New blog series coming up

Greetings. I can’t even remember the last time I posted an update on this blog. The new series I am about to start will be my reflections on the demise of Wildwind Community Church, a faith community I planted in 2002 and from where I retired from ministry in 2016. I have not spoken publicly of this to any substantial extent since leaving Wildwind, and the first of my posts on the topic will explain partly why.

The vast majority of my posts are now going to my counseling page, set up for my private counseling practice, at If you’re interested in that kind of thing, you can subscribe for new posts right there on that page.

Unfortunately I can’t give you a date on the series. I can promise you it’s in the works, and I know it’s time for me to start trying to put some thoughts together about it. It’ll be here when it gets here. So far in two years I haven’t been able to find the words to do this, and I know I can’t force it. Even now the thought of writing these pieces feels daunting.

I haven’t received hardly any “unsubscribes” from this list in the two years since I stopped posting regularly, and more have continued subscribing, even though things are getting so old. I hope that means some people are still benefiting from this labor of love, as I can honestly say that I have never written on any blog, or spoken from any pulpit, things I did not deeply believe, much of which I still believe today. My inability today to live fully into those words was always a feature of my ministry, not a bug. I don’t see that ever changing.

More on what all of that means coming up in this series.

The Difference Between Willingness and Capability

People Are Often Not Capable of Doing Everything They Are Willing to Do

In the religious tradition I grew up in (and in society as a whole), there was and is a strong focus on the will.

The phrase that best embodies the idea of the will is “Just do it.”

Nike — just do it.

Nancy Reagan — Just say no.

It’s quick, simple, and has the appearance of common sense.

“I’m really struggling to stop drinking.” “Well, it’s important, isn’t it? Just do it.”

“I’m starting to have serious questions about God and faith.” “Just keep believing. Belief is a choice. Just do it.”

“I know I should be nicer to my wife and kids but it seems like no matter how hard I try, stupid and hurtful things keep coming out of my mouth.” “You don’t want to be a jerk, do you? Just be nice.”

But it’s not common sense at all. The fact is, there are many things we need to do, and many we need to stop doing, that we just aren’t capable of doing or stopping.

Continue Reading »

Have you been faithful to your partner? The answer may surprise you.

If you are married, on your wedding day you made a vow where you pledged your “faith, each to the other.”

But what is faithfulness in marriage?

Most people say faithfulness means not having sexual or emotional intimacy with anyone besides your spouse. And certainly that is a critical part of faithfulness. 

But, believe it or not, it’s not the most important part.

Above all, being faithful to your spouse means that even when they have angered you or hurt your feelings, you refuse to believe they are a bad person. You “keep faith” in them.

I maintain faith in my wife by remembering who she is, that I love and care for her, and that she loves me too. And if I remember she loves me, I know she would never purposely do anything to hurt me.

This means no matter how hurt or upset I may be, I cling stubbornly to my belief that my wife is a great person. I refuse to allow my negative feelings to lead me to think she’s *trying* to hurt me, or that she’s intentionally setting me up to lose an argument or to look or feel like an idiot.

It sure can feel like it sometimes though, can’t it? In certain seasons of marriage, it can sometimes feel like you’re butting heads constantly. After a while you can easily start making highly toxic assumptions about your spouse:

  • He must not really love me
  • She loves it when I look stupid
  • He doesn’t even want to talk to me
  • She’s not even trying
  • How could he/she do this to me?
  • I’ve been a fool all along thinking they were going to come through

When you allow yourself to believe any of these things about your partner, you have gone from thinking they may have said or done a bad thing to believing they are a bad person, that their desire is to do you harm.

This is why it is so important to marry a good human being, one in whom your faith can be reasonably placed. Because if you are certain your spouse has ill will toward you, then only one of two things is possible. Either you are mistaken, or you married a jerk.* 

This happens of course. Good people marry jerks all the time. And jerks marry other jerks. If you are engaged, and you are not absolutely certain that your partner is a deeply good human being who desires good things for you, turn around and run! And don’t stop until you fall into the arms of such a person.

Sometimes your spouse will lose faith in themselves. 

They will have times where they aren’t sure if they are a good person. 

When this happens, your job is to simply tell them what you know and have always known — that they are good, even if sometimes they don’t talk or act or feel like it. And their job is to do that for you.

But neither of you can do your job if you lose faith in one another, if you stop believing in each other’s good intentions.

So beyond sex, have you been faithful to your spouse? Or when things get tense, do you quickly start thinking they don’t care, and assuming bad things about them?

Keep the faith. The more you believe in your spouse’s goodness, the more you will see it in them.

*[Jerks are people too. You can care for them and have compassion for them. But you do not have to allow them into your life to spread their chaos.]

On Getting Old

I got old on Thursday.

Not last Thursday.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t a Thursday. I don’t remember, I’m old now.

But it happened that way.

In a moment. An instant.

I was getting in my car to go to work. As I often do, I connected my phone to listen to my precious music on the way.

The music filled the car. And it was fine at first.

But then it wasn’t.

I don’t mean the music. I mean the moment.

Suddenly, in that moment, the music seemed old.

I should mention that it was. 35 years or so.

It had just never sounded old to me before.
It was the music I had fallen in love with in middle school (that’s what we old folks used to call “Jr. High School,” kids).

Played on the cassette player in my first car. [See, there were these cassette tapes, and sometimes something would get mucked up and tape guts would get into your player and cause a ton of headache. You might have to get tweezers and carefully pull the guts out of your machine, stick your finger in one of the tape spools, and manually rewind the tape a little and hope it would still play and preferably not spill its guts all over your tape deck again. (We called ’em “tape decks.”)]

The music that had faithfully shepherded me through adolence, college, my first years of marriage, graduate school, raising my three babies.

It soothed, comforted, and empowered me through hours and days in my room, as I lay in bed on occasions where I could do little else but listen, praying that the MS ravaging my body would relent and leave me with any of my faculties intact. Or at least that I’d have the energy to get up and not let The Simpsons Movie play for a fourth time in the DVD player. (Remember those?)

I don’t need to explain. You have a soundtrack to your life too. And you know what it means to you.

So I knew my music was old.

But that day, all at once, it sounded its age. And at that moment, for the first time in my life, I felt my own.

Which is to say I experienced myself as the person I saw people my age as being when I was young, when that music — and everything else in the world — was new.

And it scared me. How the days are flying, how quickly I’ll be looking far into the past as I re-read this post and reflect on this moment. How I won’t actually be able to read this post at all because I won’t remember where I left my glasses.

Our girls are gone and our house is so often empty.

I’ve lost my hair and my beard is turning gray.

The lines on my face (and the hair in my ears — what?) surprise me every morning.

And for the first time in my life, I’m beginning to hear it, a ruthless hum of dread. It’s faint, but it daily grows a tiny bit louder.

The End.

Seriously, I’m done writing now. I haven’t resolved this yet. I haven’t wrapped it all up neatly into an object lesson as I am wont to do. (I’m getting older, so I say things like, “as I am wont to do”). I’m sure one day I’ll write about all the amazing wisdom I gained at this time in my life. Because I am wont to do that.

But right now, to be honest, I’m a little scared. Not of dying but of getting older. And of living to an age where I say things like, “I hope I live until next week because the new Wonder Woman movie comes out Friday.”

After all this is brand new to me, on account of having just gotten old on Thursday.