This last Sunday I had the privilege of teaching Abby and my Sunday school class. The passage we were going over was from Luke 18 where Jesus was telling a parable about the Pharisee and the Tax collector.

In those days, a Pharisee was a religious leader, a rule follower, the holier than thou pastors of the day that were well respected and revered in the Jewish community. They were the guys that took the ten commandments and made guardrails around them so that they wouldn't even get close to breaking the rules. 

Now take the exact opposite of that and you have a tax collector. They were jews themselves that would take advantage of their own countrymen by collecting the tax for Rome, but would over charge and keep the excess. They were rich, and they were morally bankrupt. 

Now the story Jesus tells is about these two men going to the temple to pray to God. I'm sure everyone already figured out the end of the story... or at least they thought.

The Pharisee stands before people and shares his resume of greatness. 

The Tax collector huddles far off and beats his chest not even looking to heaven. He knows he has nothing to bring to God or nothing he can do to justify himself before a holy righteous and just God.

Jesus says that the Tax collector is the one who left justified while the Pharisee does not.

What a shocking twist to a crowd thinking it should have been the other way around. 

I find that in my own life though, many times I find myself in the shoes of the pharisee, sharing my resume of good deals and all the reasons why I am righteous, when in reality, I am like a child trying to clean himself up after rolling in the mud. There is nothing that I can use to clean myself up with that isn't already as bad off as I am. 

We need Christ. He is our hope. A Holy Righteous and Just God needs a perfect sacrifice. I can not repay what is owed. That's where they heart of "Cling to the Cross" comes from. What many would consider Christianity's greatest downfall was in fact our greatest victory. Christ's death brought me life. Not because I deserved it, but because He gave it. 

This is the hope that we have. The light that we carry. 

My prayer for you, is that you can rest in this truth. You don't have to clean yourself up to come to God. He has offered a way that has nothing do to with your effort, just your acceptance. 

Play That Song On The Radio

It happened. It was kind of surreal actually. My song “Psalm 139” was set free on the radio waves this year. Faith and Friends Radio is a radio station that is located out of my hometown region back in Ohio. I got a chance to meet two of the radio personalities that I grew up listening to as a kid for years. That in and of itself was pretty crazy knowing that I’d heard their voices so much that they sounded like family, yet I’d never actually seen their faces. 

Bill and Melody are the two that I was so fortunate to meet through a mutual friend, Joy Chadwell. (She’s a singer and songwriter as well too and has amazing stuff, you should do yourself a favor and check her music out.) We met at Faith and Friends Radio Chocolate Festival in Dayton Ohio. I gave them a copy of my Traded It All CD so they could give it to Pete Vecchi who is the radio host for a program called Horizons. Horizons features local artist from the area so they can promote the local music. Which as a local musician I am a total fan of. 

Because I met them before the craziness of Christmas it was a while before they were able to work my song into the program. I am so grateful for them being able to give me the opportunity to share my music with their listeners. I am humbled that so many were able to hear something that up to that time only a few people at my gigs and at church were able to hear it. 

A personal thank you from me to all the people at Faith and Friends Radio. Please be sure to give them some love and thank them for supporting local musicians. Also, be sure to listen to them online.

Why Do I Write

I’ve been writing poems since I was a kid. I have an old notebook filled with really simple elementary rhymes about an old red truck (I listened to country growing up. Makes sense right?) and being on fire for God (classic youth group imagery right there). The more that I’ve written, especially this year, the more I’ve seen my reason for writing. I don’t know if I knew this what why I wrote, or if the meaning found me but here it is. 

It’s to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

After spending a month in a hospital with my daughter right after she was born my wife and I were confronted with a lot of hurt pain and joy. All mashed together. Some people were crying and celebrating because their kids were getting better. Others were there crying because their kids weren’t getting any better or had even left this world altogether. 

I’ve been to many funerals in my life, but I haven’t been to many hospitals. Funerals seem like the time where even though were sad and it’s hard, they are more removed from the fighting for their life than in hospitals. The realization that someone is here and then isn’t any longer is one of the rawest emotions that I truly struggle with every time I'm faced with it. 

For those people, I want to comfort them. They need our love. Our support.

I found myself turning off the radio after a recent friend lost their newborn daughter. Those songs just don’t work in a time like that. I wanted to be that voice, that friend that walked together with them through the pain. Through the unknown, having no answers for them that could take it away. I want my songs to find them and offer just that. A friendship that carries them through. 

In the same breath, I want to wake up those who are sleeping. I don’t want people to miss this life. We’ve only got one. What a shame to waste it on thinking that we can coast. To those, I hope my songs kick them off the couch and into action. To see life through someone else’s eyes. To engage the world in which they live. 

Like a hospital has doctors and nurses that see patients on the rise and the fall, I want the songs I write and sing to be there for all.