God and Donald Trump

Last night, I received an email from a friend with the subject title, “God and Donald Trump”, and I cringed as I slowly clicked to open. The email read as follows:

Description book — “God and Donald Trump”:

With pundits asking, “How did he win?” this book explores whether there was a supernatural element involved. Christian leaders prophesied before the election that God had raised up Donald Trump to lead the nation through a time of crisis. But could this billionaire reality-TV star actually convince the voters he was for real? If so, what is God doing now not only in Donald’s Trump’s life, but also in the nation?

Trump is an enigma, a brash self-promoter, casino owner, and man of the world. Yet he is also a devoted husband and father who has surrounded himself with men and women of faith and has made religion a key component of his image.

God and Donald Trump is a powerful first-person account of one of the most contentious elections in American history, with exclusive interviews and insightful commentary from the men and women who were there.

This friend likes to debate, so I’m assuming this is the bait to get my opinion for an ensuing debate in the weeks to come :) I started to reply via email, but figured I would make a little blog post about it.

That I know of, there are three primary sections of scripture that Christians will use to point to the idea that God personally set Donald Trump in office.

First is Daniel 2:21 where Daniel, praising God for revealing a dream to him says:

He [God] changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.

Daniel is seemingly giving God credit for raising up King Nebuchadnezzar — who had some moral problems, if not outright wicked. God himself confirms the delegation of power through the prophet Jeremiah 27:5-7 which reads:

With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him.

To me, the fact that is was being prophesied showed that there were extenuating circumstances which led to God giving power to Nebuchadnezzar to carry out His plan, not the normal operation. Notice, that Nebuchadnezzar is already king when this plan is set in motion. I love the translations that use the word “servant” to describe the king. God gave this title to the king and I think adequately shows the subjugation that we’ll look at later. My question here is, “Did God place Nebuchadnezzar as the king to use him, or did God use the king of Babylon for His purpose, which happened to be Nebuchadnezzar at that time?”

The second section is Romans 13:1-5 in which Paul, addressing the church in Roman provinces writes:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

The arguments that I’ve heard assume that the word authorities here refer to a specific person in a specific time (such as Donald Trump in 2017). Because the Greek word here ἐξουσία or exousia can also be translated as “power” I read this to be more general, in that God has established the office of governing authorities — nations, kings, presidents, governors, mayors, etc. There may be unique circumstances, such as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, where God may give additional power to a specific king or president to carry out His purpose. Under the normal operating procedures, we are free to choose whom we want. A people who are submitted to God would ideally seek God and choose whom God wants to fulfill the roles He has established, but we, of our own evil desires, can appoint leaders that are opposed to God, whom God did not establish in an office God did establish.

Deuteronomy 17:14-15 reads:

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.

The passage shows the freedom of choice in the people. This whole passage is about God telling them what to do and what would happen if they didn’t do it as well as the blessings that would come if they obeyed. The normal operating procedure would be to consult God to find out whom He has chosen for the office He established, and then appoint them. But, there was freedom to appoint someone whom God had not chosen.

In Hosea 8:4 God, through Hosea, says it this way:

They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval.

“The authorities that exist have been established by God” uses the Greek word ὑπὸ or hypo which can be translated “under”. Then we have “The authorities [or powers] that exist have been established under God.”

This brings us back to the “office” of government as being subjected to God. In Matthew 28:18 Jesus says:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

The same Greek word for authority is used both here and in Romans ἐξουσία or exousia.

Ephesians 1:19-23 reads:

…That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

This verse seems to intermingle both physical power and spiritual power. Christ not only seems to be the mediator of a broken spiritual state but also the mediator and reconciler of power between the physical and the spiritual.

If Christ has been given all authority, and there are authorities of offices that have been established, those offices are under Christ’s rule and authority. If not now, then certainly later, people holding those offices will give an account for the positions they hold.

The establishment of Christ as head of both the physical and spiritual power, creates a clear hierarchy. We submit to Christ as the head of the Church. We also submit to Christ as head of all authority that we ouselves are under. Inasmuch as that office does not inhibit us from worshipping God the way He commanded us to, we submit to the authority of the office that has been established.

1 Peter 2:11-14 says it this way (and is the third passage I mentioned above):

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

We submit for the Lord’s sake. Why? So others might praise God. That’s always the end-game; to bring glory to God.

Both Paul and Peter ascribe the authorities as commending those who do right. Yet, Paul was beheaded and Peter crucified under those authorities they were submitted to. They submitted to the hierarchy of authority over them even unto death, and God has brought about great glory for Himself through them.

Did God personally set Trump in the office of presidency? I have no idea, nor do I care. I’m told to submit to office of the president (authority God established). It doesn’t matter who holds that office, I’m submitted to it*. Whether God set him there or not, I firmly believe that God can use Trump for His purposes if He so desires.

What is your responsibility? If he is a professed believer, then you have permission to hold him accountable as an individual believer (not as a president). If you don’t like what a president is doing and it is contrary to the Bible, then fall on your face before God and cry out to the holder of all authority who has the power to depose and raise up kings**.

  • While I easily say this, submitting to the government is a very, very hard thing for me to do. It has caused fights in my marriage, like whether car seats should be forward facing or not.

** In a democracy, I would further stress the idea of our freewill to seek God in whom He would have in office and not make decisions based on our own agendas or what we think is important to God.

*** Feel free to give me more verses to look at and consider. We are learning together!

**** Note, in re-reading this post, I may have made it sound as though I don’t believe that God sets specific people in position. That is not the case. Look at King David in the Bible. God’s hand was all over David specifically and had specific interest in David being king of Israel. My point is more that we make excuses for not submitting to a position of authority if we think God did not put them there, and that is not the attitude of the Bible.

I wonder – Easter Poem

I wonder if when He was young, He dreamed of things to come.
I wonder if when He played, He pondered His fate, no longer delayed
I wonder if when in school, He told others, He made all the rules.
I wonder if when rabbis read, He mouthed the words the prophets said.
I wonder as a younger lad, the pain ahead made Him sad.
I wonder if when scraping knees, He thought of blood for you and me
I wonder if the younger Him, ever thought of me back then,
and knew that it was me He’d save, from all my filthy, wretched ways.
I wonder if He truly grasped, the Plan with which He’d been tasked.
I wonder how hard it was, turning thirty just because,
this was it, the last short while, three more years, and all was final.
I wonder what that must have been, to have all friends flee and then,
to stand before the ones who said, crucify! Release Barabbas instead.
I wonder when thorns pierced head, how he still loved as He bled.
I wonder how when flesh ripped and tore, He just forgave, all the more.
I wonder how hard it was, submitting to God’s will above.
I wonder if on the tree, again He thought of you and me.
I wonder about His final breath, the Son of Man submissive to death.
I wonder what the angels thought, three days, the Word was not.
I wonder about that battle scene, between Satan and our Lord and King.
What a fight it must have been, when Jesus conquered all of sin.
He has risen, He’s alive! Forever by God’s side.
Powerful and mighty is He, all enemies submit to Thee!
He’s made a way for us all, to return to God, overcome the fall
He’s torn the veil, and set us free, from all our immorality.
In Him alone is the power to save, nothing can stop Him, not even the grave!
Believe in Him, He paid the price, a ransom for your very life
He covered all our sin, and gave new life again.
He took my place on Calvary, I worship Him eternally.
I wonder no more it is done! Jesus has saved me, in Christ I’ve won!
For when He rose up from that grave, my life, my soul, He did save.
I wonder no more, all is new. Jesus Christ reigns, this is true.
I’m confident that forever I’ll be, with Him in eternity
Until that day up in the sky, I’ll serve my King until I die.
For now, I’ll do as He has said, His story, I’ll forever spread.
I gladly lay all at Your feet, for with You there is no defeat!
Oh my Master, You reign supreme, over all creation, every being!
You are the Victory and the Way, my lips forever, they will say
praise You Jesus, Lord and King! You reign above everything!

A special thanks to everyone who contributed to this poem — Roger Anderson, Amy Carrillo, Joe Carrillo, Luann Carrillo, Marysol, Steve Rogers, Todd Applebee, Billy Shields. You are constantly challenging me, and making me stop to consider what I believe; making me go to the Word of God that I might fully understand what He has said. In doing so, you make me a stronger follower of Christ, and obedient to His call.

While this poem is written from the first person, they are not necessarily things that I personally wonder about. It is written as if another writer were to ponder them.  There is one thing that makes me wonder and it’s a line I had to take out as I could not find a good place for it and that is: “I wonder what God’s hug was like, to embrace His Son, Jesus Christ.” After Christ was resurrected, and standing before His Father, I wonder what that moment was like, for His Dad to look at His Son, to pause for a moment, and then run and embrace each other. What would it have been like to be in the heavenly realm to see the joy on the Father’s face. As all the angels rejoiced. What a site that must have been. None of that is Biblical, by the way, it is just my wonderings.

The first part of this poem, gives the impression that Jesus may not have known everything while on earth. While this is a debated topic because it is said He was fully man and fully God, I’ll give my viewpoints here. When a child is born between two humans, we say that the child is fully human because both parts were fully human. However, that does not mean that when the child is born, the child fully understands or knows everything that their father knows. The father of that child, gives the child grace and imparts knowledge and wisdom into that child. The father does not impart everything he knows — whether general knowledge or the knowledge of right and wrong — into that child immediately. When the child is fully mature, he may resemble his father because he has been taught by his father. If you have seen a child, who directly mimics his father, then you can say that in the same way, you have also seen his father for the child is a mirror image of his father. The Bible says in Luke 2:40 “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.”, and again in Luke 2:52 “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Some will argue what this means, but we also find Matthew 24: 36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” While the Father has imparted most everything into the Son so that Jesus could say in John 14:9 “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”, Jesus was still the Father’s Son and not fully knowledgeable of all things. So the question arises in the writer’s mind of the poem, “I wonder when He knew…”

In similarity, the question arose about Jesus being submissive to the will of the Father in Heaven. In Luke 22:42 Jesus says, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Christ, being human, had to submit His will and desires to the Father’s will above. This is important to understand. We cannot live our lives as Christ did, unless we understand submission to His will, yes, even submission unto death.

Another line that brought questioning was, “I wonder what the angels thought, three days, the Word was not.” This is not to say that the Word (or Jesus) did not exist for three days. More specifically, this verse could have ended, “the Word in flesh was not.” The point being that Jesus did die. The λόγος (Logos) of God (the spoken word or the expression of God) in human form, was killed. Matthew 26:53 say, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” While the next verse clearly states that Jesus had no intentions of doing this, I imagine an army of angels “on call” so to speak. To have the Word —which at the very thought, expressed itself as the spoken Word and created galaxies — manifest itself in the physical, and now be killed in human form and be in a battle scene in the spiritual with heaven’s enemy, must have been quite a sight for the angels.

There is much here that I’d like to say about the topic of sin, but it demands more than a few lines and so I’ll address it in another format one day. A few lines in the poem were changed to make it more “user-digestable.” But I want to make the point, so there is no confusion, that even though I state, “He covered all our sin” this does not give us free-license to continue sinning. While that in itself may seem confusing, I hope to make it clear for you when I address sin in another post. In short, Christ paid a great price for you to save you from being a slave to sin, and we have all sinned. We are now slaves to Christ as He has purchased us with His life. He does not force us into submission, but He does not tolerate that which He came to abolish in His Kingdom either. The question of grace  and mercy will immediately come to mind for those who call themselves believers in the twenty-first century. I hope to make clear the wonder the God’s grace and mercy when I talk about sin. But to lead with today’s understanding of grace and mercy without further explanation, is to give a license to sin, and that is not what the One, True, Living, Righteous, Holy Father God is about.

I hope this poem blesses you this Easter, and that it is a reminder of all that Jesus Christ has done for you! Praise our Lord and King!

The U.S. is running out of room!

Really?  I was talking to some friends this morning who has a son that might consider going to India. Which got us talking about clean water issues, population, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I knew India has a massive population, but for some reason hearing it today in light of all the recent immigration craziness, made me ponder it a bit. I thought it would be fun to run some numbers.

All these numbers are based on Google results.

Area (sq mi)
India Square Mileage: 1.269 million mi²
United States Square Mileage: 3.797 million mi²
Just over ⅓ the size or 33% the size of United States

India Population: 1,252,000,000
United State Population: 316,500,000
United States is just over ¼ the size or 25.27% of India’s population
There are 935,500,000 (that’s 935 million) more people in India in 33% the size of the United States.

or more accurately: 

We could take on another 935,500,000 people and still be 66% better off than India by land mass….not sure about resources.

What does that look like? Check this out.

South America: 422,500,000
North America: 262,500,000 (figured by taking North America or 579 and subtracting USA of 316.5)
Russia: 143,500,000
That’s a total population of 828,500,000. Still less than our target of 935.5M.

We could take on the entire population of:

North America: Antigua & Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Bahamas, El Salvador, Panama, Barbados, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, Belize, Guatemala, St. Lucia, Bermuda, Haiti, St. Vincent, Canada, Honduras, Costa Rica, Jamaica, The Caribbean, Cuba, Mexico, Greenland,

South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela,


and an additional 107,000,000 from elsewhere
And still be 66% better off than India by land mass.

Pretty amazing, huh?

I hate my neighbors

I was awaken the other night around 1:00am when I thought I heard someone in our living room. The only thing I could find that would inflict any damage on a perpetrator was one of my wife’s high heels. Armed with my crimson Oscar de la Renta, I slowly made my way into the living room and felt a knot form in my stomach as I peered around the corner and caught a glimpse of something or someone moving under a knitted throw on the couch. I froze for a moment and then gathered the courage to protect my family.

I ran up, grabbed a corner of the blanket and yanked it back. I gasped as a little black girl squirmed back into the corner of the couch pulling her legs in tight to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. Her head bowed into her knees in fear. I could see the shame in her eyes, but I was outraged that she had broken into our house…my home! Wait, I knew this girl. She lived right across the street from me. I said hi to her parents all the time. Oh, but the nerve of this little girl to come and steal from me.

My thoughts must have verbalized as she exclaimed, “I wasn’t going to steal a thing, I promise!” I yelled at her to leave and expressed my dissatisfaction in her knowledge of breaking in. To my surprise, she hit the floor on her knees, grabbed my ankles and begged me to let her stay. I was horrified as she described how her father and brother were brutally raping her. The pain, torture…she couldn’t take it any longer. “Please help me,” she pleaded with tears streaming down.

I looked her in the face, saw her pain — in some way, felt her pain. Before I could show sympathy, my eye caught glimpse of a small tear in my leather couch that only she could have done. Anger rose inside me. I grabbed her wrist and dragged her across the street to her house. Her father answered the door, and I handed her back to her raper, to be tortured again. I felt satisfaction that she was getting what she deserved — that filthy little girl, tearing up my couch, breaking into my house.

As I drifted off to sleep, I laughed a little at the irony. It wasn’t even my couch. This house, the place I call home…it wasn’t mine either. Well, it feels like mine. I grew up here. I guess it’s mine. My grandparents murdered the family who lived here, assumed their identity, and just passed the house to my father who gave it to me. My family likes it just fine. We complain about the leaky faucets and single pane windows, but we get along just fine. You know what, it is mine. Enough time has passed. I’ve lived here long enough. This is my house!

“What, the!” I jumped out of bed. 3:00am.
“Someone’s in the kitchen,” my wife whispered.

“It sounds like they are…cooking,” I said in disbelief. “Oh! It better not be that little girl again.”

I rounded the corner and froze in disbelief. It wasn’t the little girl. It was her mother!

“What the hell are you doing? Get out of my house!”

“No, please. It’s my husband. He’s beating me. Don’t make me go back. See, look, I’m making food for you for the morning. I’ll be quieter. Let me stay. I don’t want anything, just let me stay the night. I won’t bother you at all. I just…” She broke down in tears. Her plea continued through the gasps for air, “I’ll clean your toilets, dust your house. Anything. Anything you don’t want to do, I’ll do it. Please show me mercy…”

My nostrils flared. Oh the nerve of this woman! If her daughter wasn’t just here, I might be more understanding, but two people breaking into my home from the same family! In the same night!

“Out!” I screamed, startling even myself. I wasn’t just angry, I was enraged. As she sit helpless, on her knees crying, I grabbed her by her hair and began dragging her back to her house.

As we crossed my lawn, she kicked and screamed. Pleading with me. Porch lights came on as some neighbors came out to see the commotion. It gave me pause, but no one was stopping me. So I pressed on, fueling my anger. She could have knocked. At the very least she could have called before breaking in to my home.

As we entered the street, a police officer arrived; my wife must have called in. Ashamed, I let go of the woman. Clearly I was out of line. Apologetically, I approached him as he stepped out of his vehicle and I began explaining that she had broken into my house and that I was just protecting my home. Yeah, I was just protecting my house. The officer just walked right past me to where the woman was just pulling herself off the ground.

I leaned my head back and took a deep breath realizing I had gone too far. I would be the one in handcuffs tonight. Surely, my actions were unwarranted. As I exhaled, my breath was stopped short as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. As the officer got closer to the woman, he firmly planted his left foot in front of him, leaned forward, and flung his right foot into the woman’s face.

I stood there in disbelief…my eyes fixed on the woman screaming in pain. What just happened? My eyes didn’t move as the officer stopped at my side. He placed a hand on my shoulder and simply said, “That’ll teach her.”

My head slowly turned to face him. He had a grin of great accomplishment on his face. He clearly felt as though he had done his job, and done it with great pride he did. “Better get yourself a fence,” he said as he walked back to his car and drove off.

I looked up in time to see the husband finish off a couple blows to the wife’s head as he dragged her limp body through the door. The door slammed shut. I imagined him looking up at me and saying, “Thank you.”

I smiled. I had done a good thing tonight. I protected my family from the dirty little criminals. And I put their family back where they belonged, right? Yeah, of course I did. The officer thought I was doing the right thing, so it must be the right thing. I convinced myself that it was the right thing. They’ll never come back again. Those neighbors should stay off of my property.

I turned towards my house and stared at my bedroom window. My family will sleep safe tonight.

Oh, but why this lingering feeling of remorse. I hate my neighbors. Why did they bring their problems to me? I wish they would just go away. I hate them for making me do what I did tonight. For making me feel bad about my actions. They were the ones who broke into my home. I’m the good guy in this, right?

I assured myself that I was as I walked towards my house. I stopped as I stepped out of the street onto my lawn. “Better get a fence just in case.”


Internet Explorer


Internet Explorer, oh Internet Explorer, how you trouble me.
I build good things for you and you tear them down.
I give you good things to eat and you spit them out.

Like an infant wanting so bad to walk.
We hold your hand and help you along.
We forget just how frail your little legs are.
We let you go and down you fall.

We smile and pat your head.
Look how far she’s come along, we say.
She’s growing up so nicely.

We dress you up with fun sayings like “Edge”
And help you back to your feet.
We turn around for only a second, it was just one second.
Down you go again.

You keep us up late at night
Worrying that you may never learn
She’ll get it, they say
We grit out teeth and go our way

You cost us a fortune with things you break
Is it bad I wish you’d just go away?
Everyone loves you, and so you stay

We’ll keep building and hope it’s okay.

Do It Better In 2016

My family motto for 2015 was “A year of failure.” For those that missed the post  it wasn’t claiming failure, rather, giving the permission to ourselves to try new things and say it’s okay if we fail. I thought it was clever, but turned out to be a very difficult concept to explain to the visitors standing in our living room staring with confused looks on their face reading the chalk board above our breakfast bar that clearly says, “2015 — A year of failure.” Perhaps attempting to explain that was our first of many failures for the year. “No, no, no, it’s not a year of failure, it’s a year of failure.” Frustration only grew as any attempted explanation to the confusion resulted in a slight head-cock to the left. “So you want to fail this year?” Sigh. I can only imagine that if they were a dog, their ears would raise above their head in a curious fashion.  Like a mnemonic for your own name…I suppose you either get it or you don’t.

If you do happen to get it and have never given yourself the freedom to fail, try it sometime. The caveat is the depression that comes on December 31st as you recount the events of the past year and realize the failures do in-fact far outweigh the successes and what little success you did have seems insignificant.

I started out this year applying for a job to feel out the field and see if there was anything out there for me. I believe I received an offer from every job I applied to (success). I think my favorite was the company that said, “well, we’ve closed the hiring positions, ran across your resume…and then there’s you.” That so summed up how I feel at times. I just don’t fit into the mold, whatever mold that may be that society tries to impose on what a normal life should be. I ended up accepting a well-paid position — they were offering me everything I asked for and then some (success). A contract that I was currently under, and was under the verbal agreement of ending, decided to be a [tact fails me here] and through a conflict of interest I had to turn down the position (fail).

I picked myself up, said okay, I’ll finish this contract with dignity. Long story short, contract was abruptly terminated a couple weeks later (fail). No job, no contract, I applied for a position in Sydney, Australia with a large company. Before my second interview, the recruiter says, “you did poorly in your first interview, I don’t want to waste your time but I’ll keep you on for this interview and see how it goes if you want. Perhaps it’s just a misunderstanding between Americans and Australians (fail).” Five interviews later, and the recruiter is having a department open a special position for me in their coveted Growth Hacking department. “Generally people get promoted to the Growth Hackers, but everyone has loved you and wants you in there, so I’m requesting they open a special spot for you in their budget (success).” I suppose he could have said, then there’s people like you. My wife also had a job offer on the table at the same time and after much deliberation we decided it best to stick around Sacramento (success/fail).

I started doing freelance web development again with high hopes of growing my business and taking on some employees this year. I signed a few good-sized contracts (success), left a lot on the table (fail), and ultimately failed to grow the way I hoped (fail) leaving a lot of uncertainty for the coming year.

My wife and I decided to try and have a kid this year. It would be the only year we would try. She did some amazing ovulation tracking as we got it first go around (success). I mark that as a success as we succeeded in something we were trying, certainly to no merit of our own, but I also have to chalk that up to a failure as I abandoned many of my own personal ideologies (fail). I can only hope that one day I’ll be able to adequately explain that to my child. Until that day comes, I’ll enjoy the time I have with them.

I created a website called Money Share in which I hoped to crowdsource our student loans. We had a couple people generously donate to the cause (success), but surprisingly got quite a bit of outspoken criticism. Our goal was to raise $68,000. We didn’t come anywhere close (fail). The site was a prelude to an article that I wrote for the Sacramento Bee talking about student loans and the high-cost of living. It was published (success) but also drew large criticism (fail). I was encouraged that another article dealing with the same issues was published next to mine — obviously real concerns for many. My take away from this experience is two-fold: 1) people are less likely to give to a cause they have either gone through and overcome or are currently dealing with (take care of numero uno first); and 2) people are really uncomfortable with personal transparency. I have no scientific data to backup these statements and I’m just running on my own tail-wind conclusions. Should be a fun project for someone though, to validate or invalidate. I do take joy in knowing these statements will find their way in a college paper as profound fact. I find point one interesting as my initial thoughts would be that people would have empathy. No such luck.

Was able to speak to our church about refugees which turned out to be timely given all the coverage on the refugees lately (success). Though this was a semi-success as Amy was the one that was asked to speak and when she couldn’t make the speaking engagement, I was reluctantly asked to be the de facto replacement. Regardless, it was good opportunity to work on my public speaking (success).

We helped lead a young married’s group. I’ll say it was a success despite it being made abundantly clear that Amy is the favored spokesperson in our family. When asked why I don’t do more I can simply reply, “Roger says…” [I do hope Roger reads this :) No hard feelings. ].

I summited Mount Shasta at an arguable 14,180 feet — higher than my sky-dive I might add (success).

I took up building furniture (success). My projects included a bed frame with dove-tailed drawers, shelves from reclaimed wood, and an antique-finished trunk.

I proposed a fitness equipment addition to our local park’s board and am now co-chairing a committee to raise funds and implement the project. Stay tuned to see if that’s a success for a failure.

Amy and I tried to personally invest in a supposed homeless person. While he does seem to be doing better, it feels that our attempts at help have been to no avail (fail). We’ve spent time and money over the past six months trying to connect him with the right people and this has been frustrating. It’s certainly easier to throw a few dollars the “problem” and walk away. Unfortunately for me, I just can’t shake the feeling that Jesus wants us to do more.

Tried to do a budget, especially for food. I think our food bill actually increased (fail).

I submitted some of my work for awards. They got nominated (success) but did horribly in the voting stage (fail).

We set out to build more meaningful friendships. We did that (success).

I challenged a group of people to memorize the book of James in the Bible (fail). In doing so, I felt it only right that I do it myself, and I did (success).

Thinking back over the year, there’s nothing significant that stands out to me. Perhaps my greatest failure of the year is that I didn’t take greater risks. I had given myself the opportunity to surf big waves (figuratively) and was only able to bring myself out knee deep. What’s the point of having a surfboard if you can still feel the sand below you? I want to play where the water is deep in the unknowns.

Ironically, it’s those unknowns that have made me fear the coming year. Our family is growing, contracts are uncertain, Amy’s taking the year off, etc. Leading me to a semi-depressed, contemplative state this past week. I love when the right person walks into your life and says the right thing at the right time. My dear friend Gabe and I meet for coffee on Thursdays, and I really treasure our conversations. Today was one of those days especially. As I was lamenting these feelings to him, he totally got where I was coming from and expressed a similar place he had been in. He was asking someone, “what’s next?” and the person replied, “do it better.” Don’t change what you are doing, just do it better.

That’s it, that’s the take away message for me. I tried some different things this year and was semi-successful at others. In general, I’m good at what I do, but 2016 needs to be about me doing what I do even better. Whether that’s my relationship with God, family, conversations, helping others, work, or anything else, I need to do it better. When Leonardo Di Vinci was nearing his death, he was asked if he had any regrets. He replied that he wished he had worked harder. I’ve always felt that was a statement regarding his inventions and what we consider to be his physical work. Today I like to think that he meant he wished he had worked harder at doing all things in life better.

For my family, 2016 is a year to do it better.


I [don’t] deserve that

I try and limit my time on Facebook these days and put more effort into face-to-face time with those around me. This week I’m taking a little vacation in Montana and have found myself browsing facebook in the downtime. There’s a bit of a shock factor in the postings I read. I guess over the years, my thinking and understanding of the world as well as my beliefs have changed considerably from those I grew up with.

I want to quickly address one posting I saw that had an image of an American soldier on the left with the title “Deserves free health care” and a man climbing over a fence on the right (presumably crossing the southern U.S. border) with the title “Does not deserve free health care”. Upon seeing the posting, I commented my two-cents on the matter, but I feel compelled to speak on a little deeper level as I just can’t shake the word “deserve” from my mind.

I seem to run into this attitude of entitlement more often and I’m always thrown when it comes from a fellow Christian. I simply want to remind those of you with this attitude that it is not of your own works that you are saved. It is not of your own merit that you live in the United States. It is not of your good nature that you are blessed. If I were to simplify the matter, I would say it is nothing more than God’s grace and mercy that you have anything.

When Zacchaeus was confronted with the sovereign Lord, he began to give away his riches to those less fortunate. It was only after this promise to do so that Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Yet we hoard our riches and blessings; patting ourselves on the back when we give to charity. Zacchaeus wasn’t saved by his works, but his newfound understanding of the nature of God and his willingness to submit himself thereof.

We don’t understand anything of how fortunate we are and how richly God has blessed us. If we did, we would be humbled at our undeserving, sinful selves and be compelled with compassion on those less fortunate. We will give an account of what we’ve done with what we have. It is God’s command that we take care of the homeless, fatherless, widows, orphans, poor, prisoners, sick, and dying. How dare we think us more deserving than another.

If we say we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit resides within, yet we lack compassion for those in need, how can this Spirit truly be living in us? For if the Spirit and Jesus are of the same God, how can they be in conflict? How can we, being children of God and followers of Jesus, be in conflict with the message of Jesus? Either we deceive ourselves and the Spirit does not reside in us, or we are so blinded by our greed that the truth is far from us.

Pray that God gives you wisdom so that you will not be deceived and that you will have discernment. If we only help those like ourselves, we’re no better [off] than the non-Christian.

I want my life to resemble this:
Not this:
deserve this


Captcha Me This

We’ve all had to complete those “captchas” when filling out an online form. You know, those things with the blurry, distorted text that asks you to type what you see.

Well, last night I had a dream that I was filling out this online form and I got to the captcha at the end. To my dismay, it was asking for the solution to some impossible math question with all these crazy symbols I had never seen before. I was thinking, “Are you kidding me?”.

Nevertheless, I went and got a piece of paper and pencil. I attempted to look up the symbols on wikipedia and with no possible chance of success, started trying to work out the problem. I spent hours of frustration on this captcha for this simple form I was trying to submit.

I would obsessively click the refresh button to try and get and easier question, but they just kept getting harder and longer. At one point, I thought I had actually worked out the problem, but in my excitement accidently hit another key as I was trying pushing “ENTER” — it refreshed to give me a new problem to solve.

Needless to say, I was never able to submit the form.

You can read more about CAPTCHAs here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAPTCHA


Angry, Angry Me.

Last night we had a couple encouraging us and saying how naturally warm and welcoming we are to the people around us.

I was taken back in my mind to a moment in life where I would have never received such a compliment. One particular day stuck out — a teeth cleaning day at the dentist to be exact. My dental assistant was a lady by the name of Jenny. She had previously worked under me for some time in a different occupation. We got to reminiscing about old work and at some point I had posed a question resembling, “Do you miss it?”. Her nose crinkled and with no hesitation she blurted out, “No! You are the meanest person I have ever worked for in my life…” Her posturing told me she was serious, but I still waited for the “just kidding” or “I’m teasing”; it never came.

I was a monster. At that time, in some confused way I don’t fully understand today, I was proud of that moment. Looking back, I’m so sad for the people that I may have hurt.

So that compliment I mentioned, it wasn’t the words themselves that encouraged me so much as the realization that I have changed so much since a time past. I look back on a younger me and say, “what was wrong with me?” God is still molding and making me into something great. It’s a reminder to not stop changing and continue striving to be more Christ like.

I hope that in five or ten years from now as I continue to grow, I can look back on the me today and still say, “what was wrong with me then?” Thank you to the people in my life now who give me grace as I change.

Bad Apple Money

Years ago, I had the privilege of working with some pretty wealthy people…and some that pretended to be wealthy. While I never knew for sure what their total net worth was, I began to be able to pick out the ones that were truly wealthy and those not so much.

I call it my Bad Apple Money theory and it goes like this: Those that truly have wealth and not a care financially are some of the nicest, caring people in the world; those that only pretend to have great wealth have a tendency to micromanage, be stressed, and create stress for others.

As I continue to meet people of means (or lack thereof) I find my theory continually holding true. I find it especially interesting when one starts to lose money who once had financial security but has surpassed that threshold — each person has their own — where they begin to feel the pressures of life. It’s a sad picture. I imagine one dangling over a cliff holding on to a fraying rope with a support group of friends and family trying to pull them up. The dangler continues to kick and struggle and yell at this support group making it impossible for the support group to pull the dangler up.

As you inch closer to edge trying to help, you yourself will succumb to the pressure and begin to create stress for those around you. Don’t be left hanging onto the rope when everyone else let’s go.

While my theory pertains to money, these bad apples exist in every facet of life. They are infectious and will suck your happiness away without you knowing it. Learn quickly to identify them and stay clear.

Get rid of the bad apples in your life and start enjoying a healthy harvest!

Bad Apple

Image from https://speedwaybenefits.com/bad-apples-in-racing/