Tuesday, October 18, 2005


The phone rang. The man on the other end of the line incoherently rambled through tears. Life stunk. He had lost his brother to death. He was facing the possible death of his daughter and another family member.

The only pain medicine available to him was alcohol and porn. They weren't working. So, he called a stranger. We talked about spiritual things. We talked about concrete life change. Finally, he refused to answer the phone. It was most likely that suicide was the reason. So, I called 9-1-1 and MHMR. They were on their way. Situation handled. Right?

I could not leave the phone dangling. So, there I was with the police, fire and EMT crews. When everyone cleared out, we again talked about spiritual realities and real physical changes. This story is like dozens I could relate. People often sit at the edge of their bed and view it as the end of life. It is similar to sitting on the edge of a canyon - certain that the best alternative is a quick flight to the end.

Let life continue. Let life go past the moment you are stuck in. It will pass. Clarity comes not when we surrender our lives to a physical death, but when we accept a spiritual death. What I mean is a death of a different kind. This death is a choice to quit running our life and let God set the course. Give it a chance. Choose the God of life.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Losing to Buzzards

Last week something strange happened. I drove into our parking lot, watching a buzzard circling a small corner of the lot. He was only about 30 feet in the air. I got out of my car and assumed he would fly away. However, he began to circle me at about 25 feet. I must confess having a buzzard circle you is not a comforting experience. I picked up my pace a little bit, figuring if this was going to be “my time to go” then I wanted to be inside.

This year losing is becoming regular instead of rare. I am forced to accept losing as someone spoiled by undefeated seasons, BCS National Championship games, and Big 12 championships. Yes, I am an Oklahoma Sooner fan and have been throughout my life. The good years have been very good and the bad years, not too bad. But this year the football team has dipping at or below .500 all season. In fact, the Sooners have not won two games in a row. They have lost three games, which is more than they lost in the previous too years. I am dealing with losing.

From a spiritual standpoint, losing is really not entirely bad. Our American culture despises losing, fires losers, blames others and pursues trophies at all human cost. We are in denial about losing. It happens. Losing is going to happen. There are times when it feels like buzzards are circling over our heads or that horn frogs are sitting on our desk.

How one responds in the spiritually darker times when all seems lost is what can deepen our faith. There is an amazing story about God not being afraid of the darkness of this world. Rather than stay perched in the safety of invincibility, unquestioned status, immeasurable power, God descended into the darkness of earth. God became a man. At the same moment Jesus was divine being and human being.

This decent took God to the bottom. This divine-human being, Jesus, was executed. His execution exposed the darkness of the sin in this world. At the exact same time, Jesus' execution brilliantly showed the eternal and inescapable love of God. God would not be denied.

Buzzards circled a dead God, killed by his creation, who had seemed to lose all self-respect. How would God react to the very world he spoke life into that now sucked all life out of his son?

God turned losing into victory. God again made life out of death. He raised Jesus back to life and in essence told humanity, “There is no escaping my saving love. You cannot beat me at the game of life.”

Losing is bad, but there is no better story than the God who pulled the light of life from the darkness of death. "Shew, buzzards!"

Monday, October 03, 2005

Safe Sex

Where can someone go to talk about sex? This is a serious question. I will give you that you can see sex on TV, be sold sex via advertising, and get caught up watching a racy movie. That is not my question. Where do you go to talk about sex? The locker room, a ladies tea room, chat room or even the church bathroom . . . but never, never ever talk about it publicly at church.

I disagree. Church is the perfect place to talk about sex. Have you read the Bible? I spent the summer reading every mention and story about sex. Now, I am questioning giving kids Bibles! Where is the congressional bill to censor the Bible?

Seriously, I believe the Bible is a great resource (and a challenging one) to learn that humans are humans regardless of the millennium. Church is the right place to talk openly about sex. If you are struggling and need someone to talk to, thanks for talking with me. I already have been encouraged to hear from so many of you. Thanks for letting your guard down and sharing your struggles, desires and wants. I want you to know that you are not alone.

Thanks for your overwhelming reaction to the new series. I just do not see the point in "“shushing" sex at church and I am glad you were willing to talk. Please take some time to post or email me your responses. Your input has been very helpful.

You may be interested in some further study and reading. Realize that compiling a list of resources is not easy, it is risky and my reading in this area is incomplete. Nevertheless, I believe that books can be helpful conversation partners. So, here goes . . .

Chastity: Song of Solomon (in the Bible)

Sexuality: Real Sex by Lauren Winner (2005)

Sex Addiction: Faithful & True by Mark Laaser (1996)

Homosexuality: Straight & Narrow by Schmidt (1995)

Women & Sexuality: Secrets of Eve by Archibald Hart (1998)

Family Issues: Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw (1988)

Pornography: EverymanĂ‚’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker (2000)

Marriage: What Wives Wish their Husbands Knew about Sex by James Dobson (1975)