Monday, February 28, 2011

Rob Bell

A very popular blog has been surfacing and resurfacing drawing a very large amount of Christians to fierce debate. Rob Bell is releasing a new book "Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person who ever Lived" in late March. The video above is incriminating of a person who has strayed from the orthodox belief on God, salvation, and the message of Jesus. But before I go forward, it is important to note that most people have not read the book yet. We have this video and some excerpts that give you a hint of what to expect in the book, but we have not read the book. So please in all comments, remember that it is wrong to call a person something without the whole story and assuming the guy is a heretic or a "wolf" isn't going to do the Kingdom of God any good at all.

The story became really large when John Piper tweeted, "Farewell to Rob Bell" and linked the blog I have linked above. My understanding of the tweet is that Piper is waving goodbye to the Biblically sound pastor as he leaves for a scarier and distorted theology. Watch the video and judge for yourself. This is Rob Bell, and he is saying these things in this video. I think we can all agree with that at least. He has been a huge impacting force in the Christian world and especially here in Michigan where he pastors Mars Hill. In the past, he has sheepishly and vaguely said things that stirred up controversy and made people question his doctrine. Until now, he has not been forthcoming to anyone's questions regarding his stance on Hell, salvation, and what Jesus came here for. Whether or not he explains himself in the book, he does much in this video to further worry the Biblically sound teacher. I don't care to sit in judgement and bash him on this blog until I have read the book. My question to you is: What do you think? This video strikes some questions to me and I wonder if it does to you. We can learn from most everything, even things that upset us. I will post some of my questions here, feel free to do so in the comment box as well.

1. If everyone is saved and there is no hell...what happens to those that spent their lives wrecking others and denouncing the existence of God? What happens to justice, and the vengeance that is reserved for God alone? While it is true that many references to hell in the Bible are referring to the literal Gehenna (Like a garbage dump of fire), it still begs the question: What was God using Gehenna to describe?

2. If we do not need Christ alone for our salvation, why did Jesus come at all? Many believe he came to raise awareness of the "reality" that the world was saved. If this were true, why didn't Jesus just hold a rally, or a demonstration. Maybe He could have collected pledges and staged a team awareness walk. He actually died here. A horrible death. Why was the death necessary if He were not needed for us to be saved? If He wasn't The Savior, why the ordeal?

3. What happened to the Bible? If most of what Rob says in this video is true, the Bible cannot be true. If the Bible is not true, but a book distorted by man, what base is he basing his beliefs off of? (I am not saying he does not believe in the Bible, but he has stated it isn't the only book we need and questioned if our faith would be destroyed if it were proved not to be true.) What base would you base any beliefs of God on? Wouldn't this make you an agnostic?

4. He talks about Jesus coming to save us from God if the orthodox view of salvation is true. When do we have the right to judge our perfect Creator and his righteousness and concept of fairness? If the Bible is true regarding our all deserving hell because of our profound sin, how is God sending Christ saving us from Him, isn't it Jesus saving us from what we earned for reasons we could never earn?

5. Is Ghandi in Heaven? Who knows. Does the Bible ever tell us that love or any action we do enough to save us? If love is enough, why did we ever need a Savior anyway? Why Jesus at all? Ghandi is in Heaven if He believed on Christ, not because he was a good guy. The Bible tells us that no one is good...not even one.

6. He is right when He says that the good news is much better than anything we could imagine. He is right to say that we do not know for sure if a person has gone to Heaven or Hell. But doesn't the Bible say that you will know those that belong to Him by their fruits? If we all belong to Him at least in the saved from hell way, shouldn't all of our fruits be good? Wouldn't that produce a darn near perfect world? If we are all saved, why would Satan even send false prophets to lead us astray? What could they possibly lead us from if it doesn't matter what you believe?

I will say this. I have been to Mars Hill. I have read most of Rob Bell's books. I have seen all of the Noomas. I have listened to his podcasts. I like Rob Bell. I am not going to accuse or call him anything right now especially before I read the book. But I do think that there is a danger to gravitating only to what is cool. Mars Hill and Rob are very trendy. It is no surprise that Time magazine called him "A singular rock star in the church world." Was anyone in the church world meant to be singular? That says more about ego than anything else. The thought that thousands of years of church fathers and theologians are all wrong, distorted, or liars and Rob Bell is the only right one is an idea I find to be preposterous. People have been changed by Christ through Rob's work. So it is understandable for any naysayers to have a deep emotional attachment to him and get really upset that people are calling him out. But isn't that the duty of all test everything? Aren't we supposed to be more loyal to the Word of God than a person? 


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Burning Out

I shot my first rocket into the air. The sparks grew flames and lit up a straight line into the night for about 100 feet, then fizzled and fell. I laid back in satisfaction. My rocket was well engineered given the materials that made up it's DNA... Paper towel cardboard from it's core, toilet paper (for packing), cut pieces from a shoe box, and a single rocket bought from Meijer in the middle of the night. Will lit his. It flew even higher (due to his superior engineering prowess). He laid back and enjoyed watching it go places we have never been. Now Joe lights his and runs over to us and watches it fly sideways, spin, and crash into a bush burning the rocket fuel for nought. Par for the course for Joe sometimes. "It figures," he says. We lay in the grass under the same tree we carved our initials into and spoke about things we would never repeat to anyone. There isn't much to do at 4 AM than open your hearts. It was a foggy night, mid-fall. We had no idea where life was going to take us, we just had faith that wherever those rockets flew, we would go also.

After many years of hoping and flame streaks across the sky, we lost hope. We realized that dreams are just dreams for some people. Some people like us The Dead End Kids don't ever realize the things that they hope for. It doesn't mean there isn't something profoundly better awaiting us. It just means that the things we always wanted were elusive and sometimes impossible to grasp your hands around. To be honest, I don't think I ever believed my dreams anyway, I just kinda went along with what they were saying, because they were more normal than me and I wanted what they wanted. I really don't know what I really wanted. I knew I just didn't want what was happening and especially what was about to happen. Life did a good number on all three of us, systematically breaking every part of the three of us. But we had each other...always. The world makes you feel so small. The three of us proudly stood each other up in our weddings. We all danced with our mothers to the same song. (Mama from Boyz To Men) We all made speeches at each other's weddings and all swore allegiance to each others kids. But something wasn't right. Something was missing. Fire. That intensity and passion that made us do all of these idiotic things had died somewhere along the path of growing up.

I believed from the first time I sat in front of those two guys that I was there for a specific purpose. I believed it and told Joe from the start that we were brothers for a reason. I have never stopped believing that. We lost one and to our eternal heartbreak, we can't get him back, but I will never let go of the belief that I was a part of Will discovering an ever chasing Christ.

That morning, I approached the front door, looking to my right because I knew there were a pair of legs dangling to my left. Joe came out and looked at me with desperation and hopelessness and pressed his forehead against mine and wept. I couldn't weep yet. I was still in shock. He felt so guilty and alone...a feeling I would very soon get used to feeling myself. What happened to those rockets? Where did that passion go? Can it just disappear like that with no trace of it's path? Like I said, the world makes you feel so small. His sister came out and asked me a question I will never forget and I hope she doesn't mind me sharing. She asked me, "What does the Bible say..........."it doesn't matter what was said next. I knew what she was asking. I said to her with an uncertainty I am ashamed of now, "The Bible says blasphemy is the only unforgivable sin." A fact my pastor drove home and brought tears to life at Will's funeral when he said, "Nothing is more powerful than the cross." There are no more powerful words that have ever been said to me than those on that day. It melted me. Reminded me that even when rockets burn out and fizzle, God is still more powerful. He doesn't fizzle.

Maybe that is the very reason we are united together.


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Sunday, February 27, 2011


I am 32 and I have been a dad for 14 years. That's nuts to me. I was too early for the bus to fame in having a child as a teen. I could have been that irresponsible and mentally inept boy-father on Teen Mom that shrugs his shoulders at everything. Oh well, there is always Caeden and Aevry, I will keep my fingers crossed. I have always wanted to be a stage dad like the Lohan guy. (In case you don't know me...I am joking)

Here is a snapshot of who I was while fathering a child just out of high school. I lived in an upper flat in Wyandotte with my brother. It was an outdated, but really cool/vintage without trying sort of place. People buy the things that were left there since the seventies. I was proud of it. I drank a lot at the time. When I say a lot, I mean enough to fill an average swimming pool. I worked at Star Theater as a supervisor and worked mostly the night shift. I would get off work, come home, and crack my first Bud Light. Before I realized it, there were 15 beer tabs on the table and I was reeling. Come to think of it now, I don't remember much of anything I did for entertainment during those times. I didn't have the internet, AOL cost like $30 dollars a month for dial up then and I didn't have a computer anyways. The internet was still new. Geez I sound old. I bet I will tell that to my kids and grand kids and they will jump back in shock that I was around before the internet. I would write a lot...obviously on paper, or later on a Brother word processor I bought for a hundred bucks that would spit out my writings in green/white line fashion with that paper you could make banners with that printed for like 4 hours with that annoying noise. I would drink and drink and drink and listen to Counting Crows or Tupac until I passed out where I was sitting. Some nights I staggered around the neighborhood or took confession at the nearby Catholic church's midnight confession. I wasn't very happy. I didn't get along with many people and I don't guess I much cared about that. I wore a pendent given to me by a stripper girlfriend I had at the time that said "F the world" but in profane fashion. It suited me. I had Will, Joe, and Andy... My three brothers that never came from my blood.  Me and my brother Jason were so different and that was like a wedge I guess. Love him dearly and he feels the same, but we just never had much in common. I wasn't a very good brother.

I knew exactly just how lost I was. I think everyone did. You could see it in my eyes. I believed in God. I was raised in church like 3 to 5 times a week depending on the year and church. I just thought He hated me and I had some really bad pictures of Christianity painted by religious hypocrites. So I guess I made a conscious choice to hate Him right back. I blamed Him for everything that had ever gone wrong. I had no hopes for a future and I stopped looking. It's hard to explain the way I felt. If it were an intense feeling like hate or rage, I could relay it to you eloquently. It was just nothing. Numbness. I didn't feel anything at all. It was my choice to shut everything out. I was an old paint can that was used to paint some kids bedroom 10 years ago that had since separated itself into two equal parts of thinner and white muck. I sat stagnant. I can't remember a passionate thing I did during that time. I had a 6 foot Iguana Will and I bought that kept me company at least the nights I spent away from the toilet or Will's floor.

It wasn't until that day that I let it all in at once. That day, God would not allow me to ignore Him. That day, I finally dropped the razor and fell to my face melted in heartbreak. It was like realizing everything you had always believed was wrong and I had wasted so much time lying still in ignorance. What an idiot I felt like. A fool. But here was God forgiving me in the most intimate ways; reminding me that He had always been there and had always wept with me, not for me. I felt buried alive and freed just before the air ran out.

What a contrast light is to darkness...morning to night. It is good to remember why we are so grateful for our Graceful God.


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Saturday, February 26, 2011


There is something called The Urban Legends tour here in Metro Detroit. It consists of these little secrets that all the teenagers used to know about. I don't know if they all still exist or if teenagers have found new ones yet, but these used to be a major thing we would do on a Saturday night.

Here are a few.

1. The red brick house- this was a house of a family of one child. The mother apparently backed up over her kid and killer her. One night after, she lost her mind and painted the entire house red. The bricks, the shingles, the fence, the door, the siding...everything. She kept a doll, the size of her child in the window and changed it's clothes every day.

2. Reflector Alley- This one was scary. He was this guy who killed his entire family as a child with an ax or machete or something. He was sent to the impound lot for kids who are broken for a while, then released on his eighteenth birthday. The state gave him a small house in the middle of the woods away from civilization. He put reflectors on all of the trees on the way in so he could see people coming down the long and winding one car dirt road. He would come chasing you with a shotgun or something. Swear to sacred things, he did twice when I went.

3. The Nun- She stood in her front window 24 hours a day praying for the world. We would come up to her and look at her and her eyes would follow you as you moved. Never really was sure if she was real, but either way, real or not, it was weird and freaky.

4. The Stain Glass Church- In an alley in the middle of the night, you could go up to the back of this old Catholic church and look into the stain glass widow at a picture of Satan. On the inside, they had lights that would "Conveniently" appear to light up his eyes and stare out at you.

5. The Pink Castle- There was this castle painted pink that apparently was occupied by a homosexual cult that would sacrifice young virgin boys to their god. Never saw them, but the castle is definitely pink.

6. Little Rose Chapel- She was a stigmata victim many years ago. She supposedly died of the wounds Christ had. There is a shrine to her out there. She is buried in the back yard and the little chapel is open 24 hours a day for people to pray to her, the pope, and God. Incense, candles, and strange and scary relics are everywhere.

The sad thing to me is that most of these are all gone. Things I showed everyone and freaked everyone out with. Places that I spent my youth. I think that every community has these places, whether true or not, you loved them. But things cannot last forever.

1. The Red Brick House- They must have moved because the house is painted normal now and the doll is gone.

2. Reflector alley- I was so scared of this one that I never went back after the second time I was chased out. I don't know if it still exists.

3. The Nun- She is gone, for whatever reason, she has stopped praying for the world in her window. What a disadvantage to the world.

4. The stain glass church- Someone broke out that window in what I can only imagine was a fit of rage.

5. The pink castle- Overgrown with weeds and no sign of life.

6. Little Rose Chapel- Still freaking people out today.

I wish nothing ever ended. I wish I could revisit the things that are gone with the people who are gone.


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Monday, February 21, 2011

Here in Michigan

Bring the snow. Dump it all over Michigan right after a spring-like spell. I don't mind. I never did. I always loved the change.  People move from Michigan to escape the weather, I live here because of it. It is spontaneous. You never really know what you are waking up to. You actually have to stick your toe out the door to tell if you can where your Chuck's or boots. The weather here is a direct reflection of life. You can never count on anything being automatic. Things are always changing and finding new ways to survive.

I find new ways to survive. A lot has been thrown at me. I have walked for the better portion of my life against the blowing snow. I really don't know any other way and I bet that God doesn't want me too anyway. Change gives me a reason to fight. I see a hill and get discouraged, but something happens in my heart. God does something and I begin to toss and turn, then wake up. I do believe in Philippians 4:13. I believe it because I have seen it.

Understand that I am not boasting on anything but what God has pushed and fought me through. I will never take credit for anything He has done. I write this only because I have experienced things that have proven that God brings us through everything. Nothing is impossible with Him. Many of you reading this right now are facing hills that are steep and tempt you to lie down at their feet and close your eyes forever. Even when odds are impossible, God is still smiling. God is God because He is God and that is the only way I can describe Him. We may feel defeated, but we aren't. We need to fight. Grab that inner burning and get to your feet because God is faithful and alive.

I have laid down on the grass so many times. I have smelt death right under my nose. I have fallen into piles of ash. In every circumstance, God has risen me. Every single time.


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Saturday, February 19, 2011

For Better Or Worse

We are in the age of electronics.
I don't know if this is for better or worse. I like it a lot. I told my wife today that my phone has become for all intensive purposes a part of my family. If I leave it at home, I turn right around and get it as if I left my baby in the crib sleeping. (Never done that by the way) Laura commented that 10 years ago, she didn't need to know what the neighbors down the block were doing. Now we check the internet 50 times a day in hopes of communication.

Isn't that kind of ironic? We check electricity. Static and wires, numbers and lights for communication. Then we can go off to work and walk right by a person as if they weren't there. I think our reliance on technology is a symptom of our need for each other. It is just an easier way to be together. It is easier than seeing and hearing the worst of each other. Usually we post our very best. Usually. We like to post our cleverness and humor, even when we aren't very clever or funny. But when we are standing eye to eye with another living, bleeding, breathing soul, we clam up. Well, most of you know I don't know how to clam up. I am usually the guy running his mouth begging for more listeners, but so many say nothing without their fingers. Is it good? I don't know. It can be. We can reach a lot of people we otherwise couldn't this way. Is it bad? I don't know. We use it often as our main or only communication with the world, and even that can be limited to those we physically accept as "Friends."

I say spill your world onto the streets for people to pick up or trample on. I say turn the volume all the way up, whether in person or on screen and be a person another person can remember...and hopefully admire. But I am loud. I am obnoxious at times. I refuse to be ignored. Not everyone is like me. Tell me what you think.


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Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I have been doing pretty well lately. I have been making all the right moves and necessary steps to keep my face out of the dirt. I see the sun again. I see the good in things again. I can throw away the bad without the good. I learned how to hold on to the good things again. I have been lowering my defenses.

So what happens whenever I am doing well? Struggle. Another dream. He was there, but only watching me gasp for air sitting on that bench by myself in one of my secret places. He watches me weep louder than I have ever wept. He just watches, then goes away. Like it was just a reminder of the hell I have been through the last year.

I open my eyes in a few blinks and sleep is over. The dream isn't. I fought every cell in me to get myself off of that bed today. I wanted to give up. Many who are reading this are tired of hearing about Will. I know because whenever I write about him, I lose readers. But I think it is because people may not understand the relationship I had with him. We weren't just friends. Him and Joe were ALL I had at a time in my life I had decided to give up. I wanted to die every day I existed. I was nothing but anger and rage. It was me against the world and I had no one standing behind me. They saved my life. Will was standing to my right and Joe to my left, both willing to take any damage directed at me. I swear to my Sovereign God, if I had the opportunity, I would have jumped in front of a bullet for them.

I watched him descend. This is the worst part of the horror that festers in my mind about the whole thing. I watched it happen. I tried to help. I tried to lead him in a different direction, but I didn't stand side by side with him. I stood behind him. There was a time, I would have stood in front.

All day, I have been back to January. A month that I hardly remember now. There were too many tears. I was sick and wasn't sure if I would make it. I recovered. Then I relapsed. Then recovered. Over and over.

I remember punching a statue of Mary, because I was so mad that she was praying. I couldn't do it for a few months. I couldn't even speak to my God who gave me Will in the first place. I was so mad that he let him go. Like that. I knew better. I believed better. I could not make my mind acquit God, but more than Him, myself. To me, I was covered in his ashes. Later, by the grace and compassion of Christ, I recovered. I remembered the warmth in His love. I remembered the bitter taste that Jesus suffered and blamed sin. Not His Father. I blamed my Father. The only father I had ever known.

I miss him so much. Today has been rough. I cannot get out of last year today. I'm gonna see him again. This time I will stand side by side with him. I won't forget what it means to be a brother. I will be perfect, just like he is now.

It is really hard to sing right now. But despite my tears, I will sing. Despite my wounds, I will migrate.

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Monday, February 14, 2011


Today my pastor made a really interesting point. Many people when faced with calamity make the statement: "All we can do now is pray." I have said that before. To my eternal shame, I have said that and meant it. That really sucks. It sucks because I should know that it is only God and our asking that gets anything good done at all. It's like after I have exhausted all of my skills and options, then I go to God? Sad. The going to God should be the first, middle, and last option.

It has made me realize. I have been treating God like crap. I have refused to surrender.

I think this is a common issue with humans. I think we often would rather face things head on with our "Wits" and forget about trusting anyone, especially someone we can't even see. This isn't faith at all. To our failure, this is lunacy. To shut out the only thing that has the power to change everything is beyond absurd.

Planting your face to the ground is submission. We can take a note from the Muslims who plant their faces on the ground to their object of worship daily. I wish I could say that even with freedom, I plant my face to the ground daily. God should never be the last resort. He is our number one and only option. He is all we have. He is our very being. Why would we ever want to hide our faces from Him? Because we are proud. I am proud. Sometimes, I have had enough of His way and want to take control for a bit. It is at that very moment in my mind that I lose. I am not sufficient and neither are you. We have faith and pray because we need something beyond our understanding of reality. We need God. Christ. The very flame the world tries so hard to stomp out. We need Him more than the air we breathe or the water that flows in our veins. We need God. The world needs God.


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Tuesday, February 8, 2011


What do you take pride in? Pride isn't always such a bad thing. I think the Bible does teach a pride that is good.

It isn't the kind where you won't ask for help when you know you desperately need it. It isn't when you refuse to admit defeat or blame when you are obviously beaten or guilty.

It is doing everything as if unto God. The Amish take this to heart. It is a creed. Go to Shipshewana (spelling?). It is there that you will find quality never found at Art Van. They don't chince. They do it for God. This is the good pride. A drive to be everything God made you to be for His glory. This pride exists even when others aren't around. It is integritous.

Pride is taking care of everything that God has entrusted to you. Pride isn't kicking the dog when you are mad at the world. It isn't throwing that gum wrapper or paper cup on the ground. It isn't flippantly living around people with as little contact as possible. Pride is doing everything for the glory of God as He is watching.

Detroit is made fun of a lot. People there have given up in so many ways which is why it looks so bad and there are no students in the schools. But what if people started caring? Taking pride in their homes and schools and work? Everything would change.


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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Defense Mechanism

What are your defense mechanisms? The things you do when you feel insecure or unsure of yourself? I joke. Will did too. More than me. Every time he got nervous, he would joke. I remember sitting in a jail cell with him laughing because he would not allow me to not laugh at the situation. I joke when I am nervous or trying really hard to make friends.

Tell the world what you do cope with insecurity and uneasiness.


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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We Collect On The Ground

When was the last time you were young? Youth isn't measured in days, hours, or minutes. It is measured in isolated seconds when you realize the things that have no use and the things that do. Youth is that brief moment when things that rust loss control over you and a feeling of real innocence and beauty takes hold. It can bring you to tears. Looking up at the night sky when a blizzard of snow falls all around you. There is no escape, so you look up at the lights that radiate from the moon and stars and stick out your tongue to catch a snowflake that you were once taught was profoundly unique from every other.

This is a picture of what God really is. And who we really are. Even the snow is unique. Even the snow was crafted by an intrinsically creative and beautiful God. How much more beautiful are we than the water that collects in the clouds and falls through the cold air and along the line transforms into something different altogether. It collects on the ground. We collect on the ground.

I wish I could return to that place of innocence that makes a child a child. Sometimes I feel like I just cannot get back. It's sad to think about. To think about the dancer on the pole that spins and circles finding a different place in her mind than where she really is. She used to sit on her grandpa's lap and he would squeeze her tight as the scruff on his face would inadvertently scratch her. He smelled of English Leather and pomade. She grew up and turned into something altogether different. She was beaten up by those that she loved and left behind. She learned how to hate. No one is born with hatred, it is a learned emotion that comes from abuse and disappointment. When she played with Barbies, she never pictured them on the pole, but deeply in love with a wonderful family. She never knew that Ken was such a beast filled with lust and carnal urges he doesn't know how to control.

In fact...Ken used to catch the snow on his tongue too. He would go to the park and spin around on the merry-go-round, moving to the middle and watching the world pass like lightning all around him. The lights blur, and still blur as a grown man that never knew what it really means to be a man with integrity and grace. Years of disappointment and hate have soiled the innermost places in his heart. He never wanted to treat Barbie so badly. He never wanted to treat anyone so badly. But here he is feeling both gratification of lust and utter humiliated shame watching Barbie spin around like a toxic ballerina.

Both of them still see the sun. Neither of them recognize what the light means. The light was meant to show us something better. God used a light to guide the wise men to worship the Messiah King born with ten little fingers and ten little toes. The King that would maybe catch a snowflake on His tongue and be reminded of His Father. The light was always meant to lead us to our Father.

I never knew my father until I met Him in a bathtub with a razor in my hand. I never knew innocence until I watched my daughter stand on a chair to turn off a light. These things are meant to lead us to our Father. But it is so hard to get back. It is hard to experience those seconds that we remember and suddenly not much really matters outside of God and the love that pours from His very being into every crack that the world has made in us. When you light a firework, it is ugly. It is a pieced of cardboard with a wick. But when it bursts, we see it's real beauty. Maybe we need to burst. Let go of the things that try to hold back our beauty and be someone's light that leads them to God.

Photo courtesy of Ginsui-rin


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