “job interview” but I just don’t give a crap about retreats, concerts, pizza and games. And I won’t pretend to anymore.

Okay, smart alec Andy, so what does it look like?


But I do know that I refuse to waste the money of faithful offering-givers just spinning my wheels doing the same old things that has turned the stereotypical local church completely obsolete. (I am aware that is a huge generalization… apologies to those who make a difference)

So. Please. Help. Me.

Many of you will say, “Andy you are incredible with teenagers and you were born to be in youth ministry. You just have to work with teenagers.”

I say, “Great. I agree. But what should effective ministry look like in the form of a local church youth ministry?”

Anyone? Concrete ideas? What can I tell my future interviewing pastor?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seriously though...

So I just finished listening to a 15 minute Tirade about the miserable state of the Cleveland Browns. If you care, listen to it. If you don’t, don’t listen to it. Funny stuff.

But today, as Staci and I went to our very first Browns game, I started to feel like I wasn’t being a good steward of the money given to me. In fact, I said to a friend that I felt like I was wasting money on a game when there are people who need food and clothes. Friend told me that it was a fun thing to do that helps Staci and I bond. We had a wonderful time and I love our time together.

I think Friend and I are both right. The right thing is probably a balance of the two.

But sometimes I get all caught up in what Jesus said to the rich, young ruler. “You lack one thing; go, sell all that you have and give it to the poor…”

I am tempted at this point to say something like, “I know this world just wouldn’t work if everyone was constantly selling and giving…”

But I also don’t think Jesus kidding. In other words, maybe Jesus was serious.

So here is my question to you; what would this world look like if the Church sold everything they had and gave it to the poor? Seriously. Is it possible?

Are we too modern or contemporary or civilized to actually do that? Or are we just unwilling?

I know that not acting on convictions is just pointless… but do you really think it’s realistic?

This would be a marvelous post to comment on… hint hint hint

Friday, November 11, 2011

I wish i may...

11. 11. 11.

That has happened 20 times before. And that’s not including B.C.

Do you think Jesus wished for anything on 11/11/11?

Fact. No, he didn’t.

Wow. What about 11:11:11 on 11/11/1111?

See here is the thing that annoys me; wishes.

Do you really think your life is going to change just because there are all those 1’s? Or because you tear a dang wishbone in half? Ooooo. How about this? Pick a dandelion and blow the floaty things away. No.

Wow. Total overreaction. I am actually in a good mood. But then I perused Facebook and saw people making wishes.

A friend and I were talking about luck today. Neither of us believe in luck. Luck/wishes annoy me.

So I will rub Genie’s lamp and make my three four wishes…

1)      Don’t wait another 100 years for the next 11/11/11 to change your life!
2)      Maybe we could have an entire 24 hours where nobody in the world complained/or lets just go with world peace. (I guess I would have to delete this post)
3)      People would care more for Veteran’s Day than 11/11/11
4)      And, finally, I would love one of those knife and fork turkey sandwich things from Bob Evans


So maybe if you want your life to be different than it is right now… GO MAKE IT HAPPEN!

(Maybe we can pretend that was motivational/inspirational and not just a rant!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I must say that this is one of my favorite writings that I have ever read. So good.

This is not a "I am too tired to write" post.
This is a "this other writing is too good to pass up" post.


So go read this. Now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post #1

Now THAT Is Being the Church…
by Josh Huff!!!

I hear so much frustration about the church. There is constant chatter about how the church today isn’t what the New Testament church looked like and what the church fathers had in mind when they began meeting together. 

It’s too inward focused

People in church are selfish

They are judgmental 

They are hypocritical 

On and on. I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes contribute to this chatter. Some of it is probably true, but I’m not here to debate that. I’m here to paint a picture of the church being the church… the right way… the way that reflects its head (Christ). Since I began working at a church in the inner city, I have been blessed by several of these pictures, but I want to tell you about one in particular.

J was a great man. He knew what it meant to let God transform his life. There was a lot of transforming to do considering where J came from. But God was doing it. By the time I met J, he was well on his way to becoming the man God created him to be. He truly cared about his church family, and his biological family. He put the Gospel into practice. When God was chiseling away some of the rough edges in J’s life, it wasn’t easy. That didn’t stop J from letting God keep chiseling. 

J passed away this past weekend. It wasn’t expected at all. It’s crazy how God doesn’t think about our timing, but I’m kinda glad He doesn’t. Anyway, he left behind a wife and two young boys, one in kindergarten and one in the third grade. His family didn’t have much. There was no way they could scrounge up enough money to pay for funeral costs. 

Speaking of not having much, that’s the majority of the people I am blessed to worship with at my church. Lots of poverty. Lots of barely getting by, if really getting by at all. Our pastor made one statement: “Funeral arrangements haven’t been finalized yet because they are still about $____ short for the funeral” (amount is not important, but trust me, it’s a good chunk of change). That’s all he said. After service, the people of the church just started bringing up money. They ended the day with more than double the $____. I was absolutely blown away. These families, who are barely getting by, were so incredibly faithful to their church family that they showered them with God’s love in the form of financial support!

What a lesson for me!

I think that’s a pretty good portrait of what the church should look like.

The church is still alive, and I love being a part of it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



What does that make you think of?


It is a constant in life.


What emotions does it invoke in you?


The road less traveled?


What is constant?


Who is constant?


See the thing is, my friends, that it seems as though things are always changing. People change. Times change. Relationships change. Jobs change. Homes change.

It is just the way it is. Pain heals and joys fade.

Some day I just struggle with what to do with change. Because it seems like so many people in this world get pushed around by the changes that naturally occur in this world. It is like they just wait for something to happen and then adapt.

I want to the kind of person who sparks the change. And who help make things better.

Monday, November 7, 2011


When I look at you, all I can think is that no child ever dreamed of growing up into such brokenness.

Boys dream of an adventure to face, battles to conquer and a beauty to win. Girls dream of an adventure to go on with the hero that fought for the beauty that she is becoming. We love fairy tales because they remind us of the desires of our hearts back when we were children.

But I see you. I see the ways your eyes dart around in your head like a frightened animal. I see the ways you try to manipulate your surroundings as you try to simulate safety. I see the way you lash out when you feel the most vulnerable. I see the way you run from the things that can help you the most. I see the way you hurt yourself to make yourself feel better. I see the way you become the things you hate the most. I see the way you feel you desperately need things but they never actually satisfy.

And every time I see you, I think about how nobody wanted this for you.

And, if I am honest, I am often tempted to feel like we are polar opposites.

It is kind of interesting. When things get the craziest for me… I think I search for life. When things get the craziest for you… you search for death. But maybe interesting isn’t the right word.

But as I watch you, I realize that every awful thing inside of me still waits and lurks to sneak out of any weak point. I know I have a shield that I use to keep things out, but I also know I have a shield I use to keep things in. And as this proneness to be vane, prideful, lustful and angry manifest into my own selfish intentions and death-dealing thoughts, I remember that we are the same. We, simply, are human. 

People overlook you, judge you and tell you to get your crap together because you are so screwed up.

People pat me on the back and say I am honorable for making a difference.

See neither of us ever dreamed we would become what we are today. But maybe you didn’t even get the chance to dream of something better. But there you are, wild-eyed and listening to people who don’t give a crap about you.

For now, our lives share the same path. For however long that will last. And as my chest starts to feel heavy, my heart rate quickens and I can’t walk away from you without hesitating, I realize something.

Beneath all the imperfect and self-centered efforts that I can muster up, there lies the deepest of loves for you. I can’t walk away from you without being prompted to pray. I can only trust that that love comes from the greatest Lover of all time.

The only difference is that once upon a time, God fixed me. More importantly, He continues to save me, heal me and redeem me. Continually and continually.

May the life, warmth and love begun in me spread to you.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable joy.” Washington Irving

I have seen far too many tears recently. It was entirely a bad thing except for one.

But I got to teach someone that tears are not weakness… they are a mark of power. That when you’re overwhelmed, laying down in your bed, holding your head and crying your eyes out can be a great start to dealing with life.

But I don’t know. I feel like my brain is prepared to riot. Like it will refuse to think.

I think that is a good sign it is time for tears.

Sorry my friends. It’s the best I have right now.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tell me a story

So I have this super weird idea. And it comes from this… I don’t have anything to say tonight. Good day. Good times. Tired… but good.

So here is my idea. YOU say something to ME!

Groundbreaking! I know!

But seriously. I would really love to hear what is going on in your lives.

Write a guest blog. As long as you want. It can be anonymous or signed.

Write a sentence summary of you.

Write 3 words that describe you.

Comment on this post.

Message me on facebook.

Send me an email.

Anyway… just tell me a story!!!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I can't find my shoes

“[The Devil’s] cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our [God]'s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Read that 10 times.

Think about it. God doesn’t want followers who robotically do whatever He orders. God doesn’t want people to give up their minds to follow Him.

See the thing is that anyone who has tried to find God has found that it isn’t exactly like finding your shoes under a pile of laundry. You don’t just move the things that are in the way in order to find God.

We are often tested. And we should expect it.

For example, when Jesus was baptized and publicly affirmed with an audible voice from God, the very next thing that happened was that the Holy Spirit drove Him into the desert to be tested.

Jesus didn’t get to ride a wave of emotions into God’s Kingdom… and neither do we.

The truth is that eventually we all will look around at life and not see a trace of Him. We will feel as if He has vanished. And we will feel as if He has forsaken us in our most critical moment of need. That moment is where we choose to freely seek God.

See there is always freedom in God’s Kingdom. And part of that freedom means that we can abandon ship.

However, critical piece is that the Devil’s cause is never more in danger when we have absolutely no evidence, reason or motive to continue to obey, but yet we still do. Conversely, when we choose to do that, we have never been closer to God’s cause.

No longer desiring. (Sound familiar?) Yet still intending to do God’s Will.

God wants us to learn this and, therefore, He must take away His apparent presence. At that point, if only the will to seek God is really there, He is pleased even with our stumbles.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It should be a good thing.

I must be honest with you my friends. Today has bee a rough day. I have been in just one of those “screw everything” moods. I just don’t care. I feel like I am just firing off the ugly “why” question at everything and anything, and not stopping to wait for the answer.

These mini-funks that I sometimes find my in can be a real treat. The real frustration is that I don’t really have reason.

See I think the real thing is that I have been on this journey to explore how much I need God. I have been learning several things:

1) We have all heard the phrase that when we pray for patience, God gives us an opportunity to be patient. I think in the same way, when I prayed to know how much I need God, He has shown me my limitations.
2) The truth is that I can do absolutely nothing without God. Being humbled is one of those things filled with mixed feelings. If God is the one humbling me, then I need to trust it is for my own good. I desperately need God.
3) In a cool/painful way, I have also been shown that my own need for God is the same as every single other person in this world. But as I journey into deep pain with the people in my life, it is becoming my passion to see everyone identify their need for God. We all desperately need God. More than anything.
4) The combination of all of these things has left me a broken person. I want to be in His presence all of the time. The times I have wasted away as I watch my favorite TV shows could have been spend with Him. He makes Himself so available and, yet, we simply don’t care enough to reciprocate. I need Him so badly, I feel like I can do nothing without Him. But that also tempts me to feel like I can do nothing.

See the thing is that we spend so much of our lives needing. And, most of the time, we don’t know it. We need God. And, for a variety of reasons, we don’t often feel Him. So we get caught up in this place where we feel like He isn’t there. Or He is eluding us. Or, worse yet, He doesn’t really care.

So my prayer tonight is going to be Psalm 13.

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

So I will trust in His salvation and His unfailing love.
And I don’t know where that will take me.
But where He is, there I shall be also.

I am Yours, save me.

“Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms”- CSL