Tagged: women

Hack Life Out of the Wilderness; In a Word—Work Hard

I married a woman from Ethiopia.

For the purposes of this post, the single cultural trait in focus is polygamy. Ethiopians are only generations away from the practice of polygamy. The mooslims still do practice it.

This manifests itself in the fact that they currently live in multi-family homes. I don’t mean apartments, I mean one larger home wherein many family members are supported by a few family members. My wife might tell me, “There aren’t enough jobs, so only my brother works,” to describe this particular living arrangement.

In our family, my wife and I’s current blended family here in the good ol’ US of A, it has become clear that she does not want to work hard. The way this has appeared is that she has chosen to take a minimal wage, part-time, night shift job rather than be a stay-at-home mom with her two babies.

Don’t mis-hear me. I’m admitting, confessing, and asserting that being a stay-at-home mom with two babies is hard work—far harder than any minimal wage part-time work. I’m knocking my own wife, to support the archetypical stay-at-home wife.

She hasn’t quite said the following, but indirectly she has indicated that if we lived in Ethiopia, then our two babies would be passed around all day, every day. “Okay, I need a break, you watch them. Okay, I need a break, you watch them. Okay, I need a break, you watch them.” Then rinse and repeat until they find themselves passing around their own babies.

As the dad, as the father, as the patriarch of my family, I want my children to be the strongest adults possible. Warrior poets. Scholar athletes. I want fearless giants. To be sure, I want pilots. (Forgive me, I couldn’t resist.)

I’m here to tell you that fearless giants are not possible if raised like an Ethiopian, fearless giants are not possible if raised by polygamists.

In the passing around of the children, something else gets passed around—responsibility. And accountability. The lack of responsibility and accountability is the direct manifestation of laziness.

“He did what?! That’s not how I taught him when I had him for two minutes of every morning,” the third cousin, twice removed on the mother’s side says, feigning to be indignant.

I didn’t see it coming when I proposed this marriage, but nearly every day of my life, I see more and more why American culture is the dominant one on Planet Earth. Today, I see it in terms of monogamy as the one and only producer of giants. Polygamy went away, not because of the New Testament or because of some other philosophy. Polygamy dropped off the earth because its offspring were weak and incapable of hard work. Polygamy is not practiced by Americans because the children raised by only two people, by only one man and one woman are more capable adults. Where did Americans learn to work hard? The wilderness. Americans hacked life out of the wilderness. And that took hard work. You should thank your national ancestors.

Children need to see—from their first breaths—that hard work is good, hard work is rewarding, and hard work is rewarded. And children cannot see that if they don’t see their fathers and mothers working hard to raise them—all day, every day.

As for this fearless giant, this pilot, as for this American? I’m a man who believes in hard work. So I married a woman from Ethiopia.


You’re Next

That’s the title of a sermon I’d like to give.

“You’re Next?”

Intriguing, no?

“Next what?” you wonder.

Whoa, back up a sec, I say.

“Who am I giving the imaginary sermon to?” That’s the first question.

My answer: This is a real sermon, for a real congregation, at a real church.

Most folks in the audience, then, believe they’re “in”.

This eliminates my ominous assertion “You’re Next” from meaning (to these faithful few) something positive.

Instead, I mean, literally, concretely, and practically, that I believe I am talking to people who—like all the rest—are the next to leave Christianity.

“No I’m not!” some of you might respond.

“Now we’re talking!” I exclaim. “You’re not next after all. So why aren’t you gonna leave? Let’s talk about that and see if we can’t communicate all the reasons you’re hanging around to those who are not here today.

“For example, I’m not going to leave because I can read my Bible. And when I read the Bible, I see that, specifically, theology has mucked up what it says. Doctrine begins with Scripture. Doctrine does not prevent taking the claims of the Bible in kind.

“That said, you’re not going to hear me proclaiming ‘doctrine’. Not unless we do this together for decades and I need to speed up the point I want to make. Decades. Not this week. Not next week. Not next year. Not even next decade.

“Open your Bibles with me, then, to the Gospel according to-”

“-Excuse, me,” one of you interrupts. “But how will we keep false teachings out?”

“Good question. By using our god-given minds to determine what the Bible says. If this makes you nervous, it means that you’re not sure you know how to read. That’s fine. I’m sure I can teach you. More than that, I’m sure you’ll agree that you learned how to read.

“Any more questions before we begin?”

Life Doesn’t Have To Be Hard, It Turns Out

I think I enjoy the competition. I enjoy challenges. I like to prove myself. I like to prove that I am better than you expected.

Yes, I think that is why I have lived life in a way that I (and others) might sometimes define as “hard”.

Wearing a boy scout uniform was hard. Witnessing to non-christians as a pre-teen was hard. Being a diver on the swim team was hard. Going to a college where I knew no one was hard. Entering bodybuilding competitions as a teenager was hard. Getting good grades was hard. Becoming an Air Force officer and pilot was hard. Arguing with every living person has always been hard.

These activities have also been fun, but that doesn’t mean they were less hard.

But I have recently spent an inordinate amount of time with people from a different culture and I have come to realize that life doesn’t have to be hard.

The trick to this type of life, so far as I can tell, is to not understand anything.

My goal—if this post has one—is to distinguish “ignorance is bliss” from what I’m talking about.

“Ignorance is bliss”, to me, has always been said by those who are not ignorant. It has always lived in the same semantic domain as “the thing I like about high school is, as I get older, the girls stay the same age”.

I’m not claiming to have rediscovered that concept.

I’m talking about hard vs. easy. Like the “work smarter, not harder” realm.

And I’m saying here I have been living a hard life and enjoying it because I thought that over time I am working smarter and smarter which means more and more work being done, but it turns out, I’m still living a hard life.

And I’m admitting that I just came to the realization that life doesn’t have to be hard.

Let me put it this way.

In the “work smarter not harder” proverb, there is implied that if you’re dumb, life is hard.

There’s another proverb I’ve heard, “being dumb doesn’t kill ya, it just makes you sweat.”

With me yet?

I think I’m saying that these aren’t true.

If you actually don’t understand life, then life is easy. Lillies of the field easy. Birds of the air easy. You know, easy.

Just be and in most cases food makes it to the table.

Just be and in most cases the Nike outlet will have a marked down pair of shoes in your size and on the very day that you went shopping there!

Just be and your kid can’t possibly turn out with low character because he is also only a receiver of life.

Maybe I’ve misunderstood the “just makes you sweat” part and it has always meant “working hard is dumb” to the wise.

Or maybe, just maybe, I have been working my tail off to provide a good life for my new family and the only actual reward is the knowledge that they prefer their old, easy life back.

And to think that for all these years I thought life had to be hard.

Eagle Eyes


“Yes, A-, that’s your nose,” I responded, unsure what prompted this resumption of the body parts game.


“Yes. You’re right. Good job. That’s your nose,” I answered loquaciously, aiming for victory.

She took off running towards the open door.

“Hey!-” I started, futilely. “Why do they always need to go where they’re not allowed?”

She came back with a tissue at her nose and as I met her, I saw the box of tissue all the way in the far corner of our bedroom, on the nightstand.

I shook my head.

“H-!” I called to my older daughter. “You’re not gonna believe what A- just did. She saw the tissue box all the way from across the room and that’s why she started saying, ‘Nose? Nose?’ Ha. This kid has eagle eyes-”

“Watch out, A-!”

Before I could finish a father’s proud, ocular appellation, certain death in the form of unkempt toddler toys, almost met our far-sighted easy-breather.

Damely, A Review of Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, by Dane Ortlund

Evangelical Christianity has a problem.

We say the canon is closed, but then we keep writing and writing and writing. And encouraging to write and write and write. And read and read and read—everything about the Bible, but never the Bible itself.

Mr. Ortlund’s, or Pastor Ortlund’s, book was given to me last birthday by a good friend. We went to Seminary together. I told him I’d let him know how the book was after I read it. He clearly loved it, so this was an awkward setup for someone as critical as me. He knew that going in. I agreed because I thought I could use some light Christian reading and figured it couldn’t be terrible. And it wasn’t. It wasn’t even close to terrible.

But it’s for women. Dames.

Check out these sentiments:

We don’t use a word like benevolence much today; it means a disposition to be kind and good, a crouched coil of compassion ready to spring.

Or, …my swirling internal world of fretful panicky-ness arising out of gospel deficit…

The felt love of Christ really is what brings rest, wholeness, flourishing, shalom—that existential calm that for brief, gospel-sane moments settles over you and lets you step in out of the storm of of-works-ness.

(My bold.)

No man feels like that was written to him. We all just acknowledge that the Pastor has to include some girly stuff in order to satisfy the publisher, who knows that men typically don’t read anyway. But the book was filled with these and more. Too many. Nobody speaks like that, nor should they. It’s insulting. “Crouched coil of compassion ready to spring”. Sheesh. No need for gender-reassignment surgery here. Just learned what it feels like to be a woman.

Here’s even more truth. The introduction lists a few “who this is written for” descriptions, and the one (only one) that made me decide to go through with reading it was, “…suspect we have disappointed him [the Trinity].” That’s not feminine, neither is it far off from ideas floating around “upstairs” as my step-son says. So I read on.

But I confess that I never really thought the book was for me. And I still don’t. The Bible is for me. This type of book is not.

The problem with these books is their existence itself. You don’t need someone to come up with analogies to the Bible’s analogies in order to understand how to walk according to the Way. You really don’t.

I repeat: the canon is closed.

I have this argument with my wife often too.

The canon is closed. The minute someone creates a recording of what they said, some preacher/teacher, they’re implicitly suggesting that they are as inspired as the authors of the real Bible.

By contrast, I write these posts for me. I don’t believe they can help you in any way that meaningfully would be help. That’s partly because I don’t believe you need my help. You definitely have never asked for my help.

If anything, my theologically-oriented posts may help you understand what makes me tick, but I would never suggest they can help clarify the Bible.

Back to Pastor Ortlund.

If you’re looking for a good spiritual book, most folks would point you to the big ones. Gospel of John, Genesis, early Psalms, Ephesians. Acts is a winner. And that disappoints you. Because that’s not what you’re looking for, I suspect. I suspect that, when looking for a Christian/Devotional book, you’re looking to find a shortcut to the Bible. Bluntly, my gut tells me that you’re looking for a lazy-man’s Bible.

To that search I say: Good luck in your quest. I never have found one. So I stopped wasting time searching and started reading the Bible.

A Midwestern American Man’s Take On Ukraine

I took my two twelve year olds canoeing, here in Minnesota last July. It brought back so many memories. Just being alone on a river and hearing no artificial noise was well worth the price of admission.

Then, as if to further and more certainly confirm that the event was anointed, there was a moment when a bald eagle flew overhead into view.

Can we talk about the bald eagle for a minute? Is there anything good that a bald eagle doesn’t represent? Is there anything good that a bald eagle doesn’t call to mind?

When I see a bald eagle, I might as well see Jesus. Remember that “I Can Only Imagine” Christian song? It even made the Kohl’s playlist? Remember? “I can only imagine/what hmm mm mmhm hmm?…what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you Jesus!? Or in awe of you be still!?” Imagine nevermore. After seeing a bald eagle, I can tell you what seeing Jesus actually feels like.

Awe, then happy, then awe, then somber, then awe, then special, then awe, then at peace, then awe, then blessed, then awe, then talkative, then awe, then warm, then awe, then good.

On a river in Minnesota we saw a bald eagle. It felt good.

Then, to our surprise, we saw a second large bird playfully follow and engage the bald eagle. The second bird had a speckled appearance. It did not have a white head.

When we arrived home, I googled this second bird. It turns out, as you may have guessed, that bald eagles don’t have the white (bald) head until they’re fully grown.

Did I mention that I saw a bald eagle on the river that day? I did.

Truly, when I saw that bald eagle, I saw America.

The bald eagle is America.

The young bald eagle, then, is Europe.

Ukraine is a bald eagle egg.

Should the USA help Ukraine? Sure. We want more bald eagles.

But the USA should not send its own men and women to fight Russia, anymore than the adult bald eagle can get back inside the egg.

It’d be disingenuous. It’d be unnatural.

Ukraine’s real competition, if it were actually a country (I still say, ‘Ukraine is not a country’), is us—not Russia.

One Way I Know I’m Failing As A Father, and One Way I Know I’m Succeeding As A Father

Failing: Afternoon nap time for A- (terrible two’s daughter) and J- (infant son). And their parents.

Son awakes first. Wife brings him to living room where I am lazily reading after a pleasant cat nap. She returns to her nap.

Finally, I get up and go lay near J-.

I beamed with pride as my son rolled around. J-’s movement and posture is a near divine display of inner calm, grace, majesty, and dexterity. And all at such a young age. Impressive, for sure. I also noticed what might prove to be a subtle hint of poopy diaper was released.

To confirm, I moved in and inhaled deeply.


Succeeding: Afternoon nap time for A- (terrible two’s daughter) and J- (infant son). And their parents.

Son awakes first. Wife brings him to living room where I am lazily reading after a pleasant cat nap. She returns to her nap.

Finally, I get up and go lay near J-.

I beamed with pride as my son rolled around. J-’s movement and posture is a near divine display of inner calm, grace, majesty, and dexterity. And all at such a young age. Impressive, for sure. I also noticed what might prove to be a subtle hint of poopy diaper was released.

To confirm, I moved in and inhaled deeply.

The Bible Is Not Always Clear

The sermon this morning was on James 1:22-25. Here it is.

But become doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he looked at himself and has gone away, he immediately forgot what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.
‭‭James‬ ‭1:22-25‬ ‭LSB‬‬

The preacher this morning spent an inordinate amount of time on the “common sense” mirror analogy. To summarize, he said, “Unless you’re a ‘doer’ James is saying it’s like you see bedhead in the mirror in the morning and then don’t fix it. Hearing-only is only seeing the mirror, James is saying. But we want to be ‘doers’, so we have to do something about what we see.”

This interpretation, of what you’ll see is an uncommon teaching, is incredibly flawed. See if you can follow me as I explain why.

Firstly, the mirror is never truth. The mirror is never reality.

Secondly, the Bible is not a mirror. As I was critiquing the sermon on the short drive home, my wife somehow defended the sermon with, “but the Bible is a mirror!” This exclamation was especially saddening as she knows better. To be clear, a quick, but exhaustive, search of the Bible shows that no Bible writer ever expressed as much. Of course they didn’t. It isn’t true. The Bible writers never wrote that the Bible is a mirror because the Bible is not a mirror. (This is because the Bible is true and mirrors are not.)

Thirdly, James plainly says that the hearer-only forgets without the mirror. When apart from the mirror, the hearer-only forgets.

Let’s take an example of forgetting. As a professional pilot, I wear a uniform when I fly. The uniform is what a professional pilot wears. You see me in a uniform, just the same as I see myself in a mirror in a uniform. You see pilots in uniforms, but—and you know this—uniforms aren’t the thing that makes him a pilot.

It’s a good look, the uniform. So I like to see myself in the mirror. “Yeah, that’s me. I’m a pilot. Cool.”

Now imagine that I walk away from the mirror and am unable to get the plane into the sky. Am I still a pilot? Even though I’m in uniform? (We’re still on point three; James’ emphasis is on forgetting.)

I saw the other pilots in their uniforms. I put on one that fit me. But, imagine that for some reason I couldn’t perform the task of flight. I have forgotten who I was/am. As it turns out, how I look has nothing to do with whether I am a pilot.

(Here insert any of your own reflective, superficial, outward traits.)

Fourthly, and finally, mirrors, in-and-of-themselves, are not compelling. Don’t believe me? Hmm. Okay. Then I guess you’re not slightly overweight, not slightly unkempt, good from this angle, and you don’t appear to weigh as much as the scale says. I guess you really do look best on video chat when it’s just your face, your clothes really don’t matter, and you’re only working from home—so no need to look nice.

If mirrors could compel us to change, we’d all look exact like we want to, no matter the cost of achieving it.

James was writing to liars (that includes you and me too). Specifically, he was writing to believers who were undergoing various trials. James believes that he (James) knows a thing or two about how to gain the righteousness of God. And he writes that we don’t gain the righteousness of God by living a lie. Or as James says “deluding ourselves”.

If you think hearing a sermon every week, or your having heard a powerful sermon once in your life, is going to gain you the righteousness of God, then think again.

This short passage is not clear. It is not common sense. It is murky, it is mysterious, and it is deep enough that a lifetime can be spent contemplating it. This is because James is promoting the need for religion. He is promoting the need for repetition. He is promoting the need for repentance.

Why? Why repent? Why repetitively perform good works? Why get religion?

Answer: “To achieve the righteousness of God.”

(Here notice that we haven’t touched on what that is. Maybe some other day.)

Mayor Pete Is A Real Boy

Some of you have no doubt seen the headlines that Mayor Pete put pen to paper regarding his first year with the twin babies.

What most of you won’t have taken time to learn, what the news didn’t report, is that Mayor Pete also, after his year in the Land of Boobies, to his great astonishment, grew a beautiful pair of donkey’s ears.

It is moments like these where I am glad homosexual men are sterile. Seems nature has things under control after all.

Luck or Consequence?

You should remember that I have a step-son, A-. He’s now 12, and he has been in my house for over two years. For right or wrong, most nights, as my wife (his mother) and I lay in bed, about to fall asleep, I recount, let’s say, “areas for improvement” in his day. So many lies, so much disobedience, so much unthinkingness. He’s not hell-bent, but he has severe low self-esteem and until me, has never apparently had an adult teach him anything, let alone the big things. Making matters worse, he’s been guessing wrong and drawing wrong conclusions with his own brain—itself a testament to how incapable a human is to just “get it” without proper breeding.

Anyhow, as you also know, I fly helicopters professionally and of the EMS sort. Recently, I was able to attend a drag racing event as the “on duty”, “fly out the injured driver or fan” pilot. Well, one of the perks of this event was I got to go down to the start line and be as close to the car as anyone, well, anyone except the driver.

I’m telling you, it was like a bomb went off when the lights turned green. I feared for my own life.

In other words, it was awesome.

Later that shift, I flew an actual patient of a bicyclist vs. car event and then I had a long drive home. Long day.

Pretty much went directly to bed. And while there, I’m showing the wife videos of the crazy races and explaining the unimaginable experience of being right there (and having flown in to the event, all while being on the clock) and, because she she knows I like Nascar among other reasons, she says, “Lucky you.”

Full stop.

Lucky me? I’m at the race and being teated as VIP because I’m fortunate?

Sorry, my wife. Maybe it’s fortunate that that shift was open and I was able to fill it. Maybe it’s fortunate that the other helicopter that was supposed to be there was weathered in and we were sent until they could replace us. But the reason that pilots get these uncommon opportunities is pure consequence of consistent application of self-control, obedience, perseverance, attention to detail, service, and the list goes on.

The moment sticks in my craw because of my step-son. I’m the only adult in his life that holds him accountable, that gives him consequences, that tells him unrelentingly that “this behavior caused this consequence” and this means that I’ve created in him a fight. He has all the rest of you just neglecting him, just letting him believe in some bastardized version of “fortune” when it comes to how life unfolds in one corner. And he has me, in the other. I’m strict. I’m probably terrifying. And I talk to him more than anyone he knows. But I’m also alone. Me and my helicopter and my videos of cars exploding off the planet. 9 years of everyone, followed by 2+ years of everyone vs. one man who seems lucky. What do you think? Who’s he gonna choose to stick with?

Good things happen as consequences, and nominal and bad things happen as consequences.

Bear in mind, I’m not saying, I, Captain Pete, deserve good things, deserve good consequences. I am saying that when they happen, it is definitely and certainly due to past performance.

I saw the same images of who gets to be where at sporting events as I grew up that you all saw too. Celebrities and the wealthy have their places in the arena, and so do those of us who prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best.

But enough. I wrote this as a conversation piece. I’m curious, what do you think? Is my wife right? Am I just lucky? Or am I right? Was my front row experience the consequence of past behavior.

Lastly, help a brotha’ out. Give the kids in your, ahem, “sphere of influence” consequences.