September 21, 2016

Alive Day

Every now and then, someone comes along in life who causes you to see things from another perspective, a broader point of view. They may challenge you. They may inspire you. They may make you appreciate all you have. They may even push you to become a better version of yourself. If you’re really lucky, they’ll do all of that.

That’s what my friend Dave does – but not just for me; for a lot of us. But what makes him even more of an inspiration isn’t just what he does; it’s what he’s been through. See, 10 years ago today, he was supposed to have died.

This was supposed to be Dave’s casket. The blast from the IED was supposed to kill him. At the very least, it was supposed to take away his ability to ever walk again.

The list of his injuries was extensive. Broken legs. Broken spine. Incomplete spinal cord injury. Broken hip. TBI (traumatic brain injury). Shot in the head and chest. Yeah, Dave has been through a lot. Just a glance at this pic and anyone can see that.

But while most people will focus on the physical injuries he sustained and survived, what really inspires me can’t be captured in a photo. It’s not the fact that he served 11 faithful years in the United States Army. It’s not the fact that he survived a war that tried (and tried and tried) to take him out. No. What really inspires me is everything the camera isn’t able to show. His inspiration to me is found in the mental, emotional, and spiritual battles he has faced … and won.

While the firefights he was in lasted minutes or hours, the real fights took years. Through addiction and recovery, hopelessness and depression, Dave continued to fight. He told me once that the physical injuries he’s endured are just that; physical. And physical injuries heal. As he put it, “The mental and emotional stuff really kicks your ass.”

But Dave found THE way through it. That’s what inspires me. He never, ever gave up. Although he came close, Dave never threw in the towel. And now, 9 years to the day after it was all supposed to end, Dave knows why, and he will tell anyone and everyone that the only way he’s here is because of one thing and one thing only: Jesus Christ. But don’t let me put words in his mouth. Watch his story and hear it for yourself.  

Look, I know Dave is human. I’m not building him up to be something or someone he isn’t. But the fact is, God has used Dave – and continues to use him – to leave an indelible impression on my life. God has given me a friend who challenges me. I can't repay him for that. I can't earn something like that. But I can, and do, thank God for my friend Dave ... especially on his “ALIVE DAY”!

September 11, 2016

It's Time to Take a Stand...

There are 32 NFL teams who will each be playing 16 regular season games this year. That’s 256 games. To break it down even more, that’s 15,360 minutes of regular season football. And that doesn’t count overtime or the playoffs. That’s a lot of football. But I won’t be seeing one second of it. And before you ask. Yes, it’s by choice.

Call it a protest. Call it a boycott. Call it making a statement. It doesn’t really matter what you call it. But I’ve had enough, so I am refusing to watch. I’m taking a stand. For what? Simply put, our nation.

You would have to have been living under a rock to not know about the latest trend of professional athletes refusing to stand for the national anthem. The commentaries, water cooler conversations, and radio talk show segments about it are too numerous to count. But there’s one entity that has been deafeningly silent about it all. The NFL.

In fact, “the league” has done little to show its loyalty to the country that has given it the very opportunity to make the profit they have, even though the NFL is officially a nonprofit organization. (If you were unaware of that fact, I have to wonder what else you are unaware of when it comes to this topic.) But my refusal to watch overpaid men be paid by other overpaid men to play a boy’s game is about more than these athletes or their “statements”. It’s about more than the millionaires in the boardrooms. It’s about the overall message being sent.

The NFL will undoubtedly play to the crowds’ emotions with touching tributes to 9/11, the military, first responders, etc. But if you think they actually care about those things, think again.

Am I saying that every football player is a self-indulging, self-satisfying primadonna? No. There are great men who do great things who play the game. But as far as the league is concerned, please don’t buy the lie.

Sure, if it benefits them, they’re all for it. But the moment a team wants to honor the police with a one-inchsticker on the back of their helmets, or a player wants to pay tribute to the 2,977 people killed on 9/11, the league steps in and says, “Oh no you don’t…not if we can’t make a buck off it. In fact, if you do those things, we’re going to fine you!”

I simply cannot support that kind of league.

This point in the history of our nation is crucial. Sadly, we are more divided now than at nearly any other time leading back to the Civil War. If you don’t think so then you are in serious denial, my friend. Just take a look around.

Sport is supposed to be something that exists to bring us together. But does anyone actually think that is happening right now? Are the league’s actions, these players’ protests, or any of the “conversations” being created actually helping? No. It’s contributing to the problem and making things worse.

I’m all for people’s rights to speak out. It’s one of the things I signed up to fight for with my life. But there are times when we need to move past what we “feel,” get over what we “want,” and we need to realize there is something greater than any one of us. Right now, we need to join together for the greater good.

Are we perfect? Not. At. All. Only our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is. But we cannot – we must not – think the imperfections in our country are grounds for dividing us further. Because nothing will bring us down faster. And we need organizations like the most popular sports league in the land to stand up and speak out.

So to boil it down… Why am I refusing to watch the NFL this season? Because it’s time to take a stand for our nation, while too many others (literally and figuratively) are not.

July 4, 2015

Two Words

I think sometimes we believe altering the course of significant aspects of life is like making a u-turn with an enormous cargo ship in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Crews have to be readied, switches have to be clicked, levers have to be pulled, and wheels have to be turned. Engines have to stop and be restarted in the other direction. Then, eventually, slowly, the giant vessel begins its change in course.

But as I think more about it, altering the course of the truly meaningful parts of life is nothing at all like that. At least it doesn’t need to be. It’s really more like turning around in a canoe in a small pond. All you have to do is stop paddling in one direction and start paddling in the other direction. And it doesn’t take much to do that. In fact, it really only takes two words.

Think about the power of these phrases to completely transform a situation, a circumstance, or even a relationship: “I do.” “You’re hired.” “I’m sorry.

Just two words can conjure up emotions of love or hate, hope or despair, purpose or lack thereof. Those small, two-word phrases have power, healing, potential, and hope. 

In recent days, a few two-word phrases have captured the attention of our nation and brought to light some serious problems in our nation. “Gay marriage.” “Hate crimes.” “Political correctness.

There are more, I’m sure. But that’s not what I want to dive into. Here’s the real point:  

As I sit here on my patio on July 4th, thinking about all that our country has done and been over the last 239 years, I’m in a weird state of mourning. Yes, mourning. I’m mourning for so much of what she used to be. We once stood as the city on the hill, a beacon of hope and light for the world. But today, I cannot confidently say that’s true. It certainly used to be. But I don’t know if the world looks at us as the ultimate symbol of what a nation could – and should – be. We find ourselves fighting each other, tearing each other apart. And for what? Because we have different points of view on certain topics? Isn’t that one of the things that made us great to begin with? Our diversity used to be a source of our strength. Now, it’s a cause for our division? It’s sad, really.

But here’s the thing. I don’t think it’s too late. I refuse to believe that our country cannot heal and move forward, stronger than ever. I will not cower to the idea that what we had before, what our forefathers bled and died for, is gone forever. I am still proud to call this country my home, in spite of our imperfections and shortcomings. There are still men and women – heroes – who fight for and defend what we have every single day. The foundation of our country may feel like it has been cracked, but it’s not broken.

But there’s another two-word phrase that we need to…no…that we MUST embrace if we ever hope to get back to what we once were. It’s a phrase that represents something that has been lacking in our nation for far too long by far too many people.

Under God.

I desperately want this country to be great again. I think we can be. But we cannot deceive ourselves with the idea that we can do it without God. It simply won’t happen.

So this Fourth of July, celebrate what we have. Because there truly is no nation like ours in the world that experiences the freedom we have. But as you celebrate and remember all we have done over the last 239 years, remember that if we’re going to last another 239 (or even another 10), we must return to God! Pray today for healing in our nation. Pray for our leaders to humble and submit themselves to Him. Because without Him, nothing is possible. But with Him? With Him, nothing is impossible!

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 33:12

August 27, 2014


In three days, I'll be 38 years old. And while 38 doesn't actually constitute "old" in my book, there are some things I've learned. I only wish I'd gotten most of these when I was "younger". What are they?

1. Be yourself - in every situation.
2. Love wildly.
3. Admit when you're wrong.
4. Shut up when you're right.
5. Never sell yourself short.
6. Never let anyone negate your value.
7. Find God - early in life.
8. Turn to God - regularly in life.
9. Rely on God - constantly through life.
10. Find the right woman (she'll make you a better man)
11. Get involved in the church. And stay involved.
12. Test yourself.
13. Don't give up on yourself.
14. Be the kind of friend you want to have.
15. Become part of something bigger than yourself.
16. Never think you've arrived.
17. Never look down on other people.
18. Play. A lot. 
19. Laugh. Even more. 
20. Don't be afraid to cry.
21. But don't cry too much. 
22. Learn to shoot - and learn to shoot well.
23. Love your country. 
24. Be willing to die for it. 
25. Read. A lot.
26. Don't believe everything you read. 
27. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. 
28. When you make mistakes, learn from them. 
29. Ask questions. 
30. Pray the right prayers (hint: they're not about you.)
31. Teach someone something. 
32. Never stop learning. 
33. Find something to be in awe of every day. 
34. Don't be afraid to get messy.
35. Learn to trust.
36. Stay humble.
37. Listen more than you talk.
38. Realize there's more to life than what you think.