Thursday, April 21, 2022

Liz Wheeler at NGU: Ban the Sexualization of our Kids

Our oldest son serves as the President of the Young America's Foundation (YAF) group at North Greenville University. YAF is committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values.

Last night they hosted Liz Wheeler, a bold conservative voice and host of the Liz Wheeler show. Wheeler spoke about banning the sexualization of our kids, a timely topic. I'm thankful for all of their work to influence our culture.

Hendrix (Rhett, Jr.), our son, got to introduce Wheeler at the beginning of the livestream.

Here is the complete video:


Simple Gifts

“Daddy, come outside and see my piñata,” my nine-year old exclaimed one Sunday afternoon.  After a long, full morning at church on Easter, we then spent several hours with my mother who was recovering from knee surgery.  Finally home, it was nice to just crash for a while.
Dawson led me outside to see his latest creation.  My creative boy had drilled holes into four of his remaining Easter eggs and strung them together with yarn. 
“Help me find a place to hang these in the woods and we can have a piñata!”
We searched together through the woods and decided upon the tree that is attached to our tree house.  After securing the yarn, we instantly had a bright and colorful yard game.  Dawson grabbed a long PVC pipe, and I snatched one of my long-sleeve shirts.
After wrapping his head in my shirt, Daws was ready to rumble.  It did not take him long until he smacked the eggs and egg-stuff went everywhere. 
“Woo-hooh, Daddy, that was cool!” 
My son keeps teaching me valuable lessons.  Joy can be found in the simple things in life.
The Bible exhorts us to choose to have joy: Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5)
Dawson’s experiment with the eggs gave me four reminders of simple gifts:
1.  Simple gifts can often be found in those things we already have – not just in the things we don’t. 

Our children don’t always need yet another video game, action figure, or toy.  Dads and moms, we don’t always need another purchase to make us temporarily feel good. 

Instead, at times we can ask, “What can I do with what I already have?” 

Pull out a board game for an hour of fun.  Recycle those books that we read five years ago.  This week my children had several hours of fun going through our cedar chest and looking at photos, baby clothes, and old letters.

2.     Creativity goes a long way. 
       We don’t always have to purchase the biggest, newest, and best.   The advance of technology has created a consumerism in our culture that trains us to think we have to have “the newest big thing.”  
On Black Friday last year we purchased a flat-screen tv at a good price.  For a couple of months we shopped for entertainment centers but did not want to pay full price.  My wife began searching at consignment stores.  She found an old wooden dresser, which we purchased for about $100.00.  She spray-painted the entire dresser and it became a fabulous entertainment center.
I love to read.  As an avid reader, I have discovered that a good used book that cost me $2.00 at Goodwill reads just as well as a brand new one that has a cover sticker of $23.99.
3.      The pleasures of life are often best enjoyed when we share them with someone. 
My wife enjoys coffee and I drink Pepsi.  How nice it is to enjoy such treats sitting on our deck together, watching our children play in the back yard.  We can take a walk with our children.  Ride bikes together.  Explore a creek.
4.     Many of the joys of life do not require electricity. 
Richard Swenson, author of the book In Search of Balance, challenges families to have “Little House on the Prairie” nights when, within reason, we do not use anything electronic for entertainment.  Read together.  Play games.  Talk to each other.  Sing and make music together.  Enjoy the simple pleasures that people did for thousands of years before the advent of electricity.
We are wise to remember the words of the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts”: ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free, ‘tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.



Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Latest E-Newsletter


Click here to see my the newest edition of my e-newsletter. This time I highlight my switch from fulltime employee to self-employed remote worker.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Biden Disaster


“There are so many things going wrong – and so many radically bad decisions being made – it would be useless to focus on just one issue for this column. Before we can solve anything, we need to go item-by-item to understand the insanity, incompetence, and destructiveness which historians will someday write defined the ‘Biden Disaster.’

. . . Inflation is out of control and about to get worse. The Biden administration’s spending policies are driving inflationary pressure as the Federal Reserve plans to expand an already bloated money supply to accommodate the left’s insatiable need for more cash. The stubborn policy against American oil and gas is guaranteeing pain at the pump and sending heating oil and fertilizer prices soaring. The loss of Ukraine and much of Russia as sources of food and fertilizer will guarantee higher food prices – which will cause more pain than gasoline prices. . . .

Biden’s shallow dishonesty is further exposed by American reliance on Russia to get to a deal with Iran. The theocratic dictatorship will not deal directly with America, so our negotiations are handled through the Russian ambassador. Furthermore, the Russians are demanding we lift all sanctions on their business with Iran as a price for helping Biden get to a really bad deal with the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.”

Read the entire article here by Newt Gingrich.

Image used by permission from Pexels.

Friday, April 8, 2022

The Silent Majority: 4 Ways to Speak Up to Change the Culture



The majority of American conservatives have been taught to be nice and fair. The Left – as opposed to classic liberals and classic conservatives - has been taught to be sneaky, using force and slander.

So it’s easier for small groups of leftists to take over larger groups of conservatives, because conservatives are hesitant to roll up their sleeves and fight. The Left uses fear and mob rule.

Leftists use underhanded tactics that conservatives are hesitant to use. That is true socially, politically, and in religious circles.

I’ve seen it in churches for years. People who want to take over a local congregation and wield power will work behind the scenes for years and be very sly and political. The rest of the people just want to enjoy each other and the experience, and they often realize too late that the manipulative ones have been working behind the scenes to gain control.

And now this has happened in America.


A Cultural Civil War

John Davidson writes in his article, We’reIn A Cultural Civil War. It’s Time For Conservatives To Fight Back, “If you think what’s happening in America right now is crazy, you’re not alone. It’s true that something’s changed, that we’re in the middle of a crisis, that a cultural civil war is underway and escalating.

But it’s not true that this is a majoritarian movement. It’s not true that America fundamentally changed overnight. The hordes of protesters, impressive as them seem, don’t represent the country at large.”

Leftists infiltrated many of our American universities decades ago.

The Left has systematically indoctrinated our culture with its deadly ideologies:

(1) The jettison of absolute truth

(2) The “don’t offend anyone” narrative.

(3) The “every idea is equally valid” falsity.

(4) The “America is fundamentally flawed” and is not great lies.

And the Left uses fear and punishment to scare people into silence. Read the article here, Fear of the Left: The Most Powerful Force in America Today.


Forceful People

Jesus Christ described people who grow the kingdom of God: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12 ESV).

Ellicot’s Commentary for English Readers explains, “The ‘violent’ are men of eager, impetuous zeal, who grasp the kingdom of heaven—i.e., its peace, and pardon, and blessedness—with as much eagerness as men would snatch and carry off as their own the spoil of a conquered city.”

Unfortunately, we have not done a great of teaching people in our churches to be such “violent” citizens. Christians have often thought we have to be the “nice guy” instead of the forceful one.

The modern era includes the fallacy that the church and pastors should stay out of and stay silent about politics.  One result of such a stance is the church's weak influence on society.  While secularists and godless men and women worked feverishly to reshape our nation (after their own lusts and idols), the church often claimed that politics was not their business.  Instead, they should only care about saving souls.

Such a stance does not reflect a biblical worldview.

Lawyer and talk show host Dennis Prager calls our modern battle America’s Second Civil War. He writes that in the Second Civil war, “one side has been doing nearly all the fighting. That is how it has been able to take over schools — from elementary schools, to high schools, to universities — and indoctrinate America’s young people; how it has taken over nearly all the news media; and how it has taken over entertainment media.

The conservative side has lost on every one of these fronts because it has rarely fought back with anything near the ferocity with which the left fights.”

Lawyer turned evangelist Charles Finney wrote in the 1800’s, “The Church must take right ground in regards to politics . . . The time has come for Christians to vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them . . . .

God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of a religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to their country as a part of their duty to God . . .

God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.”

Davidson writes, “It’s long past time to fight back. That won’t be easy, in part because the radicals are largely in control of messaging. They have the sympathies—if not the outright allegiance—of the mainstream media, big tech, and corporate America. They also more or less control the Democratic Party and much of the petty bureaucracy, including public schools.”

Respect for law and order, for policemen, for the Constitution, for God, for the Bible, for people of different races, for the sanctity of human life, and for the people of America is constantly challenged.

This country became great because of its Judeo-Christian values, and it will become great again as we protect the freedom to nurture those values. The progressive Left showed the country in the Kavanaugh hearings – and now in the domestic terrorist assault on our country from the Black Lives Matter movement -  what to expect if they rule - mob law, gross deception, massive character assassination, no regard for the rule of law, and as Hillary Clinton authenticated - no civility.

We live in a day where the church must speak truth into the culture.  Christians must communicate into the national and political processes.  

Believers must not be silent.  We must speak.

What actions can normal Americans take who love their neighbors, their freedom, and their country?

1. Pray

Our current climate is one where the church needs to pray with fervor and steadfastness. This is also a time when we need to be adding fasting to our praying. The Lord said that some problems only experience deliverance through fasting and prayer (Matthew 17:21).

Abraham Lincoln and President Ronald Reagan both said the United States was the last best hope of the earth. No, not in terms of theological salvation, but in our modern era America has been the bastion of freedom and religious liberty for the world.

Today a great battle rages for the soul of this nation – and it is not only a battle between people. A spiritual battle rages in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). When such wars erupt, God’s people must not only fight in the worldly realm – but fight with prayer and fasting.

2. Love your neighbor

For years, schools taught The Golden Rule – Jesus’ instruction to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

One of the reasons America is basically good is because her people generally treat each other with goodness. Since all of this Anitfa and Black Lives Matter movement have shaken our country, I’ve made  a habit of noticing how people in public treat each other. I see people of all races, ages, and both genders showing respect, civility, and kindness to each other.

Our family visited Nashville, Tennessee, recently. A black waiter generously told us at lunch, “You don’t need to fear being outside in our downtown. This city is very safe. We have police on every block, so you don’t need to be afraid.

We experienced that very thing, and I made it a point to stop and talk with policemen several times and say, “Thank you for your presence here. We appreciate you. We feel very safe here.”

This is the time to not hold back in loving your neighbors, serving each other, and showing other people the real substance of America.

3. Resist the cultural narrative

John MacArthur writes, “To be a Christian is to swim against the flow of the world, to go against its grain, because the adversary-Satan, his demons, and the world system-are extremely powerful. Those who enter the kingdom of grace through faith in Christ do so with great effort through the sovereign power of the convicting and converting Holy Spirit.”

There was a time when values espoused by the American media, public education, entertainment industry, political parties, and “polite society” generally coincided with Christian, biblical values. Today, much of the cultural narrative is controlled by the Left, which has gradually gotten control of the media, the entertainment industry, and much of public education. And many of those values stand in contrast to a biblical worldview.

For years, the three centers of influence – Hollywood, New York, and Washington, D.C., have been out of touch with the values of average Americans.

The Bible reminds believers, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).

The JB Phillips translation adds this emphasis: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

4. Speak up.

The Left has consistently pushed their ways forward on our culture for years. They have worked to monopolize the airwaves and use fear tactics to make people afraid to disagree with them.

Suddenly, many good, average Americans realize their country is being systematically taken over.

The Black Lives Matter movement, along with their bully force Antifa, use force and fear to topple our democracy.

This is not the time to just be the nice guy. This is the time to speak up and challenge the narrative.  But it means several things that most Americans don’t like:

+ You may offend people.

+ You may lose “friends” or the respect of certain people. An English professor approached a friend of mine years ago at our liberal religious college and said, “Gene, the things you believe are not accepted any more be polite society.” My friend, who is now an evangelical missionary, responded, “Dr. so-and-so, with all due respect, I don’t care what polite society thinks. One day, I will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and give an account to Him of my life, and He is the One I aim to please.”

+ You may be attacked by people – especially on social media. But keep this in mind. Antifa has vowed that after they wreak havoc on our major cities, they plan on going into the residential neighborhoods. What that means is they plan on going into your suburb where your children play and ride their bikes, where people swim at the community pool, and where your family eats, sleeps, and lives, and they will spray paint or burn down your houses, beat up your older people, and kill some of your younger ones.

In Italy, Germany, Cuba, and the U.S.S.R., the Left started by ridiculing people for their beliefs and values. Eventually, when they had enough power, they jailed, beat, raped, tortured, and murdered people. And that could happen here.

+ You will have to learn how to logically challenge the thinking of the Left. You will have to learn to think through and discuss why you disagree with some of what your children hear from Hollywood elites, late night talk show hosts, prime time sitcoms, CNN, and some of their high school teachers or college professors. You will have to learn how to THINK – perhaps like never before.


Here are a few suggestions for where and how to speak up:

1. Make sure and start in your home and talk with your children about why you believe what you believe. Provide them an intellectual framework to think from your kitchen table.

2. Speak out – with respect and love – but with truth - on social media. Don’t let social media be overtaken by the Left. Remember, sometimes truth divides – and it cuts. When you need immediate open-heart surgery, you don't get offended if the doctor cuts into your skin.

3. Write letters to your local newspaper – or post articles on your favorite blog sites.

4. Contact your centers of influence and let your voice be heard. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: national and state Congressmen and representatives, Governors, mayors, city and town councils, local school boards, state Supreme Courts, etc. Believe me, the Left is and has been making their voices heard to these entities. It’s time for the average American to be “forceful.”

5. Speak up in your centers of influence: your church, your home owner’s association, your local PTA, your sports club, your alumni association, etc.

6. When you see our basic liberties – like the freedom of speech – being taken away, speak up. Speak out. If we do not, we will lose them for good.

7. Consider running for office at the local or state level – or get behind some godly, conservative people who will. Ask your pastor(s) to consider running for these positions. The American Renewal Project is a good resource. 

Prager writes, “This is likely the last chance liberals, conservatives and the right have to defeat the American left. But it will not happen until these groups understand that we are fighting for the survival of America no less than the Union troops were in the First Civil War.”

Remembering Jesus' reference of John the Baptizer, instead of just trying to be the nice guy in the room, maybe it's time to be the forceful one.

It's time for Christians and conservatives to come out of hiding and re-engage the public square.

Liberty is at stake.


See also my article, 7 Lies Americans are Believing.

See my article, America: Where Most Blacks and Whites Don't Hate Each Other.

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.




Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Featured by Cecil Murphey


This month, I'm honored to be featured by Cecil Murphey in his monthly e-newsletter. You can view the web version here. Cecil is one of the most respected professional writers in the Christian market, having written or co-written more than 135 books.

18 Benefits of Working Remotely

It's called "The Great Resignation,” and it’s affecting the North American workplace. For many American knowledge workers, the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown showed us we could fulfill 100% of our work responsibilities without leaving the comfort of our dens.

In December 2021, 4.3 million American workers resigned from their jobs. Yes, some of those are due to freeloaders who choose to get a “government check,” and others result from people leaving their jobs due to vaccine mandates. However, many of these resignations result from people seeking remote opportunities that better fit their lives.

CBS' Sixty Minutes recently reported that remote work has grown from 1 of 67 jobs to 1 of 7.  One author shares, "We are rapidly moving toward the time when only 50% of the American workforce will be 'employees.' The rest will be independent contractors, temps, consultants, contingency workers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and more."

Online job sites advertising remote jobs keep increasing, like, which recently shared on their site, “The landscape of remote work will be permanently changed as a result of COVID-19. Instead of ad hoc use, we've seen the full deployment of remote work across many organizations. Most surveys find that companies are organizing remote work as a long-term strategy. 69% of large-company CEOs plan to downsize their office space. And about 80%of CEOs say they expect a more widespread remote workforce as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.”

For three years, I drove 500+ miles a week commuting to and from my office job. Writing for a large organization, I enjoyed my creative co-workers and the excitement of working for a multi-million dollar institution. Though I admired the organization, I greatly disliked being tied to a cubicle. I found the cubicle environment to be terribly draining rather than life-giving. For the first time in my working career, someone else told me when to sign in and sign out (which inevitably means telling me when to get up and go to bed), how many weeks to take off a year, and faithfulness to the job was at least in part tied being paid for time and not just productivity.

Our organization sent us home during 2020 for a couple of months. I lost weight, ate healthier, slept more, enjoyed face-to-face time with my family, and got all of my work done for my fulltime job. No commute. No eating out. No cubicle.

About a year ago, I intentionally began investigating, analyzing, and delving into remote job possibilities. I absorbed podcasts, articles, and books from career coaches like Dan Miller and the Ziglar Corporation. I read Freelance to Freedom by  Vincent Pugliese, Richard Bolles’ What Color is Your Parachute?, and other motivational positive materials. Many of those materials helped me begin thinking differently about work, shifting from a traditional view of work to a modern one. Actually, modern job writers like Seth Godin argue that our "traditional" view of work did not come into being until Henry Ford and the Ford motor company. What we are seeing today, a return to being paid for productivity, not time, is a return to a real "traditional" work model.

I discovered the American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI), took their ground level course The AWAI Method for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter, signed up for their magazine The Barefoot Writer, and began exploring their extremely helpful site and other related resources.

I thought and prayed a lot, and I created a plan. That plan included creating several streams of income and learning to think very non-traditionally about work, employment, and income.

In January, I made the leap with the full support of my wife, resigned from my “secure” position and came home, leaving my cubicle and moving into my private office at home. In the past six weeks, here are benefits I am experiencing:

1. Enjoying lunches with my 16-year-old son. I can text my son, “You want to grab lunch?” and run out for a face-to-face meal. We’ve done it five or six times since I came home. We are currently reading Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love together.

2. Sleeping 7-8 hours every night. Sometimes more! Waking up without an alarm clock. Marvelous.

3. No traffic stress. Commute is less than 0.1 miles. Sometimes I even walk! Ha.

4. A private office with a door that closes. I wholeheartedly agree with writer mentors like Stephen King and Eva Shaw, who say the most important tool a writer needs to succeed is an office with a door that closes. Writing in a cubicle with people walking back and forth regularly and engaging in conversations all around me was a stressful way for me to work. My mind is much clearer and more productive in an isolated, quiet space.

5. I can have a creative space to work that I create. I enjoy color and lots of mementos around me reminding me of things I like. My first two days of independent working, I created a great working space in my church office, complete with an electric desk that I can raise to stand or lower to sit, lots of pictures, wall hangings, and memorabilia, and plenty of books lining the walls.

6. Not worn out at night/weekends. The commuting life left me exhausted by 5pm Friday and worn out most of the weekend. Now, I’m enjoying much more energy and alertness over the weekend.

7. Eating healthier and losing weight. I said goodbye to fast food breakfasts eaten in the car and big lunches, which were often a stress release. Working from home, I’m able to eat healthier with smaller portions several times a day. So far, in six weeks I’ve lost five pounds.

8. Exercising 3-4 times a week. It’s easy working from home to incorporate a brisk 20-minute walk inside or outside or a push-up and sit-up routine in the middle of my day.

9. Able to be more present with my wife. Priceless.

10. Can work, stop, and restart as I choose. I can work best at my natural cycles of productivity. And I can break during the in-betweens. That means I can use that time to run to the post office, pick up groceries, take a walk through the woods, do a house chore, or go get some gas for the car.

11. Uninterrupted time with the Lord and positive input at the rudder of the day. I can spend unhurried time in prayer and Bible meditation as the day begins. And I'm taking career coach Dan Miller’s advice: “Years ago I made it a practice to spend at least two hours daily listening to, or reading, positive materials. That practice has given me access to the greatest thinkers in the world and an ongoing education that is current, practical, and profitable.”

12. Spending less money on gas and eating out. Not commuting and eating out daily, according to gas prices in 2021, saves me between $4000-$5000 a year.

13. More mental energy to focus, plan, and set goals. I purchased the Ziglar Corporation’s Performance Planner and spent about fifteen hours the first two weeks I came home thinking through life goals. I recorded forty-eight short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals and am using the planner to help me stay on track. I’ve already completed three of them, including finally submitting my completed first book manuscript to a publisher.

14. Time for productivity. Since coming home, I’ve completed my own book, was almost immediately hired by another organization as their part-time, remote, writer, have begun work on two different book projects as a ghost, and am talking with another party about a completely different book editing project. I'm also working on redoing my own freelance writing and ghostwriting promotional materials. And I’m just getting started.

15. More time for education and instruction. I’ve completed AWAI's Build Your Freelance Website in Four Days webinar, started Ray Edwards' Profitable Copywriting Business, and begun Nick Pavlidis' Ghostwriter School in the past six weeks. And in audio helps, I'm currently listening to Earl Nightingale's Lead the Field, Zig Ziglar's The Goals Program, and Nightingale-Conant's Goals and Vison Mastery Course. I've also read Ruth Soukup's Do it Scared and Wayne Cordiero's Leading on Empty since coming home.

16. Am able to take days or vacation time off when needed, not according to a benefits scale. Entering my last job at age 46, I received two weeks off the first two years. With three teenagers and one in college, only taking two weeks off a year was quite challenging. Now, I can take off what I need and want, assuming that I’m hustling enough when I am working to make the income we need. This also offers more time to visit my now two children in college and my octogenarian mother. And it puts me in the driver's seat.

17. I’m learning to plan my life first and then my work to fit that life. 

I wish someone had drilled that into my head thirty years ago. The traditional American concept of work is to
choose your work and then plan your life. However, modern wisdom shares, “To have real success you must understand yourself and plan your life first, then plan your work to embrace the life you want” (Miller).

18. In essence, and somewhat as a summary benefit, I’m much better able to order my world from the inside-out rather than playing catchup from the outside in.

Gordon MacDonald, in his excellent book Ordering Your Private World (which I am re-reading for the sixth time since 2002), writes, "Those who brought their lives into discipline or . . . intentionality would, more than likely, go on to long-term lives of fruitfulness, and their best years would be in the last half of their lives when discipline and depth paid off. . . . The ordering of my private world is an inside-out matter, not an outside-in matter."

Wayne Muller writes, “The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or even to know that the sun set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a single mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life.”

And Dan Miller writes, “Henry Ford once said he didn’t want executives who had to work all the time. He insisted that those who were always in a flurry of activity at their desks were not being the most productive. He wanted people who could clear their desks, prop their feet up and dream some fresh dreams. His philosophy was that only he who has the luxury of time can originate a creative thought.

Wow! When was the last time your boss told you to quit working and do more dreaming? Unfortunately, our culture glamorizes being under time pressure. Having too much to do with little time is a badge of ‘success.’ Or is it? . . .

Andrew Carnegie would go into an empty room for hours at a time – not allowing any interruptions – as he was ‘sitting for ideas.’ Thomas Edison would go down to the water’s edge each morning, throw out his line – with no bait – and then watch the bobber for an hour until he was ready to think for the day. . . .

If you are feeling stuck, your solution may not be in doing more, but in taking a break from the ‘busyness’ of life. Want to be more productive – try doing less. Go ‘sit’ somewhere for a while!”

Today's changing landscape presents multiple opportunities for those who will seize them.

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.


My Updated Website


I've recently updated my personal business website. Check it out here at

Laying Our Offenses on Jesus


The journey of the Lenten season took on a new dimension for me recently.

Using Joni Tada’s devotional book, Songs of Suffering: 25 Hymns and Devotions for Weary Souls, this week I came across the following wonderful hymn by Anne Steel . . .

Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief
For Thou alone canst heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel

In recent months, my family experienced a frustrating and shocking set of circumstances resulting in a lot of pain - from just a few individuals. But a few people can do a lot of damage.

In twenty-five years of marriage and thirty years of working for churches, we’ve never seen such middle school girl drama normalized among adults . The harassment was something my wife and son endured for months, and it continued growing. My wife described it numerous times as feeling like we were in a witch hunt.

Wounded people often wound people. Such a true statement.

As Christians, and as healthy humans, at times we have to determine, at what point do I stop submitting and working for peace, and at what point do I say “no” to punitive behavior, draw boundaries, and walk away.

But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail,
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust

Our Suffering Servant

As we moved into Holy Week, the words of Isaiah 53 (ESV) have been fresh with meaning for me:

“He was despised and rejected by men”

He knows what it means to feel rejection, misunderstanding. He knows what it means to feel like someone has knocked the wind out from you, unable to reclaim your breath.

“a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”

Due to the choices we made to protect ourselves, it caused a separation from many relationships. That causes great sorrow, and now we are dealing with grief.

Grief over unwise decisions by a few people

Over incompetence

Over manipulation

Over immaturity 

“and as one from whom men hide their faces. He was despised, and we esteemed him not”

People who distance themselves from you because they don’t know what to do. People you thought would check on you who choose silence.

As our family – and extended family – walked through and processed these events, I remember Peter’s recollection of Jesus:

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23 NIV).

While my flesh has wanted to pursue the world’s ways of handling deep offenses, my spirit knows this is a new opportunity to entrust ourselves to Jesus. Not being able to defend self, but trusting Him.

And then Isaiah tells us the wonderful assurance, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4 ESV).

My grief. Our griefs. I realize this Holy Week that I can lay my griefs afresh on Jesus. The pain of seeing our children hurt. Of seeing extended family numb. Of experiencing the dirty underbelly of the politics of a system. And of realizing how unnecessary was it all.

The author of Hebrews offered these tremendous words: "We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (4:15-16 NIV).

Laying our offenses on Him. Remembering that His atonement covers not only our sins – but our griefs and sorrows.

Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace,
Be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace
Attends the mourner's prayer
Oh may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there


Kevin Ford and Jim Singleton write about the nature of such systems:

“Disagreements are inevitable among groups of people. And the very nature of leadership, which involves moving people toward goals and embracing change, opens the door to experience some levels of conflict. As organizations experience anxiety, one automatic emotional response is called triangulation.

Systems create scapegoats to preserve their status quo – even if the status quo is dysfunctional. We will almost always choose the known dysfunctional option over the unknown healthy one. Our tendency is to look for the scapegoat to help preserve the status quo. Who can I blame for what’s going on? When we are coaching a pastor or consulting with a leadership team, we rarely take the ‘identified problem’ as the actual problem. The actual problem is typically rooted within the system.”

An unhealthy system will always find a scapegoat for its pain. And when those systems experience anxiety, they often react, instead of responding wisely, to do at the moment whatever they think will protect the system. This is a classic response in anxious systems.

No one knew that better than Jesus, our sacrificial Lamb. Leviticus 16 tells us how the priests symbolically put the sins of the people on the scapegoat, who left the camp to become a sin offering. Jesus Christ became our scapegoat: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6 NIV).

Helpful Reads

We’ve picked up a number of books the last several weeks for our own catharsis and to get our mind on a good path . . .

Wounded by God’s People: Discovering How God’s Love Heals our Hearts by Anne Graham Lotz; 

When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse by Chuck DeGroat; 

When to Walk Away: Finding Freedom from Toxic People by Gary Thomas; 

When the Hurt Runs Deep: Healing and Hope for Life’s Desperate Moments by Kay Arthur; Necessary Endings: 

The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships that All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud.

And we’ve found strength and comfort in the psalms  . . .

“You have seen this, O LORD; do not keep silent” (35:22 AMP).

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall” (55:22 NIV).

“I am in the midst of lions . . . whose tongues are sharp swords. . . . My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music” (57:4,7 NIV).

“In God I trust; I will not be afraid” (56:11 NIV).

Psalm 129 reminds us that God stays with us, in spite of the actions of others. Eugene Peterson wrote, 

"That 'he sticks with us' is the reason Christians can look back over a long life crisscrossed with cruelties, unannounced tragedies, unexpected setbacks, sufferings, disappointments, depressions - look back across all that and see it is a road of blessing, and make a song out of what we see. . . . The central reality for Christians is the personal, unalterable, persevering commitment God makes to us. Perseverance is not the result of our determination, it is the result of God's faithfulness. We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous, because God sticks with us." (A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, IVP)

Thy mercy seat is open still
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet,
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet

- Anne Steele, “Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul,” 1760


Thankful that we can lay our whole selves on Jesus. Worshiping Him this week as my scapegoat, my grief-bearer, my offense-taker.

Pictures courtesy of Pixabay and Pexels