Posts Tagged ‘buttface’


This is a spoken word piece that I wrote a few years ago that I revisited recently, it’s entitled “You Said Don’t Be Afraid”

You can listen to the audio by following this link

You said don’t be afraid

It is finished?

It can’t be finished…It can’t be over

You said follow me and I did,

You said pray with me and I tried,

You said trust me and…well that one was hard.

How can I trust you now?

You were the one; you were the Christ, the Messiah, the one who fed us, who healed us, who challenged us
All that you said seems a lie,
You’re dead, just like the criminals next to you,

Just like all that have come before you,

You were executed just like your cousin John. He even said you were the one.

You were supposed to be different,

You were supposed to change everything

You were supposed to fix it.

You said don’t be afraid.

How can it be finished?

Do you know how hard it has been to stand with you?

Do you know all the trouble you’ve caused me?

I had to watch you on trial

I had to watch you be humiliated

I had to watch you take it

You didn’t even fight back

You didn’t even stand up for yourself

I had to run for my own safety

I had to hide who I was

I had to watch you be whipped and beaten

If you were who you said you were why didn’t you do anything?

And now you’re dead

What now?

I can’t go back

I can’t start over

You spoke of freedom but everywhere I look there are chains

You said don’t be afraid

I was supposed to have an easier life

I was supposed to have a seat at the table

I was supposed to be part of something.

I was supposed to be a part of the change

I was going to be special

I was going to be safe

It was going to be easy

I was going to be able to be open about who I was

It was going to be different

You said don’t be afraid

But how can I not be afraid?

You’re dead

They won

And now they are coming for me.

I guess you’re right

It is finished.

(image by Pabak Sarkar)


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A man came into my office this week to ask me about my column, my work as a pastor, and my identity as a Christian. He asked me about a particular belief that is held by many in the Christian tradition but certainly not all. It is not a particular belief that I have and I do not believe it to be foundational for following of Jesus as the Christ.

It got me to thinking. A heard about a pastor that would write down a statement of faith every January and if his faith had not shifted, opened, grown, or changed he knew that the coming year would involve some serious spiritual work. You see we are not designed to remain stagnant. Our faith is to be a living faith, not one set in stone; it is to be rooted in Christ (if you are a Christian) not sealed in monuments. We can never fully know God, yet we can always seek God, and seek to know God more. In John Calvin’s systematic theological treatise called The Institutes of the Christian Religion Book One Chapter 1 says, “Without knowledge of self there is not knowledge of God… Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.”

From what I know about myself and from what I know about God, from the authoritative witness of Scripture and prayer, is that actions are more important than words. Throughout the Hebrew Bible the prophets are decrying the worthless festivals, the books of Amos Chapter 5 and Isaiah Chapter 1 come to mind. In our study at First Presbyterian Church this season as we move through the Gospel of Mark, we find that Jesus has an immediacy about him. He wastes no time with long-winded rants, fancy robes, or state of the art worship centers. Christ comes to preach the Good News, and the Good News is not in words but in his actions, his healing, his forgiveness of sins, his breaking of bread with all comers, his seeking out those who are outcast and bringing them in.

All of this is about action. I’ve been to glorious worship services that felt and sounded like rock concerts in which I knew I was in the presence of God, I’ve been to mighty cathedrals all across the world, and stood in awe of the craftsmanship and sheer majesty of place. I’ve worshipped in tin roof steel buildings in the woods of Nicaragua. All of these mean nothing if they do not inspire me to action, if they do not call me to “repent (turn), and believe in the good news.” (as Jesus says in Mark 1: 15) then they are like a clanging cymbal.

If they don’t push me, drag me, coerce me into loving my neighbor more deeply, to blessing those that curse me, (both behind my back and to my face), to breaking bread with the outcast (you know, “those people”), to feeding the hungry (the physically and spiritually hungry in Nebraska City), clothing the naked (those without cover from family and friends and those without proper clothing for the weather), forgiving more (even though I really like holding grudges), listening more to those whom I have hurt (even when I think they are wrong), speaking up and speaking out in the name of justice (even when it isn’t politically or socially popular), and being open to conversation (with those I disagree and with those I agree because the Spirit works through all of us). If my faith in Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior, only calls me to go to church on Sunday morning or Bible study on Wednesday night, to feel good about myself, or to ensure my ticket to Heaven, then I believe I have missed the point, I have not heard the Good News.

This is but a piece of what I believe but it is foundational to my understanding of the God and myself. My parents taught it to me, I will teach it to my kids, and I will proclaim it to all who will listen or see. As Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel always, use words if necessary.”

I hope that my actions reveal my faith; I hope that I live up to the standards that God sets for me and I set for myself. I know I will stumble, I know I will fall down. I share this with you to ask for your help. I’m asking for you to hold me accountable. I’m asking for a relationship with you so we can work together to bring about the kingdom of God. If you think I’m not living into the faith articulated here, if you’d like to hear more about my faith, or what’s in the Bible come talk to me, I’d love to share a cup of coffee or a meal with you. Better yet, come to our Wednesday Night Bible Study at 6:00 PM, Sunday School at 9:15, or worship at 10:30.

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”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: By the time you read this, I should be landing in Maui with my family for a weeklong family vacation with my in-laws. I’m really excited.

Not Favorite: I think my son is getting cabin fever or something. He is bouncing off the walls at home and at school. I’m hoping the sun and being outside will calm him down a little.

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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 this week’s column, it’s called “Happy Holidays”.

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas!

Happy Kwanzaa!

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Festivus!

It’s all just rather tiring isn’t it?

I’ll be honest with you I don’t have the energy to get worked up over whether or not you say “Merry Christmas” to me. The “war on Christmas” is drummed up outrage to keep us distracted from the real issues in our world and in our communities.

Did you know there were hundreds of families and kids who go hungry in Otoe County every day? Did you know that there are elderly folks in Otoe County who no one will visit this holiday season? Did you know there were veterans living here in Otoe County that feel left out and left behind? Did you know that for quiet a few people the holidays are the loneliest time of year and the grief they feel is magnified by the joy others feel? Did you know that there are people right here in Nebraska City who can’t afford to heat their houses?

I read a quote from author, Steve Maraboli, the other day it said,

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

So instead of yelling at the cashier because they didn’t say the right thing to you, or talking to the manager about how there isn’t a Christmas tree in the window of their store, or there is one, or writing a letter to the editor about what a heathen place we live in and if we only said the word Jesus more we’d be better off; just stop, take a deep breath, and go about your day.

Every time you get angry that about some perceived “war on Christmas” or you even hear the phrase, “war on Christmas” I want you to put some coins in a jar, or a dollar bill, or some amount of money. At the end of the season I want you to take that all the money you’ve put away and I want you to give it to the charity of your choice.

Steve Maraboli reminds us of the story that was told by the one that Christians celebrate this season. The call that every time you clothed the naked, fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, and visited the prisoner you did so for Jesus the Christ.

I don’t believe Jesus wanted us to yell at cashiers who were just doing their job, I don’t think that’s a good model for our children who watch how stressed we become over the holiday season.

I do think that Jesus called us to love our neighbors as ourselves, even if our neighbors do things differently. I do think that Jesus called us to help those in need. In our world, our county, and our city there are plenty of people in need.

Maybe if we focused our energy on helping those in need rather than worrying what words they use to greet us, we might be able to actually do what Jesus asked of us.

One last quote that I thought was helpful (and a little funny):

“Being an atheist is okay.

Being an atheist and shaming religions and spirituality as silly and not real is not okay.

Being a Christian is okay.

Being homophobic, misogynistic, racist, or otherwise hateful person in the name of Christianity is not okay.

Being is a reindeer is okay.

Bullying and excluding another reindeer because he has a shiny red nose is not okay.”

Merry Christmas!

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”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: My in-laws came to visit and we had a blast celebrating all our holidays in one week.

Not Favorite: Faux outrage over unimportant things.

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c1e69-123I 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 this week’s column, it’s called “The Season of Thanks”.

This is the week of the year that we have decided to be thankful. We celebrate Thanksgiving with turkeys, mashed potatoes, dressings, and that one dish that no one can make as good as Grandma. We celebrate a fairy tale of Pilgrims in wide brimmed hats and big buckled shoes breaking bread with Native Americans in headdresses and moccasins. We wake up early on Friday morning, or go out after dinner on Thursday evening, to push and shove to get the “best deal” for another load of things that we keep buying in hopes that they will make us happy or our kids happy or will finally bring us fulfillment.

We do this every year and on December 26 we’ll say, “I’m not going to do that again.” It reminds me of the times you might wake up after working out too hard, or partying too hard, or staying up too late. You wake up sore, bleary eyed, and tired saying, “Wow, that was rough. I’m never going to do that again.” Yet we do it, over and over and over. We never get off the hamster wheel of consumption and pushing down our feelings with food, drink, and presents. We never actually stop what we are doing or how we are living, we just keep consuming, because that’s what our society tells us is the most important. GO SHOP! It will boost the economy, which will provide jobs, which will provide opportunity for everyone. If we only shopped more we could save our country.

Today, my heart breaks for our country, because I’m not sure it can be saved.

This week the issues in our country and how we deal with one another are being blasted all over every news station. People are protesting in cities all over the country, from Ferguson, to Los Angeles, to New York City and I don’t blame them. Regardless of whether you believe that what happened to Mike Brown is just or not, it’s impossible not to see that something is wrong with our country and as much as we’d like it to be different, people aren’t treated equally, white privilege exists, and racism still controls much of our attitudes toward people that look different.

I could show statistics and tell you anecdotes from all over the country about the way that people of color are treated differently in the United States, but I’ve had those conversations and if you don’t think it exists then no amount of arguing is going to change your position.

This week in the Christian calendar is the beginning of Advent; it is the start of the season that will conclude in the celebration of God coming to the world in the form of a baby we call Jesus. The season is a time of expectation and hope, a season of darkness and waiting, a season of fear and the unknown.

This is the season in which we live, this is the world that we occupy, the place where the violent death of an unarmed teenager can stoke the fires of passion that lead us to change. Even in the fires and the looting and the seeming unraveling of our country I have hope.

Hope that leads us through Advent.

Patricia E. De Jong says, “Hope is what is left when your worst fears have been realized and you are no longer optimistic about the future. Hope is what comes with a broken heart willing to be mended.”

May your heart be broken this season and may you be willing to be mended. Mended so that we can move forward together, acknowledging the real barriers we have to overcome in order to be the “shining light on the hill” that the Pilgrims envisioned. A friend of mine on Facebook posted a quote from one of her professors, “When people want to work together, they’ll overcome any obstacle. But if they don’t want to work together, they’ll use anything for a barricade.” Let us be people that want to work together not people that seek to control the conversation.

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”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: Spending this Thanksgiving week with my family in West Virginia.

Not Favorite: Having to drive 14+ hours to have Thanksgiving with my family.

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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 this week’s column, it’s called “You Are Enough”.

Are you ready?

Next week starts the onslaught! Shopping, cooking, going to parties, mandatory overtime, end of the year reports, company Holiday parties, kids’ recitals, dinners at church, decorating, you name it we will try to do it in the next month and a half, by New Year’s Day we will be exhausted, if we make it that far.

As we enter into the holiday season, I know for me things can get a lot more hectic and it never feels like I have enough. Enough time, enough money, enough gifts, enough rest, etc., etc. It’s already starting and it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. We bemoan the idea that stores put out decorations for Christmas before Halloween but that is just a symptom, not the problem. The problem, as I see it, is that we have been conditioned to think that we need to do everything, be everywhere, buy everything or else we are not good enough. Good enough parents, employees, spouses, friends, or family members. I want to say to you today, “You are enough.”

Even if your child doesn’t get the latest and greatest new toy or gadget, you are enough. Even if you don’t make it out to that sale to get the “best” deal on those new towels, you are enough. Even if you don’t get your special pie baked for that family event, you are enough. Even if you miss some of those parties, you are enough.

In our world, we are constantly bombarded by messages that we come up short. To be honest, there are many days that I lay in bed before I go to sleep and I think about all the places I could have done more. I could have spent more time with my family, I could have spent more time at work, I could have spent more time at play, and on and on. Somedays it keeps me up long past my bedtime. Right now I am writing this column in my basement before dawn as far away from my family as possible because they are still sleeping. I woke up and thought about all the things I needed to get done and I couldn’t go back to sleep. It has already started.

I once heard it said, “The things that are most important are often at the mercy of the things that are least important.”

For me, in these last few months of the year, the things that are most important are the same as they have been for the first few, God, family, work (hopefully in that order). So I invite you to remember, as your calendars start to fill up over these next few weeks, to try and keep focused on what is most important for you. Do your best to resist the external pressures of life that pull and push you to do things that are of no importance to you but you have been told should be important. Do your best to say, “No” to some things, find the things that bring you joy (not that temporary feeling of happiness, but the deep, down to your bones feeling of fulfillment that comes with joy). Finally, and most importantly, remember that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

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”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: My church hosted an event called Table Talk at the Keeping Room on Tuesday, November 18. It was a great conversation and fellowship around the question, “What is faith all about?” We hope to do more in the future, hopefully monthly.

Not Favorite: Never feeling like I have enough time to do the things I want to do and am supposed to do.

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c1e69-123I 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 this week’s column, it’s called “Now What?”

On Tuesday, millions of people around the country cast their votes for local, state, and federal representatives. They voted on propositions, bills, laws, overtures, school boards, water districts, regents, and all manner of things were decided this week.

If you were to glance at my Facebook® timeline you would think either this was the great week or a terrible week. Some believe that we have reclaimed America; some believe we have returned to the Dark Ages. My guess is, it’s somewhere in between. Some of the people I voted for won, some of the people I voted for lost. Some are licking their wounds and some are rejoicing in their victories. Some of the things I was hoping for didn’t work out, some did. I was surprised by some results and some results worked out as I expected. I just don’t think there is a blanket statement you can make about this year’s election, although many pundits, talking heads, armchair politicians, and people on social media will try.

One of the beautiful things about our country is that, according to our Constitution, we, the people, have control of how we are governed and who will represent us. (This point is up for debate in our current political climate, but that’s somebody else’s column to write.) We made our wishes known by our votes, some won, some lost. That happened, the question is…Now what?

As a dad, we try to help our kids understand what they can control and what they can’t. We help them to respond to decisions they have made, live with the consequences, and move forward. We try not to fight old fights. We try to learn from our experiences, make decisions based on those experiences, and try new ways to respond. The thing is, I think we all need to work on that, I even find myself learning while my daughter is learning.

I think we in this country keep fighting old fights; some of those fights need to be fought because they are ongoing. Some of those fights have been decided and we need to move forward, together.

I’m not sure of what’s next, I’m not sure where we, as a town, state, or nation is going, but I do know that the only chance we have is to work together. That doesn’t mean together focusing on our own self-interest but together trying to work for the good of the people, all of them.

This Nebraskan did. Go vote #inNECity! #electionday2014

A photo posted by Greg Bolt (@ggbolt16) on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:20am PST

If you follow me on social media or talk to me for a little bit you probably know that I have some really strong opinions and am willing to share them. My highest value is being inclusive, that means everybody, even if we disagree. Too many times in our current climate, people who disagree are considered the enemy and that’s not helpful, because it’s going to take a myriad of ideas from many different perspectives and political, social, theological, and economic ideals to move us forward.

The votes have been casted, the ballots have been counted, what will you do to participate in making sure we continue to be a great nation.

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”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: Halloween with my children at the Ambassador.

Not Favorite: Social media posts that stoke the fires of division.

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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 this week’s column, it’s called “Stop, Look, Go”.

I don’t watch news on TV or read many papers (except the News-Press, of course) because I don’t think their very helpful, in fact, I think they can be harmful to our society. You see the entire media industry, from advertisers to newspapers, is based on fear and scarcity. There are millions and millions of videos, blogs, newspaper columns, entire television networks based on the idea that if you are scared or if you feel like you don’t have enough you will buy more stuff, or you’ll vote a certain way, or you’ll fight those who think differently than you.

I’m as guilty as the next guy for living in fear. I fear for my job, my child’s safety and education, I fear for the country, that we keep electing people that refuse to act in the interest of the people that elected them. I fear that every time I play basketball I’m going to break my ankle. I am what my family calls an “awfulizer”. I can think of the worst possible outcome for every situation, but I’m hoping to turn over a new leaf.

I’m going to try to live in abundance rather than scarcity, I’m going to try to live in gratefulness rather than fear. I’m going to try to be happy.

During a TEDTalk, Brother David Steindl-Rast said, “Gratefulness can change the world…If you’re grateful you’re not fearful, if you’re not fearful you’re not violent. If you’re grateful you act out of a sense of enough and not a sense of scarcity and you are willing to share. If you’re grateful you are enjoying the differences between people and are respectful to everyone…this doesn’t make for equality but it makes for equal respect, that is the important thing.”

You can watch it here:

Too often we see “the other” as wholly unlike ourselves. We see differences as something to be feared, we see people who have different theological, political, economic, social ideas as evil rather than members of our community. When we are scared it makes it easier to hate, easier to dismiss, easier to blame. We are afraid that we will lose something, our voice, our way of life, our country, but when we are able to be grateful for our differences we begin to see those who we thought were “other” can strengthen us by providing opportunities for change, for learning, and an opportunity for a more joyful and happy life.

Steindl-Rast offers a simple way to make the move from fear and scarcity to gratefulness and abundance; Stop, Look, Go. Make “stop signs” in your life. Maybe that’s a post-it note on your light switch that reminds you what an amazing thing it is that we have power in our homes, or a note on your steering wheel that tells you to pause and take a deep breath before you start your busy day. When you stop, it gives you an opportunity to look. Open your eyes, your nose, your ears and notice the things around you, open your heart and notice the opportunities that moment provides for you. Maybe it’s just an opportunity to enjoy that brief moment of pause before the next thing. Then go, respond to the opportunity, enjoy the moment or maybe you’re being called to something further, respond to a need, a neighbor, to help put a smile on someone’s face, and be grateful for that opportunity to respond, even if it’s hard.

This soft spoken, Benedictine monk has one more quote that I wanted to share with you:

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, it is gratefulness that makes you happy.”

Let us do our best to be grateful for the opportunities that present themselves, and let us stop, look, and GO!

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”. Here’s my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: We had an opportunity to have lunch with some old friends from Oregon this week. I also began the season as my daughter’s U6 soccer team coach. Go Cheetahs!

Not Favorite: During the storm on Tuesday afternoon when the tornado sirens went off, my kids were in the basement of their daycare, I was in my own basement. I did not like being separated from them, especially when those sirens went off.

I love to connect social media. You can see more of my writing and thoughts on my wife’s and my blog (nebraskabolt.wordpress.com) or follow me on twitter. (@ggbolt16)

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