Sunday, March 31, 2019

Anxious and depressed?

I was sitting in Church this morning at Venue Church this morning and a song came on that I really love, "No longer Slaves" The title is more provocative than the lyrics. The essence of the song says I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God. As I was singing it It always reminds me of the old hymn "I am  Child of God". I don't know why it resonated with me more today than it has in the past, maybe having my children grow up Child means something different depending on what stage of development you find yourself in.

Image result for anxious

In the same way, we often relate God the Father to our Earthly father. We tend to relate "Child of God" to a child but the level of maturity of the child much like the level of maturity of our fathers affects, in a great way, the way we view that term. The Bible gives us only earthly words to describe the indescribable, so our understanding of God at times is limited to our understanding of language, story, and nuance. 

Sometimes when a child is small the parent is an absolute necessity. They would not function or eat, and struggle to exist without the parent. There are times when a child needs a place of refuge, the world has become too much in the moment. The dragons have become too large and their breath too hot. They flee to the arms of the parent that is larger and able to protect or even slay the dragon for them. 

If I could look back and redo physical childhood, there are a few things I would change. Obviously, I would appreciate the lack of responsibility that came with it. Swinging on a swingset without worry or the stress of what you are doing with your life. Just being. The other part the part more integral to what I am discussing is the learning of skills that would make us more adept at adulthood. 

"We are raising adults." "We are raising adults." Many of us as parents using the phrase raising kids, and that is what many of us have done. We have raised a generation of children rather than adults ready to take on the world. This is the goal of every parent or at least it should be to raise adults capable of taking on the world in front of them and conquering the dragons that they will inevitably encounter. 

This is part of what it means to be a child of God. That we are in a relationship where we are being formed and matured to look like the Father. We are children in the sense that God is our father, but we miss at times that father is not just the protector from the big bad wolf He is also the one that pushes us into places that are difficult as well as one who lets his children make mistakes and encounter the consequences of those actions. 

What does he want to teach us?

The passage that was delivered while I was contemplating this was from the sermon on the mount. Matthew 6: 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

It is a passage centered around worry and anxiety. Something I have become more attuned to in the last year. It ties in very well with this idea of no longer being a slave to fear. Jordan Peterson says it this way. "It is no surprises that some of us have bouts with depression and anxiety, its no surprise. The real surprise is why aren't we all depressed and anxious. 

The Crux of the matter then is these two things. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.

How do we seek His Kingdom?

Well, how on earth do we do that? What is his Kingdom and what does it look like? We can't really know what Heaven looks like but we know That Jesus prayed for it to be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Heaven is the ultimate ideal for the community. We ought to live in such a way that we bring some sort of justice to the world. What can you change about your community and what are you willing to change? 

Then to seek first His Righteousness is similar. If heaven is the ideal for community, then Jesus is the idea for the individual. SO we ask ourselves or pray. What in me is not measuring up? What could I change and what would I be willing to change? 

If we seek after these two ideals, the rest of the things that cause us to worry, won't go away but maybe when we are pursuing something meaningful and doing good things in the world and in our own being, then maybe at least the suffering and the anxiety will be worth something. Or at the least, it won't be the main focus.  

He is raising adults, not children. What is something you should change about you and are willing to change?


Monday, May 28, 2018

Are you going to pastor again?

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'How are you doing?' It's a question that I get asked a lot. My response for years was "Fantastic", it would really catch people off guard. After my Broken Halo experience, I stuck with fantastic but added some sarcasm at the back end of it. (Like, really, how do you think I'm doing?)

The truth is, like many of us going through a tough time, I am doing better. At times it has felt like I was going backward, and other times taking leaps forward. At times I have felt like I would never get through this, and days later felt like I was making major progress.

There are times people have asked me when I am getting back to ministry. The answer is usually "God knows" LOL. For many, it's like that is when they will know I am "better". When I am back to doing the things they thought I was good at. For some it is selfish, "we miss you, or we miss what you had to offer".  It is a question my wife and I wrestle with. Should I attend ministry meetings, or lead a small group, or even how much should I say while attending small group.

Capable doesn't mean called

Am I capable? Yea. If I have proven anything, it is that I can perform pretty well while at the same time being completely broken. Maybe you feel like you are coming out of a dark period. You have had your Broken Halo moment and feel near the end and you want to come out swinging. You want to show the world you may have been knocked down but you aren't knocked out. Here is my take on how to do this:

"It's a process"
I hate this term. The Cleveland Browns have been spewing this line for 20 years. It takes time, but don't rush it, blah blah blah. I am impatient and a doer. I want to see progress and benchmarks being hit. Here is the truth of it: it is indeed a process.

In 2016, a week before I turned 30, I ruptured my ACL. Completely destroying it, it was like no pain I had ever experienced. I remember pounding my hand on the ground over and over knowing full well whatever I just did to my knee was very very bad.

"I'd never be the same"
The first medical professional I saw that night told me I would never be the same. He said I would probably never play basketball at any level near what I had. I was devastated. Have you ever been there? You were either told or you did something and thought everything just changed, and not for the good. I almost cried. Are you kidding me? How does one wrong move forever change me? This can't be right.

Talk to a specialist
So the next day I went and talked to a specialist. The emergency room guy was helpful but I wanted to talk to someone that knows exactly what I am dealing with. Here is what he told me: You need surgery. It can be a long and painful recovery, but you can make a full recovery.

Hey, I don't know what you're going through, but find someone who does. Find someone who has dealt with what you are dealing with SUCCESSFULLY! When I went through my broken halo experience my wife took me to an event. I didn't believe that I would ever be the same again, or that what was broken could ever be fixed. Here, right in front of me, were two high-level leaders who had gone through almost exactly what I had and were sharing how to get better. When I got home, I contacted a pastor that also had been through a similar situation that is thriving in ministry. All three had recovered.

But could I recover?
It took me a month to have surgery on my knee. I remember waking up from it in a rage of pain. Kicking and pounding, delirious but conscious. They immediately knocked me back out and upped my pain meds. I was ordered complete bed rest for a few weeks before I did anything to recover. Sometimes you just need to pull completely out for a while. Depending on the severity of your experience, you may need to shut off completely. I remember looking at my injured leg compared to my good one. You could physically see the atrophy of the muscle. It was useless. How could I ever get this leg up to par with where I used to be. The road looked and sounded exhausting. But I wanted it!

Baby Steps. 
The exercises they told me to do were beyond basic. Bending. Yea that's it. They wanted me to bend my knee three times a day. That's it?!?! It was impossible... Something so trivial and normal for most people felt impossible. May 2018 marks the first time I have put worship music on in my car alone since I broke. It seems stupid maybe, but times I thought about putting Christian music on, I would get angry and upset. Something that was so normal for me, even when I was working toward repair, this little step seemed daunting. I was a pastor for crying out loud, how could something so basic be so difficult?

So, How am I doing?
I am doing better. I am learning a lot. When I was rebuilding my bad knee, my good knee couldn't help but get stronger. There are moments in the rebuilding process when qualities we thought where good qualities can become great ones. We become aware of our deficiencies even more so.

When will I get back into ministry?
The truth is I already am. Not exactly the type many, including myself is used to, but I am ministering to myself. Something I wasn't great at. I am taking baby steps. doing the little things. I have counseled some people even after I warned them that I am in the position to counsel anyone. When will I get back to full time pastoring? Last week I completed the paperwork to begin the process. That doesn't mean that I am ready or even close to ready. It means I want it! At the same time, I like where God has me now. I am trying to fully enjoy the present. It has hard times, but it has some good times. I will get back to fulltime pastoring when God calls me to it.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Silencing the Internal Noise

When your world falls apart your mind can go with it. Major Broken Halo moments can send you spinning internally. Thoughts can overwhelm. They can take over in the middle of conversations. You can be locked in and then without notice, be miles away in your head. What ifs, whys, hows. Maybe it is reminiscing, maybe it is imagining current futures or possible futures. Sometimes it is retracing the decisions that have led you to a specific circumstance. If I'd have chosen B instead of A, if I had done X instead of Z.

Imagine every moment of silence you have, being filled with internal noise so loud that the people around you can see it in your eyes... you aren't there.

What do You do? 3 things that work and 1 that might
What do you do? When it has been months or maybe years for you? How do you stop the noise?
I have asked the question to just about every person that has anything close to a counseling background. Some professional some pastors.
Ready for their answer? Redirect.
It sounds simple, but it takes some time to figure out what that looks like for you.

I have found 3 things that help me to redirect and silence the internal noise. Let me know if you have found any of these useful.

1. Talking 
This may seem obvious, but let me walk it out for a second. It is hard to think about something when you are talking about something else. Don't talk about your issues when you are trying to redirect. The goal here is to be quiet on the inside. There is plenty of time to talk about what is going on inside. These moments are for you to relax. So find someone who could care less what you talk about and sit down for a chat.
I love going to my friend's houses. Of course they ask how I am doing, but then we start screwing off and just having a good time. I wrote about this a little in my Friends You Need post, so I won't elaborate here.

2. Engage
This one can be a little harder. Depending on where you are at in your journey engaging in anything feels like heavy lifting. You have to get your mind ready, convince yourself it is good for you, and then get off the couch. This could be church groups, games with your family, reading something light (this one can be done on the couch).

What I find to be true is that once you engage, you will enjoy yourself. Depression is hard for others to understand. Simple requests of you feel completely draining, but when you engage in something you know deep inside you enjoy, it can clear the noise out and give you an hour or so of peace.

3. Learn Something New
This one has been really good, for me anyway. I bought a guitar and an app that is teaching me how to play. I have always wished I knew how to play, but never took the time to pick one up. Talk about redirecting! It is hard to obsess or spin internally when you are so focused on your fingers and reading music. What is something you have always wanted to do or learn? Get out there and learn something new.

Something that worked once...
A couple weeks ago I went to a yoga class. I have done yoga for years, but the instruction in a live class is very helpful after you get over how corny it sounds. At first, I wanted to laugh out loud, but I chose to just do what the instructor said. Maybe it is just another version of doing something new, but heck it worked once.

This stuff works for me right now, what have you found that works for you?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Guns and School Shootings in a World of Broken Halos

I was 13 when Columbine happened. Anytime you can reference an event with one word you know it was impactful. It was the beginning of what is now become the norm. When the Sandy Hook shooting happened it hit home in a much different way because I have kids in elementary school. These are kids with their entire lives ahead of them. It is one of the saddest things in the world. I can't imagine what those parents are going through and I don't want to imagine it.

I'm writing this post a little off of topic from the Broken Halo's theme, but in all reality, we are dealing with very broken people. My hope here is to look at the sides everyone is choosing and hopefully address some solutions with logic.

A realistic view of gun control
I don't own a gun. I am not super comfortable around them. I haven't handled them enough so they make me a little nervous. I don't think there are a lot of people in our country who believe that unstable people should have access to guns. I think we all agree on this. That being said, there are a few things that are pretty clear.

1. Passing more gun control laws won't take guns off the streets. There is in the neighborhood of 300 million guns privately owned in the US. If you stopped selling guns all together there are still enough guns for each adult in the US to have two.

2. Passing gun control laws seems nearly impossible. We have split down the middle on this. Half the people will never be satisfied with enough restrictions, while the other half will fight against even one more.

3. Passing more gun laws only keeps honest people from getting them. You can't argue this. With 300 million guns already owned, if someone wants a gun they are readily available. All this does is increase the number of black market deals. People with enough resources will always get what they want, and people in hard times will always cut deals for extra cash. I'm aware of people who have their girlfriends buy a gun for them, because they can't legally buy one.

Video games, The Walking Dead, and Youtube
When Columbine happened I was a huge DOOM fan. I remember the talk then that video games and other 1st person shooters were the reason for such carnage. Realistically, there have been around 150 mass shootings, not school shootings, in the last 60 years. The most popular FPS (First Person Shooter has sold 30 million copies of Modern Warfare 3 in 2011. It just seems like a reach to blame something like this that hasn't affected, to this extent, the other 299,999,990 people who play the game. Are we desensitized to gore and violence thanks to popular shows like The Walking Dead, or the crazy disturbing things on youtube? Absolutely! Not sure it equates to mass shootings though.

These people knew what they were doing. They didn't think it was a video game and that people would get a second life. They wanted to kill people. They have deeply hurt individuals. They showed signs that got overlooked or ignored.

Short-Term Solution
What can we do now?
The most prized possessions in this country are guarded by security. If you have ever flown in an airplane it is likely that there was an air marshall on board. The White House is heavily guarded, I am not talking about the armed military at the doors. Soldiers with automatic rifles could cause some anxiety and distraction, but trained security in civilian clothes at each school would be nice. There isn't an air marshal on every flight, but knowing you might have one would at least deter you to a degree. Our most prized possessions also require you walk through a metal detector. Is it sad that it has come to this? Yea it really is. If I had to pick a school or city for my kids to go to, all things being equal, I'd pick the one with a metal detector and a school marshal on staff.

Long-Term Solution

I do believe that mental health issues are on the rise. I also think we live in a world that over medicates, under disciplines, and is off of its moral compass. We are seeing a crisis in sexuality, absent parents, and kids overloading on social media at a very young age. Our kids now are dealing with things I didn't deal with 15 years ago.

Maybe this seems trite, but our kids need our attention and to feel loved. We won't stop bullying in schools, but we can stop it at home. Our kids may not feel appreciated on Instagram, but we can marvel at their unique gifts at home. They might be weird and anti-social in public but they need to know they are of immense value to you.

Hug your kids, turn the wifi off, and play a board game.

If you think I have lost my mind please leave a comment.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

How a Mormon Changed my Life

I almost became a Mormon at age 16.

I am going to go on a rant about churches for a  moment so if you aren't a churchgoer or you think everything your church does is perfect you may want to just stop reading here. I want to speak for a moment to those who believe in the local church but are aware that there are some issues we need to deal with.

Someone drove away from KFC/Taco Bell without their Mountain Dew. I looked at my coworker and said: "you want it?"
She said, "no I don't drink caffeine."
"What? Is it against your religion?" this was a line I used frequently when someone made what was in my mind a ridiculous comment. Was it insensitive? yea but when you're 16 you can get away with saying stupid things, and honestly in 2002 people were a little more thick skinned.

Anyway, she said yes it is LOL! She is Mormon and I felt like an idiot, but it began my first real dating relationship. It wasn't long until we began talking marriage, not in the sense of we should get married but the topic came up and that's when I realized that I had to make a life decision. Mormons can't marry non-Mormons.

In order to continue in this relationship one of us was going to have to switch religions. I started digging pretty deep into the Mormon beliefs and used every tactic I could to convert her to my way of thinking. It ended with a tear-filled conversation at a pizza joint where we concluded that it made no sense to continue the relationship if it could never move past dating.

A New Years Party I Won't Forget
That New Years Eve, I remember being in a spiritual crisis. I was still really mad about the break-up but there was something so attractive about the Mormons that I had gotten to know that past year or so. It was this simple: they were nice and they stuck to their convictions in a nice way.

So here I am at a new years party at 16, the only underage person there. I had a lot of the jello at that party, and as I was laying around on the pool table thinking about her and looking at my jello intake at 16, and I realized I may be wrong about my convictions and beliefs.

I put the jello down, got off the pool table, and went upstairs where I sat until I saw the sun come up. I was arguing with God all night, not about a girl, but about the church. If simply being nice and holding to a certain set of convictions can make a person contemplate their entire belief system. No doubt, "infatuation" with a girl played a part, but if what they believe is not true and what I believe is true, why am I the one "jello-ed up" on a pool table, with a lot of hate in me, and they are the ones who look and act a lot more like the Jesus I say I believe in. To add to that, why is it that the church people I associate with have more mean things to say about them, and about a lot of people, but this Mormon group has never said a mean word about anyone I know or my beliefs.

God spoke this into my heart that night, "I want you to be nice, and I want My Church to be nice." It was through that relationship that God made it clear to me what a man named Paul wrote in a letter to the Roman church around 60 AD. "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his (talking about God) kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" Kindness has a power to it! Kindness can be used in all sorts of ways. It can be used to manipulate, to sell, to convince, but it is also what God uses to bring people to Himself.

Here is a thought, what if the, I don't know, the world defined the church, and those in it, by the way we love. I think I think Jesus said something about that. "They will know us by our love" We can't even love our own right. The people we share deep spiritual truths with, a people who believe in the same God and savior can't be kind even to each other.

Before my broken halo experience, I was a pastor of a well-respected church in the community. I would frequent other churches when I had time off and I will never forget hearing about this particular discussion that was had about me. It came out after I had blown my life up, but here is how it went: "We knew he was broken because we were discussing how he wore jeans and sat up front at our church when he visited" How boring is your life that you would discuss the state of a mans heart based on the clothes he wore to a church service? Is it any wonder why a generation is growing up and not even giving the church a second thought. They are growing up hearing us discuss trivial aspects of other people's lives and making judgments about them. You know why I sat up front? Because I wanted to hear what was going to be said, you know why I wore jeans? because I like them. Churches don't get to define what "nice clothing" is.

Let's be nice! How about we love the broken people in our midst instead of blasting them. I know the Bible doesn't talk about this but what if we didn't gossip (sarcasm). Oh my goodness, what if we tried to help each other. What if when people were at their lowest we went down to where they were and sat with them.

Side Note for people dealing with Broken people
Let me help those who have Broken Halo people in their lives. "Let's get lunch sometime" "I'm here if you want to chat", these are platitudes whether you mean well or not. We don't know if you mean it or are just being nice. Here is what you ask, "When is the next time you are available?"  This shows us that you are more concerned with what we are going through than your schedule.

I walked away from the Mormon church going I don't agree with what they believe but they're really nice people and I can understand why they are growing. What if the church looked like that. What if the world looked at us and thought "You know, their beliefs are a little out there, but I wouldn't mind if my daughter dated one", or "I'd hire them to work the books, I love having them in customer service" His kindness leads us to repentance, your kindness will lead others to contemplate His.

When is the last time you had an all-out honest discussion with God? Even if you aren't sure you believe. When is the last time you even argued with the ceiling or yourself for 3 hours? These moments can bring clarity.

Share a time when simple kindness had a huge impact on you. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Financial Margin

I have been through a lot of ups and downs in my first decade of adulthood. In my mid 20's I took a class that will forever change my life. Through my many broken moments, there was an aspect of my life that I didn't have to dwell on.

The less you have to worry about when you go through Broken Halo experiences the better equipped you will be to focus on the important decisions at hand. I hope this finds you before you experience deep brokenness, but if you're in the midst of trial right now it is not too late to get one major part of your life on track.

Divorce can not only break you emotionally, spiritually, even physically, it can and often does break you financially. When we break we have a tendency to stop caring about all the things we used to care about and when we stop caring about our financial health, it makes it that much harder to get emotionally healthy.

In Broken Halo moments, we can hide behind a new car to show others how better off we are. We tend to go out a little more, buy things for others we cant afford for ourselves. My Financial hero, Dave Ramsey says it best; "We spend money we don't have on things we don't need to impress people we don't even like"

Financial Peace class has "10 Baby Steps" and they are worth your time and efforts, but I want to talk about being in a financial place to get through your broken time.

1. Save something!
There is an enormous amount of peace that comes from just having something in your bank or in a shoe box that if something goes wrong you don't have to borrow money or cut back on your lifestyle to pay for it.

Your car no matter how new it is will need maintenance. I promise. Christmas is always on December 25th. Appliances do not last forever. Jobs come and go. Put something away, sell something you don't need, and stack some cash to ease the pain of unexpected or unplanned for expenses.

"But, I'm not a saver" become one!

2. Make a plan for your income
Yes, you need to have a budget, and the more detailed it is the more useful it will be if your life falls apart. There are a million apps and tools for budgeting online. I made my own excel spreadsheet that I have used and tweaked for the past 7 years.

Every year in December I plan where I want every dollar from every paycheck I expect to receive to go. That seems daunting, I know, but it keeps me from being stupid. When money comes in with a plan and I want to change that plan, and I often do, it forces me to make a decision of; "Ok I want item X, but what item in my budget will I take it from. Every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else. A budget allows you to identify what you are saying no to.

It also helps you identify the things you are saying yes to way more often than you realize. When I saw what cable was costing me each year in comparison to things I was saying no to or agonizing saying yes to. Kids activities are one of the things that I knew I wanted to say yes to more often but hadn't prioritized the funds to do so.
A comprehensive guide to cutting cable.

When I went through my divorce back in 2012, because of my plan, I was able to identify a late payment on my car 3 months in advance. I had squeezed every extra dollar from things I wanted to make the things I needed work and I was still in three months not going to be able to make one payment. Listen the bank is much more likely to treat you nicely when you call them three months in advance about a payment. I followed up with them every month. "I called last month said my January 13th payment will be late, just letting you know it still will be."

Everyone goes through hard financial problems, it is not an excuse to be a child. Put your big boy britches on and make a plan. You can email me and I can walk you through the process if you like.

3. End Your life of debt
When you get your budget in place add up how much money you are spending on things you already own or trips you have already taken. It made me want to puke! Here is what I know. I am much more motivated to save up for something I want than to pay for something I already have. Start paying off debt with every extra dollar you can squeeze from your budget.

It creates margin in your life. Margin is what brings the peace in having financial peace. I hate driving in construction zones. There are times I am not even sure my car will fit between those concrete barriers. The anxiety rises up when I realize that just one wrong move could end terribly. That's what I felt like before I decided to start treating my finances like an adult. When you create margin in your financial life it is so much more comfortable to navigate, especially when the rest of your life may be falling apart.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Foundation in Truth and Logic

I have been going to church as long as I can remember. My grandparents began a faith foundation in my life. I loved them, so I loved what they loved. I sang the songs, prayed the prayers and remembered Bible verses for candy and star stickers. I was told I could live forever if I asked Jesus into my heart. Who doesn't want to live forever? and as a child, you simply believe what you are told. The foundation of my childhood faith was built on the faith of others. "You believe X, I trust you, so I believe X too.

I made a profession of faith in Jesus at the age of 13. It was an emotional decision. I felt emotionally pulled. I felt something I had never felt before, and I acted on it.
I was given a Bible and told to start reading it. I did. Every night I read, sometimes one page sometimes for hours. The foundation of my childhood would now be strengthened by faith in a book. I believe this book because you believe this book. I was told this book was the truth.

I believed the Bible said a lot of good things about how to live life. Most of my teen years I lived life with a better Biblical knowledge than the majority of my peers but wasn't really transformed by it. My faith looked like this: You are saved, here is the rule book, now be good.

In High school, my youth pastor took me under his wing. He treated me like a friend. He loved me and invested time in me. He made this book of rules come alive and showed me how to apply it to my life.

Let me get to the point. My faith foundation for the first 18 years of my life was built on other people's faith, emotion, fear of hell, and trusting a book everyone said was true.

I almost lost my Faith in Bible College
I decided to go to college for ministry. If I really believed the Bible then what bigger calling is there than sharing it. I took a class on the Old Testament that completely shook me. I found out what someone never told me in 18 years. God didn't write the Bible. Not only that, it wasn't written in English. I know this seems obvious to you, but when your entire faith is built on a book, it can shake you when you begin to find out new information about it. When I found out that some of what is in my Bible isn't in all of the other Bibles, I had to come to a point of blind faith. I am just going to believe it because I need to believe it. My entire life is built on this so while I cant fully grasp it I am just going to trust.

Foundation update
My foundation now consists of Other people's faith, emotion, community, fear, a book, and when all else failed blind faith. Let's call them faith ropes. Things that keep you tied to your position.

When your entire world comes crumbling down. 
When I went through my divorce in 2012, it was a life-shaking moment. Here is the thing, you don't need a lot of faith ropes when your life is good. I had my family, great in-laws, great parents, a great church, a great job, and good friends. It is pretty easy to have faith when in all reality you don't need it. It's almost like praying for daily bread when you know you have a pantry full of Doritos and food to last weeks. When it begins to crumble you begin to analyze, usually. I was in crisis mode and only one thing mattered.

The only thing on my mind was how do I keep as much of my kids time as possible. Nothing mattered more to me. Was I emotionally stable enough to be a pastor? No, but I needed the money and the prestige for any court battle I may get into. The best way for me to provide for my kids was to be a pastor. Great hours, good enough pay, work from home.

My foundation was weakened
The foundation that was once solid enough to hold up a happy home was beginning to crumble. My emotion was gone. I was mad at God, but I still feared hell, had faith in a book, and needed, more than anything, the community of people that my faith brought me. But, I never dealt with it. I allowed my anger and frustrations to erode the joy in my life.

Why I'm not an Atheist
I came to a point in my life where I had to know if God exists. The emotion wasn't enough for me, the community wasn't enough for me, and if hell doesn't exist then I didn't need to fear it. I had spent my whole life trying to do good, and follow the rules, and it wasn't bringing me the fruits that I wanted. "You're supposed to protect me!" 2015 and 2016 I spent a lot of time digging into does "God exist?" I was still trusting Him and preaching his grace and mercy every Sunday. I knew that if he does exist that He was big enough to handle my honest and open doubts. Like the father in Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Even in my darkest moments, I put one foot in front of the other. I spent hours upon hours reading, studying the evidence, arguing with atheists. 

I steadily came to a conclusion that looks like this. Historically, Jesus really existed and really died. We live in a world where life came from non-life. It is then possible for new life to come to dead life if life can come from nothing. I fond the New Testament documents to be accurate and trustworthy. Not because grandpa said so but because there is a lot of evidence to substantiate them. More so than many of the documents used to compose the history books our kids are taught from in school. 

God was preparing me for a Broken Halo
 He was solidifying my foundation for a moment such as this. When the emotional rope has been cut, when I looked at all I had and said it isn't worth it, I looked at my community and said it isn't worth it, looked at my kids, and my wife and said you aren't worth it, when I had burnt every inch of everything I had ever built to the ground a foundation of truth, logic, and reason remained that I could not walk away from. I was going to try and drag it with me wherever I was going, but because I spent real time digging into who God is, I couldn't pretend He didn't exist, rather I had to turn my back on Him and simply say I don't trust you. I wanted to do it my self.

What is your foundation built on?