Pray > Panic

As the world around us panics, reacting with unfettered hysteria at every unexpected event that happens on this planet.

We, the Church, must turn to prayer.

We know panic is a natural biological reaction to crisis. Its a default mechanism that is triggered when stuff hits the fan.

 Panic then turns into pandemonium as it amplifies exponentially throughout our digital nervous system.

It spreads with every social media post we see. It goes viral with every news report we read.

Our phones and TVs begin to ignite with this ambient anxiety. We breath it in. We exhale it out. We now carry the contagion and spread it like a virus to every unsuspecting pedestrian on the street.

 Paralysis is the inevitable result of this reaction.

We become so overwhelmed by the world’s problems, inundated with its suffering we eventually become inactive and unresponsive. Fatigue and frustration frame our reality as we become useless and purposeless.


That is not the life that Jesus has called us to live. We are called to transcend a baseline existence of panic.

Prayer is our passport out of this prison.

Not that we remain unaffected and unscathed by the havoc that humanity is steeped in.

 Its that we have chosen to be preemptive in prayer. To be responsive rather than reactionary.

To be formed and informed by God’s presence. To let it shape us and mold us into the people ready, willing and able to respond.

Prayer is never a last resort. It’s always our first response.

Prayer should never be perceived as the “spare” tire that we turn to when there is a flat. Prayer is the steering wheel, guiding us to move forward into the future.

Its leading us to help and heal. Directing us onward to diminish the darkness and to constrain the chaos.
Prayer is never an escape, a way to opt out of actually doing something impactful.
Prayer is never an alternative to action.

In fact prayer is the place where we mobilize and are energized to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Prayer is the intersection where heaven meets earth. Where we are endowed with the purpose and passion to make a difference.

Prayer is a place for preparation. Where God prepares our hearts to do His will in the world around us.

Prayer is a place for processing.

Where we bring the pain and problems of this world unfiltered. Where we process through the unspeakable. Where we mourn the unimaginable.

But prayer isn’t the answer…

Not for panic, not for problems and not for this world’s pain.

Jesus is.

Jesus is and will always be the Hope for humanity.

Prayer is the place where we come face to face with Love personified.
Where we are vulnerable to Grace.

It’s where we look upon Jesus in all his fullness and beauty. Scripture tells us that we are then changed. Transformed by this encounter.

Instead of leaving prayer still looking like us
We start to look a lot more like Jesus.

We start to live and love like Jesus.
We start to seek out the last, the least, the lost and the lonely.

Our priorities change. Our perspective changes too.
Maybe even our politics change if we spend enough time in prayer (nothing is impossible).

Instead of a life governed by panic we allow ourselves to operate under the reign of peace.

A peace that surpasses all understanding. A peace that will make the world even wonder.

Prayer places us in a constant posture where peace is present and we can be present to those in need.

When the world turns to panic.

We turn to prayer.


Prayer 101

“With Great power comes Great responsibility” – Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker


Prayer is a privilege.

Plain and simple.

Its not something we have to do. Its something we get to do.

We aren’t simply expected to pray. We are entrusted to pray.

Like partners who have been purposed to play a part in shaping the world around us,

We pray to effect change and transformation, here and now.


God is always looking for people to partner with him in order to see his plans for our world come to pass.

And God’s primary means of partnership happens through prayer.


Saint Augustine says it best;

“Without God we cannot and without us God will not” 

God relies on teamwork in order to achieve the desired future He has in store.

He is relying on you and I to be people who pray.

Not out of obligation but out of an understanding that this is an extraordinary opportunity to be a plumb line of God’s provision.

Prayer is less of a religious ritual and more of a right and responsibility.

We have been given power. We’ve been granted access. We have the ever-listening and inclined ear of the Everlasting God.

On the other end of our prayerful petitions is the limitless resources of Heaven.

How could we sit idly by and not leverage the promises of God as the panacea for this planet’s problems?

We are called to be agents of change.

But what if change moves at the pace of our prayers?

“The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with” – James 5

Prayer is a force to be reckoned with like a category 5 Hurricane aimed straight at the enemy’s ramparts.

Its like having an atomic bomb in our arsenal yet still resorting to hand to hand combat.

With great power comes great responsibility.

Like well equipped soldiers let us wield our greatest weapon without ceasing.

Let us unleash the unstoppable power of prayer and witness the work of God in our lives.

Pray Now.

Pray Later.

Pray when it hurts. Pray when its hopeless.

Pray like a warrior through the worry and the wandering.

When things are uncertain. When things are unknown.

Pray to move heaven.

Pray to touch earth.

No matter the season. No matter the circumstance.

Harness the power of prayer.




So there we were, a group of close friends, encircling a fire like a belt tightened snuggly around a waist.

The night’s festivities were coming to a close and we were already breathing the fresh air  of our first day in 2019.

Although it wasn’t that fresh…We live in Florida. Which means deeply inhaling this air is like standing over a dishwasher machine opened right after its completed its steam cycle.

Two hours into the new year, I somehow managed to catch myself, my freshly built deck, and a can of gasoline on FIRE…. Don’t worry, the gasoline can is fine.

You would think after a stunt like that, one of my New Year’s resolutions would be “taking a class on fire safety”,  however the “get out of my comfort zone” resolution took precedence. (that night I found out how uncomfortable fire is when you’re wearing it)

As we sat surrounding that quaint little fire, we decided to take turns telling one another our New Year’s resolutions for 2019. It was a fun activity to hear all of our goals and desires articulated out loud. There was the obligatory “get shredded” resolution that we heard often from the guys (which I found slightly offensive when I think about all the work I put into maintaining my Dad bod). The resolutions covered a spectrum of self improvement, to financial responsibility, to growth in education, new careers, and new business ventures. Every resolution would either improve us personally or improve our lives for our families and our businesses.

They were all good. Even responsible. And all definitely beneficial.

But they were just wishes at best, like coins tossed into a shopping mall fountain.

Unless we invested more than just words into those resolutions, they would still be hanging in the air.

Every resolution requires a response. Resolutions consist of more than just hot air.

Nothing is easier than making one, and nothing is harder than keeping one.

So what’s the secret? Whats the key to bringing these things to fruition? Why is it so easy to give up? Why do the majority of us fail at sticking it out?

The answer is simple, but not easy.

Its found in a little word that starts with the letter “P”.

No its not Pterodactyl…. Although, you were close.

Its Perseverance.

That pesky and problematic word that gnaws at our limitations and reveals our true colors.

The dictionary defines it like this; [pur-suhveeruhns] is the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties ,obstacles, or discouragement.

Staying steady is hard. Sticking it out isn’t easy. Slugging it out in spite of the struggles, driving headlong through the difficulties, amidst the debilitating discouragement, is just flat out tough. Its exhausting and excruciating.

But on the other end of all that pain is a promise.

(Imagine the car salesman slapping the hood of “perseverance” and exclaiming “but wait theres more”!)

Thats right, there is an incredible promise for those that persevere.

When Im looking for words to live by, to base my life on to propel me with an existence full of purpose- The Bible is where I look. 

Right there in a short little letter from Jesus’ brother James, is this promise about perseverance:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

– James 1:2-4

Heres another translation of this verse by the late great theologian Eugene Peterson:

“So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” 

Perseverance is a process that leads to maturity.

The promise is that if we patiently endure, we end up a complete, fully developed human beings not lacking anything.

Perseverance needs to do a work in us and when its done the results are extraordinary.

The problem that our generation faces is we live in an instant-fast food-amazon prime-cant-wait-for-more-than-a-second-for-anything society.

And the process of perseverance is less like a microwave and more like a crockpot.

It takes time. It takes tears. And it may even take years, but its still doing its work.

I hate to be anecdotal and I’m definitely not claiming to be an expert on the subject of resolutions. However, I’ve discovered a few things that are grounded in biblical principles and modern psychology that may help us stick it out while we are in this perseverance process.

Tip #1. Make your resolutions visible.

There has been an extensive amount of research done on this phenomenon of writing goals down. One study I read found that people became 42% more likely to achieve their goals and dreams simply by writing them down. It has something to do with how our brains respond to the actual activity of writing something and seeing it vividly in front of us constantly.

The Bible even has something to say about this in Habakkuk 2:

“And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming.”

So write those resolutions down. Scribble them on your bathroom mirror. Put them on a sticky note over the speedometer in your car. Nail it on the ceiling over your bed. We are visual creatures with powerful imaginations. We can actually hack our brains to ensure we strive to actualize what we visualize. What we see is what we get. So lets get after it.

Tip #2. Share your resolutions with others.

According to research, a major factor that effectively helps people achieve their goals is accountability. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%.

There is power in relationships. The right person in our lives can dramatically increase our ability to persevere and accomplish what we set out to do.

Of course the Bible has a lot to say about relationships. Heres a few of my favorites highlighting this truth.

“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there’s no one to help, tough!” -Ecclesiastes 4

“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” – Proverbs 17

Maybe this is why we all love that old song “Lean on me”

Come on in your best gospel voice sing it out loud with me “Lean on me, when your not strong, Ill be your friend, Ill help you carry on….For! it won’t be long, til Im gonna need somebody to leeee eannn on” 

“Just swallow your pride”!!!!!

OK you can stop now…. It was getting a little out of hand… and your neighbors may be wondering why it sounds like a raccoon with a bad case of strep throat is screaming in your house.

But its true! We all need somebody to lean on! And I believe if we surround ourselves with the right people, we can achieve absolutely anything.

Tip #3 Don’t Quit.

You know what diet works the best? The one we stick to. You know what budget system has the greatest results? The one we stay committed to. There isn’t a magic formula. There isn’t an easy button. There isn’t an App that you can download to remove all the difficulty from life.

We will inevitably fail and fall however the greatest and ultimate failure is if we just give up.

The Bible has an awesome reminder in Proverbs concerning our failures.

it says “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.”

Regardless how much we get backtracked or sidelined due to hang ups and unhealthy habits. Don’t quit. Stay the course.

If you fall, fall forward and get back up. If you relapse then return to your plan and see it through. If you mess up and make a mistake, shake it off and sharpen your will and try again.

Whatever you do, don’t quit.

Hold tight. Hold fast. Jumping ship isn’t an option.

Dave Ramsay says it like this “The only time you get hurt on a rollercoaster is if you try to get off before the ride is over.”

Ride it out.

Remember that “P” word?

We must Persevere.

Plan on pain. Predict that there will be problems. But never for second allow the option to quit.

You know Perseverance had a second definition in the dictionary that I thought may be helpful as well.

Its described as a “continuance in a state of grace to the end”.


the Bible describes Grace as God’s enabling power at work within us.

Thats right. We aren’t on our own. We don’t have to do this by ourselves. We’ve got help.

“Our help comes from the Lord” the psalmist declares.

God will work within us and through us to accomplish what He has enabled us to do.

Grace supports and sustains us.

Like fuel for a fire, like oxygen to our lungs, like blood in our veins,

it is the electric current surging through the life of every believer,

it is a force to be reckoned with as it moves and animates our lives.

There is never a time where we exceed the need of this Grace, and there is never a moment where we steep below the reach of this Grace.

We constantly abide in this ever present, ever persistent, empowering Grace of God.

God won’t give up on you so don’t give up on yourself.

Dont. Quit!

Heres to all my Resolutionaries!




























My wife is pregnant.

Notice how I didn’t say, “We’re pregnant.”

Because regardless of how much I contributed to the making of this baby (yes I typed that while grinning)-in no way, shape, or form am I carrying the baby.

I am reminded of this reality every day.

Like when she gets up every 30 minutes throughout the night to pee and Im comfortably cocooned in my blanket in bed fast asleep.

Or when she has a skull splitting headache however she can’t take any medicine to relieve the pain so she is sprawled out on the bathroom floor (so she can throw up) with tears streaming down her face whimpering, and there is nothing that I can do to help. I can’t be helpful to her and she is completely helpless.

Although I try, most of my attempts at caretaking are ineffective in treating her headache. There really isn’t anything I can do but be present in solidarity and watch her bare the symptoms of this process.

Or how about when she throws up so often and so violently that the trauma done to her esophagus causes bleeding. So not only is she barfing up EVERY. SINGLE. THING she eats, but she is also spitting up blood as well.

She created a name for when she is having an overactive vomiting day.

She calls it “barfy.” I’ll use it in a sentence. “Today I feel barfy”- My Wife.

This means without warning and without rhyme or reason she will projectile vomit everything she ate or (thought she ate) like her body is exorcizing demons.

The longest she has gone without feeling “barfy” was 24 hours.

She is 28 weeks pregnant.

So for the past 200 days she has had a couple 24 hour windows of serenity where everything she consumed decided to be fully digested. Im not kidding when I say if I throw up once I’m out for at least a couple of days, bed ridden. If I throw up twice within 24 hours I start reviewing my beneficiaries on my life insurance policies as well as finalizing my final wishes in my will. I basically prepare for death like any responsible man.

But not my wife, she worked this entire time and continues to. Feeling “barfy” isn’t going to hold her back.

Everyday my wife goes through child-bearing olympics. The stress and emotions that surge through her body on a daily basis have the capacity to immobilize even the strongest woman, yet she keeps trucking. Her physiology is changing as well. Her skin is growing and along with that comes stretch marks and even worse the gnawing insecurities. As the baby grows her back pain increases. Her hormone levels are skyrocketing through the roof,  yet her heart is steadfast.

Lets not forget the things she has to live without in consideration of growing a healthy baby: first, no caffeine. That means no delicious coffee every morning to start her day. No sushi. Sushi, which is one of her 5 main food groups is completely out of the picture. No alcohol. She isn’t much of a drinker but a good ol’fashion keg stand every now and then never hurt anybody (joking). Mayonaisse is out of the question too (because of the raw eggs). How do you eat sandwiches then??!!! That’s like a transgression of the highest degree for sandwhich aficionados. Oh and she cant eat sandwich meat either….

This process of growing and sustaining a healthy baby is all consuming. Everything my wife does is oriented around the health and well being of our baby. Its not about her wants, desires and needs anymore, its about the baby’s.

The craziest thing is- after all this my wife said she would do it all over again if it meant having a healthy baby. I kind of think that’s extremely altruistic and to be honest, pretty crazy, but I recently discovered that the Bible has another word for it.




The Bible calls it LOVE.



However the word for this kind of love in Hebrew is “WOMB.”

The English language doesn’t have an appropriate equivalent to this kind of love which is one of the problems with the English language.

I can say I love my wife and in the same breath I can say I love Tacos….

However in Hebrew when the writers of scripture wanted to express the love that God has for his people they used the word for the most intimate and caring affection humans can experience. The love a mother has for her baby in the womb.

This tells us something about God. One, God is absolutely enamored with the motherly instincts of women so much so that He would prefer to be likened and perfectly illustrated by how they love their babies. Two, God doesn’t play favorites with which gender is “better” at reflecting His character and heart within creation. Both genders equally reflect and display His image within in our world.

This may sound a little weird at first but God “wombs” us.

(If you want to be cool and hebrew just go ahead and replace the word “love” with “womb” in your everyday interactions. No one will think you’re weird.)

A favorite biblical scholar of mine, Phyllis Trible, when talking about this word actually says it illustrates more of a phrase close to “womb-like-mother-love”.

God has a “womb-like-mother-love” for us.

In other words, God’s compassionate concern for us is a lot like my wife’s compassionate concern for our little baby girl in her belly.

Imagine being tethered to something that is solely dependent on you for its life and sustenance. And that “thing” is fully at your mercy- vulnerable and helpless. However, being loving and self-giving; you share every bit of your resources, time, and energy so that this “thing” will not only survive but thrive and flourish. The main motivation for everything you do is centered around the protection and provision of this. one. thing.

That is the position that a pregnant woman is in and that is the posture she takes towards her unborn child from day one.

And if you think that this type of other-oriented self-sacrificial love that a mom has for her baby is overwhelmingly beautiful (which I do!), how much more so is God’s love for us?

In fact see for yourself how the prophet Isaiah describes God’s love in chapter 46:3-4

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
    and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

And in chapter 49 Isaiah continues

Before I was born the Lord called me;
    from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name

But God’s people said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
    the Lord has forgotten me.”

Then God replies;

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

That last phrase absolutely wrecks me.

“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

Of course if you are familiar with the Biblical narrative you will know that God eventually has His hands engraved with roman nails. Every inch of iron driven through His flesh and sinew was in some way revealing our names. So that He would never forget them.

That’s the type of breathtaking love God has for us.

Thanks to my wife, Elina, I get a front row seat to experience this kind of love everyday.


I love you babe.

( better yet I ‘womb’ you… )


We Are Not Afraid

I woke up this morning to another news headline from around the world that described yet another unspeakable terrorist attack at an Istanbul night club. 39 lives were taken and 69 others were threatened with severe injuries. I published the post below in November 2015 right after the atrocious terrorist attack in Brussels Paris however today I feel that it is still prevalent.

Fear infected the hearts of many like a contagion dispersed from the terrorist attacks yesterday. Pandemonium spread throughout every media source like a virus , inundating humanity with the horror and tragedy that devastated the people of Paris. A darkness gripped the world as we all watched and waited . Counting the toll, taking inventory of the wounded…

As the numbers rose our hearts sank.

And yet in the midst of all the panic and turmoil, a statement was audaciously presented in a crowd in protest. On handmade card board signs illuminated by strands of LED lights read this phrase;


Can you believe it?!

Hours after a horrific terrorist attack, that claimed over a hundred lives, somebody has the nerve to declare that they’re “NOT AFRAID” . Instead of running scared and hiding for safety which is what any normal human being would do, these people decided to stand out in the open and mock the enemy .
And I find that incredibly endearing.
I even sort of envy those individuals for their blatant gallantry.
I want that , whatever that is that drives them to be so bold , I feel is an extremely important element to be sought after.
 I long for that virtue within myself.
In the western world, safety and comfort are high on the priority list for most but these individuals have tapped into something that is more essential, more fundamental to being human and that is to be ALIVE . To be fully ALIVE is to live life without fear . To stare death in the face and not even flinch .
It’s dangerous. 
Its  daring.
 And  its absolutely vital for all who truly want to live life fully ALIVE.

Maybe this is what bravery looks like. Maybe this is what faith looks like. Maybe this is the definition of courage . Maybe courage can be more contagious than fear as it ignites the human spirit to rise and face the night with burning hearts. This fearlessness can even seem illogical and irrational in the wake of such dismay however I believe it can be the octane that drives us forward into the dawn.


A New Year, a New You.. and other cliché ideas

There is something inexplicably magical about a New Year.  For homosapiens  (that’s you and me ), it is an event that symbolizes a panacea to all life’s issues. 

Its like a fresh start for everyone ( except if you have a criminal record )

It even has that new car smell to it. Another page gets turned. Another Chapter is being written. You basically get a do-over in life.

To reset and reboot .

To dream again, to try again..

 And to reach for things that seem unattainable. Again.

 You know all those goals you never reached in 2016? The six-pack-abs goal,  the eating-healthy goal , the become-a-millionaire goal, the fortitude-not-to-watch-another-Marvel-Avengers-movie-goal (and then you have a lapse in judgment and you watch one only to realize how unbelievably bad they are- every. single. one.) 

Well now you get to scrap those and create new ones that you’re probably not going to accomplish. (Im kidding)

Even though I didn’t reach those goals I decided to retrieve one from the archives that I made three years ago. And right now. This very moment.  Im accomplishing it (so there is hope! ). It was my goal one day to start my own blog.


I did it and now I get to put a big fat check next to that one.

A New Year is also a time to learn from mistakes and to forget things that are unhelpful. Like the time your friend recommended an ultra hipster coffee shop to try, so you try it, and the coffee tasted like they steeped old cigarette buds in hot water mixed with ashes and soot (hipsters love soot). And of course this ultra hipster coffee shop wouldnt name their beverages something normal like “Cold Brew” or “Iced Coffee”. No that would be too understandable and reasonable. This coffee shop was so “authentic” that they had all their coffee selections in the native tongues in relation to where they were harvested geographically. So if you aren’t fluent in Tanzanian or Ancient Aboriginal tongues, you have the option of hiring their full time menu interpreter to help you navigate your coffee experience. Needless to say the only word I recognized on the menu was “wifi”.

A New Year is also a time to remember all the lessons learned (like never to go back to that coffee shop). To recollect all the memories made . To press on, to move forward.

 There is an innate longing in us as humans to crave newness. To desire rebirth. I believe that’s why new year’s resolutions play such vital role in our lives.

And yet for some reason we believe that this type of reorientation is only reserved for one time at the end of the year and the start of a new one. 

As if we can’t do all those things on any other day or at any other time?

For this reason and many more reasons is why I love my Faith tradition.

Christianity houses a wealth of wisdom and truth that constantly points us to the fact that every moment is a chance to start over.

Throughout scripture you encounter compelling words like “God’s mercies are new every morning”.

“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. Behold, Im doing a new thing!”

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a New Creation. The old is gone and the new has come!”

Every page, every poem, every song, every prophecy is drenched in this movement.

The trajectory of scripture is this constant pulling and prodding of God’s people to move forward.

To move beyond our past. Beyond our failures. Beyond our fears.

To move forward even if its a fall. If you fall forward you still fall upon a grace that is sufficient enough to hold you.

To move forward with this in mind;

Every minute is an opportunity for change, 

Every tomorrow is a place for regeneration,

The worst week , month, or season is not final but a temporary period that holds no permanence.

The trial, the hardships, the failures are not what define you. 

The cold winter gives way to a vibrant spring,

The darkest night gives way to the brightest dawn,

As we hold fast to a hope that resists finality. We believe in second chances.

Mulligans occur (its a golf term.)

Grace abounds , Mercy overwhelms.

We. still. move. forward.

We get to look ahead with anticipation,

Knowing things can be different.

Things will get better, 

We can improve, we can be better.

Its going to take God’s Grace (a lot of it ). Its going to take God’s Love (God’s love is unchanging and unwavering towards us regardless if our performance is stellar or subpar).  And its going to take God’s people (life change always happens in the context of relationship, so make sure you surround yourself with people to encourage you and hold you accountable).

So even if you’re a week in to 2017 and you have failed at every single one of your New Years resolutions, you don’t have to wait until another 365 days to pass for another chance.

You can start over. Right here. Right now.

Cheers to a New Year!