Beauty Writing & Poetry

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Things are getting ugly. No, I’m not talking about the political season, although the statement certainly could apply to our political culture. When I say things are getting ugly, I mean everything. I define ugly as the absence of beauty. It is not that beauty is not around, it is more that it has been diminished, ignored, and overlooked. It seems as if the average American will choose almost anything over the truly beautiful – that which is transcendent.

Violence is in.
Aggression is in.
Winning is in.
Succeeding is in.
Easy and cheap escapism is in.
Riches and materialism are in.
Ten easy steps to accomplish almost anything or become almost anyone is in.

Beauty and transcendence? Not so much.
I am growing fearful that we have become so dumbed down, so uncultured as a society that we no longer have any idea what is truly beautiful.

Part of the problem is that, in many ways, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” as the saying goes. However, there are some things that apply to beausty that are eternal and true. Manly we know that beauty touches the human heart and moves the human soul. There is an intangible aspect to it, but there is no doubt when one has encountered it. They are moved. They are changed. They, in some sense, have encountered that which is transcendent – a reality that is beyond themselves and is … well, beautiful.

Beauty does not inflict harm through violence, and it does not glorify it. Beauty does not destroy others. It does not jocky for advancement. It does not escape but rather seeks out the best of ourselves and celebrates it. It is much more interested in feeling more, experiencing more, and encountering more than it is in acquiring. Beauty is certainly not simplistic and will never be defined in 10 easy steps.

While “Ten Easy Steps to (fill in the blank)” may sell books, fill seminars and increase blog traffic, they rarely bring us into contact with that which last and moves us beyond ourselves. While contreate foundations may make us feel temporarly safe, they will never enable us to fly.

I have spent a lifetime seeking, reading, learning, hearing, teaching and proclaiming answers and if I am honest the result has been disappointing. Answers aren’t all they are cracked up to be. I’ll take beauty. Matthew Arnold says that “Not deep the poet sees, but wide.” While beauty may not be terrible pragmatic, it does open us to the possibilities that dreams open up within us.

While living a life committed to beauty, art, and transcendence my be countercultural in a society that values pragmatism over the simplicity of being, it is worth the effort.

One of the things I love about where I live in Colorado is that the sky is so often clear. I love to sit in my swing or lay in my hammock and star up to the stars at night. I can not define what occurs but something good happens deep within my soul. The stars I see on the evenings when I take time to look at them accomplish no purpose, but to exist and to be encountered by a man laying in a hammock whose soul seeks that which is beautiful.

That is why I hang beautiful art in my home and listen to Ludovico Einaudi’s “Nuvole Bianche” while I write. It is why, after 35 years I still listen to Dave Gruisin’s “On Golden Pond” and it is a fresh as the day I first heard it. It is why I will read Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” or John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” again for the fifth and sixth time but have promised to never read another “leadership” book as long as I live.  It is why “The Mission” will beat out a super hero movie for as long as I live.

It is why I would rather be a writer than a proclaimer and why I would rather be a poet than professor.

A Poem for Autumn

After Apple Picking by Robert Frost

63855a7bb633cf36b793c3b4015aace5 A Poem for Autumn

MY long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.

Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.

But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.

For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

The Day That Laughter Died

Robin Williams The Day That Laughter Died

Robin Williams 1951-2014

While in the midst of writing another blog piece on a suicide, the news of Robin Williams arrived upon my computer screen. The first column will come later because everyone’s mind is on this man who by so many accounts was a gentle, compassionate, sensitive soul.  August 11, 2014 will be remembered as the day that laughter died.

The shock of William’s death is that we thought we knew him and discovered we did not.  That is always the shock of suicide. It leaves so many questions.  However, in Williams’ case the initial shock was compounded by the undisputable reality that he brought so much joy and insight into our lives. He lightened our journey by sharing his gifts. How could one with so much life choose to die? Questions – So many questions?

Robin Williams was not alone in his suffering – in his despair – in his disease of depression. There are Robin Williams’ all around us. We should not be as surprised as we are when something like Williams’ death occurs. The truth is none of us are truly known to any other. We have become a society of mask wearers, and a large portion of those masks are worn to hide mental illness.

I have no idea why there is such a stigma to diseases of the mind. I have no idea why we spiritualize depression, but not cancer or why we believe depression can be cured with a motivational speech, but cancer needs millions of dollars in research along with months, perhaps even years, of treatment.

There are those in your life whom you love deeply, but they hide their biggest struggle from you. They have fought it for years. At times it has taken every ounce of courage and fortitude, character and spirit, strength and guts just to survive the day. Social interactions can drain them and send them deeper into despair. Once or twice in your relationship with them they have been so desperate that they have decided to share their lifelong secret with you. When they began to broach the outer crust of what they suffer from, more likely than not, your response sent them back into their closet. Next time, if they are brave enough to try again, stay quiet, will compassion into your eyes and listen. When they have finished their confession just do one thing – love them.

Most who suffer from serious depression have done so for many years – perhaps their entire lives. By Robin William’s age they are exhausted beyond understanding. They have fought a battle that has never ended. It rages within them each day. When you rise to the sunrise – they have arisen to battle, and they are tired, so very very tired. Is it really that surprising that some give up? How much easier it would be to not be alone and know that they are one of many.

My heart is broken for the loss of this talented and generous man. The pain and loss of his family and friends are unimaginable. But I feel most for those that Robin has left behind who suffer from the same sickness and likely feel a tad more hopeless and alone than they did two days ago. Go to someone today and ask them, “Do you suffer from depression and, if so, can I hear your story and love you?” Love can roll stones away from tombs of darkness. I believe that. Do you?

The Hungry and World Vision

d052 0080 143 The Hungry and World Vision

World Vision has changed its mind. It hardly had a choice. Thousands of children were having their support taken away only one day after the Christian relief organization announced employing gay individuals with partners. The reaction was swift and angry. Many Christian celebrity leaders called for their followers to end all giving to World Vision.

Clearly, World Vision could have handled their announcement and the transition better. However the manner and level of anger Christians unloaded toward the ministry was, for me, a low point for the American church. Many of my spiritual heroes blew it, and it was hard for me to watch. Even as I say this I do so knowing that a large portion of my family and friends will disagree with me. But I have to say it. The one thing that was missing in this entire unfortunate situation was any resemblance of Jesus or Christ-likeness.

The overstatements and hyperbole were reactionary, dishonest, arrogant, and pharisaical. One individual, whom I have always respected, announced, apparently without asking anyone at World Vision, that the ministry no longer “believed in the Bible.” The person who said this is someone I take seriously, so I pulled up World Vision’s statement of faith to see if what he was saying was true. Guess what? World Vision believes “Jesus lived, died, and rose again.” They proclaim boldly that, “Jesus is Lord.” Elsewhere, they state that redemption is offered “only through faith in Jesus Christ.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty biblical to me.

Another “leader” announced that Christianity had “collapsed” at World Vision. According to this guy, the one organization which feeds more children and supports more families in Christ’s name than any other ministry in the world, are “apostates.” This writer went on to write that the announcement was a full frontal attack on “the gospel.” He did not say it was an attack on “the Bible’s teachings about sexuality”, he said on “the gospel.” Somehow in this fellow’s mind World Vision deciding to give gay people a job was an attack on the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Christ’s blood can wash away all our sin but can’t somehow cover World Vision’s hiring practices? Huh? What? Really? Did he really think this through before he said it? I believe in a Savior and a Cross much more powerful than that.

Now, please understand me. I think all those reacting are good people seeking to live out the truth of God’s word. They believe Scripture is under attack, and, therefore, they need to defend it. But Scripture can carry its own weight quit well without our help. The Bible is, after all, the very “breath of God.” So, while I think many had sincere motivation, I also believe they were misguided. God does not ask us to defend Him. He does tell us to follow Him and His Word tells us the best way to follow Christ is by love.

So, as I was praying and trying to sort all this out in my mind, a question popped into my mind. If Christ were here how would He have responded? Would Jesus insist that sinners not be given jobs so they could support themselves and their loved ones? If the answer is not obvious, I will answer the question for you. No. He would not have. The man who spoke with the woman at the well told her to sin no more, but He did not insist she not be allowed to make a living. I think Jesus would likely even get angry if someone insisted that the law of God was being broken, and therefore these sinners needed to not be allowed to work for a living.

The biggest thing of which I am most sure is that Jesus would not have called for His church to take food from the mouth’s of hungry children. Thousands of children and families who were being fed through monthly support given to World Vision had their support dropped at the insistence of “Christian leaders.” Yes, Christians were instructed to find another relief organization, such as Compassion International, and adopt a child through them. But that still doesn’t do anything about the kid you made a commitment to at World Vision who now will feel the pangs of hunger once again.

This week I heard a lot of noise. Many clanging cymbals so to speak. A lot of tongues wagging and self proclaimed prophets declaring God’s truth. What I did not see was much love and that is how we have been called to show Christ to the world.

Fred Phelps Is Dead. Now What?

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”  Matthew 5:44

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Fred Phelps, the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, died today. He is famous for his hatred for almost anyone and everyone. I am sure there will be many who will give back as good as they got. His signs will be there but held by those he once condemned: “Burn in Hell”, “God Hates Fred” “Bigots Are God Haters”.  There will be many who will take pleasure in pointing out that the church he founded on intolerance became so narrow that they no longer tolerated him.  They will chuckle at the excommunication of the excommunicator.   However, I have a suggestion. How about we don’t become Fred now that he’s dead.

Already, the Twitter and Facebook universe is buzzing with tasteless jokes and hate filled venting. But if Fred Phelps was the example of everything God calls us not to be when he was alive why on earth would we follow his example now that he is gone?  How about we recognize what his parting has blessed us with, a more peaceful place to discover what it truly means to be a follower of Christ.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – MLK

When Fear Comes Your Way

fear final When Fear Comes Your Way

I have been fearful before.  A fire that threatened my voice.  A child trapped in the bewildering world of autism and my inability to do anything about it.  The despair and loneliness after desertion.  The challenge of raising three boys alone.  The wondering of whether questioning my faith was equal to losing it.  I have known fear in my life.  We all have.

Earlier this year I faced a fear unlike any I had ever known.  Fear that I was dying and that, before dying, I was losing my mind.  A stroke is a terrifying encounter.  There is no pain.  Just bewilderment and fear.  Nothing does what it is supposed to do.  Where are you?  For a brief moment you become lost in a strange place that is not your home.  Yet it is.  You tell your arm to move and, instead, it falls.  You attempt to speak but are met with silence.  You decide to focus but your eyes flutter and roll.

Soon, it has all passed and you feel fine and are shocked when the test returns with the word ‘stroke’.  Fear.  As therapy begins you discover you have lost far more than you had realized.  A hundred little words you have known all your life;  words that you are sure you knew what they meant, but you don’t anymore.  Your words begin to stall,  stammer and stumble.  At times they slur.  Often with the slurring and your occasional loss of balance you are sure there are those who assume you are a drunk.  You feel terribly terribly alone.  You are afraid.

You are not alone in your fear.  Fear is universal.  The turtle withdrawing into its shell.  The birds rushing out of a canopy of trees as you enter a forest.  A crawdad scurrying under a rock when a finger is placed into it’s stream.  A child holding their father’s hand tightly on the first day of school.  A parent as their child drives away to enter into their future – without them.  Fear is a part of being alive.  Something each of us share with each other.

So, if fear is universal, what is its purpose?  What is it teaching us?  The longer I live and encounter fear, the more I see how others face it, I have come to believe something. I am convinced that more often than not fear is our reaction to encountering, or at least moving closer to, truth.  The stagnant are rarely fearful.  Shallowness is often a warm buffer from fear.  If you do not face fear you do not grow, move forward, live.  Death is safe but it is also dead.

When Peter took those steps onto the water and he began to sink, in fear he called out to Jesus.   In faith he believed despite his fear.  Fear was still there.  It was still part of the equation driving him forward.  While fear drove him to a place where he had never been closer to his Lord, his friends sat safely back in the boat.  Think about that and the next time fear comes your way and ask yourself if truth is right beyond it’s horizon.

20 Facts That Sound Like Fiction

20 Facts that Sound Like Fiction:

swimming moose1 20 Facts That Sound Like Fiction

1.  A moose can DIVE underwater and SWIM to nearly twenty feet in search of food.

2.  Cosmic rays from outer space cause glitches in your electronics. In some electronics, cosmic rays are the primary source of soft errors. Cosmic rays are one of the main reasons that servers and high reliability computers use error correcting RAM.

3.  When you get a kidney transplant, they usually just leave your original kidneys in your body and put the 3rd kidney in your pelvis.

4.  65% of all data on the Internet is either pornography or spam.

5.  The United States in World WarII created a bomb that used bats. The bats would be carrying small incendiary charges and would be released from the bomb in mid air, causing them to fly and scatter to different buildings in the area. The charges would then detonate and set all the buildings on fire. It was tested and proven to be very effective.

6.  Saudi Arabia imports its camels from Australia.

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7.  Australia once LOST a prime minister. As in straight up could not find him. They have yet to find him.

8.  There was once a war between Honduras and El Salvador started by a SOCCER game.

9.  It rains diamonds on Saturn, and Jupiter.

10.  More people are killed each year by vending machines than by sharks.

11.  Humans share 50% of their DNA with… bananas.

12.  Maine is the closest US state to Africa.

13.  Cleopatra lived closer in time to 2014 than she did to the building of the Great Pyramids.

14.  Two grandsons of tenth US President John Tyler are still alive today.

john tyler color 20 Facts That Sound Like Fiction

15.  Cows have best friends and they get stressed out when they are separated.

16.  The coat worn by Frank Morgan (Professor Marvel/OZ) in the movie wizard of OZ was picked up by the studio at a second hand store looking for props. It turned out to have been originally owned by L Frank Baum, who wrote the book.

17.  Robert Todd Lincoln, the president’s son, was at, or near the first three presidential assassinations.

18.  The founder of, Gary Kremen, lost his girlfriend to a man she met on

19.  The lighter was invented before the match.

20.  The total combined weight of the world’s ant population is heavier than the total combined weight of the world’s human population.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

index Martin Luther King, Jr.

In memorary of Martin Luthr King, Jr. Here is the link were you can read a PDF of his original “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963.  You can also watch and listen to it below.  If you would like to read, or download a PDF copy of his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” just clink on the name and it will take you to my “Free Articles, Devotions & Studies” page.  Just scroll down to find it.  Last, here is a link to a book review of Dr. Anthony Bradley’s book “Aliens in the Promise Land: Why Minority Leadership is Overlooked in White Christian Churches and Institutions.”  Anthony and I are both alumi of Covenant Theological Seminary and I have alway enjoyed his work.  I hope you do as well.



The Best Music of 2013

Best Music of 2013 with Album of the Year

Best Jazz   Marc Cary For the Love of Abbey

Marc Cary CD Cover The Best Music of 2013

Marc Cary has gained a reputation as one of the most creative pianists of our time, a bandleader with musical interests that encompass jazz, go-go, hip-hop, electronic music, Indian classical music and more. But Cary is also an incisive and sought-after accompanist, a fact famously borne out by his 12-year tenure (beginning in 1994) with the great vocalist, songwriter and jazz icon Abbey Lincoln.

For the Love of Abbey, Cary’s first solo piano recording, is the most personal and heartfelt of tributes, shedding light on Lincoln’s remarkable body of work and honoring her extraordinary gift for melody and song craft.


Best Country – Jason Isbell / Southeastern

 Southeastern cover The Best Music of 2013

Isbell is everything that popular country music is missing.  While most popular male country singers, except for Brad Paisley who refuses to sell out his artistry, are singing about trucks, girls, beer, dirt roads, and tight jeans; Isbell is singing from the core of his soul.  The most strikingly honest songwriting of the year came from Jason Isbell, the former lead singer of the Drive By Truckers, who recently put down the bottle after years of fighting alcoholism. The throaty Alabama artist’s reflections on sobriety brim with cathartic (for both artist and listener) vulnerability on oaken acoustic tracks like “Cover Me Up” and “Traveling Alone.” The album’s highlight, the unflinchingly frank “Elephant,” sketches a tale of a friend dying from cancer. “I’d carry her to bed and sweep up the hair from the floor,” Isbell sings, wearing his pain like a pair of well-worn leather boots. He doesn’t wince, but you just may cry.


Best Instrumental – Chris Botti Impressions

 1000x1000 The Best Music of 2013

Impressions” is a collection of covers and original compositions that, well, trumpet, lush, provocative melodies. One very special “guest” on the album is the presence of Frederic Chopin on the lead-off cut, “Prelude (No. 20 in C Minor)” in which Botti delivers a reverent homage to the iconic piece.

The album’s arrangements are sweeping at times and perfectly succinct at others, thanks in no small measure to the talents of orchestrators Vince Mendoza, William Ross and Gil Goldstein, among others.  A great album.


Best Americana – Mandolin Orange / This Side of Jordan

 mandolin orange this side of jordan The Best Music of 2013

Staking out a claim somewhere between “The Avett Brothers” and “The Civil Wars” “Mandolin Orange” lead with passionate beliefs and are not afraid to frame tales about uncomfortable topics or to protest through the quiet revolution of their songs. The songs on “This Side of Jordan” lay themselves out over arrangements that are calming and supportive. “Mandolin Orange” put into play the adage that you get more bees with honey than vinegar and they liberally dip their songs into the sweet nectar.


Best Adult Contemporary – Amy Grant / How Mercy Looks from Here

amy grant The Best Music of 2013 

This album is not just Grant’s first full length recording in a decade.  It is her best album possibly ever.  Musically it is smooth, comfortable and relaxing.  Lyrically it is classic Grant with profound statements of faith crafted so poetically that you almost miss their depth because of their beauty.  The recording is deeply personal, originating with her dying mother’s charge that Grant “say something that matters.”  It’s title track is a declaration of faith in the midst of loosing both parents to dementia and then death.  Perhaps the most personal song of all is “Shovel in Hand” which is a mother’s reflections of love after watching her teen son bury his best friend. Grant says she is unable to sing the song live.  With duets, trios and vocal additions by James Taylor, Sheryl Crow and Carol King, “How Mercy Looks from Here” is a gem that will stand the test of time.


Singer Songwriter/ Folk – Amos Lee / Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song

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Amos Lee goes Nashville? You better believe it! Traveling down to Music City to record with Jay Joyce and enlisting guests like Alison Krauss, Patty Griffin, Jerry Douglas and Mickey Raphael, Lee blends his Philadelphia soul with a little twang to beguiling effect.

Such is the strength of Lee’s musical personality, “Mountains Of Sorrow, Rivers Of Song” does not sound like someone being influenced by Nashville  but rather as someone who is influencing Nashville. There’s a whiff of classic country-soul from the immediately captivating opening track, ‘Johnson Blvd’, pedal steel guitar helping to sweep the gentle vocal melody high into the air.

But the great thing about this album is that it never stays still long enough for you to pin it down. It genuinely sounds like the musicians were so inspired by the quality of the songs to contribute only what was best for each.  There are some classic ballads on the album, ‘Chill In The Air’ – with Alison Krauss helping out on backing vocals is the best.

While songs like ‘Indonesia’ and ‘The Man Who Wants You’ wash over you all temperate sunny soul, they are still masterful productions – there really is not a weak moment on the record.


Blues – Eric Bibb / Jericho Road

 eric bibb The Best Music of 2013

Eric Bibb‘s version of the blues has always been patient and positive, and his best songs and tracks are calm, wise, hushed, unhurried, and elegant, more concerned with solutions than darkness and despair, a vision that makes him the spiritual descendant of Blind Willie Johnson, say, more than Robert Johnson.

Bibb isn’t about to go down to the crossroads and make some deal with the devil. His version of folk-blues isn’t about that sort of stuff. It’s closer to gospel in tone, with a strong commitment to betterment and change, bereft of personal demons, and filled instead with cultural ones. Bibb wants us to have a heart and work together and fix things between us on a global level. All of this could well make his music precious and preachy rather than poignant, but Bibb is adept at making his version of the blues, social discourse and all, work as smoothly as a gentle rain on the roof at night.

“Jericho Road”, which finds Bibb working once again with longtime collaborator, producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Glen Scott, isn’t much of a departure from Bibb’s previous outings, but it’s sonically deeper, with a full, warm sound augmented at times by wonderfully placed maverick horn and string touches. The message is the same, that we need redemption and commitment in our lives, and that true freedom is born of that. The whole album feels comfortable, patient, and wise, from the opener, “Drinkin’ Gourd,” through the bright, buoyant “Freedom Train,” “Have a Heart,” the lovely “They Know,” and the joyous gospel shuffle “She Got Mine.” There aren’t any jagged edges. Bibb is about healing scars, not outlining and celebrating them.


Best Album of the Year – The Civil Wars / The Civil Wars


It is shocking to me that this album is not on other Top 10 or Best of list.  What is clear is that the groups break up has overshadowed the release of this exceptional album.  This album is better than their debut “Barton Hallow”, which is saying a lot since “Barton Hallow” was independent phnom.

The Civil Wars” has a raw intensity and haunting truth that fills the entire album.  The harmonies are extraordinary and in a class of their own.  “Tell Momma” is one of the best covers ever recorded.  This album stays with you.  Art and beauty at its best.  With out question the best album of 2013.   The Civil Wars really cannot be described.  They must be experienced.  That is why I have included two of the best songs from the album here.


Sandy Hook – A Year Later

Today is the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.   Since most of my readers have found my sight since that time I wanted to repost my thoughts.  I called it “Where was God at Sandy Hook?”

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Despite the Christmas season, since December 13th I have not been the same.  A cloud, a sadness has hung over me.  I know that I am not alone.

Columbine was a powerful, shocking, unspeakably sad day for our nation.  I was teaching eighth grade at the time.  It struck close to home.   Innocence was lost.  We never felt the same in our classrooms afterward.  Teachers and students since have never felt as secure in their schools as they did.  They never will.

On July 20th of last year.  I wept when I was faced with the news of James Holmes entering a theater here in Colorado and destroying the lives, the innocence, the dreams, the families, the holidays, the futures of his victims, their communities.  I wept, and I was not alone.

However, the unspeakable, incomprehensible deluge of evil which Adam Lanza poured out upon the children and educators of Sandy Hook took the air from my lungs. I mourned more deeply than I have mourned over a national tragedy before.  I mourned the children, the school, the community, the nation.  I was not alone.

In my 25 years of ministry, I have been asked the hard questions which inevitably arise when tragedy strikes.  I have learned and even believe answers to those questions.  Why?  How?  Where was God?  But after a tragedy such as Sandy Hook, the words of Twila Parris play over in my head, “I know the doctrine and theology but right now they don’t mean much to me.  Do I trust you Lord?”  I asked the question, and I am not alone.

On days such as December 14th 2012, July 20th 2012, and April 20th 1999, we are left reeling with so many emotions at such evil.  We feel loss, sadness, rage, despair, and we have questions that are often deeper than we can even put into words.  When children and teachers are so savagely murdered, when families loose those they love, and when innocence is stripped from those children who survived, we are affected because we are fellow humans.  We are all image-bearersof the same creator God.   We love and feel the loss like those in these tragedies, and we sense the reality around us of what is happening in our world.

How are Christians who believe in the God of the resurrection expected to respond to these questions?  How do we respond in the face of Adam Lanza at the end of a barrel pointed into the face of our children?   We respond with compassion, faith and grace.  We hurt for and with those who have been hurt.  We feel some of the pain they are feeling; we love them. We pray.

We cry out to God with our questions, our anger, our intercession for others.  We draw nearer to Him during a crisis and trial.  We need Him now.  We respond with truth.  We must process situations like this with what is true and right, not with confusion nor with simplistic platitudes that often bring little comfort and can even deepen the pain and confusion.

There are questions I cannot answer.  There are mysteries I cannot not fathom.  However, there are things I DO know to be true.

I  know that this is sin in its clearest and ugliest form.

I know that this is what sin does.

I know that this is what sin produces- death, murder, violence, destruction…

I know that God did not do this.

I know God came to save us from this.

I realize this is why Jesus came to this troubled earth, and what Jesus came to save us from – sin.

God is good.  God is the opposite of all that occurred in a kindergarten class at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Evil does not come from God.  On days like December 14th, and the ones which have followed, we are tempted to focus only on all that is evil in the world.  However, there is so much good in the world, so much love, grace, compassion, life, birth, renewal.  God created these things.  Sin has marred these things.  Jesus restores these things.

There are questions I cannot answer.  I believe there are answers somewhere in the mystery, somewhere far beyond this rock we live upon, far beyond the nether regions of our understanding.  Job could only stand in silence before his questioning friends.  But he stood.  Jesus stood in silence before the questions of Pilate and the shouts of the crowd.  So we must not answer our questions with Sunday School answers, memorized creeds, or familiar verses.  Moments like Sandy Hook demand more.  We must stand.  We must answer with the hands and feet of Christ.  With the tears of he who stood before an accusing sister in mourning for her brother.

Jesus wept.  He weeps still.  We all do.  Go be his answer.  Grace in the darkness.  A light shines.  It can shine through you.  We are not alone.