Work Quietly and Eat Your Own Food


Gloating is a sin. Hatred is a sin. Anger to wound another is a sin.

Whining should be a sin.

By these standards the whole nation needs a time out.

The. WHOLE. nation.

If this is an end of something, it was a long time coming and we all drove the bus.

I don’t think it’s the end. I think it’s the truth, and it will get more real before it gets better, because truth is hard. Once you let it out the only options are to hide it, or use it as a place to begin again.

I personally think begin again is the better option, even though it’s going to be a long hard haul.

But are we people of faith or not? Do we trust in the Lord or not?

Here’s what Paul said this weekend in his second letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 3.

He told those arguing, gossiping, spiteful, lazy, thinking-they’re-better-than-everyone-else Thessalonians:

We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a
disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.
Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly
and to eat their own food.

Can I get an Amen?


Election Day



Here we are.

I voted and you voted and lots and lots of people have voted. Democracy has run its course.

But I kind of feel like the teenager who crashed the car and then tried to cover up the big dent in the fender. It’s an exercise in futility. We can’t hide the damage.

And we did it. We let it get to this place even though we know better, and are called to better. We’re complicit.

What do we really wake up to tomorrow? Wounds. Mistrust. Faithlessness. They are the elephants, and donkeys, in the room and they are hungry.

What are we going to feed them?

Two weeks ago, I went to Walgreens. I had just said to my brother “When I know that people are going to vote for that candidate, I feel like it tells me something about them. Something flawed. Something false. Something damaging.”

And then I parked next to a car with bumper stickers for that candidate all over it. I had seen it before, in the parking lot at church. Great, I thought. Hope I don’t know them.

But as I was standing in front of the cold remedies, a sweet voice said “Jen?” I turned and it was a woman I know well, a woman I have prayed with, a woman who hugged me hello. It hit me that it was her car.


That is what I thought, I swear to goodness.

Then I was ashamed. What am I doing?

This election has not been our best moment. We have damaged ourselves as Americans, as people of faith, as a light shining in the darkness. The false prophets and kingdom builders have been exposed as the charlatans they are.

And we can either carry on as we have, self-serving and self-righteous, feeding what we want to hear and be.

Or we can decide that this was our wake-up call, and feed what we need to hear and be.

I’ll see you tomorrow.


Lose on Purpose



You know this whole American culture of win at all costs?

It’s got to go.

Our fellow humans are not our opponents and at some point we have to realize that sports is not a great analogy for life.

I’m not directing this at any one person.

Although Donald Trump is kind of the poster child of this whole King of the World movement. And doesn’t he constantly look like a five-year old with a bad case of pouty face? I would have sent him to his room in January and he’d still be there by our house rules, which are “Don’t come out until you can be nice.”


The other day I was trying to think of any great historical leaders who made their people or places better by maintaining their own personal superiority to everyone.

I came up blank.

I can think of lots of great historical leaders who made their people and places better by putting their people and places first. Or even better, their God first.

There may be a lesson for Americans in there somewhere. I don’t know. I’m not responsible for all of us. Only my people and places.

So for us, this has been the summer of Lose on Purpose.

Which does not apply when wearing a uniform (so my brother and Dana don’t have coronaries and die when they read this.)

What I mean is that my kids are going through that phase where they need to be right. Even when they’re wrong, which means it’s really about winning. After a Spring of listening to ridiculous “No, it’s not—Yes, it is” one day I lost my mind and yelled “DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???”

It was a rhetorical question. But God answered me:

They take after you.

And so they do.

I started thinking, What’s the hardest thing for me to do in a situation where I feel challenged?

The answer is—to let it go.

To choose not to take it personally, or to make it my mission to correct others. To let them be wrong. To let myself be wrong. To admit that I am not in charge of everyone.

And—because people who want to be right and win more than anything else really struggle with this—to always be truth-full.

Which is why Hillary would also still be in her room by our house rules.

I figured we could go cold turkey on this whole idea, hence the summer motto. It actually has two parts: Lose on Purpose. Lift others up instead of squashing them down.

Like every other piece of parenting, it’s a marathon slog, not a sprint. There have been moments of understanding, like when Gabe rode his sister’s pink bike so his friend wouldn’t have to.

And there have been afternoons where they’ve been banished to the basement to preserve their own lives and my sanity.

But I knew we were on the right track when, after watching Trump in a news conference the other day, Kate said “He needs to learn to lose on purpose.”

And then some.



Come Outside The Walls


Did you know that when St Francis of Assisi got serious about his ministry, he left the Church?

True story.

Francis was a young man born to wealth and privilege in Assisi. At the urging of his father, he pursued glory for himself and his family. Then one day he found himself in a crumbling church outside the walls of Assisi, called San Damiano. The Christ on the Cross spoke to Francis, calling him to “rebuild his church”. Francis of course thought it was a call to rebuild San Damiano, which he did before realizing that the call was about something much bigger.

During Francis’ life, the Catholic Church was overrun by greed and power. Francis, once consumed with greed and power himself, founded an order of friars who believed that poverty was sacred and necessary.

He never stood actively against his beloved church.

But his order stood in stark contrast to the opulent church culture in a way that was unmistakable. He founded his community outside the walls of Assisi—outside the traditional ways and protections. And he held to it, even after criticism from the people of Assisi, even after questions from the Vatican, who worried his order was too simple, too spare, too poor. And eventually, the people came to him.

It was a revolution. It was one man’s attempt to make his church great again.

But it wasn’t like revolutions before and since, too many of which operated within the existing structures and served only, as Richard Rohr says, to “rearrange the furniture on the deck of the Titanic”.

Instead, Francis worked after Jesus’ example and “built a new boat”.

And that’s the key to any revolution—it has to look and sound like Jesus building a new boat.

If it doesn’t, then it isn’t.

So I want to share with you how our family is set to handle this election.

Like Francis, we’re going outside the walls.

We’re going to vote, because our church tells us to vote. But we’re not going to become our vote. It will not define us.  It certainly doesn’t need to be defended. It’s ours. It’s ok.

We already know for whom we’re voting, so we’re going to cut down on our exposure to the talking heads. God bless them, but they make money off our emotions. If we aren’t scared or outraged or spiteful they aren’t making money. We get it. We just aren’t going to play.

We’re not going to let the data tells us anything about our friends, neighbors and countrymen and women. We’re going to remember that we don’t know what we don’t know, and at the top of that list is what is in someone else’s heart.

We’re going to keep doing what we do, which is loving and living and praying and meeting God in all the places we see Him.

We aren’t going to lose faith. Outside the walls is a more peaceful place. It’s grass roots. It’s people helping people. It’s simple. It’s less. It’s easier to see what really matters here.

It’s not ignorance, or blindness. We’re participating. We’re just not being loud about it. Plus, we can see the walls from here. We can hear the noise.

We just don’t need the noise. We don’t need the spectacle.

Can you imagine what would happen if everyone walked away? If everyone said “We’ve had enough. We’re good. We’ll just be over here getting back to real life”? What would happen then, if people left their seats at the circus and came outside the walls?

That would be a revolution.