About Brian

Follower of Jesus. American. Soldier. Servant Leader. Writer.

My Word(s) for 2021

For the last several years I have selected a Word combined with Scripture to serve as a focal point for my year.

Often. New. Sacrifice. Just a few of my previous selections.

2020 was unique because of COVID of course and adding on the addition of a child and you could say I had an eventful year.

Moving to this new year, as we settle into a groove into a new home with a new job I found myself thinking about what it means to be a good husband, father, leader, friend, etc. What does that look like on a day to day basis?

I have always been struck by the following passage about Jesus when after he heals a deaf man it says

“And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak’.”

He has done ALL things well. Obviously I am not perfect or capable of healing like Jesus did but I think it is a worthwhile goal to try and do ALL things well. Which of course begs the question of HOW do you do ALL things well? I would never advocate for this because I would prefer to do the most important things very well. I do not view this as a matter of performance, but more about effort and the spirit in which I approach things. This concept to me is captured in the word Excellence.

So we have Word #1, but back to the question of HOW do we do all things well. Enter, Word #2.
Another verse that hit me recently and something I am more mindful of every day is here:

“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord.”

Have you ever met someone who has so much energy about something you would otherwise consider mundane? Probably so. I have spoken to people about countless topics under the sun and it is always amazing to me what gets a quiet person energized.

People probably think that about me when it comes to golf or my Florida Gators. What is this energy called? Enthusiasm. You love enthusiastic people. I love being around enthusiastic people. So I decided I want to be an enthusiastic person. For me this answers the question of HOW I can do all things well, by doing everything with enthusiasm.

Other translations of that passage say “Whole heartedly” or “from the soul”. Wow. Don’t you want to be known as someone who does things with their whole heart and soul? I know I do.

In closing, I challenge you to find something to focus on in 2021. Could be a word. An idea. A habit. Do it well and do it with enthusiasm. Don’t waste your time. It’s much too valuable.

My Word for 2019

 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Luke 5:16

The practice of choosing a word for my year has served me well over the last several years. The challenge is finding it. Last year was transform and previous words include fully, new, and sacrifice.

My word for 2019 comes from the verse above.

Often.

adverb – frequently; many times.

This verse jumped out at me and I initially thought my word for 2019 was going to be pray however the more I thought about the more I came back to the word Often.

What we do often IS our life. I have written so much about time because I believe so strongly in the value of time, but I find myself misplacing my time. Ultimately wasting my time.

Jesus prayed Often. Jesus was in relationship with His Father often. One of my goals is to pray more Often… Not so I can count the frequency, but so I can be in relationship with my Heavenly Father.

There are more things I want to do MORE often. Exercise, read, write, and most importantly be intentional in my marriage.

On the flip side, there are things I need to do LESS often. Worry, get angry, be distracted.

I encourage you to take a look at your life and just answer a few questions:

  • What am I DOING most often?
  • What am I THINKING most often?
  • Who am I investing in most often?

If the answers to these questions are not what you want your life to be about, then hopefully the word OFTEN can be something that helps you refocus your life this year.

Now go choose your word and Happy New Year!

– Brian

Eclipses, Hurricanes, and the God Who Is

The last few weeks we have have stood in awe as the world surrounding us has displayed it’s power and beauty in the form of a total eclipse and a series of devastating hurricanes. Even as I write this, Hurricane Irma takes dead aim at my home state and potentially my actual home city. This same Hurricane Irma is the most powerful storm in recent history.  We will not know the extent of the damage until it passes, but I now pray for the safety for all in the path of this storm.

Even as we brace for Hurricane Irma in Florida, there are millions more recovering from Hurricane Harvey just across the Gulf in Texas.  I pray for all of them as well.

On a lighter note, we also had the opportunity to “witness” a total solar eclipse (that is if you had a pair of those cool glasses that you won’t need for another several years).

Through all of this I observed something that humans have done since the beginning of time: the worship of nature.

There were claims of awe at Mother Nature/Mother Earth. Expressions of adoration for how amazing our world is etc.

Worship.

Paul talks about this in Romans 1:25 when he says –

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

You see, there is a pull in the human heart to praise and worship things we cannot fully comprehend. Because surely if it is beyond our comprehension, it must be praise worthy right?

It amazes me how we can just stop at the awe of nature and not investigate further at the Creator of this nature.

Consider the following –

  • The light from the eclipse could damage your eyes from over 90 million miles away
  • Hurricane Harvey dumped 33 TRILLION gallons of water on Houston
  • Hurricane Irma 185 mph winds fell just shy of the 190 mph record set by Hurricane Allen in 1980 for Atlantic hurricanes.

Amazing.

How do we miss it? How do we miss Him?

We miss Him because we don’t want to see Him. The REAL Him that is.

We don’t want to see and know God as He truly is. We prefer a God made in our image, denying that we were made in His image.

We reject the God Who Is for the God we want and this manifests itself in many ways, in this case I just seemed to notice it in the praise of nature.

Our arrogance blinds us, but it won’t be able to blind us forever. One day we will have no choice but to face the God Who Is.

This quote from Luke Walker captures the point pretty succinctly –

“The sun will burn your eyes out from a distance of 92 million miles. Do you expect to casually stroll into the presence of its Maker?”

Our lives change when we begin to know the God Who Is. My prayer is that we would know Him.

 

 

 

Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

Did you read the Heart of Darkness in school? Probably so. I think it is one of those “classics” English Lit teachers love to force people to read.

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

Not exactly an entertaining read but I don’t believe it was intended to be entertaining in the way we view entertainment today. This novel is famous for the deeper meaning present in the storyline. The surface story is set in Africa and discusses the European exploitation of the Congo region through any means necessary (including the brutal treatment of locals and harvesting of resources). However the greater storyline and the theme I took away from this novel is the inclination of man’s heart towards evil.

It seems that man has been exploring this question for quite some time.

Where does this inclination come from?

In light of recent events, our society seems to struggle with answering this question.

Take today for example – Charlottesville, VA.

Based on my understanding of the situation, a white supremacist extremist group gathered in protest and was met with backlash. The protest/riot turned violent resulting in at least one death and dozens more injured.

As I review social media, I see numerous people beginning to parcel out blame for the current state of affairs in our nation. Blame President Trump, blame President Obama, blame Black Lives Matter, blame the alt right etc.

The battle lines are drawn, largely divided between Left and Right. There is strong consensus that the events of today were evil, but there are very few answers when it comes to explaining evil.

Why are we so confused on this? How can we not see what is so plainly apparent about the human condition?

No Moral Reference Point

This seems like a recent phenomenon to me. The confusion over right and wrong in the public sphere. Good and evil etc.

Honestly, I think it is a recent phenomenon.

Our culture has sought to remove God from the conversation with little thought of the consequences. This effort has become more pronounced recently, but has been occurring for quite some time.

 (And before you write me off as one of those people saying “you remove God from our schools and this is what happens!” just hear me out. My personal conviction is that the Lord is present even in the midst of those circumstances. My belief in an all-powerful God convinces me that He is present whether we reject Him or not.)

For a good portion of my life, our national conscience was slowly drifting away from the awareness of a higher power. I am not even talking about the God I believe in. I am merely talking about a Creator of a moral framework that we just take for granted. A reference point for morality.

Lately it seems we are content with moving away with a little more speed. A little more purposefully.

The lines of justice have become blurred, the standard for love has been compromised, our morality as a nation has become relative.

I believe we are now beginning to see the consequences of the removal of a singular reference point for morality. It is as if we removed the skeleton from a body and expected it to stand.

And just like the skeleton, we are collapsing in on ourselves.

Self-Evident Truths

We hold these truths to be self-evident

Our nation was built on the existence of “Self Evident Truths”. What is a “self-evident truth”? I suppose it is a truth that is discernible without proof. In simpler terms, It is what it is.

The self-evident truths of our nation are spelled out in the Declaration of Independence and include equality and a certain set of rights that are not to be infringed upon (aka unalienable rights).

Where do these come from? The founders believe they came from a “Creator” and this idea has informed our society up until recently. The ideals we take for granted as Americans are built on this foundation. This fact is inescapable. You cannot appeal to the self-evident truths of equality and unalienable rights without a reference point. You cannot appeal to morality at all without a reference point. There has to be some sort of starting point for the creation of these self-evident truths.

How can we honestly define good and evil without some sort of official standard? You can’t. And we are seeing this play out before our eyes. The battle lines are drawn and we are seeking someone, anyone, to blame.

My Heart of Darkness

So, who is to blame?

Me.

You.

We are to blame.

Present in all of us is a Heart of Darkness.

Left unchecked by a moral reference point, we will bend sharply towards evil with very little understanding of why and the events of today will continue to happen.

We will act in ways we don’t understand because we continue to suppress the only way of understanding the condition of our heart.

You cannot comprehend darkness without the presence of light.

 

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

The World Needs Fathers

6.19.17

Father’s Day was yesterday. A celebration of Fathers is warranted for all that they do, not just for their kids but for society. The presence of a good father is celebrated for a day, but the absence of a father has nearly immeasurable impacts on the individual and then society. Our society is changing and one of the alarming changes is the indifference given to the powerful role that fathers play in society. Popular media rarely show fathers as strong figures to be admired. Generally you see a man that is aloof, someone to be laughed at. (Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin come to mind).

There are some within our culture who downplay the role of fathers by suggesting communities can raise children properly. Or relationships that lack a father can somehow replace the role of a father. I question these assertions in light of the evidence.

I won’t go much further on this point, but I fear we are making a significant societal error by diminishing the role of fathers.

Who is to teach boys how to be men if not their fathers? Certainly there are mothers who do their best to fill the gap, and I applaud them. But the fact is, they shouldn’t have to. Fathers should be there. But, in increasing numbers, they are not.

I know there are people who will read this (maybe), or at least people asking this when it comes to this topic – “How bad can it be?”

See for yourself –
– 33% of the 72 million children in America will go to bed tonight without their biological father in the home.
– Fatherless children are 5 times as likely to live in poverty, repeat a grade, and have emotional problems.
– 93% of all people incarcerated are men, and 85% of them have no father figure.
– 50% of children from broken homes have not seen their father in over a year.
– the United States leads the world in single parent families.
Source

The absence of fathers is an epidemic. An epidemic receiving very little attention.

If there was an epidemic impacting millions of Americans, costing billions of dollars, and inflicting unimaginable amounts of pain in our society… how do you think we would respond?

We have the answer. Silence.

How is that working out for us?

Personal Note:

Candidly, this frustrates me.

I carry a certain passion about this topic. Why? Because for all of the social justice advocacy going on right now, the church seems too quiet on this topic. This simply cannot be the case anymore.

I am reminded of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14

 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.

Act like men. Be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Where is the promotion of this ethos? Why is there not a chorus of people proclaiming this to our men? I am a man, I have been listening, and I have not been hearing this.

The Church needs to lead on this, and fast. Continued silence would be truly tragic.

Final Note:

I have a father. He wasn’t perfect and he would even tell you that, but he did the best he could. Honestly, what more could you ask for? Thank you Dad.

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To all of the Fathers out there. Happy Father’s Day.