Taste Test

Yesterday America’s pastor Billy Graham passed from this world into the next. As Christians and even non-Christians celebrated his life and legacy, one dissenting voice rang out in stark contrast to the positive thoughts of so many. An obscure internet troll and writer for Teen Vogue (yes, that same magazine frequently filled with stunningly inappropriate content) named Lauren Duca tweeted, “The big news today is that Billy Graham was still alive this whole time. Anyway, have fun in hell, bi–h”.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “the proof is in the pudding”. It’s one of those phrases that gets tossed around but is incomplete. The actual saying is, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”. (More info here if you’re interested.) Both mean essentially the same thing, that you must test something out once it’s completed in order to assess the value of that thing.

It’s important for me to interject here that I am a libertarian. Essentially, I believe in a free market place of ideas allowing anyone to speak what’s on their mind with the one caveat that no one cause harm to another. So I have no issue with Ms. Duca’s right to make her comment. She is free to say what she likes even though I do not condone what she said. In modern debate the alarming trend from both sides of almost any issue is a desire to censor the other side. Duca has already tweeted that she is receiving death threats from Christians because of her comment, and that’s ridiculous. Freedom of ideas and freedom of speech mean anyone has the right to say what they please, again as long as they do not slander or libel someone or provoke violence.

However, in a free market of ideas individuals become consumers of ideologies and this is where I want to focus. While I believe anyone can toss anything they like into the online ether, we must test out their ideas and see if they hold water…or, the proof the pudding is in the eating. Herein lies the major difference between Duca and Rev. Graham. One espouses a set of ideals that promotes peace and love and the other promotes a set of ideals that promotes hate and intolerance.

Somehow, over the last few decades, the progressive leftist movement has marketed itself as the keepers of the ideology of peace and tolerance. But consider the hateful statement Duca made within hours of Billy Graham’s death. How is such rhetoric tolerant or peaceful? And when did ad hominem attacks become standard in American public discourse? How did the nation founded by brilliant thinkers like Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin devolve into Pee Wee Herman-esque comebacks…”I know you are, but what am I?”?

Without belaboring the point further, my encouragement is for you to investigate this yourself. Much like recommending a restaurant, you simply cannot confirm or deny the referrer’s opinion without sampling the food yourself. Simply google some of the loudest champions of the various ideological camps in America today and read what they have written, or listen, or watch, and sample their ideas for yourself.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. As you sample their ideas and consider the implications of the truth statements each group makes, ask yourself some guiding questions:

  • How do these ideas promote harmony and peace between humans?
  • Will these ideas promote equity among groups of people?
  • Does this group and its ideas foster freedom of speech, religion, and thought?
  • How do adherents of this ideology treat each other and other people, especially those who disagree with their views?
  • If I subscribe to these views, will I like the person I become?

As a libertarian thinker, I would not force my beliefs upon anyone, but I firmly subscribe to the theory that genuine, absolute truth always triumphs when free thinking is allowed. This is why I am not a progressive leftist. In response to the last question in the list above, I would not like the person I would become if I accepted and acted upon their ideological views.

When someone like Ms. Duca trumpets hateful thoughts like she did yesterday, it only exposes the dark underbelly of leftist thinking. It’s no different than the Westboro Baptist folks spouting their own version of hate, just from a different camp. I’m content with freedom of speech, but it’s only fair that the ideas put forth by individuals be examined for consistency and plausibility. Duca, and those in the leftist camp, claim to be champions of equality and free speech, but in truth they are leading the charge for government censorship of any and all viewpoints in opposition to their own.

Don’t believe me? Do your research, ask questions, investigate, and see for yourself. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.



My wife and I will soon open a new chapter in our lives. As we near our middle years (according to human averages anyway) we decided to return to university to expand our education and being new careers. Many factors contributed to this decision, but one in particular led the way…the issue of intrinsic v. extrinsic living.

Several months ago I was researching a sermon and discovered a story by Heinrich Böll that helps define this concept well:

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long did it take you to catch them?” The American asked.

“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.

“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you could buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, señor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, señor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”

American Dreaming

Growing up in America I understand the attitude of the Harvard educated businessman. Our educational system and culture are geared toward achievement and a drive toward success in finances above everything. American culture is extrinsically driven, for the most part, and we see this in our attitudes toward one another and life. We want fast food, entertainment on demand, high paying jobs, and long vacations. Everything we do is extrinsically driven because we are taught to be motivated by money and success. We even call this insanity the “American Dream”…American Nightmare might be a better appellation.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 18.1% of Americans are affected by anxiety in some way. I believe this stems from our culture’s obsession with extrinsic motivators. Sports champions receive rings, trophies, cash, and fame…extrinsic. Musicians or actors are rich and popular (seemingly anyway) and we fawn over them constantly…extrinsic. Business people are given bonuses, focus on metrics and numbers, and knock people down to grow the bottom line…extrinsic.

Extrinsic motivations are not entirely bad, however. We all need a paycheck and we enjoy accolades and trophies and there is nothing wrong with people recognizing excellent work done by others. We must not throw the baby out with the bath water, but we cannot expect to live entirely driven by extrinsic motivations and find inner peace and happiness. Indeed, the very concept is antithetical because inner peace and happiness are intrinsic by definition.

Peace Within

Intrinsic motivations are driving my wife and me to make a major life and career change in our middle years. If we only cared about extrinsic motivations we would stay put and push on to larger bank accounts and the acquisition of things. We don’t care about those things anymore. Things are nice, but inner peace and joy are far greater than an expensive car or beautiful home.

Ultimately, we find our inner peace through Jesus Christ. It is through our faith that we experience what Galatians calls the “fruit of the Spirit”. This “fruit” is now the driving force in my life. My thoughts and focus are on growing the intrinsic values of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. For what good are things if I am unable to enjoy them because my inner life is in turmoil?

My encouragement to you today is simple: find your intrinsic motivators and begin to live according to them. Before you go out and quit your job and move to Mexico, please understand that being driven by intrinsic desires does not require such radical change. Most people can experience deep and lasting changes in their daily lives simply by adjusting their focus from extrinsic motivators (all of which eventually fade) to intrinsic motivators (which are more permanent).

In Christ we can discover peace and love and joy, and that allows us to be truly free because we are no longer held captive by extrinsic motivators. Experience Jesus and experience freedom and peace. I can think of nothing greater or more pure than being driven by those intrinsic motivators that saturate our lives with hope and joy and love.


Infamous Days

It’s been 76 years since the “day that will live in infamy”. It’s important that we remember days like this one, days where tragedies altered history’s course. But we must not simply remember because of the tragedy, that would be defeating and defaming the lives lost in Hawaii all those years ago.
We remember to honor the men and women who stood in the gap to protect freedom. We also remember because they fought, bled and died to secure something better for the future, and we live in that future today.
In the moment, on that day, with anger burning towards the enemy that attacked our nation, there was no love for the Japanese people. Decades later Japan grew into our strongest ally in the region. Our cultures are still markedly different, but now we respect and support one another.
And if that isn’t the end goal of any horrid war, then what is? As God’s people we should seek peace whenever possible, and while we remember the lives lost and the sacrifices made on December 7, 1941, we must also say a prayer of thanksgiving that the war ended and our enemies became our friends.
So thank you to those who came before and laid themselves down so I could write this today. Thank you, also, to our former enemies who realized their errors and even helped us see some of our own. Peace is our goal and we have, for now, achieved it. May it last and may we have peace on earth and goodwill to men from now on.


Time is like a river they say.

Drifting at times, at others calm and steady,

Sometimes rushing headlong, rocks ahead, threatening,

Yet always moving at the same pace. Tick…tick…tick…

Moments caught up in white, foamy torrents lapping the banks of life,

And we are left remembering.

Looking back we may miss the next turn,

But looking forward we cannot see beyond the horizon…if that far.

Even on glassy waters inexorably forward we go, always toward something.

But what?


Answer the question. Where are you going?

Only God knows tomorrow and He isn’t always forthcoming with information.

Clear sailing, destination known, stirs the heart and whips up joy,

Yet often we peer ahead seeing only high cliffs and unending water.

Peace arrives in the middle.


Because a tock is coming. One last tock of the clock. One last second to breathe out.

One last breath.

Peace dwells in the ellipses.

In the in-between.

In the solace of faith in something beyond.

In the knowing that time is merely a construct, a means to an end,

Necessary water we fish must breathe until our wings sprout and we fly.


I fear you not.

Peace like a river flows with me.

Whatever, whenever, my tock comes…however it comes…it leads on…

To greater things.


Why God?

Yesterday, as of this writing, a lone gunman fired on a church in a little town near San Antonio, Texas killing twenty-seven people. It’s the worst shooting in Texas state history. When we read about horrible, tragic events like this we inevitably come back to one question: Why, God…why? When we examine the history of our universe and read about its origins, we will find our answer.

In the beginning God created everything, including humans. He gave us planet earth as our home and began instructing us on how to properly care for it. But one day humans decided that was not good enough. We decided we wanted to be God ourselves, to be the same as Him, so we defied His one restriction. In that moment the creation broke as evil flooded into our universe.

Today we are living with the consequences of that fateful decision. We live in a broken world with broken people, and broken people often commit unspeakable acts. This is the result of sin and evil in the world, and God is not to blame. We must accept our responsibility for what happened and blame ourselves for the death and destruction we see around us every day.

However, if we left the story there it would be pitiful and tragic. But that is not the end. God did not simply leave us to our own devices, allowing us to rot away in our disobedience and evil. Instead, He began a centuries long plan and one day brought forth His son into the earth to reconnect Heaven with earth. Now that Jesus has completed His work, all of humanity has access back to the Father and we can overcome evil and sin through Christ.

I have heard people say, “Why would you take a tragedy and turn it into an evangelistic push?” My response is simple: because Jesus is the only answer for our questions.

We look at this tragic shooting and we ask, “Why, God…why?” His response every time is to show us Jesus. Because in Jesus we have freedom from tragedy. In Jesus we have a pathway out of the darkness. In Jesus we have peace even in the midst of heartbreak. And in Jesus we have a solution, an answer, to present to the atheists of the world that can finally answer their questions and bring them peace.

Why do horrible tragic things happen on earth? Because humans broke it, and because humans are broken. What is God’s role in all of this? He has provided a solution, a fix, a way back to Him through Jesus Christ.

And that’s the pattern for all of eternity. There is no other. We misstep, we mess up, we sin, and God’s overwhelming love offers a way to redemption. All we need to is accept and walk in that way. That’s the answer to the question, “Why, God, why?”, and it always will be.

Alignment with God

In the beginning God created mankind to dwell with Him on earth. We were made to live in daily relationship with God and His creation. Our free will was meant to align with God’s will so we would live in harmony with all things. This is alignment with God.

James 4:1–8 says:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come near to God and he will come near to you. 

Alignment with God is submission to God. Being aligned with God means we have surrendered our free will to Him so we can reflect His attributes in our daily lives. When we are in proper alignment our desires will be righteous because they will come from God, and we can ask God for fulfillment because we are properly aligned.


James says that our desires battle within us and we reach out to get what we want. When we do, we enter into conflict with others because their desires are at cross purposes with our own. Selfish striving always leads to disharmony, anger, and chaos. When our desires are directed by our relationship with the world we cannot live in peace. This is why we must align ourselves with God.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Our desires are not necessarily evil. In fact, many of our desires were placed within us by God because they are tied to our purpose and destiny. The key is our relationship with Jesus. If we are in alignment with Christ, in relationship with Him, we will be given the desires of our heart because our heart will be shaped like His.


James continues and tells us we do not receive what we desire because we ask with wrong, selfish motives. When we are influenced primarily by the world, when we are “friends with the world” as James says, we will be driven by selfish motives. Proud people will live in disharmony and chaos because of their proud motives. God opposes the proud.

But He gives grace to the humble. Humility is required to be in alignment with God. We must understand that humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less as C.S. Lewis said. God lifts up the humble because they recognize their place in the universe and God’s ultimate authority. When we are properly aligned with God our motivations will be righteous because we will reflect His heart.


Submission is key, but we have responsibilities as believers. We submit to God but we must also resist the devil. We also must ask God for our desires. James says we do not have because we do not ask. It is not enough to simply accept God, we are responsible to walk in the new life we have been given.

As we come into alignment with God we will begin to change. Some changes will be more radical than others, but we will change. My former pastor was fond of saying, “Change is change until it’s change.” God will bring change to us as we align with Him, but we are responsible for carrying out that change and implementing it in our daily lives.


How do we align ourselves with God? Verse eight provides the answer, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Prayer, meditation, and study will bring us near to God and then God will come near to us. This process aligns us with Him and brings His thoughts into our minds and spirits so we can be like Him.

Spend time with God in prayer. Meditate on Him and His Word. Study the Bible and learn what it teaches us. Let Holy Spirit guide your life and you will come into alignment with Jesus. When you do, the desires of your heart with be His and you will discover peace and harmony.