Jesus Doesn’t Solve Everything

The other day, I shared My Jesus Story. While coming to Christ certainly solved my need for a Savior, it didn’t solve everything. Maybe it was expectations, maybe it was something else, but being saved hasn’t necessarily made this life better. I’m still who suffers from crushing self-doubt, nursing wounds that I thought were long since healed. And I have a terrible need to be noticed, to be reckoned with–and not ignored–that colors all my relationships. The latent Freudian in me thinks this stems from childhood neglect.

Believe me, I want to be passed all of that. I just didn’t know how.

And there are other things, darker things, burdens loved ones bear. I wonder why Jesus let these things happen? The Scriptures say he is sovereign, but that not everything is now under his feet. This is a terrible freedom with which the world is burdened. All manner of things happen… People are killed, die of overdoses, get raped, are abused, see things which cannot be unseen…

And the Scripture declare that although Christ died, all is not yet as it should be. All is not yet under his feet. Yet I’m somehow supposed to trust in his sovereignty? It’s a hard road to hoe. We have the freedom to not only mock God, but also abuse the very freedoms his son died to procure.

Evil with a capital “E” not only exists, it also walks among us. Is in us.

The world is a mess.

But then again so are you and I.

I wonder if the reason Jesus doesn’t step in and set things to rights is because he wants us to partner with him in doing something about the world’s ills? Perhaps instead of just decrying the evil we see, maybe we’re supposed to get in there, get our hands dirty, do something?

For the scripture which says that not everything is under his feet also says that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”

Maybe Jesus doesn’t solve everything because he wants us to be a part of the solution?

It could be.

In any case, m
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My Jesus Story

My Jesus story began, like many others, I’m sure, with a girl. A beautiful girl. She got my attention. Up until that time, church–and by extension, Jesus–did not occupy my thoughts. Church was something we did to make grandma happy when we traveled back east to visit her. But other than that, there was no ecclesial experience during my formative years. (I’m told I was baptized as an infant in the Methodist church).

Having Catholic friends, Jewish classmates, etc., I once asked my mom what religion we were. Her answer? “Protestant.” If by this she meant we protested the attending of church altogether (not even Easter, or Christmas), then yes, we were Protestant.

I share this to make it clear that God was not a paradigm with which I was familiar. If you asked me as a teen what I believed I would have replied that I was an atheist. I simply did not believe there was a God, or a Jesus, with which I needed to contend. And if there were, and he was anything like my dad, I wanted nothing to with him. Why would I want to be ignored by a cosmic father, too?

I want to make it clear that from the outside it may have appeared that I lived a comfortable life: I had a home, food–the basics. But I was largely ignored, left–as most latchkey children are (my parents divorced)–to my own devices.

Because if my upbringing was marked by the absence of faith on the the one hand, it was also bathed through-and-through on the other with permissiveness. There were little or no boundaries. And without boundaries, there was no sense of security.

And thus no real feeling of being loved.

Then I met this girl, and she cared. She wanted to know how I was doing. She read my (bad) poetry. She cared. I felt real love for the first time.

She invited me to church; I went. We went to prom together. She hailed from a large, warm, loud family. This was so different from my cold, quiet one. There was food, and laughter, and talk of Jesus. The singing of hymns around a piano.

Her family felt so very alive.

God knows what He’s doing, friends. He used a beautiful girl to get my attention, and showed me a different life. I saw her family, I went to church (just to sit beside her), I heard the Gospel.

On a warm May evening in 1988, I prayed in my car: “God, if you’re there, I want you in my life. I can’t do this alone anymore. It’s too heavy, too lonely.”

For my family of origin, faith was the road never traveled, but it has made all the difference.

And the girl? The one who loved me enough to tell me of different life? The one who led me to Christ? Two-and-a-half years later we married, and for the last twenty-three years I’ve been proud to call her my wife.

That’s my Jesus story. What’s yours?


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Southern California Culture

Having recently spent some time in southern California, I can attest to the fact that it has a culture all its own. The temperate climate seems to breed a people that are by-and-large very laid back and friendly (except on the ubiquitous freeways–which one, if one wishes to get anywhere, cannot avoid).

More than the love Californians bear for their weather, the beach, the surf, the ocean, they seem to love two things:

Their Pho.

And their smiles.

As my wife and motored around, taking in the sights, smelling the briny air (and exhaust), what we noticed more than anything else was:


Pho. Vietnamese noodle bowl.

These Pho (pronounced “fuh”) joints seemed to be as plentiful (if not more so) as Circle-Ks in Phoenix. There was literally one on every corner. There was Pho Huang, Pho To Chau, and Pho King.

Almost as ubiquitous were the dental offices. We passed one which advertised “Open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.” Californians seem to love their teeth so much that going to the dentist on Thanksgiving, or Christmas, is a priority.


Look at those choppers!

It became a joke as we drove from Anaheim to Huntington Beach: “Look, Hon! A dentist’s office! Look another Pho joint! Pho Dim Sum Big Doc!”

The preponderance of these two types of establishments leads me to conclude that Californians love nothing more than to sink their pretty pearly whites into big, steaming bowls of Pho.

Pass the Siracha! But don’t forget to brush!

Dean Koontz–Evangelist of Hope


I’m a fan of well-crafted stories. If you know anything about his writing process, nobody spends more time crafting books than Dean Koontz. Seriously. His process–continually revising a page until it’s just right, then moving onto the next–would drive me crazy. But it works for him. Some accuse him of being formulaic, of being inferior to King. That may be.

There’s no discounting his success. The numbers don’t lie. And when he’s hot, he’s hot. Witness: Watchers, Strangers, Intensity, Lightning, and Odd Thomas. (My friend, Ricky Anderson stayed up into the wee hours last night reading Odd).

In my estimation, there’s more to Koontz’s success than just adrenaline-laced plots that keep the reader turning pages (as welcome as that is). No, it’s his characters. They feel like real people–people facing insane situations overwhelming odds, and yet somehow holding onto hope. These people could be you, me, or the neighbor down the block. And his villains are more, or less, than human. Their motivations are real, and they never see themselves as villains. Like Satan, Koontz’s villains usually see themselves as the aggrieved, misunderstood, party. Thus they are justified in their own eyes.

Like most Catholic writers I’ve read, Koontz isn’t afraid to let his villains be villains. Thus he portrays evil as it is. And thus the light of hope, of the protagonists, shines out all the more brightly in contrast. That is what I love about Koontz: he is an eternal optimist: no matter how dark, how bad things get, there’s always hope. Good will triumph on the end. (Now this is not say that his good guys aren’t flawed people–they are. They overcome these shortcomings, confront themselves, and the darkness in their own hearts).

The genius of Koontz is that, while not writing sermons, his work is infused with his faith stamped upon every page. His is the voice of one calling us out of the darkness into the light. It will, like life itself, be a bumpy ride. If you know any of his personal story–raised in poverty with an abusive, alcoholic father–you know that Dean is an overcome. He doesn’t see himself (or his characters for that matter) as a victim of circumstance.

By extension, he is calling us into the same life. We are not victims of circumstance unless we choose to be. We, like the people of which he writes, can overcome whatever life throws at us.

In this way, Mr. Koontz is an evangelist.
An evangelist of hope.

Have you read any Dean Koontz? What are your favorites?

Son of God (Official Trailer)

I know I posted the GMA trailer yesterday, but this is the official trailer on YouTube (which was under embargo until today).

Are you going to see Son of God? How did you feel about the Bible miniseries?

Share in the comments.

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