Category Archives: Musings and Stories

Atheistic Faith

Dear God, I know I talked about this a week or two ago, but I just saw this shirt video about the age of the universe and I couldn’t help but think about it again. As humans, we really don’t like to know. When we speak of and identify the idols in our lives, we should always start with ourselves.

People were really angry when Covid first came on the scene and we didn’t have adequate tests or testing capacity. We don’t like there being something we don’t know or can’t figure out. Then we got the vaccine, but it wasn’t perfect. It had some isolated side effects. That made us angry too. We should be smart enough and developed enough to not have to worry about these things. Our intellect and economy—even our government and military—replaced you as the things we really put our faith in. That’s what we lean on for peace in our hearts.

Then there are the atheists who insist you aren’t there and all of this can be explained through nature, as if you aren’t the author of the nature they are discovering. I wonder if it comes down to the idea that if they acknowledge you are there then they have to deal with you at some level. They have to reckon with you, and they can’t allow themselves to do that.

Father, as I know and embrace some of these people, help me to let them see you through my life. Make me your ambassador. And also help me to identify the remaining idols in my life, identify them specifically, and then purge them as I love you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength.

I pray this in your holy Name,



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Thank you / F*** you

Dear God, I’m going to follow up on the episode of Ted Lasso I mentioned last night because I’ve been thinking about it a little more–okay, a lot more.

There is a part where one character is asked what he would say to another one if he could. He responded, “F*** you.” Then he was asked if there was anything else he would say. He said, “Yeah. Thank you.” This was right before he was encouraged to forgive because of the benefits to himself (see yesterday’s prayer). Later, the character asking the question ended up having a conversation with someone he was hurt by and just started saying, “Thank you for…” and then, “F*** you for…” This went on for a couple of minutes, but it cleared the air on some things.

So I was lying in bed last night and thinking about the things I need to forgive and as well as the forgiveness that needs to be extended to me. In terms of the wrongs done to me–the justice that needs to be served on my behalf–I thought about sitting down today and writing a “Thank you/F*** you” list. Two columns on a sheet of paper. Thank yous on the left and f*** yous on the right. Would that be cathartic for me? I imagined some of the things I would start to write down in each column. How would that feel? Is that what I need? Will that help me let go?

Then I thought about you. What about your list for me? What about the final judgment and when I stand before you. Will there be a long “f*** you” list in your hands as you look at me? What could I possibly say or do in front of you and your list for me? I am doomed.

But that’s not what you did or will do. You made this amazing sacrifice for me. You did the most extraordinary thing for me. You didn’t only send a sacrifice. You sent part of you to earth. You came through a birth canal just like I did. You grew up poorer than I did. You suffered greater than I ever have. You submitted to all of that and then death, just so I could stand before you at the final judgment–so I could sit here before you even now–and worship you. Is the f*** you list there? Yes. Does it exist? You bet. Do I add to it every day? Unfortunately, yes. But here’s the thing. You can’t see that list. It just as well be as far from you as the east is from the west because you can’t see it through Jesus’s blood. I am redeemed. I don’t have anything to win or prove. It’s amazing.

Father, I don’t need to see the f*** you list I could develop for others any more than you need to see the one you have for me. When I see them–when I think of them–all I need to see is them through Jesus. As much as my sins can be as far as the east is from the west, so can their trespasses against me be from me. I am redeemed. They are redeemed. We are redeemed. Help me to truly forgive, and let that forgiveness–your forgiveness–enter the world, at least a little bit, through my life as it is submitted to you.

I pray all of this through the blood of Jesus,



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Fundraising Dinner

Dear God, I could go and try to find a scripture to go with what’s on my heart this morning, but the truth is that I just want to pray to you about the fundraising dinner tomorrow night for the nonprofit where I work. I didn’t sleep well last night. I think it was over worrying how it will go. When I was thinking about it and praying silently as I got ready for work this morning, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me that it isn’t about how much money we raise. It’s about how much glory you get and how we use the opportunity to bless others through their involvement in our patients’ lives.

So my prayer to you for tomorrow night is not about how much money we are going to raise. I have goals that I’ve put in the budget, but the truth is that the donations are not the end. They are the means. The end is people experiencing love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness, and self control through their participation in our work. The end is that people would see loving their neighbor in a different light. The means to get there is joyfully giving to your causes, whether it is our nonprofit or others. The means is to lay down our selfishness and our burdens, take up your cross and follow you. That’s what I hope our dinner can be about tomorrow night.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I offer you my worship this morning. Help me to give generously. Help me to understand what it means to really live the life you’re calling me to live. Help me to love my wife well. Help me to love my children well. Help me to love my family, friends, and neighbors well. I give you all of the glory for everything you are doing. I take none of it for myself. In fact, the more I can decrease over the next 48 hours the better. Be glorified, oh Lord.

I pray all of this under your authority and grace,



God Wins

Dear God, the other day I was writing down what I was thankful for to a friend and I found myself saying, “God wins!” It’s been a hard week of loss. It’s been a sad week. It’s been an absolutely tragic week for one family I know. So what did I mean by, “God wins!”

I think it starts with the idea that our human view often sees winning as a zero sum game. If I win, that means someone else has to lose. If I get elevated then someone else gets put under me. Yes, there are win/win situations, but in life the world sees winning as power, control, and, ultimately, happiness. “If I’m not winning then I’m not happy.”

Almost three years ago, in August 2020, Andy Stanley gave a sermon that really struck a chord with me. It was called “Not In It To Win It.”

It was about the political environment and how the electorate had become intent on winning at the other side’s expense, and how Christians were getting caught up in this worldly view of winning. He went on to describe what you mean by winning. He talked about Jesus heading to Jerusalem for what would be his beating, crucifixion and resurrection. To the world–especially before the Sunday resurrection–this looked like losing. To the disciples it looked like losing too. But in your calculus, everything happened the way it should happen so I could win.

My wife and I have a great sorrow in our own lives. It’s a situation we don’t understand. Frankly, it feels like losing. It feels like we have lost huge. But we were talking about it recently and wondering what kinds of people we would be right now without this “loss.” Who would we be? Would we be more judgmental of others? Would we be proud and haughty? Would we be as dependent upon you? Are you using this “losing” in not only our lives, but in the lives of those who are part of our sorrow as well? My hope is in the idea that you didn’t cause this pain, but you are certainly using it to form us all into who you long for us to be in you and for your purposes.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I pray that you will not let the pain and sorrow of this week be wasted. For everyone who has touched this story, heal them. Love them. Draw them into yourself. Comfort them. Grow them. Protect them. Protect marriages, siblings, friends, and extended family of those involved. Use this for your good in our community. Show me my role. Please, don’t let this be wasted.

I pray all of this in your holy name,



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The Christmas Story as Seen by Bono

The Christmas story has a crazy good plot with an even crazier premise – the idea goes, if there is a force of love and logic behind the universe, then how amazing would it be if that incomprehensible power chose to express itself as a child born in shit and straw poverty.Bono

Dear God, it really isn’t the plan I’d have come up with at all. In fact, I just don’t understand how you could have come up with it except that it must have been the only way. No, I’d have done it differently. I’m not sure how, but it would have been less loving, less sacrificial, and less vulnerable. I’d have put limits on how much I was willing to suffer for humankind. For someone like me.

The people then just wanted you to do what they needed in the moment–overthrow Rome. That would have been too short-sighted and limiting for what you needed to accomplish. Your plan was so rich and all-encompassing. It not only provided a path for all humanity to commune with you and worship you, but it also used Jesus’s example and teaching to show us how to live. And yes, he grew up poor too. That’s pretty interesting.

Father, I confess to you that my love has limits. My love for you, my wife, and my children has limits. I’m only capable of so much. I’m continuously amazed, however, at just how big my love for you, my wife, and my children is. It’s more than I could ever have imagined it could be. But seeing how richly you love, how willingly you sacrifice, and how vulnerably you entered the world makes me want to worship you all the more. I have nothing without you. Thank you.

I pray to you through the opportunity you grant me through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus,




The Next Generation

Dear God, I was reading Fred Smith’s blog post from yesterday and many thoughts came to mind. I would commend it to anyone. In it, he was describing how the Baby Boomer generation has responded to life through the decades and what kind of legacy it is currently leaving. Of course, things like this are always brushed with a broad stroke, and Fred would be the first to say that. In fact, he took time to talk about the “Boomers” who do not fit the stereotype, but the stereotype is there nonetheless.

One of my first thoughts is that the “Greatest Generation” is all but gone. Those that are still around are certainly weakened and their influence diminished. In my mind, the thing that defined the Greatest Generation the most was their struggle to survive. They survived the Great Depression. They survived World War II. They were forged by fire They were tempered. I’m not saying they were perfect. I’m not saying I idealize or idolize them. But I do think they had a strength as a group that grew through trial.

I also wondered if the disaster of the Vietnam War and its execution combined with the civil unrest with racism in the 60s didn’t create a new culture of protesting that has stuck with them and filtered down to the other generations today. I don’t know how many protests there were before the 1960s. I mean, I know there were protests before that. But did those that are in their 60s and 70s now embrace them in a new way as they expressed their anger and outrage? Did they see this as their best way to affect change? Their only way? Has this pattern of displaying anger to get your way somehow become baked into our political and other disagreements even today?

Incidentally, and speaking of Vietnam and the war there, I learned something interesting yesterday. There was a remarkable three-month period in 1973 that is fascinating. Richard Nixon was inaugurated for his second term on January 20. Lyndon Johnson, his predecessor and a president who expanded the war in Vietnam died on January 22. The U.S. signed a treaty to withdraw from South Vietnam on January 27. The U.S. removed the last of its troops on March 27. Finally, after the withdrawal, the South Vietnam president visited the US in April to seek assurances of financial and military aid from Nixon and pay respects at the LBJ’s grave.

But back on topic. This spirit of deciding that yelling is the best way to get your voice heard seems to have now won the day in our society. The idea that if I tell you how angry you’ve made me will get you to change course has drowned out constructive dialogue, and it seems to have seeped into Generation X (my generation) as well. I’m not saying the protests were wrong. I’m not saying the anger at the time was wrong. But the hammer of yelling, protesting, etc. seems to be the preferred tool for those who are trying to influence society or even their own communities or families now. I’ll admit that I’ve done it and used it too often. I’m sorry for that.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, help me to see that most things are not a nail, and my hammer is rarely the tool I need to address the issue in front of me. Help me to see that most issues are actually born of brokenness and broken people, and the tool I need to use more frequently is compassion and love. I need to listen better and talk less. I need to listen to you first. I need to hear your Holy Spirit in real time so that I can be who you need me to be. I need to worship you and till the soil of my heart. I need to be at peace knowing that there is actually very little that bothers me that I can affect, but there are all kinds of things I can do every day to allow your presence to enter the world through me. So forgive me for my belligerence, and let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven through my life.

I pray all of this as I worship you, the God of the universe,



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Dear God, someone called yesterday and asked that I teach a Sunday school lesson for their class at the Methodist church. It’s an interesting thing to be just a layman, non-Catholic attending Catholic church with my wife and asked to teach a Sunday school class at a Methodist church. I’m honored to be asked. But I definitely need to spend some time in prayer about this. As I’ve thought about this over the last 24 hours, I kind of came to the idea that I might want to focus on Mary’s (mother of Jesus) Easter nearly 2,000 years ago. Her journey as we know it from the New Testament started with her visit from an angel and ended with her being with the apostles after Jesus’s ascension. There are other stories about Mary, but I’m going to just stick with what we know through the New Testament.

The thing that comes to mind when I think of Mary is what I think of when I think of any parent in the Bible–really any parent in general: We have no idea how things will work out for our child(ren) or how you will be involved in their lives. In fact, as I write this my wife is watching Everything, Everywhere, all at Once with a friend in our living room. That movie is about a woman not understanding why her own life turned out the way it did and struggling with her relationships in all directions–father, husband, and daughter.

It makes me think about my own life. I can remember so vividly holding my children when they were born. Not knowing how their lives would turn out. Not having any idea how or if they would have a relationship with you. Not understanding, really, how to be what they needed. Nearly 27 years later, and I still feel that way. I have no idea what you’re up to in their lives or in mine.

Father, be with me as I spend the next week with Mary. Help me to hear your voice. Prepare my words for this group of people who might need to hear something a little different in the Easter story. Something that will bring them peace. Bring me healing through this process as well.

I pray this in gratitude for everything you do for me,



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Spiritual Discipline

Dear God, I was reading a marriage daily devotion this morning, and it had a line in it that caught my eye: “That’s what makes forgiveness an essential spiritual discipline.” (Gary Thomas, Simply Sacred, April 1) I appreciate the idea that forgiveness, especially in marriage, is important. I agree. And forgiveness can be really hard. It is especially hard when it has to be offered without being sought by the offender. I’m still trying to figure out how to work through that sometimes. What it means and what it doesn’t.

But what are other spiritual disciplines to which I should pay attention? Let me see what kind of a list I can come up with here (not in any specific order):

  • Contemplative Prayer
  • Scripture Study
  • Individual worship
  • Corporate worship
  • Community (one-on-one Christian relationships as well as group work)
  • Forgiveness
  • Outreach to neighbors (evangelism?)
  • Repentance
  • Striving for holiness
  • Loving neighbors
  • Giving (time and money)

Funny. This list reminds me of the checklist on the offertory envelopes in my Baptist church when I was a kid. It had things like:

  • Present
  • Bible brought
  • Bible daily read
  • Lesson studied
  • Giving
  • Worship attendance

I think this list was supposed to give me a framework for developing spiritual discipline. And the envelopes I had gave a number value for each item that was supposed to add up to 100. I don’t remember which ones were worth more points, but I know they weren’t equal. It was an interesting thing for me as an 8-year-old to see and think about.

Father, I have a Saturday before me. I have opportunities to do a lot of different things. I’m about to do a big bike ride. How will I use that time on the bike? I’ll have time later in the day to spend with my wife, contact friends, and then just some down time. How will I use that time as well? I can’t answer all of that now, but please help me to be mindful of some of these things as I think about disciplining myself to be transformed into the new creation you have for me to be.

I pray this under your authority,



“To Be Known” by Fred Smith

Dear God, I read Fred Smith’s blog post this morning called “To Be Known.” It is the story of a wealthy man, David Gundlach, who never seemed to find an identity during his life that brought him peace and joy.

Playing off of my prayer from yesterday, Fred described Mr. Gundlach as wanting to be known, but I think I see it as wanting to have meaning. Who am I? Why am I here? The answer can take any number of forms, but the “pursuit of happiness” baked into our U.S. Constitution might actually be part of the problem. It’s in our American DNA to think that “happiness” is something to be pursued, but I can’t think of any Bible stories that affirm that perspective. Jesus doesn’t call us to pursue happiness. Peter didn’t. Paul didn’t. John didn’t. The prophets in the Old Testament didn’t. You get my point. No, my life is all about loving you with everything I’ve got and then loving my neighbor as myself. When I do those two things then the the fruits of your Spirit start to grow in and out of me: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, self control, etc. If Mr. Gundlach had followed those two great commandments instead of pursuing happiness, then his life would have been completely different. Maybe he wouldn’t have made all of that money after all, but he might have found the joy he was seeking.

Father, whether it’s “meaning” or “happiness,” it’s always important for me to remember that neither can be found without you. In fact, I’m reminded of what Gary Thomas said at the Sacred Marriage seminar I attended in January (paraphrasing): “People pursue happiness through any number of efforts to make themselves feel good in the moment, but the only way to real happiness is to pursue holiness.” My your holiness be my goal today.

I pray this in the name of my Triune God,



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“On Call” by Gary Thomas

Excerpt from Simply Sacred, a collection of devotions by Gary Thomas

This was an interesting story from Gary Thomas about being impacted by an injustice but not 1.) knowing how to respond and 2.) not hearing a leading from you on how he himself should respond. There are times I feel the same way, such as the war in Ukraine. What am I personally supposed to do about that? If I’ve ever felt your nudge to move, I’ve tried to respond, but I really have nothing to offer except asking you to move.

Then there are the things that are potentially in the realm of me being able to address it, but I cannot do it all. You aren’t calling me to do it all. You didn’t call everyone to head up rebuilding Jerusalem–just Nehemiah. You’ve put me in a position of being able to do some things behind the scenes, and I’ve been able to even just jump right in and be part of getting something done. When I’ve done all of these things, I’ve tried to do them under your call and leadership, but sometimes I fail. Sometimes I act impetuously when you haven’t called me to act. And sometimes I miss the opportunity when you’ve prompted me to do something.

Father, help me to be intentional about everything I do and I don’t do. Help me to bring more and more to you in prayer. Help me to have serenity when there is something going on that bothers me that I cannot change. Don’t let me make that thing my idol. Help me to keep my eyes on you and trust you. When it’s time to act, give me courage to do it as unto you and not as unto man. And please give me wisdom and discernment as I listen for your voice.

I pray all of this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,



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