Storm Warnings, Nausea and Public Restrooms

It was a strange series of events that led to my seven year old and I huddled on the cold tile floor in front of a grimy toilet in a local Wal-Mart at 11:20pm.

Today began as the first day of our annual summer family vacation road trip. As with most of these types of trips, we were running way behind with final packing, cleaning, fixing various last minute home repairs, and loading the camper. Getting our family of six humans and one canine ready for vacation and out the door should require a team of NASA scientists. Truly it is mind numbing the amount of prep work it takes to get our family ready for a vacation.

Earlier in the week I looked at my wife and said, “I may need a vacation from getting ready for this vacation.”

Anyway, after roughly 483 trips in and out of the house to load all our “necessities” we were loaded up and on our way, only 4 hours past our goal departure time. Vacation here we come!

crazy packing

The first five hours of our trip would take us up through scenic eastern Wyoming. Or as I like to call it “the place dirt goes to retire.” Also, by a unique convergence of geography and gravitational pull combined with the summer solstice, no matter what direction we were going, I was always sitting directly in the sun. So although the rest of the car was a breezy 74 degrees, the left side of my flesh was bubbling somewhere around the surface temperature of Venus.

wyoming dirt

But even though the hair on my left arm was slowing combusting, all of us were in good spirits and excited to begin our vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Approaching Rapid City, we noticed an ominous storm cloud hovering over the city. After a quick internet weather check, we decided to loop around a different direction in order to avoid the inclement cell. It proved to be the right call.

As we pulled into the campground it was covered in a thick layer of hail, downed leaves and limbs lying everywhere. It had clearly been a nasty storm we missed by minutes. Campers were intensely checking their campers for damage and gathering up wind blown items.

As we set up camp our neighbor shared how the inch plus sized hail had blown out his sky lights and left rain flooding the inside of his camper. All around was a pervasive sense that everyone had just survived a scary event. This left my family and I feeling subdued as we finished setting up our camper.

Once everything was secured and squared away, we made the all-important decision on where to eat dinner. Arriving at the restaurant, we were all a little dazed from the 8+ hour drive. There’s something about a road trip that does mysterious things to your inner clock and digestive system. We were all hungry, yet also slightly incoherent. After mumbling something about burgers and nachos to our server we settled in to wait for the food to arrive. In the background were the obligatory flat panel TVs showing mildly interesting sporting events. All would have appear as normal if not for the Emergency Broadcast System cutting in and taking over all the TVs at once.

Through our road weary confusion we heard warnings of severe thunderstorms, over 70 mile per hour sustained winds, damaging hail, flash floods and instructions to seek cover and shelter. This new information immediately changed the tenor of our meal.

Not wanting to unsettle the kids, we did our best to purposely finish our meal and return to our campsite. Once in our camper we went about the normal business of brushing teeth, putting on “jammies” and snuggling in to sleeping bags.

With the kids down for the night, we checked my wife’s iPhone for the latest on the weather radar. It wasn’t good. An angry red and purple cell was steadily advancing toward our exact location. Having witnessed the aftermath of the earlier storm, all the hail and all the damage, we called an audible.

“Everybody get up! We’re going to make a quick trip to Wal-Mart.”

“Dad, what are you talking about? We’re tired and in our PJs.”

“No problem, kids. It will be fun. No one will notice. Hop out of your beds and get your shoes on quick!”

My wife and I kept assuring the kids that nothing was wrong and it was entirely normal to make a trip to Wally World with the whole family at 11pm. In retrospect, rather than coming across as calm and soothing, I think we landed somewhere around crazy and deranged.

We chose Wal-Mart for three reasons: it’s open 24 hours, it’s large and built with cement cinder blocks, and it’s on the other side of town.

rain parking lot

These all proved incredible handy once the storm hit. Though this particular Wal-Mart was of the “Super” variety, the intensity of the storm could be heard and felt throughout the cavernous isles. Primarily we stayed close to sporting goods and toys working to distract the kids from the maelstrom outside. We played catch with all sorts of balls. We played with super heroes, put on masks and rode bicycles. It was actually quite a hoot.

As the night progressed, the late hour and the emotions of the evening began to exact a toll on my seven-year-old son. His little body had had enough. With the sweet blue eyes of an angel he looked at me and said, “Daddy, I’m going to throw up.”

If you are new to the parenting game, allow me to dispense some advice. When regurgitation is mentioned, take it serious. You have nothing to lose with a trip to the bathroom, and so very much to gain. Seriously.

I scooped my little one up and off we went in search of the men’s room. Thankfully there are not many men in need of the facilities at an enormous retail store at 11:30pm on a Wednesday night. We quickly hustled into the first available stall and my dear son knelt before the bowl. In that moment I was particularly happy he was too young to have taken any classes in Bacteriology. As Scripture says, “knowledge puffs up…” and he didn’t need to puff up, he needed to throw up. So, ignorance was bliss!

Ten minutes went by and still no puking. My little red head was no longer kneeling, but now sitting and embracing the fixture. Tired of standing, I gathered in behind him on the floor. We sat like that for a while. Me gently rubbing his back and him quietly squeaking out a whimper or moan.

toilet bowl

I was so frustrated by my inability to make things better for him. All I wanted to do was fix what was making him sick.

At one point, the wave of nausea was especially strong and he softly said, “Daddy I’m scared.” I drew him closer, placed my hand on his head and said, “I know, honey. I’m right here with you.”

His reply will stay with me for years and years.

“I know Daddy. Thank you so much. Thank you for being with me. Will you pray to God for me?”

Wow. So amazing. So sweet and honest.

I replied, “Of course honey.” And right there, on the floor, in front of that toilet bowl, in a Wal-Mart in Rapid City, South Dakota at 11:40pm, my young son and I came before the Father’s throne.

I’ve been reflecting on that moment all day. My presence with my son had power in his life. In that moment, I didn’t fix his pain. I didn’t eliminate his suffering. Yet my presence meant the world to him. Being near, holding him close, and praying for him in the midst of his pain and discomfort made everything better.

This Father’s Day I encourage you to gather in around those God has entrusted you with. Draw near to your children. Put aside any pride and hold them close. If you are a “fixer” like me, stop. Instead take an intentional moment to see them, to pray with them. You have so much to gain, and so very little to lose.

It all worked out by the way. My little guy never threw up and was feeling better soon after our prayer. And the storm? The storm passed by our camper leaving only rain and a few more leaves. But the crazy story our family now has and the moments I had with my son made for a night I’ll always remember.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Never Crushed

In the next weeks and months you will begin to see changes here at Men Who Believe. Part of those changes will come in the form of the occasional guest writer. From the beginning it was never my intention to share only my voice. The goal has always been to bring together multiple voices from a variety of men who believe. This is an exciting season and I hope you will continue to walk with us along the way!

Today I want to introduce you to Brant Hansen ( He is a writer, radio host, dad and father. My good friend Lisa Williams (who has launched a great show at interviewed him today about his latest post entitled, “She Never Crushed Me”.  It is both a celebration of his 25 year marriage to his wife Carolyn and a reflection on the incredible high stakes of being “welded” to another person.

Here in its entirety is “She Never Crushed Me”, by Brant Hansen.

old hansen

So there we are, then and now. And yes, we were blurry. Those were blurry times. Everything was blurry in 1990. It was before we all switched to our HD selves in the 2000’s.

Marriage is hard. And if you’re paying attention, there’s a tip-off right at the start to let you know it’s going to be a challenge: They have you take solemn vows, in front of a crowd of witnesses, when you swear that you’re not just going to up and quit.

No matter what. Rich, poor, sick, healthy – whatever. “I promise not to quit this thing I’m starting.”

ProTip: Anything that starts like that?  – yeah, it’s going to be hard.

Timothy Keller writes that marriage is like putting two rocks in a bag, and shaking the bag. The rocks will knock into each other, and smooth each other out. There’s something to that metaphor. We’re not the same people we were 25 years ago. Not only are we less blurry, our character has changed.

I could write for days about this, but I’ll limit myself, in this blog, to just one thing I’m thankful for:

She never crushed me.

To be married is to be vulnerable. Carolyn knows me like no other person has ever, or will ever, know me. She found a quirky boy with some social issues, who’d never really had a girlfriend before, who wasn’t particularly sought after by other women, who certainly wasn’t well-off, and has never, ever been particularly confident.

And for 25 years, she’s told him he’s the most handsome man she knows, the smartest she’s ever met, the sweetest, the best father, the best provider… all that stuff. She’s never stopped encouraging me.

She could have crushed me. She never did. She just built me up.

I saw a study that showed men commonly struggle with believing that they are, at some level, frauds, and that they’ll be exposed for what they really are. I’m particularly given to this, I think. I don’t want to be fake, and my wife knows it. I never want to say anything on the radio, or write anything on this blog that Carolyn would not recognize as genuine.

We’ve argued hundreds (thousands?) of times, and she’s never gone for the jugular. She’s never called me a hypocrite. She’s never said I’m not respectable.

There are numerous ways I’m a failure as a man. I won’t go into them. But I can’t fix things, for instance. I don’t know much about cars. The last time I got on a motorcycle, I ran into a parked truck. I don’t hunt or fish and bring home meat and stuff. I know this seems silly, maybe, but she could easily make a slight comment about these things, and it would hurt. I might not act like it would, but it would.

She knows me best. To be married is to be vulnerable. She has only built me up. She could have crushed me.

God owns my very being, but He uses human hands to form it. To the extent that I am any blessing to anyone in public – any at all – it’s because of Carolyn. She’s made me think I have things worth saying. Whether I’m really all that she says she is doesn’t even matter. I believe she believes it.

You put two rocks in a bag, and you shake it for 25 years, and the rocks are different. They shape each other.

Jesus uses the term for “welded” when talking about man and woman in marriage. I just looked up “welding” on wikipedia, and the oldest kind is pretty simple: An outside energy is applied to two metals, they’re hammered together (ouch), and the result is stronger than the individual metals, themselves.

I’m stronger with her.

She could’ve crushed me.

She never did.


Thank you Brant Hansen for allowing us to repost this great piece. And a shout out to Lisa Williams for making the connection!

Being shaped by another person is often painful and intense. But the results can be profound and beautiful.

Owning Your Mistakes


The past few weeks of Sports Radio have been awash in all things deflated. It has been fascinating to follow. I know more about p.s.i., atmospheric game time conditions, needles, and grown men who use the moniker “the deflator” than I ever thought I would. Seriously. It is amazing the things in America we spend our time discussing.

It’s important to disclose that I grew up in Indiana and have now lived in Denver, Colorado for over 10 total years. Therefore it should come as no surprise that my two favorite NFL teams are the Colts and the Broncos. So when air was taken out of the Patriot’s sails recently, my response was not entirely objective. That said, there seems to be at least one point that most of the talking heads agree upon. If Tom Brady would have come out in that infamous January press conference and simply admitted to a base level of chicanery while asking for forgiveness amid promises of future rule following, the story would have been dead in the water. We don’t expect our sports heroes to be perfect. But we do ask that they be honest.

Even a rudimentary reading of the released text messages among Patriot’s staff reveals significant discrepancies in Mr. Brady’s story. His efforts to obfuscate and save face may end up costing him a four game suspension, and the Patriot’s organization $1 million plus future draft picks. To those of you unfamiliar with the NFL, these are significant penalties with potentially long ranging impacts. All of which could have been avoided by a leader stepping forward and owning a mistake.

All of us make mistakes. What separates great men and women from others is not a lack of mistakes. The greatest of us, the truest leaders among us, own their mistakes and doggedly seek to learn from them. This is a concept I desperately want my kids to learn.

I have four children. Three boys and one girl. They are 7, 10, 10 and almost 12. It is a daily honor and blessing to raise them. My relationship with each of them is not perfect, but thus far, we have created an environment that fosters open, honest and regular communication. Our conversations range from Legos, to superheroes, from “maxi-dresses” to human anatomy. We cover the gamut.

One topic we revisit often is this idea of “owning your mistakes.” We regularly remind the kids that we do not expect them to be perfect. Mistakes are going to happen. They are going to make wrong choices from time to time. The key is not to shoot for perfection. The goal is to own your mistakes when you make them.

When we own our mistakes:

  • We cut the ropes of blame that seek to pull us toward victimhood.
  • We bring our choices out of the dark and into the light of honest evaluation.
  • We embrace the humility necessary to become our best selves.
  • We affirm the hurt we’ve caused in others.

You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them. Proverbs 28:13

It has taken me years to learn this lesson. Much of my youth was spent trying to deflect attention away from my mistakes. I expended so much energy convincing others I had the best intentions, or they just didn’t understand, or how they were just plain wrong in their assessment of my actions. Energy better spent leaning into criticism, admitting my short-comings and striving forward to better become the man God created me to be.

Questions for reflection:

What are some mistakes you need to own?

Who do you need to own them with?

How will owning a mistake draw you closer to God and closer to His best for you?


Specific prayer


Prayer is often a difficult thing for me to write about. Though I firmly and adamantly believe in the power of prayer, it is tricky to discuss because I never want to give the impression that God is a vending machine or that our prayers must meet some imagined formulaic construct.  That said, I want to share an article I recently included in the most recent newsletter for A Chosen Generation. I hope this encourages you and draws you closer to the heart of the Father.

Last Thursday morning I woke up with three heavy burdens: 1 – we were waiting on tests to confirm or deny that my daughter had whoopping cough, 2 – as my kids get older I desperately want them to understand the power and purpose of their faith, and, 3 – I was asking God for an opportunity to share his love and kindness to others.

These were not “earth shaking prayers”, but I felt an unusual urgency and connection to each of them. The Holy Spirit was clear that I needed to bring each concern to his throne. Before tossing the covers back, and rolling out of bed, I did my best to still my heart and mind and direct my thoughts to the Father.

Later that day, I was busily moving things about my new office, when a young man and middle-aged woman came walking in off the street. They were selling homemade loafs of bread to raise money for a local non-profit.  I didn’t have any cash or checks on hand but I asked if I could pray for them. They were each noticeably taken aback. After a beat to let the idea sink in, the young man said, “Just prayer for general encouragement would be fine.” I said, “I’ll certainly do that, but I’m a believer in specific prayer. What specifically can I pray for each of you?”

Another beat…

He replied, “Well, I’m still getting over the effects of chemo; so you could pray for that.” I turned to the woman and asked, “How about for you?” She turned her face down and quietly said, “My rheumatoid arthritis is so painful all the time.”

“Let’s pray then.” I replied.

So, in my office these two strangers and I formed a circle, held hands and offered those things to our Father. When I had finished praying, the young man held onto my hand and asked how he could pray for me. I told him about my daughter’s possible whooping cough and would he pray that we get good news from the doctor today. He smiled and bowed his head.

What came next was one of the most passionate and simple prayers I’ve heard. This young man prayed over my daughter, my family and me with conviction and assurance. It was a uniquely holy moment in an otherwise ordinary day. The prayers ended, we each hugged, smiled and said we hoped to see one another again.

prayer circle

As my day went on, I returned again and again to that moment. Those simple prayers in my office were such a blessing and encouragement.

Later that night, my four kids and I were gathered in our family room. My wife had an event she needed to attend, so it was just the five of us. We went around the room (as is our tradition) telling our “highs and lows” from the day. When it was my daughter’s turn she said her high was when the doctor called and confirmed that she did not have whoopping cough (Yay!). It was the first time I had heard the results. Immediately I was drawn back to the powerful prayers of the young man in my office. I leaned into my daughter and asked what time of day it was that we heard from the nurse. She said, “Just before lunch, dad.”

This was roughly the same time as the impromptu prayer circle in my office.

I spent the next several minutes telling the story to all of them. As I spoke, I realized that each of my prayers from the morning had been answered specifically.

Bella was whooping cough free, my kids saw in a fresh light the power of faith in action and I was given the gift of sharing the love of Christ with others. Wow.

Certainly not every day is like that. It is rare that one day brings together all those opportunities and answers. Yet, it remains a day worth celebrating. A day to be reminded that God hears us, knows us, and loves us personally.

God doesn’t love equally

Up until this past week of crazy cold temperatures, the fall has been amazing in Colorado. Most weather forecasts could be summed up as, “beautiful, with a 100% chance of lovely in the afternoon.” This provided great late day opportunities for long thoughtful runs through the turning leaves.


During one such run last week, I was wrestling with God on a variety of issues. The conversation began with work related issues, then progressed into thoughts on how to care for and support my wife, then landed on discussing my desire to better love each of my four children. As I ran and sweat, I poured out my heart to the Father.

I shared how overwhelmed I often feel at daily trying to provide emotional stability, relational connection, spiritual foundation and mental stimulation for each of my kids. So often I feel like I am missing the mark. So often I feel less than adequate. It was in actuality a very sweet, honest and tender moment with Jesus. Step after step, over small bridges and past grazing pastures, God listened intently to my struggles and questionings. Eventually, as I neared my turn-around-point, my heart exclaimed, “God, I don’t know how to love everyone equally!”

This is when He chimed in.

God’s still, small voice, whispered that my premise was faulty. He had not asked me to love others equally. In fact, to try and love others equally misses the point of love entirely. Rather than meeting people individually at their unique points of need, we lower the “love bar” to slightly above neutral. The lower bar becomes a manageable standard for our fragile psyches, but it doesn’t allow for the extravagant love of God to flow through us.

God went further still. He explained that He doesn’t love people equally. That would be too easy. He loves people individually. For who they are, right where they are. Immediately He reminded me of a scene from my life a few years ago.

As a toddler, our youngest experienced several bouts of extreme asthma. His blood oxygen levels would drop precipitously, his lips turned blue and his chest would retract. Breathing was painful for him and painful to watch. Several times we ended up calling 911. It was a scary couple weeks and months. At night, my wife and I stretched out a sleeping bag next to his bed so we could lie next to him and listen for his breathing. As I recalled those scenes, God’s Spirit asked me, “When you were at the food of Zachary’s bed, were you loving your other children less?” The answer was, of course, no. He continued, “That’s right. You loved each of your children individually, at their unique points of need. That is how I love you.”

Creek side

His next question literally stopped me in my tracks. “Can you love others like that?” I stopped next to the small creek I had been running along. Can I love others individually? Can I consistently love others at the intersection of their specific circumstances? Can I do that with my children? My wife? My co-workers? My neighbors? The elderly man that relishes sharing his stories more than getting to the point? The teenager that acts loud and obnoxious because they don’t understand how they fit in the world? The homeless person whose overwhelming practical needs make me uncomfortable? The small child who only wants someone to laugh with them? The socially awkward divorced guy that is drowning in debt and regret? Rather than trying to love them all the same, can I love them all for who they are and where they are in their journey through life?

That’s a huge question. Yet in that moment, with the Spirit standing strong and still beside me, I knew it was a challenge worth tackling.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

– God (Jeremiah 31:3)

Fighting the wind


I love to run. It is my time alone with Jesus. Running is where I wrestle through the hurts and celebrate the wins with God. My wife can tell if I haven’t ran recently. My fuse is shorter, my sleep is restless and my typical optimism takes a hit. During times like these it is not uncommon for her to say, “You should go for a run.”

A little over two years ago I made the decision to train for my first marathon. Though I had ran competitively since high school, the most I had ran was one 16 miler that was more the result of getting lost than intentionally setting out for a big mileage day. Yet I was determined to force my body into the shape necessary to complete the 26.2 miles.

The training was not complicated and relatively easy to wrap my head around. I enjoyed pushing myself physically. The first phase of the training mostly involved running more days than not in a week while steadily increasing mileage. Simple. Straight forward.

Simple that is, until I hit a weekly total of about 30 miles. From there things got exponentially harder. Time became a big factor. I had a full time job, four great kids to parent and a wife to love and serve. I was “running” out of time to run. There was no easy answer. To push through to 40 miles I needed to start running at times that we’re not my favorite. Early mornings and late night runs after 10pm. I tossed work cloths in a backpack a couple times and ran to work. (Definitely not the freshest way to begin the work day.)

My least favorite part of training though were those days when I attempted to run on a hill that also offered a stiff head wind. Those runs sucked. No amount of cleaner form, shorter stride or increased cadence could alleviate the in-your-face challenge. It didn’t matter if I had the newest minimalist, zero drop, anatomically corrected and ridiculously priced running shoes, the hill and the wind didn’t care.


Runs like that remind me of the battle we as men wage against our culture. A culture filled with rampant temptations of lust, immorality and pornography. So often the run against our sinful nature feels too steep and the headwind too strong to fight against. And although we keep, “running the race marked out before us”, our culture and our enemy will never alleviate the in-your-face challenge, because they don’t care. It is a battle the Enemy is determined to win.

However, just as I had to have a training plan to successfully complete a marathon, we must also have a plan to win this battle. Here are the simple and consistent steps that form my plan for overcoming what the Enemy and culture throw my way.

  1. A commitment to daily and specific prayer.

My connection to Jesus is the single greatest determination of my success as a man of God. Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” I have already lost if I haven’t begun the day connected to the King.

Ask for help in the specific ways that you may struggle. Yes, He already knows, but again, it’s that connection to Jesus that makes all the difference.

  1. Keep a short account with my wife.

Next to Jesus, my wife is my greatest support. We are a team, and because we are one, there is nobody better suited to pray for me.She keeps me accountable to my commitment to serve, honor and love her. We pray together and are committed to staying transparent in our successes and failures.

  1. Maintain honest accountability with trusted men.

I have chosen these men wisely. We share common values and a common commitment. More than committed to each other, we are committed to each other’s families. The accountability I share with them is not only for my benefit but for the protection and future of my family.

  1. Eliminate the obvious temptations.

I cannot remove every temptation, but I can do my best to be rid of the “usual suspects”.

A. My wife has my Facebook password and is free to login regularly.

B. I do not maintain virtual relationships with former girlfriends.

C. My wife has the code on all devices with internet access.

* No loading apps

* No in-app purchases

* No videos beyond TV-14 or PG-13

* No explicit song, audio or iBook content

* No explicit internet content

        D. I have loaded X3 Watch (a free internet accountability software) on my work laptop, home desktop, and iPhone.

        E. I do not schedule private meetings with women.

        F. When I travel, I stay connected to my wife as well as one or more of my accountability men.

        G. Typically I do not watch “R” rated movies.  There are some exceptions, but not many.

        H. My wife and I have one shared bank account.

These four points have become my simple and consistent training regimen to battle against the constant onslaught of our culture. For some it may seem extreme. Yet on days when the battle turns into an uphill slog with 50 mile an hour headwinds, these four disciplines enable me to do the hard work necessary to win the day. Not one of them is a “silver bullet”, or particularly fancy. They are simply the tools that help me fight the wind, for myself, my wife, my kids and my testimony for my Savior.


Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (NIV)

The new you

What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

I cannot begin to overemphasize the importance of this verse.  It holds the key to the hidden victory of sin in our lives.  The Greek word that we translate as “new” is, kainos and it has two layers of meaning.

The first is in regards to form.  The mistake I’ve made is to believe that God’s desire is to “remodel” me.


That somehow as he enters my heart and mind, he will come in and give me some form of “extreme makeover”.  He may even need to go so far as to strip things down to the studs, but ultimately it will still be me that is left. Just a better, cleaner and nicer me.  Believing this is a mistake.  Kainos does not mean to remodel, its first meaning is: to be wholly unused, fresh, recently made.

Like warm fresh bread.


I don’t go to my local bakery and hand them an old, mildewed loaf and wait while they mash it up, reheat it and hand it back to me.  That would be gross.  No, I walk in to the Great Harvest Bakery around the corner from my office, inhale the wonderful aromas and plop down my cash for a warm, new and entirely fresh loaf of bread.

God is not in the, “fix and flip” business.  He is in the scape it away and start new from scratch using the best ingredients business.  He does not want to improve me, he wants to destroy the old me utterly and in its place establish something new and wonderful. Believing this is where the victory over sin begins.  Because I have mistakenly believed that God just wanted to spruce the current me up, I find it almost impossible to believe then that I can truly be free from past and present sins.  On some level I’ve made an unconscious agreement that, “Yeah, God wants to do a work in me, but I know me, and there is only so far he can go with me.”  In keeping with the construction metaphor, it’s like saying I’m a two-bedroom ranch and although I “know” that God wants me to be a four bedroom two story, I just don’t believe its possible.  I don’t believe because I’m focused on the structure that has historically been occupying my “space”.

“He can’t really make me new, because what I’ve been is all He has to work with.”

Wrong belief.

The verse says, “they are not the same anymore.”  Again, the literal translation is to say, “they have perished.”  They have been utterly destroyed.  God is not attempting to remake me from the left overs of what was before.  Absolutely not! He is creating a new me fresh, from scratch if you will.  My form—in God’s eyes—will be completely new and unused.

The second meaning of kainos is in regards to substance.  It means literally that what is left after my recreation is unprecedented, unheard of, and uncommon.  Kainos means that my new self is something the world and I have never seen before.  And again there is victory in this truth.  So often, my sins entrap me because I know what I’ve done before.  Satan and my flesh use my past to entrap, enslave and determine my future.

Wrong belief.

But, if the new me is truly without precedence, then I am free from my chains to past habits. I have witnessed the old me sin time and time again, but God says that me is gone.  What is left is novel.  It is new.  It is capable of greater faithfulness, love, and obedience. Literally a “new life has begun!”

How about you?  Have you been living under the mistaken belief that you are God’s remodeling project.  Do you find yourself falling into the same sin and repentance patterns because if your honest with yourself, you don’t believe you can be any different?

If that is you, then stop.  Pray for God to renew your mind.  Pray that He will root out the pervasive infection of misbelief.  Pray that He will reveal to you the wholly new, fresh and unprecedented creation that you are today.

If I don’t believe I’m new, then I can’t believe I can ever be more than what I’ve always been.  A new man can be free.  The old me will only ever be a slave.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NAS


Boo Birds

The home crowd at this past weekend’s Bronco game booed as Peyton Manning took a knee and trotted off the field.  Was it because Denver had not played up to their ability in the first half?  Possibly.  Was it because the site of Peyton taking a knee with time on the clock reminds them of a similar knee taken during a cold day in January against the Baltimore Ravens?  Perhaps.  Was it because the Broncos were losing?  No.  That’s the troubling part.  The Broncos were winning. 

Now, don’t misunderstand me.  They were only winning by two points against arguably the worst team in the NFL (although a strong argument could be made for the New York Giants).  They had not played particularly well while conversely the Jaguars had been busy throwing everything they could at the Broncos.  But, booing your team for a winning effort?  It smacks of what has become so symptomatic in our culture. 

“What have you done for me lately?”

This is the question and mentality of our immediate gratification, get it now, do it now, give it to me now, culture.  We don’t want to succeed, we want to dominate.

Conversations this week among Denver fans have focused on their lackluster performance, Manning’s fumbles and the porous defense.  True, last Sunday was not the Broncos best game.  They did however still manage to win while scoring 35 points.  To put this in perspective understand that through the first 6 games of the season, only 10 out of the 32 teams in the NFL have even scored 35 points in a game.

There are many things that bother me about the boos.  Maybe it’s the lack of class it displays.  Or the damage it does to the tenuous fan/team relationship.  Mostly though it feels like a further example of the lack of maturity displayed by the general populace.  Which takes me to the question of how we as adults are reproducing our values in the next generation. 

Are we communicating to the next generation that there is value in believing in someone who doesn’t meet your expectations?  Or are we giving them the option of bailing when things get tough?  Or when things aren’t going as planned?  Is perfection the only standard?

Have we become addicted as a culture to the un-reality of augmented, false excellence?  Or are we as men communicating that the true fan, the true believer, the true friend, the true partner sticks by through even the worst days of “under-performing?”

Check out the link and wrestle with how God values the “under performer”.

Romans 5:1-9



My daughter’s request

The other day my eight-year-old daughter literally sat me down to have a Daddy/Daughter heart-to-heart.  Understand that I am very close with my sweet Bella.  Also understand that at eight, she often has the insight and conviction of a passionate college graduate.

“Dad, you work all day, get home, eat some food, then go back on your phone and computer and work some more.  That is not fair.  You need to play more with us kids.  Sometimes I want to pour hot coffee over your phone and computer.”


Wow.  Ouch.

Bella is the truth teller in our family and the truth hurt.  I looked into the sweet brown eyes of my precious daughter and offered the only response that made sense.

“You’re right Bella.  That is not fair.  Thank you for caring enough to speak up and share your heart.  I will try harder to protect our family time.”

That was not good enough though.  “Try”, was not going to cut it.

“I need you to put your phone in the cradle when you get home and leave it there until after we are in bed.  And I don’t want to see you open your computer while we are still up.”

I know what you are thinking, if only she felt free to speak her mind?  Right?

She is an incredibly intelligent and insightful little girl, and I have learned that my children are a terrific barometer of our family’s health.  She was not being disrespectful or unreasonable.  She was being honest.

My guess is many of our children can relate to Bella.  None of us set out to ignore or minimize our children.  We (usually) don’t plan to remain plugged in to our jobs.  It just sort of happens.  As one of my mentors says, “Too many of us try to squeeze 36 into 24.”  The westernized pressure for “faster, bigger, more, more, more” pushes many of us to tear down healthy boundaries around our families.  We all suffer for it.

Here are some practical steps my wife and I have begun to implement in light of Bella’s reprimand.

1.  Phones and computers stay off until after the kids are in bed.

2.  Phones and computers only come on again if my wife and I both agree.

  • Sometimes there may be a deadline that must be addressed (be careful though how often you allow deadlines to dictate actions within your home.
  • Don’t get sucked into the social media black hole after the kids do go to bed.
  • Set an overall limit to all your gaming, Facebooking, texting, emailing, etc., otherwise you will end up with your spouse telling you the same thing Bella told me.  Not good.

3.  Play with your kids!

  • Throw the football, frisbee, baseball
  • Pull out some board games
  • Play cards
  • Wrestle



None of this is rocket science.  Ultimately it comes down to intentional choices we make as fathers.

Do we want the image of our faces lit by the artificial light of an electronic device to be the primary image our kids have of their dad during childhood?  Of course not.  My prayer is that this resonates with you and that you will join me in making course corrections that will pay dividends for years to come.

Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

The Big Three

Julie and I recently purchased a new bunk bed for our oldest two boys.  In the interest of full disclosure…it is the first new bed that they have ever had.  Also, their previous “hand-me-down” bed had broken several months ago and our oldest has been sleeping with his mattress on the floor since.  Needless to say, it was time for a new one.

If you were to spend much time in my house, you would learn that:

  1. I’m not terribly handy.
  2. I want desperately to appear handy around my children.
  3. Missing pieces from “assembly required” items gives me brain damage (see points A and B).

Therefore it was with extreme frustration that I discovered that a crucial screw was missing from the new bunk bed.  I had torn through all the packaging, retraced my steps and exhaled mightily over and over again.  Yet, no screw was presenting itself.  I was beginning to spiral down toward guttural incoherent growling when my sweet eight-year-old daughter grabbed my attention and said in the simplest and sweetest of voices, “Well, I guess we need to pray and ask Jesus to find it for us.”

I would like to say that I immediately pulled myself out of the funk I was descending into, that I recognized a wonderful moment of spiritual intergenerational modeling and that I gleefully dropped to one knee and prayed fervently for Jesus to provide.  That was not the case.  It took great intestinal fortitude to refrain from openly growling at my innocent daughter.  Yet, more to her credit than mine, I managed to squeeze out, “Sure Bella.  Lets do that.”  My prayer was not powerful.  It was not passionate.  Nor was it expectant.  It was obligatory.  In all honesty, it was done mostly to placate my daughter.

Then we found the screw.

Not more than two minutes later did the solution present itself.  I found the screw buried under papers I was certain I had checked under previously.  Within minutes after that, we had the bed completed and my wife was busily arranging blankets on the boy’s new beds.

Later that night, as I tucked Bella in, we talked about how great it was that God answered our prayer.

Here is the thing—Bella’s prayer was powerful.  It was passionate.  And most importantly, it was expectant.  It is the only way Bella knows how to pray.  Luckily, she has not learned otherwise.  She is quickly becoming the prayer warrior of our family.  Whatever the issue or need, she takes it to Jesus; assuming He will answer and provide.  She does not get held up by the esoteric arguments about Free Will versus Determinism.  There are no existential wrestling’s with the sovereignty of God.  It is simple for her.

She loves Jesus.

She knows Jesus loves her.

Therefore, she expects Him to answer.

I smile big and broad as I write this.  My kids teach me so much more than I teach them some days.  How different might my prayer life be if I condensed things down to Bella’s three points?

I love Jesus.

He loves me.

Therefore I expect Him to answer.

God is not a cosmic vending machine.  He is not waiting to pump out blessings if we pump in prayers.  Yet it is clear to me that He will most often go where He is expected.

Are you praying expecting God to answer?  Or have your prayers turned into unrighteous obligation?  If so, revisit Bella’s big three:

You love Jesus.

He loves you.

Therefore you can expect Him to answer.

Joel Thomas