Dear Mr. Trump & others,

The time has come where I can no longer passively hope your political acumen shrivels up on its own, or where I try to pray you out of the White House. Trust me, I’ve tried that. I believe in a good, good God who is solemn and is not blinded by the election outcome this November. I believe He knows who the next leader of the free world is. BUT, let me be the first to say, I hope and pray that it is NOT you.

Today, as I heard the breaking news story about your conversations in 2005, I found myself feeling a lot of things. Anger. Disgust. Sadness. And most shockingly, I felt not shocked. You see, for the past two years I have listened to you demean people for their race, gender, economic status and religious affiliation. Each and every time, I’ve wondered “What could be worse than what he just said?” Well, I’m saddened to say that (un)shockingly there is nothing worse…because you said it in 2005.

I implore you to think about this: If I were to make the same drunk-with-power statements about your wife, your daughters, your granddaughters…what would your response be? Would it be to elect me as the President of the United States? Would you be angry? Would you be sad? Would you want to rip me to shreds? Or, would you awkwardly acknowledge that your daughter is beautiful and that if she wasn’t related to you, then hey…who knows what could happen?

Oh wait…you did do that one.

Aside from what should be the obvious – you bowing out of the presidential race – I want to ask you to do one thing: rethink your apology. In your first apology you scapegoated Bill Clinton for “way worse” comments and you apologized to “anyone who was offended.” In your next video statement, you apologize for the things you said and then start ranting about how Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary isn’t much better.

You see…the issue is this. Not once were you able to accept fault for raping women. Because yes, that’s what you did. Touching women, groping them, kissing them, doing whatever your penis and lips desire just because you’re rich and “they don’t stop you”…that’s rape. Your apologies shouldn’t be directed at those offended.

I’m offended…but you didn’t rape me. I’m offended…but it wasn’t my marriage you violated. I’m offended…but it wasn’t my daughter you groped. I’m offended…but it wasn’t my race or religion you demonized. I’m offended…but it wasn’t me who you’ve threatened to ship back to government corruption and institutionalized genocide. You see…your apologizes to me mean nothing.

If you had a shred of respect, an ounce of remorse, the slightest faint of humanity OR an inkling of an understanding of the Christian faith you profess…then you’d understand your apologies shouldn’t be made to those who are offended. Your apologies shouldn’t be ended with finger-pointing or trying to rally the angry troops. Your apologies should be to those who you have raped, the men whose marriages you disrespected, the fathers whose daughters you violated, and the immigrants and refugees who have chosen to fight for a better life versus fighting to live. Those are the people you owe an apology to. Not me.

And, to your supporters, I say this: now is the time to evaluate if you really want to morally and ethically align yourself with a  man who publicly admitted to rape, cast it aside because that was “like 11 years ago” and refuses to take any responsibility for his actions? Is this really how we “make America great again?”

To his Christian supporters, is this the man you want to choose eternal accountability for?

To Clinton supporters, I say this: now is NOT the time to escalate your political agenda. Now is the time to support, love and seek out the help, treatment and love for those wronged by people in power…including the ones hurt by your candidate. Pushing your agenda should play second…no…last fiddle to helping those in need.

Lastly, to the undecided voter and the conservative voter who can’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton, I say this: it is time to exercise your democracy.

I believe that the single greatest freedom we as American citizens get to experience is that of the ability to speak boldly into how our country is run. A vote cast is not a vote wasted. The only wasted vote are those gone unvoiced…or those towards a man sure to be impeached for moral & ethical failure in his 4 years of service.

Not sure who to vote for? Don’t vote for Trump. Don’t like Clinton either? Don’t vote for Clinton. See how beautiful democracy is? You get to pick! Like a third party candidate? Vote for him or her! See someone else who’s a better candidate that’s not on your ballot? Write them in.

Finally, I’ll close with this. I apologize to: women, Latin Americans, refugees, Muslims, and all the other people without the skin color, genitalia, power or riches deemed worthy of Donald Trump.

I should have spoken sooner. Please know that at the end of the day, my love for you is but a drop in an endless ocean of love that Jesus has for you. My love extends to the power of my words in a blog, but Jesus’ love for you conquered the grave, brings you to new life and offers a freedom greater than any vindication Donald Trump, myself or anyone else can offer you. May you find the love of the Savior a comfort in a time where you fear for your freedom, safety and well-being.




Porn is not “passé”

You may have heard that Playboy announced that beginning in 2016, they will no longer be publishing nude photos of women. In fact, in 2014, they began a “safe at work” campaign to rope back men in their 30’s-40’s who couldn’t look at their website while at work.

Here’s a few reasons they made their decision:

  1. At one point, in their “prime,” they were circulating nearly 7,000,000 copies of their magazine per month…now, they’re down to ‘only’ 800,000.
  2. After launching their “safe for work” strategy, they saw a 258% increase in unique visitors
  3. After launching their “safe for work” strategy, the average age of the consumer jumped down from 47 years old, to just over 30.
  4. After launching their “safe for work” strategy, they saw an uptick from 4 million users to over 16 million unique users to their website.

While many will celebrate a small victory, I cannot help but mourn.

Playboy’s CEO, Scott Flanders, had this to say to the New York Times, “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture [speaking of publishing nude photos of women].”

I mourn because this should speak very loudly and clearly to the way we, as a culture, view women and sexuality. It should also serve as a stark reminder of how consumeristic our world has become. We view women as an object of consumption, a solution to our desires, a thing to be had, and a body to own or access at any time we wish.

And now, it’s no longer “enough” that we objectify women with still-photography. Culture demands more and more. What’s next or what’s more? I fear the answer to that question. It’s time the church takes notice and stops making sexuality, nudity, women, and pornography such a taboo topic. After all, we’re about the only group of people that still think of those things in that light.

Hopefully, we as the Church, see this culture-defining moment for what it is. We cannot sweep sexuality under the rug anymore. We must address it not only because it becomes more and more present in our culture with each passing day, but because who knows where this obsession with consuming “every sex act imaginable” will lead us or who knows what it will do to the next generation of men and women.

Why #BlackLivesMatter

I’ll be the first to admit that I rolled my eyes at the trending #BlackLivesMatter. After all, don’t #AllLivesMatter?

Last week, God broke me of that ignorance.

It’s funny; I love John Legend and I love Common. Never would I have imagined Jesus using them as a tool to break me of my own previously-un-realized prejudices and ignorance.

“Now we right wrongs in history, no one can win the war individually;

It takes wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy

Welcome to the story we call victory,

Comin’ of the Lord, my eyes have seen the victory.” 

Listening to “Glory” in the car one day, those lines swept across my soul like a tidal wave.

I had just heard how some dear friends of mine had been exposed to what may or may not have been racism. Truthfully, I don’t know. I can only guess as to what these people’s intentions were in their actions towards my friends. But, it was the first time in my life that I realized, the African American community has to worry about that every. single. day.

My heart broke. Goosebumps broke out across my body. And I began to cry as I let John Legend & Common take me to church on I-25.

It was in that moment that God exposed in me some prejudices I may have had. Most of my life I’ve touted the flag of not being a racist. And truthfully, I still claim that. However, I realized that when I refer to my friends who are black as my “black friends,” it doesn’t send a message of acceptance, but one distancing myself by labeling my friends as different by the color of their skin.

I hide behind the fact that I have black friends, my cousin is married to a black man, I’ve always had celebrity crushes on black women (read as all of Destiney’s children & Aaliyah) as a way to not speak about the injustice they’ve experienced and as a way to boast to the world that I am in fact not a racist.

You see, #BlackLivesMatter because in our history as a country, no other race has experienced such extreme injustice at the hands of our system set up to protect us.

White people haven’t been counted as three fifths of a person because of the color of their skin. Black people have.

White people haven’t been told they couldn’t vote because of the color of their skin. Black people have.

White people haven’t been forced to ride in the back of a bus, use a different water fountain or bathroom, or sit in a different section of a restaurant because of the color of their skin. Black people have.

Jim Crow laws and desegregation aren’t something removed by centuries of time, but are still alive in the strength, exhaustion, grace, sadness and pride seen on the faces of black grandparents and great-grandparents everywhere.

These things aren’t generations and centuries removed from our history; they happened 50-60 years ago and live on as memories for many still alive today.

As I continue to process what God is teaching me in this, today this thought came across my mind:

If we, the white Church, continually ignore the pleas of and prejudices against those in need, then we cannot expect anyone to come to our aid when we inevitably face injustice and persecution of our own. We cannot selfishly expect any minority (black, woman, gay, immigrant, mentally ill, etc.) to come to our defense and to hear us out rationally, if we refuse to acknowledge the prejudices against them.

#BlackLivesMatter not because of the color of their skin or the color of my skin, but ultimately, because of the Gospel. If we, as a body of believers of all colors, aren’t willing to jump in the trenches of navigating the racial turmoil alive today, we are committing a great sin.

Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of all, uniting us with him in relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Jesus didn’t see race when he went to the cross, but he wasn’t ignorant to what today’s society would be like either. God is not surprised by the racial turmoil today; which means he’s also more than well prepared and equipped to lead us through it. We must congregationally seek His wisdom & counsel, then we must act.

While current systems set in place still oppress many, only one ‘system’ has been created for the freedom of all: the Church. We must seize this opportunity with humility, grace and courage. We must not rely on the government, police, schools or anyone or anything else to free others. We must be a place that all can find freedom in Christ, regardless of their race.

Until the Church accepts this responsibility wholeheartedly and we are willing to wade into the trenches, #BlackLivesMatter because they are the majority who recognize the sin of humanity while we turn a blind eye to it.

What’s Next?

I’m a sucker for a good story.

To Kill a Mockingbird. The Harry Potter Series. Shawshank Redemption. Gladiator. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (and Huckleberry Finn). The Great Gatsby. Kill Bill. Whiplash.

They’re all classics in my mind…and some of the greatest stories ever told.

However, one thing always bugs me about every single one of them. They end.

Like I said, I love a good story. But, when they end, I’m always left wanting more, needing to know what happens next. Seriously, I can’t be the only one who wonders what happens to Harry Potter and Co. after they stop the magical apocalypse. Sidenote: I don’t count that crappy epilogue that even the author hated.

Ironically, I find myself at the end of a magical apocalypse. Okay, not really. But I do find myself at the end of one book in life.

I say book, not chapter, because I’m finally done with my education (for the foreseeable future). I’ve thought about law school and pursuing a Ph. D., but then I researched how much they cost, then gave up on those dreams pretty quickly.

Instead, I find myself a Master of Missiology and Bachelor in Communication and wondering…what’s next? My story seems to just be beginning.

The thought terrifies me. I can’t skip ahead and read the end, knowing what to do, where to go, what job to have, or what dreams to pursue.

Instead, I’m overwhelmed with the options.

I could pursue church ministry, but I don’t know if that’s the plan God has for me.

I could stay in my job now, but I don’t know if that’s the plan God has for me.

I could move back to NC, but I don’t know if that’s the plan God has for me.

I could move overseas and be a missionary, but I don’t know if that’s the plan God has for me.

I could write a book, but I don’t know if that’s the plan God has for me…nor do I have the patience.

I could start a business, but I don’t know if that’s the plan God has for me.

I could pursue my JD or PhD, but I don’t know if that’s the plan God has for me.

I’ve seriously thought about all of them, but obviously, I have no idea what’s next. And that’s terrifying.

I’ve always been able to rely on one thing: there’s more education. I knew for years I was called to seminary. But, now I’m done with it and cannot help but wonder what the future holds.

I could spout out cheesy sayings like, I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. Or God’s timing is perfect. Or patience is a virtue. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I’ve never been a virtuous person. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe all of those things. I just don’t want to hear them.

A lot of people have asked me what’s next or what now. The honest answer is I have no idea.

I can rest in knowing that I was faithful to my call to seminary, and can have hope in knowing that I feel like God is at work and doing something. I just don’t know what it is yet.

All I know is that God has called me, and you, to join him in the greatest story ever told. We have the opportunity to be the leading cast in accomplishing Kingdom sized things.

While I don’t know specifically what’s in store for my future, I know that God has created me for His purpose, and my God doesn’t do things without reason.

I know I’m not the only person in a period of waiting. Perhaps there are those waiting to conceive a child, to break an addiction, to figure out their next job, to reconcile a broken relationship, to find a spouse, to buy a house, to graduate, to see what’s next in life, or to overcome cancer.

Waiting on what’s next isn’t always fun or easy, but I know that our God is sovereign, and that He is at work. I know that He has something in store for me. And you.

Until I figure out what that is, “I will wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord, more than the watchmen wait for morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning. ” (Ps 130:5-6)

I’ll also keep reading and devouring every story I can, knowing that God is still at work on what’s next in my story.

Why I left, then came back, to the Church.

I’ve read countless articles, chapters and discussions about why the millennial generation is leaving the Church. And, they’re right, millennials seem to be leaving the Church in droves.

Most of them say that my generation cares about whether or not our worship sets are big enough or acoustic enough. They say we care about too many social justice issues, the care of the planet, and sexual orientation more than we care about anything else.

While I won’t refute those arguments, I must say they’ve missed the mark about why the millennial generation is making an exodus from the Church.

For about a year, my wife and I left the Church. We were a part of a small, intimate congregation that cared more about relationships and being the Gospel than they did about worship sets and programs. That was extremely attractive to us. It wasn’t wrong for us to not want big band productions or to shun programs. At the time, it felt right and like God was calling us to that congregation.

I’ll never deny the fact that I feel like God put us in that church for a purpose. Today, I’m not 100% sure what that was, but I can honestly say that I don’t regret it. We ultimately left that church because we felt like the church wanted too much to NOT be something. They didn’t want to be about programs, worship sets, mass productions and corporate gatherings so bad that through an eventual lack of accountability and lack of structure, we felt like we were in the wrong place.

We didn’t leave that church because we wanted a young, married bible study or to be around people our age (we were one of the only couples in our 20’s). No, we left because we wanted more consistency and structure. We left because I felt like the church stopped being about the Gospel and more about NOT being something else.

When you’re in a church that’s all relationship based, that means feelings get hurt, harmful words and actions are exchanged and both parties are left jaded. That’s exactly what happened in this situation.

For a year after we left that church, our marriage and our faith was tested in such a way that I’m confident we’re still feeling the residual effects of that season in our lives. Personally, I’m much less likely to trust people or depend on a faith community to get me through those difficult times that are inevitable in life.

Ironically, as the Lord so often works, it was through a deep personal connection and relationship that Sara and I found our way back to the Church. This time, we’ve landed in what can only be described (compared to our last church, at least) as a mega-church. While I think the technical number for a church to be considered “mega” is 2,000, when you go from a 30-person church to a church of over 1,000 people, it seems pretty mega.

Truthfully, we were reluctant in rejoining the Church world. We didn’t want to get hurt again, and we didn’t want to bring a negative vibe to a body of believers. In fact, two of our closest friends told us that it was okay to NOT go to church for that very reason. If we were bitter and jaded, then that would taint every experience we had with a church. And that’s exactly what happened for a while.

But, through our patient friends, the Quattlebaums, we found our way back to a church setting. I will never understand the love and patience that they extended to us, but the Lord knew that He needed to restore mine and Sara’s faith in people before we set out to join a church again.

We’ve now been committed to the church we’re going to for over a year now. In large part because of the Quattlebaums, but also in large part to what this church stands for.

What became tiresome for me in the church world, and hearing conversations in seminary class, and reading all of those articles was this: too often I think the Church has tried TOO hard to NOT be something in an effort to appeal to my generation. Either the church isn’t going to be like those mega-churches, and it’s going to meet in a living room with fresh-roasted coffee; or, it’s going to NOT be the old fuddy dud church with an organ and have the loudest, best worship service; or, it’s not going to be ultra-conservative and “judgmental” and take a “all doors lead to Heaven” kind of philosophy.

Simply put, I find it offensive that so many leaders in the Church world today would reduce my interest in participating in church based on what music is played, what stance they take on gay marriage, what kind of coffee they provide or where they meet.

Our current church’s vision is simple, yet its the reason we stuck around: Get formed. Get fueled. Go change the world.

Yes, it’s a catchy tagline. But, it’s implemented in nearly every action the church takes. They are about changing the world, about being ambassadors of the Gospel, and about creating disciples. While my church’s vision is not unique to itself, it is one that I feel some churches miss the mark on.

Ultimately, if the Church wants to bring millenials back into the flock, they should start being about the Gospel. Period. It is attractive enough for anyone, my generation not being an exception.

The Gospel offers all the things we want: community, conviction, judgment, worship; a call to social justice, repentance, and participation. The Gospel, people, is all anyone needs to belong to the Church.

Sadly, many churches seem to be missing the mark on that. Fortunately, Sara and I have found a church that isn’t.

5 Takeaways: Week 5 Weigh In

Last week was hard, this week was worse. Here’s five takeaways I have from this week:

1. Convenience is overrated. – If I don’t make my breakfast and lunch the night before, I’m probably not going to wake up an extra 15 minutes early to make it the next morning. Which means, I’m stuck finding food while I’m at work. Which makes Wendy’s Frosty’s and French Fries all the more appetizing…merely for the fact that they’re just a few hundred yards outside of my office. That being said, the extra points they pack on aren’t worth the few bites of tasty bliss. I’m left pinching points when it comes to dinner (typically my heaviest meal) and often after a work out.

2. I run to eat. – Fact, if I run a solid 45 minutes or bike for an hour at the gym…I can earn a whole extra meal in points for the day or the week. Sorry, not sorry.

3. Sometimes, cheating is worth it. – This weekend marks the first weekend in over a month that my wife and I have had two consecutive days off together. It also marks the first time we’ve gone on a real date in who knows how long (I ashamedly take ownership over that one. Worst husband here). We went to see Once at DCPA and cashed in our The Cheesecake Factory gift-card. While I felt like I lost a few man points when I ordered up from the ‘Skinny-licious’ menu, every bite was worth it. Cheesecake and broadway were two great things about my week, but what they gave me was even better…rare and cherished time with the woman of my dreams who inspires me daily to be a better person.

4. Bromances are also worth it. – Friday night I went out with one of my closest friends, Jeremy Q. We hit up Rock Bottom Brewery, grabbed some coffee and saw Captain America unleash hell on Hydra. It was fantastic. Aside from the great food, brew, bean and flick…it was some much needed time with a brother who speaks wisdom and encouragement into my life in a way that few have before…He also challenges me and calls me out on when I’m being an idiot. I love that about him. He really is my brother-from-another-mother. And…splurging on the extra points to hang out with a guy like Jeremy was well worth it.

5. You win some, you lose some. – Except this week I didn’t. Not one pound found its way off of my body, but that’s okay. I didn’t gain any either, so I guess that’s a good thing. Besides, last week I got a notice from Weight Watchers that I was losing weight at an unhealthy rate and that I should have concerns on the effects it could have on my heart. Lord knows I don’t need any more stress on my heart. But, let’s be honest, how ironic would it be to have heart problems from trying to get rid of the problems on my heart, all 220 pounds of them?

Creating Counter-Culture: Week 4 Weigh In

This week has been an especially challenging one in terms of Operation: Banging Beach Bod

For starters, I had the very humbling realization I have the body of Mr. Potato Head: the extremities of a skinny person, but the body of a potato. 

Aside from the realization that I missed out on a lot of dough by being doughy in the Toy Story saga, I have been faced with the cold, hard truth of the fact that I’ve created a destructive culture for myself…one of stress-eating, tv-bingeing and more stress-eating. 

Simply put, when times get hard…I hit the pantry and cuddle up the couch. In retrospect, its a pretty cheap love affair. Instead of leaning into the arms of Jesus and my beautiful wife, I lean into the carbs of Chocolate Chex cereal, fast food and Asian take out. 

I’d like to say I’ll never hit up Chic-Fil-A or order Asian take out again, but that’d be a lie. 

What I can tell you is that this week has brought to light the need to create a counter-culture to the one I’ve spent decades creating for myself. I cannot drown my stress in potato chips, ice cream, spring rolls, Cherry Coke and Reeses anymore; not if I want to be healthier; not if I want to keep losing weight; not if I want to take care of my heart; not if I want to live. 

This week taught me the value of fighting through the stress; and to fight for the things that matter when the things that don’t matter are beating me to death. While I was not perfect, I didn’t (completely) succumb to the usual destructive culture of shoving whatever greasy, salty snack I can find down my throat. 

“‘For God so loved…that He gave,’ When God sacrificed His son, He was creating a whole new kind of culture of generosity.” – Joel Thomas.

I heard that this morning at church, and like a buzzing bee it’s been beating me in the brain all day. As I move forward from this week, hoping to create a counter-culture to stress eating, I must also consider the fact that I am not abiding in a culture created by the crucifixion of Jesus. 

When I let myself be weighed down by the (very normal) stress of work, family and life, I lose sight of the generosity given by Jesus on the cross to be alive…to be freed from life, death and sin…to be a new creation called to be free from worry and stress. ‘From His  fullness, we have received grace upon grace,’ and it’s time to start living like it. 

Week 4 Weight Loss: 2.3 pounds

Total Weight Loss: 14 pounds.