I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City Newspress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is my second column, it’s called “We Are Family”.

As I stood on my porch waving goodbye to the eight other people who had shared my home for the last few days I realized how grateful I am to have a wonderful family.
My wife’s family was in town to celebrate a wedding in Omaha and decided to come down to Nebraska City to spend some time with us. All told my wife’s mother, father, aunt, grandmother, sister, brother in law, and our two nieces descended upon our little town to see what “The Good Life” was all about. The visit wasn’t perfect, there were spats between cousins and brothers and sisters, but I wouldn’t change a thing, because it was family time.

We visited Arbor Lodge, Mayhew Cabin, Tree Adventure, the Lewis and Clark Center, our churches, ate at Runza, my wife’s grandmother and aunt even stayed at Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast. They got the full “Red to the Core” experience. It was such a blessing to have them here with us, even for a short time.

You see, the majority of my wife’s family lives in Oregon, the majority of my family lives in West Virginia. We only get a couple of short visits a year, if we’re lucky, for “Granny and Opa” time or “Grandma and Grandpa” time. What that means is my kids make due with Skype and phone calls from their grandparents and other relatives. 

My wife and I moved here in part so our schedules would allow for more time as a family and we have achieved that, but what we miss out on is the time with our parents and brothers and sisters and that can be hard. We know that there many in Nebraska City who are lucky enough to have several generations nearby, with aunts and uncles and cousins that can be seen regularly, if not daily. 

For those who are blessed to have that close proximity with your family, for those that are estranged from their family for whatever reason, or for those where proximity is a problem, you are not alone. We as a community can be the surrogate family that people of all ages need. 

Studies have shown that having intergenerational relationships is vital to growth of children. Right now, my children are lucky to have surrogate cousins, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas in town to love them, teach them, and help them grow.

One of the things that is always celebrated about our little town is its sense of community. Yet, there are still people here in need of those kinds of familial relationships that have nurtured so many of us. 

There are grandmas and grandpas in need of adopted grandkids, aunts and uncles in need of adopted nieces and nephews, parents in need of adopted parents, cousins in need of adopted cousins, brother and sisters in need of adopted brothers and sisters, basically we need each other.

If you see someone in need, a parent whose kids seem out of control at the store or a child who seems lost, instead of sitting back worrying about “kids these days”, go and ask them if they need some help. If you’re a parent who knows there are older people in our community who feel abandoned and alone, take your kids to visit them. 

Family is important, it has been a thread that has held the fabric of our nation together. The definition of family has expanded as families have been spread across the country and world. The need for loving relationships that cross blood lines and span generations hasn’t changed, I believe it has become more important. Together when we realize that there is no “them” but only “us”, we can truly live “The Good Life”.

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. I hope to share with you some of my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite- Laughing as a family at a puppet theater performance of Cinderella by Granny and Opa, in my living room.

Not Favorite- News of the deaths of Michael Davis in Ferguson, MO and Robin Williams.

123I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City Newspress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is my first column, it’s called “Two Little Words”.

My wife and I have two young children. We like to go on family bike rides around town, we run simple errands, go to the gym, ride to lunch, or whatever strikes us. When we ride, I tow the children in a trailer (with both of them plus the trailer, it’s an extra 75 lbs or so), all four of us wear our helmets, and we normally have a great time.

Last Saturday, we did not have a great time, to the say the least.

I was traveling south down 10 St, when I had to slam on my brakes, back tire fish tailing, while attached to a trailer hauling my kids. As a car turned right in front of me and another car started to turn left into me. Somehow, through the grace of God I was able to stay straight. I yelled “[expletive deleted] WATCH OUT” at the car turning left, as the car that pulled out in front of me drove off. It was a close call.

Later as my wife and I were traveling west on 1st Corso between 16th and 18th, a route we decided to take because it would be “safer” than riding down Central Avenue. I heard a yell and a screech behind me. I turned around and saw my wife on the ground; an SUV had backed out 3/4 of the way onto the street in front of her. The woman driving said, “Are you ok?” and drove off without an apology.

When we got home I was furious at those drivers for being unaware, inconsiderate, and dangerous to others on the road. I wanted to remind them that bike riders have a right to the road, just like any other vehicle. I wished that there were a safe place for my family to bike together that was easily accessible. I was frustrated, scared, and angry.

Then I took a moment to breathe, thank God that while we had a couple of close calls, nothing REALLY bad happened. It got me thinking about how I react when I am angry, scared, and frustrated.

The woman who almost turned into me, saw me I know she did, but as I passed her she didn’t even make eye contact, she stoically stared straight ahead. I wish she had just looked at me and mouthed those two little words, “I’m sorry”. It would have made all the difference. If the woman, who almost backed over my wife, had said, “I’m sorry. Are you ok?” I think it would have helped a lot. I’m sure I’d still be scared and mad, but I believe it would have helped me a lot not be less resentful of those people.

Those two little words, “I’m sorry”, are so powerful. In this day and age we rarely hear them or say them, we’re afraid we’ll be seen as weak or, worse, liable. The truth is we all make mistakes, sometimes cause accidents, sometimes we do or say something we shouldn’t have to our neighbors, to our coworkers, or to our kids. We all make mistakes but when we are able to stop, take a breath, and say, “I’m sorry” it can go a long way to repair the damage done.

I try to admit when I’m wrong, I try to say, “I’m sorry” if I mess up (which happens far more often than I care to admit). I try to say it to my wife, to my kids, to my congregation members, to my friends, and anyone I’ve wronged. My hope is that by saying, “I’m sorry” that people will forgive my sins, as I hope to forgive those who have sinned against me.

I’m still mad about almost getting hit last weekend, I still wish there were a safe and easily accessible bike trail around town, and I still wish more people said, “I’m sorry”.

Gandhi said, “Be the change, you hope to see in the world.”

So, I guess it starts with me. Where can you start?

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite” I hope to share with you some of my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite- “Guardians of the Galaxy”- I saw the movie Sunday night and I loved every minute of it, even down to the scene after the credits (you should stay for it.) I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a superhero movie as much as this one.

Not Favorite- Almost getting run over while riding my bike. (see above for details.)


This speaks so compellingly to my thoughts on the present state of the world. It was written by my fellow pastor Shannon Meacham over two months ago.

Originally posted on pulpitshenanigans:

I am heartbroken. Again.


I walked by the news stand yesterday and there it was, we are sending troops to Iraq. Again. Schools shootings are all over the news. Again. I can no longer stand for it, yet I am helpless. I am enraged, yet, paralyzed; stuck in a perpetual state of confusion and anger over this world. Over the state of our souls. What causes such brokenness in ourselves?

When will people cease their fighting?

In a moment of the news yesterday I heard a man say, “it’s in our interest.” What does that mean?

What part of my interest is worth stripping an innocent life of safety? Of threatening violence? This is not just about going to war, again, about school shootings, again. This has been the struggle since the beginning of time. There is a war within us. A separation of the divine love that somewhere, somehow we…

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Important to follow the rules

Originally posted on The Byronic Man:

  1. You do not talk about Fight Club
  3. If someone says stop, goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over.
  4. Only 2 guys to a fight.
  5. One fight at a time.
  6. No shirt, no shoes.
  7. Fights will go on as long as they have to.
  8. If this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight.
  9. If this is your second time at Fight Club, you have to help clean up at the end of the evening.
  10. You know, it's YOUR fight club, and if you choose not to bring any food...

    You know, it’s YOUR fight club, and if you choose not to bring any food…

    If this is your third time at Fight Club and you still haven’t brought anything for the potluck table, I mean, it’s not a requirement, I guess, but come on, dude.

  11. No making “whoosh” or “pow” sounds to give your punches sound effects. Matrix Club meets down the street.

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I 100% agree and have practiced a modified phone policy for a few years now. We like to have a hashtag do people can follow everybody.

Originally posted on YoRocko!:

Note: this is the third post on our high school mission trip. The first two posts are here and here.

This is the last mission trip where I bar students from having their phones. The last.

I can’t speak for my co-leaders, but I’m done policing students on this. For a few reasons: the phone ban is difficult to enforce; phones–like it or not–are thoroughly intertwined with basic daily functions; it’s patronizing.

Enforcing a phone ban is a terrible waste of leadership time and energy on a mission trip. We asked every student before they got on the bus, “Do you have a phone?” Because they and their parents had been told in very clear terms that phones were NOT ALLOWED, every one of them answered, “No.”

Lies. We discovered at least a dozen phones during the trip. One student justified her phone’s presence by admitting that her mother had instructed…

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A great question.

Originally posted on achurchforstarvingartists:

imageWhen the General Assembly of my denomination voted (negligibly) to divest from three U.S. companies in Israel and (overwhelmingly) to approve an authoritative interpretation to officiate in same-sex marriages, there were so many people who were concerned that :

  • Global mission partnerships would be broken
  • Congregations would leave the denomination
  • Immigrant congregations would break from the denomination.

What if all of these things are true and yet . . .

  • Some new partnerships were created?
  • New congregations were planted precisely because of GA actions?
  • Immigrant congregations intentionally sought out a relationship with the PCUSA?

I’m just one person serving one corner of the church, but I’m here to say that – since the General Assembly decisions:

  • Three racial-ethnic pastors have approached me about becoming part of the PCUSA because of recent GA actions
  • Two pastors ordained in a conservative branch of the Presbyterian family have approached me about becoming PCUSA

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Sitting in a community room in Nebraska City to support the Nebraska City Jaycees and hear about the Nothing But Nets Campaign to send malaria nets to sub-Saharan Africa I was honored and surprised to receive the “Outstanding Religious Leader” award from the Nebraska City Jaycees today.



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