When even your tobacco is orthodox…


Sweet summer nights! #LifeIsGood

A perfect iced coffee at my favorite coffee shop in Ypsilanti, Cafe Liv!

Reading and enjoying a nice smoke on my patio while overlooking a freshly mown lawn. #lifeisgood

A ball field on a beautiful night is one of my happy places.

What a beautiful day to spend on the patio of my favorite Flint Area Coffee Shop, The Station!

Consistency is the key. Down below 250lbs, that’s over 70lbs.

Not perfect.



Often, as we read through the Old Testament, it feels like God is some sort of angry deity. We read some of the stories and think, “Woah dude, chill out.” Yet, when we read closer, we see how many times God warns the people.

And then warns the people again,

and again,

and again…

Now it feels like a loving parent who has asked their kid to pick up their shoes for the 100th time and finally loses their cool. It seems like that’s a more apt description of how God relates to the people in the Old Testament.

I wonder if we can hold that image in our head while we read the stories of the Old Testament, if we can begin to really understand the God who is,

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

  • Psalm 103:8, NIV

This psalm, in particular, paints a picture of the gracious God.

What strikes me is this line, “He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:”. When the people of Israel thought of the writings of Moses, they thought of the first five books of the Bible. It is in these five texts that we have the revealing of God to Moses. As I have read those books over the years, I have struggled to see in them a “compassionate and gracious” deity. Yet, recently, I’ve been reading them while trying to hold this image of a loving parent reminding their children of what they need to do. As I do, I see the “slow to anger” bit come to the forefront. Particularly so when I try to imagine that the narrative bits of the text are not moments after one another. But are likely weeks or months, or maybe even years apart!

Grace is not something that showed up with Jesus. Grace is all over the Old Testament in as many diverse ways as it is in the New Testament. The God of the people of Israel is understood as the all-loving, all-forgiving, all-gracious God. Jesus is the perfect display of that grace, compassion, and loving-kindness. But it’s not as though grace burst onto the scene with Paul’s writing about Jesus.

Consider the opening lines of this Psalm:

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

This is not from Romans or Ephesians. This is not from 1 Peter or James. No, this is a Psalm.

When we read the Old Testament, we have to remember that there is something bigger happening. This vision of God is the overlay for the entire Old Testament.

The next time you read a story in the Old Testament where it seems that God is an angry, judgmental deity, ask yourself, “What else is going on here?” I think part of our responsibility as we enter into the stories of the Old Testament is to try and understand why the people were writing the way they were writing about God and remember that the overarching narrative is that of a gracious, sin-forgiving, justice-working God.

I’m beyond proud of this kid. He’s a college baseball player and he’s also demolishing it in the classroom. Tonight he was honored for making the Moot Court Nationals at LSU and inducted into the Pi Sigma Alpha Honors Fraternity. #notjustanathlete #smarterthanme

Golfing with my pops today was good for the soul. I’m so grateful for these days.

Scored some new vinyl today. What a beautiful album not just musically but also in physical presentation.

In August, Amy and I are participating in something called, The Mammoth March.

You hike 20 miles in 8 hours.

Training starts now.


“Karma’s a bitch.”

Did that get your attention? 😏

I am sure it did. Pastors are not supposed to use that kind of bad language.

This little sentence is something that we hear often in our world isn’t it? It points to this sense that “what we put out into the universe will return to us.” If we do bad things, then we get bad things in return, so the thinking goes.

Karma can be useful as an answer to the age old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Well, you did bad things in a previous life and those bad choices are being visited on you in this life, so the thinking goes.

Karma can also challenge us to do better. If we believe that any bad action will ultimately be returned to us in some way, we will likely try to choose the better.

In a nutshell, karma argues that every action has consequences.

That resonates, does it not?

We like the idea that when a bad person does a bad thing that they will face consequences of their bad action. But, what do we do when we are that bad person? Most of us don’t really think we are bad. We are able to see how those people have bad karma, we don’t really see how we deserve it.

I think this is something that I love about grace. It breaks us out of the karma cycle.

A real and true grace is not cheap. A real and true grace has two key components. First, it acknowledges the bad. Grace is not naïve. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in his seminal book, The Cost of Discipleship,

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Grace needs a cross. What wrong has been done must be dealt with. If you offer a cheap grace it is not truly grace, it is simply looking the other way. Cheap grace, a cross-less grace, is nothing more than ignoring one’s bad actions for the sake of avoiding conflict. Grace necessarily engages conflict because it refuses to ignore brokenness.

Second, a real and true grace deals with the bad. What do I mean by this? I mean that a grace that simply acknowledges the bad but doesn’t actually deal with the consequences of that bad is no grace. This is often why we find so many public acts of confession to be hollow. Their words are nice, but we see no resulting action that supports the words. Grace is costly precisely because it demands a cross. It demands for justice to be restored.

At the core of our bad actions we ultimately become purveyors of injustice.

When we hurt another in word or deed we are practicing injustice by demeaning the image of God in them. Too often there is a doubling down by not redressing the issue. Then finally, we try to pretend as though we were maintaining our moral uprightness.

Grace seeks to set this right.

Unllike karma that is ultimately retributive in nature, grace goes a different way.

What we see God do through Christ is to deal with the bad at its most fundamental level. For justice to be restored the bad ultimately has to be dealt with. At the deepest level, injustice is an affront to God. What we see throughout the Scriptures is that separation from the divine presence is the ultimate consequence for the bad. In the cross, we see God through God’s own self-sacrifice meet the requirements of separation but then overcomes it in resurrection.

The cross and the resurrection of Christ not only restores justice at the most fundamental level but also opens the door for all of creation to be redeemed, restored, and reconciled.

This costly grace frees us from the consequences of our bad actions and intentions.

But more than this, it frees us to live as agents of the very same reconciliation!

Grace is amazing because it frees us. We no longer look over our shoulder. There is a freeing to follow in the self-sacrficial-loving way of Jesus.

Grace drives us beyond our ego and self-concern. Karma locks us into primarily worrying about self.

A cold day at the ball field, wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Fireside Coffee in Flint, MI for the win! This Brazilian “Sweet Yellow,” is dang good! ☕️

Trying out a coffee shop in Eastern Market in Detroit, Anthology. My guy The Beard loves it and recommends the Coffee Tonic. He’s right on the money. Delicious!

Pistons game with some of the fellas courtesy of our guy Noah (not pictured). 🏀


I remember sitting in the living room of my friend, mentor, and pastor, Bob Smart. There were about ten of us sitting in a circle for a Koinonia Group. Koinonia is the Greek word that is roughly translated as “fellowship” in English. He asked a simple question, “What is grace?”

I answered quickly because I knew the answer!

“Grace is unmerited favor, Bob!” I said.

“What’s so amazing about that?” He said.

I sat dumbfounded. Silenced by a simple question that demanded more of me than an intellectual response.

Bono of U2 once wrote about grace this way,

She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

It’s the name for a girl
It’s also a thought that
Changed the world

And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness
In everything

She’s got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She’s got the time to talk

She travels outside
Of karma, karma
She travels outside
Of karma

When she goes to work
You can hear her strings
Grace finds beauty
In everything

She carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips

She carries a pearl
In perfect condition
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings

Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Grace finds beauty
In everything

Grace finds goodness in everything

This paints a picture well beyond something cold like, “unmerited favor”. I am struck by the emotion of what Bono has written.

At the time that I responded to that question by my friend, Bob, I don’t think that I understood that emotion. Grace hadn’t made it down from my head to my heart.


There’s an ancient story that resonates deeply in my soul.

One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”

Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Oh? Tell me.”

“Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”

“That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”

That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”

He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50, The Message)

For a really long time I thought of myself as good. If I’m really honest with you, I thought of my self as being really, really good. So, while in some sense I knew that I needed grace, I was much like Simon in the story above. I didn’t realize that my shadow, my sin, my own brokenness was deep.

I don’t really know when it happened that I began to get it.

Perhaps it was with the birth of our first child and I began to see the deep seated selfishness that reigned like a tyrant only to be demolished by a toddler tyrant supreme?

Perhaps it was beginning to see how I responded to various stressful situations where my go to was anger and rage (heck, that happened yesterday!)?

Perhaps it was acknowledging that my sin-sickness was not somehow less than any other person’s?

As my own need for grace moved from head to heart it stopped being an intellectually rooted concept. It became something else.

Grace had become the thing that “makes beauty out of ugly things.”

What is grace? Grace is the fundamental reality that we are loved, accepted, embraced, reconciled, and cherished by a sovereign and good God because we simply are.

There’s nothing that we do to earn the love. There’s nothing we can do lose the love.

The only thing we bring is ourselves and God loves us.

God chose to love us by lavishing a grace on us that is overwhelming when begin to think about it.

It truly is amazing.

Absolutely killed my workout today! Good start to my off day.

My first day with an Apple Watch that I got just for fitness tracking and I definitely just went for a one mile walk at 9 pm to close all my rings. #challenge #fitness

I liked this picture for the photoblog challenge with the prompt, analog.

Happy Oberon Day!

Hit the gym early. Figured this was as good as any for today’s photoblog challenge. @challenges


I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through belief in the Threeness, Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

I arise today Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism, Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial, Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension, Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today Through the strength of the love of cherubim, In the obedience of angels, In the service of archangels, In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward, In the prayers of patriarchs, In the predictions of prophets, In the preaching of apostles, In the faith of confessors, In the innocence of holy virgins, In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through The strength of heaven, The light of the sun, The radiance of the moon, The splendor of fire, The speed of lightning, The swiftness of wind, The depth of the sea, The stability of the earth, The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me From snares of devils, From temptation of vices, From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.

I summon today All these powers between me and those evils, Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, Against incantations of false prophets, Against black laws of pagandom, Against false laws of heretics, Against craft of idolatry, Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards, Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul; Christ to shield me today Against poison, against burning, Against drowning, against wounding, So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through belief in the Threeness, Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

Today’s photoblog challnege is, road.

My favorite road is often no road at all.

Today’s photblog challenge: patience

The journey toward health in whatever area demands patience.

March 14, 2023 #3goodthings

  1. An unreal conversation that lasted hours with a new friend.

  2. A massive incline workout.

  3. Ice cold beer.


Today’s photoblog challenge, horizon. One of my favorite views in Ypsi.

I did the thing today. 💪

workout log

Day 13 of the Photblogging Challenge: connection

I have learned the critical importance of connection to my body. Working out has been crucial to that process. I live a lot in my head and trying to figure out how live embodied has a been a journey.

me at the gym

One last morning in the warmth.