USA! America!

Unless you just hate America, you’re going to want to include this little video in your 4th of July festivities.

Also, I think that we can all pretty much agree that had this video been played right before our soccer match with Belgium things would have turned out much differently.

0:15 – If I’m following this right, there’s supposed to be some kind of a terrorist attack happening in the sky. And on this guy’s Dream Team jersey.

0:33 – Ghosts on the beach!

0:44 – This is how the USA does oil spills!

0:52 – Can we possibly get some more Photoshopped imagery in this shot? Even one of the clouds looks like a mouse. A mouse from the USA no doubt.

0:57 – “Hey, do we have a pole to put the flag on?”

“No. Just put it on the side of that cliff. It’s what the founders would want.”

1:10 – Weird guy on the playground in 3, 2, 1…

“Teachers, we are going into lockdown mode. There is a man in a Dream Team jersey walking around the playground singing about the USA and throwing magic light on kids. Please remain under your desks with your students until further notice. The chair is against the wall.”

1:28 – Why isn’t Tim Howard’s face on that mountain? I want answers!

1:34 – I think that we’re supposed to assume that this woman’s husband died in a war. By the looks of that tombstone, it must have been the Civil War.

1:56 – This video is patriotic and all but what it really needs is a random cameo from a sea nymph.

2:05 – Goosed by an angel.

2:34 – The look on his face can double as the You-Boys-Are-Being-Silly-Face that your mom used to give you as well as the Man-I-Love-This-Country-And-If-You-Don’t-You’re-Just-Gonna-Have-To-Deal-With-It-Face.

This video lasted for a little over three minutes. The closing credits also last for three minutes. The closing credits for Saving Private Ryan didn’t last for three minutes.



Questions My Grandfather Never Had To Answer


The guy on TV looked like a man.

But he talked like a woman.


I’m pretty sure that my grandfather never got that question from one of his sons.

I did.

Our culture is currently falling all over itself to convince us that it is perfectly normal for a man to act like a woman, a man to marry another man, two women to raise a child together, so on and so forth. A lot of the dirty work in the battle to normalize gender confusion is done through the entertainment industry. That’s why ESPN makes a big deal about a late round pick in the NFL Draft. It’s why many shows feature gay characters. And it’s why the man in one of the commercials that comes on during your kid’s favorite television show likes to act like a woman.

If you grow up seeing something every day while being told that it’s normal you’ll eventually believe that it is. That seems to be the strategy these days at least. And it seems to be working. Sometimes it can even be intimidating when a parent considers the world kids are growing up in and being influenced by. Can we really expect Romans 1 to compete with the media and the government?


But it can’t just be a passage that we reference in a political conversation. It, along with the rest of Scripture, has to be something that parents live out before their children. It’s not enough for our kids to hear us talk about what manhood is not. We have to show them what it is.

When a man works hard to provide for and serve his wife and kids, the ridiculous examples of manhood we see demonstrated in television and film will seem foolish.

A church where men boldly serve, pray and sing in public will be the training center in which our children learn to discern what true manhood really is.

Something just won’t seem right about gay marriage in our kid’s eyes when they’ve grown up with a mom and a dad who take the gospel seriously and apply it to their own marriage.

And when a dad is actively engaged first in the pursuit of his God, then in the pursuit of his wife and finally in the training up of his kids, his words will carry much more weight in the household that he leads. If all we ever do is simply point out what is wrong in our culture, our voice will be just one among many that our kids hear. But if we actually make the effort to live out what we preach, showing consistent examples of true manhood and womanhood, our message just might stick.

I still remember the first time that I saw two men holding hands. One of them had a ribbon in his hair. I had no idea what to think. My mom could see my confusion but she didn’t say much. Just don’t stare. Keep moving.

Those days are gone.

We can no longer get away with avoiding tough topics like this one with our kids. It’s been said that nature abhors a vacuum. The hearts and minds of our children are no exception. If we aren’t busy speaking truth to them, we can be sure that someone else with plenty of lies to sell will quickly take our place.

At some point, every parent will have to answer a question similar to the one that my kid asked me. We must be ready, at all times, to give them the answers they are looking for.

But our words can only go so far. Simply hearing what we are against is never enough.

Our kids need to actually see our pursuit of Truth.

And as they grow older, we pray that the pursuit of truth will just seem normal to them.

Even in a world where normal is no longer tolerated.

Pain And White Privilege


It’s one of the most disturbing sounds I’ve ever heard in my life and it came from the end of the hallway in the house where I grew up.

Our hallway was long. Back then it seemed a mile long. I’m sure that if I went back to that old house on Creekwood Drive today, the hallway would look a lot smaller. Everything seems bigger when you’re a kid. The carpet covering the floor was dirty brown. Not by design. The color was the result of years of pet stains, spilled drinks and dirty shoes. It’s funny how you remember the little things. Carpet color. Stains. Sounds.

I heard crying at the end of the hallway. It was coming from my mother’s room. She was sitting on her bed with her back toward me and the phone against her ear. Someone on the other end was calling about an overdue bill. It was a bill that my mother couldn’t pay. All she could do was cry and say, “I can’t pay it.” It was one of those uncontrollable cries. The kind that nobody likes to see. Or hear. Especially from their own mother.

I was worried.

But, somehow, we made it. All I can point to is the grace of God. But a growing number of people in this country would point to something else. They call it white privilege. The only reason why my mother managed to survive with her two kids in tact, some say, was because of our whiteness.

That’s why, for some, any opinion I share regarding race is tainted by my white privilege. As they see it, it’s also what lies beneath my opposition to President Obama, the Affordable Care Act and affirmative action.

I didn’t feel very privileged that night when I stood outside of my mother’s room, listening to her cry.

I didn’t feel very privileged the summer after I graduated high school when I walked around the woods contemplating joining the army because there was no way that my family could pay for the school I was accepted to.

My white privilege didn’t seem to help very much when I sat in an accountant’s office every year at that same college, wondering if I would have to drop out. I’m pretty sure that my supposed white privilege isn’t what got me all of those Stafford Loans. And it certainly was not what helped me to pay them off, almost 15 years after I graduated college.

My mother was no different. Her whiteness allowed her to live out her final days in a shared room in a small nursing home. One time I had to call the man in charge of running that nursing home because my mother’s sheets were soaked in who knows what kinds of fluids. Later, when my mother died, my family mourned her death and I preached her funeral, none of us ever thought, “This is really tough but hey, at least we’re white.”

My story is nothing unusual. My life was much easier than most. Much easier. And that’s my point. We all have pain. Every single one of us. Some of that pain is a result of race, some is a result of poverty and some is a result of sickness. Some of our pain comes through no direct fault of our own. Some is the result of our unbridled stupidity. But we all have pain.

And here’s the part that no one likes to talk about as much.

We all have privilege too.

I had the privilege of growing up with a mom who taught me what it means to endure hardships before she was finally set free from hers.

I had the privilege of learning how to laugh when sometimes crying is all that makes sense.

I had the privilege of discovering what it means to work hard, stick to a budget and pay off student loans.

That’s the thing about pain. It has a way of shaping us and preparing us for unique privileges down the road. But not if we allow it to define us. When pain defines us, it becomes our identity and leaves us bitter and angry.

I’ve seen television personalities tell holocaust survivors that it was their white privilege that helped them to get back on their feet. I’ve seen policy makers blame their poor decisions on their own white privilege. None of this, no matter how well-intentioned, ever accomplishes anything other than leaving us with guilt and resentment.

Racism is very real. Before the return of Christ, it will probably never totally go away. But this much is true. It will only get worse if we continue to gripe about the presumed privileges of others while ignoring our own. We would be much better off if we figured out a way to delight in our shared accomplishments while mourning with and fighting for those who are mistreated.

I’ve come a long way since that night in the hallway when I heard my mother cry.

Some say it’s because of white privilege.

I attribute it to God’s grace.

And I think that we would all be much better off if we started modeling that grace toward one another.

A Warning To The Eye Rollers


The apartment was new. And it was clean. Much cleaner than our house. All my mother had to do was sign her name and we were moving in. But before she did that there was something else she wanted to do. She wanted to show me around the new place. She wanted to see what I thought.

Imagine Simon Cowell listening to Creed and Nickelback at the same time. That’s how critical I was. The rooms weren’t laid out right. The bathrooms were too small. And then there was the front door. The front door might as well have not even been there. There was just one little button on the doorknob to lock us in away from any evildoers wishing to do us harm.

“That looks real safe,” I said in my infinite teenage wisdom.

At first, my mother didn’t reply. She just looked at me. It was one of those looks that hurt much worse than any spanking because I could tell that she was the one who was hurt. Finally, she quietly responded.

“You know, I’m doing the best that I can here.”

I would have rather been beaten.

I was an eye roller. It seemed like every command my mother gave me served no other purpose than to get in my way. Most of the time I followed through with those commands. I obeyed. I was a good boy.

But I didn’t obey with the right heart. I didn’t honor my mother. I wasn’t such a good boy after all.

We eventually moved out of that apartment. It was in our next apartment where my mother found out that she was sick.

It was in the several other places that we lived afterwards where she would wake up screaming in the middle of the night because she was losing control of most of the muscles in her body. And it was in those places that her mind slowly started to go.

My aunt and my sister did the real work of caring for her. I tried my best. I drove her to the doctor occasionally. I carried her to her bed. I spent a few nights next to her in the hospital. And I tried to do it without rolling my eyes. I was learning how to honor my mother.

My wife and I were packing up our house one day. We weren’t moving. We were just going on vacation. Were. We were going on vacation.

My sister called and told me to get down to see my mom as fast as I could. By this time, my mom was living in a nursing home in middle Georgia. My wife and I sped to see her. We were about 20 minutes away when we got the call. She died.

I can’t remember the last words I said to her. But I’m glad that it wasn’t some critical comment about the house she did her best to provide for me.

A lot has been written and said about obedience. And that’s a good thing. But obedience is nothing more than camouflaged rebellion if it is not accompanied by honor. There will come a time when we no longer have to obey our parents. After my mom’s sickness got really bad and I was living on my own, she would call me and say some of the craziest things. I don’t know if it was the medicine or the disease but something was messing with her mind. She would tell me to do things that were impossible to obey.

I think that’s probably one of the toughest stages in life. The stage where you have to be the parent to your parent. The stage where you no longer have to obey. Where all you can do is honor.

Maybe I’m just getting too old. Or maybe some kids today really are getting bolder in how they talk to their parents. A while back I heard a kid talking to her mom like people talk about the bad guys on pro wrestling. And she was rolling her eyes. Just like I did.

I thought about my attitude towards my mother that day back in our new apartment. My mind jumped to my frantic drive to a middle Georgia nursing home only to miss saying goodbye to my mother by 20 minutes. I thought about how glad I was that, even though I didn’t get to say goodbye the way I wanted, at least we ended on good terms. Real good terms.

I interrupted that girl. I told her to watch the way that she talked to her mother because she never knew when her last goodbye would be. I hope it helped.

No matter how old you are, watch the way that you talk to and about your mom and dad. Last words don’t care about your calendar. You never know what or when those last words will be. But there is one thing that you can do between now and then, even if you happen to be passed the point of obeying.

Honor your father and mother.

You’ll be glad you did.

In Defense Of Getting It Right


Bob Hartman never choked on his own vomit. John Schlitt’s lifeless body was never found in a hotel room with a needle stuck in his arm. Too many rock stars die like that. But Bob Hartman and John Schlitt were never rock stars.

They were theologians with amplifiers.

I was in the seventh grade when I first heard Petra, Bob and John’s band. I didn’t know it at the time but the message I was hearing from them is one that I would carry with me, over 20 years later, every time I preached. And it is one that I would share with my sons too.

It’s always interesting to grow up and learn a few things only to look back and see that some of the teachers you had as a kid actually knew what they were talking about. I did that with a preacher named Sam Cathey. It seemed like he came to my church every year when I was a kid. All I remember is being captivated by his stories.

Several years later I found a few cassette tapes of his sermons. I started listening to him when I drove to my seminary classes on Monday mornings. In a lot of ways, I got all the seminary I needed from those cassette tapes. Sam knew what he was talking about.

And so did Petra.

They weren’t content with songs about giving Satan a bloody nose or songs that replaced “she” from a love song with “Jesus” and made it a Christian song. Instead they took classes. Theology classes. It payed off.

Petra sang a lot of songs about spiritual warfare. Most of their albums had at least a slight battle theme. By the early 90s when arena rock gave way to grunge and modern rock, their music started to wear thin on a lot of listeners. I was one of them. I once had almost every one of their albums in cassette form. I have no idea where those cassettes are today.

I miss them.

I few months ago I sat in front of my computer with a card in one hand and a blank stare on my face. I spend most of my days wishing that I had a $500 iTunes gift card. When I get one for $20, I have no idea what to do with it.

For old time’s sake, I made the digital purchase of an album I owned over 20 years ago. It was Petra’s This Means War! As I listened to it, I had that same feeling that I had when I was listening to those old Sam Cathey tapes. These guys really knew what they were talking about.

“This means war – and the battle’s still raging.

This means war – and though both sides are waging.

The Victor is sure and the victory’s secure.

But ’til judgement we all must endure.

This means war.”

Like I said, I think about those lyrics almost every time I get up to preach. Or before I start a counseling session. In a lot of ways, those old cassette tapes made me the man that I am today.

I played those albums for my sons a few weeks back. They were hooked. Just like I was back in the seventh grade. There’s something funny about seeing your five-year-old listening to Petra on his mom’s iPhone.

The boys I’m raising know all about Duane Allman. He introduced them to the guitar solo. John Mayer and Jack Johnson taught them what a love song is. Rick Allen, and a host of others, taught them that the rock and roll lifestyle comes with a price. Sometimes you pay with your arm. Sometimes, like in the case of Duane Allman, you pay with your life.

But I’m glad that my boys also know about Bob Hartman and John Schlitt. Two guys who were okay with not being rock stars. Two guys who took the time to mix a good lyric with a good melody and drum solo. Two guys who had a message that kicked off my theological education way back in the seventh grade. Two guys who are giving that same theological education to my sons.

Petra doesn’t tour or record albums anymore. They never won an MTV Video Music Award. They aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Once, I saw a guitar from the band hanging on the wall at the Atlanta Hard Rock Cafe. That’s about it when it comes to public adoration for Petra.

And I don’t think that Sam Cathey preaches as much as he used to. He never started a movement. I never heard him described with words like entrepreneur or visionary. He was just a preacher. But he was a preacher who took the time to get it right, just like Petra did.

It’s easy to confuse our following with our faithfulness. The two don’t always go together. If it’s a following that you want, you have to always be on the move, ahead of the cultural curve. Faithfulness is different. When faithfulness is your primary concern you have to be okay with never really saying anything new. Just the same old gospel message. And you have to keep on saying it, even if you never really gain that great of a following.

Our aim is too low if all we care about are Twitter followers and bigger crowds. One way or another, those things will go away. If you don’t believe me, just ask M.C. Hammer. But faithfulness leaves a lasting impact, even 30 years later when you’re all grown up and trying to get it right yourself.

Some of God’s people will have their names in lights. Most of us will not. But whether we win a Grammy or just preach to a few dozen people every week, it’s our faithfulness that really matters.

And it keeps on mattering.

Long after our job is done.

Straight A Haters


It’s a big problem in our culture.

We want to be big and strong but we don’t want to work out and eat right.

We want nice food and smart phones but we don’t want a job to pay for them.

“No problem,” says a significant number of influential leaders in our culture. “We’ll just level the playing field.”

Leveling the playing field never means encouraging people to work harder. It usually means rewarding people for the hard work that someone else has done.

Such was the case at a Maryland middle school where school administrators organized a pizza party and dance for straight A students. It sounds simple enough. But just to be safe, administrators decided to invite all of the rest of the students, you know, the one’s with a 13 average in PE, to show up near the end of the party after the smart kids ate all the pizza.

That’s where the problem arises.

“Why can’t my precious angel with a 13 average in PE have pizza too?” cried the parents of said underachieving students.

And then the second problem.

A local news station saw fit to make a story out of the parental crying. Apparently there were no apartment fires to report on that day. But this was more than a story, really. It was a commentary or an editorial disguised as a news story. That’s pretty much what all news is today.

Watch the reporter in the clip below as she talks to the straight A students as if they just threw pipe bombs at a nursing home. And then listen to the anchors at the end of the clip as one of them suggests a “special plaque” for all of the rest of the students. A special plaque?

A special plaque!

“John David, don’t forget to turn in your homework from last semester so I can give you your plaque.”

I have to ask again.

A special plaque?!

What’s so special about it, if everybody gets one.

This should have never been on the news. The fact that it was leads us to the moral of our story. It’s a lesson that we must all pay attention to if we want to know at least a little of what is behind our decline as a culture and what we can do to correct it, stop it or at least slow it down.

Here’s the lesson.

100% of all people want something. But only about 50% of those people are willing to work for it. And in the name of leveling the playing field, some in the media and politics are quick to denigrate those willing to work. In the end, one way or another, we all end up paying. All 100% of us.

The Super Bowl And America The Ugly


It was a good Super Bowl.

Nobody got naked. And the lights stayed on.

The game on the other hand was probably the worst one of the season but who watches the Super Bowl for the game? Besides, your team is never in the game anyway. Well, unless you’re one of those bandwagon fans whose two favorite teams just happen to be the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. In that case, congratulations. I guess.

Most people watch the Super Bowl for the spectacle. Even those of us who care about football usually don’t get to really watch the game. It’s too hard to hear what Troy Aikman has to say over the sound of you and 30 of your best friends eating chicken wings.

Then there are the commercials. We all get quiet for the commercials. And then about 30 seconds after each one, we get loud about the commercials. Real loud. Through social media we let the world know which one we thought was funny, which one didn’t deliver and which one was offensive. So in that regard, this year was just like every other Super Bowl.

I missed the Coke commercial where people sang America the Beautiful in different languages. I did not miss the fallout from it.

Allen West called the commercial “disturbing” and said that it was proof that we were, “on the road to perdition.” Someone else wrote something about never drinking another Coke because of that commercial. Yes. It’s true. This just a few days after doctors told us that dark colored soft drinks could cause cancer.

“Coke could give me cancer? Meh. Pass the Big Gulp, please.”

“Coke let somebody sing America the Beautiful in Spanish on one of their commercials? Call the National Guard! And pass a Big Gulp full of Pepsi while you’re at it.”

I get it. Immigration is a big deal in this country. Our border isn’t really a border and that’s a serious problem. A lot of people with bad motives are coming to this country illegally and throwing wrenches into the machine that makes America what it is. Even worse, some of our own politicians are supplying the wrenches and making the rest of us pay for them.

But a broken system is not a legitimate cause for doing away with the system all together. And you know what that system is, right? “Give me your tired, your poor,” and so on. For some of us, our forefathers came here to escape tyranny in their home country. And when they got here, there were already people living here. If we could talk to a Cherokee Indian who lived a couple of hundred years ago, I wonder how he would feel after hearing people sing about how beautiful his land is in some strange tongue called English.

Other forefathers didn’t want to come here at all but the guys running the auctions and the slave ships weren’t too concerned with what they wanted. And today others are still coming here and trying to do it the right way. Just because they want a better life. Because they don’t want their kids growing up in a war zone. Can you blame them?

There is a lot of pain and plenty of blurred lines involved with each family that somehow found its way to this country. But we’re here. Together. And that’s part of what makes America beautiful.

Like when my part Filipino son plays soccer with his Haitian and African teammates and I can’t understand too much of what the parents of those teammates are saying. But we are all there. Different language. Same game. Together.

Or when I share a Thanksgiving meal with my Filipino father-in-law. I always eat mashed potatoes. He’s not interested in that. Rice is his thing. But we’re both there at the table. A white boy from the southern suburbs of Atlanta and a Filipino from Hawaii. Different food. Same table. Together.

Part of America’s beauty, much like other beautiful things in our world, is how it gives you just a small glimpse of what heaven will be like. Not a perfect picture. Not even a complete one. Just a small glimpse. I don’t mean to say that our flag will be flying on the golden streets and that there will be a place for the Statue of Liberty right behind the gates of pearls. It’s deeper than that. It’s people who speak different languages all coming together to sing the same song. Only in heaven, we won’t be singing about America.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV)

When I was a kid, a man told me that there would be no black people in heaven. Black people, he said, were a cursed race and could not inherit God’s gift of eternal life. As I grew I learned that he was wrong. All he was doing was reading his preferences into the Bible instead of allowing the Bible to shape his preferences. Plain and simple, he didn’t want to be in heaven for all eternity with a bunch of black people. Unless that man has experienced some serious heart change in the 30 years since I have spoken to him, I don’t think that he’ll have to worry about being in heaven with anyone.

But that man’s thinking is part of what is behind some of the opposition to Coke’s commercial. We want everyone to be just like us. Whoever us is. And that’s the funny part. If we stop to look around we’ll realize that nobody is like us. That’s part of what makes America so beautiful. Purple mountains and fruited plains aren’t all that pretty when the people are all the same.

There’s a line in America the Beautiful that sticks out to me every time I hear it sung.

“God shed his grace on thee.”

We really need that grace.

We need that grace to remind us of the better home that awaits all of Christ’s people.

And we need it to help us to know how to love God and one another while we wait for that new home.

But for a long time, we’ve been trying to get by without that grace.

And the result has been anything but beautiful.

The Devil’s Dictionary of American Politics

One of the tricky things about our language is that words often have multiple meanings. Take the word dude, for example.

“What’s up, dude?”

Here, dude means fellow or friend.

But the same word can also be an expression of shock or awe.

“Hey, Cheese Puffs aren’t buy one get one free at Kroger anymore.”


Nowhere is the multiple meaning of our words more clear than in American politics. You’ve probably heard it said before that the Devil is in the details. In his book The Devil’s Dictionary of the Christian Faith, Donald Williams elaborates on that saying. “Remember: the definition is what the Devil wishes were true, period, and which is, in fact, true all too often.”

Here’s how the Devil is getting his wish in the language of American politics.

Affordable (adj.): When the government gives you something that neither you or they can afford by forcing a completely different group of people to pay for it thus making it free. Well, free for them at least.

Anarchist (n.): Any individual or organization that has a problem with the federal government spending trillions of dollars to make sure that your flower bed has the proper ratio of weeds to pine straw.

Bipartisan (adj.): When politicians who represent opposing viewpoints come together to really stick it to the American people.

Cut 1 (v., archaic): To decrease the size and spending of government; 2 (v., current): An act of terrorism that would prevent millions of Americans from being provided with much needed smart phones, Curious George cartoons and ridiculous pieces of art placed inside of funny looking library buildings.

Debt (n.): Money that American politicians borrow from other nations or institutions under the assumption that it will be used to help average American citizens. In the rare event that this money is ever returned, it will be at the expense of those same average American citizens. And their children. And their children’s children.

Democrat (n.): A member or supporter of the most compassionate and caring political party that has ever existed.

Extremism (n.): The belief that one should be able to say what he wishes, worship where he wishes, own a firearm and put as much pine straw in his flower garden as he so desires.

Freedom (n.): A citizen’s privilege to choose whether his rights will be taken away by a republican or a democrat.

Gun-Control (n.): The belief that government should use its own evil weapons to take away evil weapons from citizens that is grounded in the assumption that only government agents and American funded international drug lords have enough inherent goodness to overcome the evil of such weapons.

Politician (n.): A person elected to represent a group of citizens by acquiring as much money and power as possible, all for the good of those citizens, of course.

Republican (n.): A derivative from Latin meaning to sell one’s soul and cave in at the last minute.

Sacrifice (n.): A citizen’s patriotic duty of either voluntarily or involuntarily giving up rights so that government can protect him from himself.

Terrorist (n.): A Christian mother of five who drives a mini-van, loves her husband and kids, pays for her own groceries and voted for Ron Paul. Not to be confused with people who use anything at their disposal to do as much harm as possible to the American republic while benefiting themselves. See politician.

Tragedy (n.): A really awesome opportunity for politicians to acquire more power for themselves and take away more rights from citizens by appealing to the emotions or fears of those citizens.

War (n.): The political strategy of making a bad situation worse by talking about it more, “getting tough” on it and spending trillions of dollars on it. Examples include but are not limited to the War on Drugs, the War on Terror and the War on Poverty.

So now, the next time you turn on the news and hear about a bipartisan effort to bring about gun control, you can turn to your friend and say, “Dude! This ain’t good, dude.”

Here I Go Again

“How was school?”


“What about lunch?”


“Recess? Was recess good?”

There was a delay. I always ask my son these questions when I pick him up from school. He always says the same thing.


I have to interrogate for more details. But whenever there is a delay, I know that it’s not good.  On this day, apparently recess wasn’t good.

“It was just okay.”

The interrogation began. Answers came slowly. There was a girl involved.

My son was playing with his friend when the alleged female perpetrator walked up and gave her demand to my son.

“You can’t play with us. Leave.”

I asked him what he did.

“I just left and played something by myself.”

“Did you cry?”


“Were you sad?”


My heart broke. I know that there are lessons to be learned from this but it’s still no fun seeing your son with a crushed spirit. So I tried to lift him up. I told him how this kind of thing will happen to him from time to time. I reminded him that Jesus loves him and that his mom and dad do too. I told him that growing up and being a leader means that there will always be people who criticize you or are mean to you.

He waited politely for me to finish my speech.

“Can you turn it up?”

He wasn’t telling me to talk louder.


“Can you turn it up?”

He was talking about the radio.

It was playing Whitesnake.

Here I Go Again.

Sometimes a boy just needs some Whitesnake to help him deal with the pain of a broken heart.

But that’s never enough.

Most of the time he’s going to need a dad. An annoying dad. A dad that keeps asking questions.

It is those questions and the conversations that they lead to that help to shape him. Without those talks, boys are likely to grow up with bitter, hard hearts towards all girls, always afraid of getting hurt. Even worse, there is the chance of a boy growing up to treat girls as objects. Objects that exist for nothing more than his personal satisfaction. No matter the cost.

Here I Go Again was an appropriate song for my son to hear that day. He’s going to face that kind of rejection again. But it’s my job to guide him through it. It’s my job to remind him that nothing can separate him from the love of Christ. And it’s my job to teach him how to treat girls. Even the ones that reject him.

Eleven years ago, long before I had that conversation with my son, I had another conversation. A conversation with the girl who would one day be his mother. On a Halloween night on the banks of the Mississippi River in New Orleans, I pulled a ring from my pocket and asked her to marry me. There was no rejection. She said yes.

Two months before, I didn’t even know her. A day after I met her I knew that God sent a good thing my way. I pray that he does the same thing for my boys. And I pray that when he does, my boys are ready.

But right now, as young as they are, they are in the preparation phase. They are being shaped. Developed.

Shaped and developed on the way home from school and in a host of other scenarios.

By their father.

With just a little help from Whitesnake.