Tuesday, November 3, 2015

When I see unspeakable evil...

How do you feel when you read the news and see that human beings are doing profanely evil things? The response I see on social media is usually outrage. We get angry. We ask "why?" and we seek to place blame. How could someone do such a thing? Then we go on to imagine how we would punish the responsible parties if we were in charge of the situation. We regret that we live in a relatively ordered society where justice comes about slowly if at all. We end up mad at the perpetrator, mad at the "system" for allowing it, mad at our society for harboring it, mad at God for not preventing it. We end up mad and frustrated.

'cause pirates are evil
I feel those things, but I also feel something else. Maybe you do too. I feel sorry. Recently, every time I read about some new horror brought about by a government or a corporation or a mom or a  coach, I find my self apologizing to God. I feel really sorry that we are this way. I feel very much desperate to see humanity saved from itself. I think, when I see evil and I respond with righteous indignation that it is only wishful thinking. I am repulsed, because I like to think that I would never stoop to such inhumanity. Seeing the evil outside of myself, I am for a moment distracted from the evil that is inside me. I truly believe, for a while anyway, that given the same life situation I would have acted completely differently and avoided the long string of errors that so many others have fallen into. Ultimately I know that is a lie. I have evil desires and deathly thoughts that haunt my flesh. By the Grace of God--literally!--I have seen those desires and thoughts for what they are. They are a result of my own death. They come from the ghost that Paul called "the flesh" that haunts me until the time of my death. When I think about it, it seems like death and evil are really the same thing. Evil is death foreshadowed, and death is evil's ultimate consummation.

These ideas, as distasteful as they are, do teach me something. There is something special about humans. We must know that we are made for something better than this. We inherently know that there is something wrong with death. For all that we've been through over millennia we've never fully grown accustomed to the fact that we all die. We have records of billions of humans just like us who have died before us, and yet we still fight against it. If evolution is the only guiding process for our creation and development, then why haven't we evolved in such a way as to be at peace with our fate? Or on the other hand why do we recognize evil at all? I'm not saying this is proof against evolution or anything. I'm sure there are all kinds of plausible theories about the answers to my questions. What I'm saying is that when I look at our situation I see something bigger at work.

I see that we as humans are above-all
shocked by "inhumanity." When people commit atrocities against their fellow humans we feel that we have all lost something. Of course, we have. We tend to think of ourselves as individuals, which is true; but, we are also part of a whole. When the Bible says, "through one man sin entered the world," it is not just saying that Adam had an influence on all future generations. Through one man an entire species became guilty before God. Call God a racist (speciesist?) if you want to, but in the bigger scheme of things we are accountable for all the sins of humanity. Anytime a human commits an act of evil it was done by "one of us." Whether we want them to represent us or not that's the way it is.

Think about this, when an animal attacks a human our reaction depends on how "human" the animal is. When a wild lion attacks a human we feel sadness for the human and maybe fear of the lion, but we aren't really angry with the lion. It was after all a wild animal just doing what wild animals do. But when a dog attacks a human we feel, to a larger degree anyway, outrage. Dog's are much more "human" in that they live with us and seem to respond with person-like emotions. I guess we feel like they ought to know better since they are integrated into human society. When a dog acts inhuman it is seen as a betrayal.

How much more so are we repulsed by humans behaving inhumanely? We'd like to believe that such things can't happen, yet we know all too well that inhumanity lives inside of each of us. There is a betrayer embedded in all of our psyches, and we have a fear that the betrayer is trying to run the ship. We see it in others and the fear of our own evil makes us react with passion. Understanding this, when I see unspeakable evil, I am driven to my knees in humble prayer.

Father forgive us, we know not what we do.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


The founding Fathers were lawyers. This is what Jenna Ellis reminded the group of pastors gathered at the meeting I went to yesterday. It is kind of an obvious point. I mean, I knew that many of them must have been lawyers. It turns out that a large percentage of them were professional lawyers and many of the others were trained as lawyers or had extensive lay knowledge of the subject.

So why does that matter? Well, lawyers have a specific way of looking at the world and at language. The documents that they produce are not merely literary or even philosophical they are ultimately legal documents.

The Constitution is a document that gets its framework and legitimacy from the Declaration of Independence (and to some degree the Federalist Papers which are a public discussion about the ramifications of the Declaration and how to build a government based on it). The Declaration of Independence is a document that gives the basic argument for the legitimacy of the Revolution and appeals to Divine Rights and Natural Law as the basis for opposing tyranny.

You see, the unique thing about the Declaration and therefore about this whole American experiment is that those seeking independence sought and found a legal justification for what they were doing. They didn't appeal to a previous agreement or to any precedent in human history. They appealed to the natural, God-given rights of men. They argue that just like the natural laws of science there are natural laws of politics that are not formed by men. Their argument was that since the king was ignoring the Divine Law when it came to governing the colonies it was their responsibility to break the bonds of government and form a new government that would seek to protect the natural rights of people.

Is your mind blown yet?  My mind is blown because I've grown up being taught about how the American Revolution was mainly about Democracy. And yes, Democracy is a key element to the American idea and everything that came after that, but somehow I missed the pivotal fact that the Founding Fathers built their case for a democratic government on the fact that people have divinely appointed rights that are best protected when the people themselves have the biggest voice in forming their government. The argument wasn't that people have a right to rule themselves. The argument was that people have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; therefore, let's make a government where the people are responsible for protecting these rights themselves. They were applying laissez faire economics to the political process. Democratic government means breaking up political monopolies and, to use a contemporary term, crowdsourcing the influence of ideas through representation. This Divine Law isn't what they spend most of the time talking about in the founding documents, but it is the foundation for every assumption that comes after. As lawyers they found it important to have justification for everything they did. When you trace it back, every part of the governmental/legal framework they laid out comes back to the Natural Law established by our Creator.

There is no need to argue that all of the Founding Fathers were Evangelicals. They weren't. A few of them were even agnostics or non-Christian theists. Still, all of them signed on with the idea that there are Truths that are self-evident and unchanging. Contrast this with the Social Contract theory of government. The Social Contract theory is that the legitimacy of rule ultimately comes from the People. Under this assumption there is no objective Truth, only the will of the people. If the Founding Fathers had been operating under the Social Contract theory then they would not have bothered seeking a justification for their actions. The Declaration of Independence could have simply said,"We have decided that we no longer want to be ruled by the King. If you try to continue to rule us we will fight you. Good day."

The Fathers did propose a sort of social contract. They held that governments derive their powers from the consent of the people, but the people give consent under the guidance of the Natural Law. In other words people only have the right to assert their will because there are moral absolutes that give them legitimacy. The point that this brings me to is that we do have a responsibility. Every new scandal and controversy adds fuel to the voice that we have in our heads telling us that there is no point in even trying to stand up for Truth.

Stick with me. If there is a Natural Law that dictates that we are due certain rights as humans based on the will of our Creator, then it is our natural role and responsibility to stand for those rights. The conversation about what America is matters not because we need to convince more people to be on our side of the issues, but because we need to speak and defend the very idea that there is a such thing as human rights apart from any opinion of ruler or of the people. Abortion isn't wrong because most people think it is wrong. It is wrong because those innocent humans have a right to life. Government recognition of homosexual relationships as marriage isn't wrong because a lot of us disagree with it. It is wrong because it corrupts a moral understanding of what marriage is for in the first place (what the government's role should be is a whole other topic).

What Ellis advocates is a shift in the conversation. She would like for all of us to revisit our most basic assumptions about the nature of government. We must decide as a nation if we are going to hold on (and return) to our distinctive founding principal of Divine Law. Or, are we going to give ourselves over to the Social Contract and trust the future of our nation to the whims of human nature?

She's speaking tonight at Candlelight.

Friday, August 28, 2015


When I get in a slump, I sometimes just start writing. I usually don't post what I write, but it sits there in my drafts pile just in case.

Today I am in a slump. So here's some random thoughts.

People often do stupid things, including me and you. So perhaps we should all try to stop complaining about it so much.

We cannot accomplish our own will without asking someone else to submit their will.
Submitting your will is not evil, unless the one you submit your will to is evil.
All people are evil.
God is not evil.
The only way not to be evil is to submit to the will of God alone.

I'd rather draw a car than build a car, but cars are more fun to drive than drawings.

The slump continues...

Let's pay Planned Parenthood More

Things have gotten weird in the abortion (non-)debate. Thanks to an undercover video exposing the world of the trade of human tissues obtained from aborted pregnancies. It turns out that many people would prefer the remains of an abortion to be disposed of and destroyed rather than sold at market value.

I listened to the video in tears. I did not cry out of anger. I wasn't feeling righteous indignation toward the evildoers. I wasn't sad about the ignorance of those involved. Those are all plausible feelings I might have had. But I knew it was something else. I felt a distinct loss of humanity. By viewing the video it felt like I had re-entered the Garden to watch as our Mother and Father, Eve and Adam, fell into sin. Ok that's a little over the top. Bear with me, folks. The internet has made it difficult to have original thoughts, and so sometimes I have to blast my ideas to smithereens, just to produce something I even feel like reading. In any case, I knew I was in tears because I felt a loss. It was like discovering something ugly about your own past. Indeed, I think when we see evil we should feel this way. Seeing evil, after all, is never really seeing what someone else has done. We are seeing what we have done. There are religions and movements that talk about "One World" and the unity of the human race. These ideas ring true because they are shadows or reflections of something that is really true. We are all part of one human race. We generally think of ourselves as individuals that share common physical and mental characteristics, but it is also true that we are part of one spiritual unit called "humanity." The Bible would call us descendants of Adam. When we see someone doing evil it is a reminder that our race is fallen. As much as we would like to think that the agent doing evil is completely unconnected to us, the fact remains that we all share in the guilt of each other.

So I felt bad. Hopefully, everyone does. I guess my greatest fear is that people will see the video and respond with apathy. It would be a foreboding sign of the searing of our social conscious if no one felt it appalling.

Regardless of the prognosticative issues of this video I've thought of a response that I find compelling. What if we offered to pay Planned Parenthood more for "fetal tissue" that is allowed to survive pregnancy? So if first-trimester fetal tissue can get $100 let's bump it up for each trimester. What if we offered Planned Parenthood $300 for fetuses that that complete the third trimester and are extracted fully intact resulting in a viable living sample? That's $100 per trimester. The second and third trimester are more challenging you might say. I would counter that the second trimester actually isn't costing anyone much more than the first trimester. Even for the donor of the fetal tissue the second trimester should actually be less uncomfortable than the first. So we'll tack on $100 more for the second trimester. Now the third trimester is actually the most challenging for the donor, but it has been established that the donor cannot be compensated (she said that was an obvious point in the video, so I guess it is really unthinkable). So that will not go into our consideration. The costs for extraction of a viable living sample, however are much greater. The average hospital delivery without complications costs $9,700. Prenatal care can cost around $2,000. Since, a number of extractions will require cesarian section we'll bump up the total medical costs average to $17,000. So add this to the $200 for the first two trimesters and, let's say, a $300 bonus for the third trimester and the bill would come to $17,500 per extraction of a viable live fetus sample. I like round numbers and I'm feeling generous so let's put the price at $20,000 just to cover any issues I've not considered. Assuming Planned Parenthood provides the donor with at least average medical care throughout the entire pregnancy they would be looking at $8,300 profit per extraction.

Would we be able to raise the money? What would we do with the "extracted samples"? Well, it turns out there is already an example case with some similar numbers. If we change some of the terms then we can see a process that is currently happening that we can compare. Private adoption in the U.S. costs between $10K and $30K. Instead of donors having abortions producing tissue samples there are mothers who carry their children to term then get to choose the parents to place them with. In most cases the adoptive parents cover the costs of prenatal care and delivery, and they pay for all of the adoption fees and services.

Looking at the current supply and demand it seems that there is a "market" of people willing to pay $20,000 for the product of a pregnancy (a.k.a. baby), and they even seem willing to further invest in the product to nurture it into a contributing member of society! Surely, Planned Parenthood can see the profitability of such a plan. If only it weren't for those pesky laws against human trafficking!

So, I guess I shouldn't propose this plan. It is doomed to fail. It also ignores the bigger problem in our society. We are unwilling to connect our sexual immorality to the inhumanity of abortion. No one says this, but ultimately the "freedom of choice" is about sexual freedom. It is freedom from responsibility that we are seeking. People who try to make this a women's rights issue are ignoring the fact that this situation largely benefits men. The sexual revolution has freed men from the cultural role of taking responsibility for their sexual choices. Unmarried, pregnant women are confronted with a situation where their sexual partner is telling them, "Whatever you want to do..." That is seen as the compassionate role of men. These men think they are being responsible and progressive by telling the women they have impregnated, "I will follow your lead." When what most women in this situation are saying, "What do you think we should do?" They are looking for leadership. Most of them are realizing, too late, that they will not find the leadership they need. They will not find the support they had hoped for. Even the society that told them it is okay to be "sexually expressive" now has no answers for them other than, "get it taken care of." Abortion is seen as an unfortunate side effect of our modern sexuality that would be easy to deal with if it wasn't for all the religious nuts trying to make everyone feel guilty.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Where I grew up the bugs are loud in the summer. The mud is red. The winters are predictably unpredictable. The grass grows at an incredible rate. The trees are big. The highways are lined by Kudzoo.

When I was in college I wrote my one and only published opinion article for the Mississippi College student paper. There was a state-wide vote on the issue of choosing an official state flag. I think Georgia had made the change and maybe another state or two. Officials discovered that Mississippi accidentally repealed the law that declared the current state flag about 100 years ago, and so technically had no official state flag. Politicians took this as an opportunity to wash their hands of the issue. They put it to a popular vote, and everyone knew how it would turn out.

For some reason this issue resounded strongly with me. I've never viewed myself as a civil rights activist, and I can't claim to have ever taken strong positions in the issue of race relations in Mississippi. I had black friends in school and college, but I wasn't making any efforts at racial reconciliation. I guess, like many people, I was of course unhappy about racism, but I felt like it was an issue of the past that would slowly fade away within a generation. When this issue came up and the opposition to changing the flag was so strong and the reasoning seemed like thinly veiled racism I realized that if we don't change something then the problems of Mississippi won't fade away. They'll get worse. People were saying things like, "Well if they don't like it why don't they leave," or "I don't see why people are making such a big deal about it." This struck me. At best this reasoning is naive and self-absorbed. At worst it is hypocritical, subversive hatred. Why were my white friends not even taking a moment to consider the feelings and arguments of my black friends? Why were Mississippians describing a large portion of our population as "they" instead of "we"? I'm not saying there isn't an argument to be made for the preservation of the flag, but the reasoning was so terribly short-sighted and honestly disrespectful.

Heather from the MC Library Archives was kind enough to find and send me a scan of the article I wrote in the Collegian.
The staff at the MC library were kind enough to dig up the article for me. It is rather short and emotional, but if I remember correctly they gave me a word count limit and I didn't have lots of free time my senior year anyway. If I had the chance to do it over again, here are some thoughts I might include.

Romans 15:1 reads, "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves." One way to apply this is that if you are the one who "knows better" regarding a certain issue it is still your responsibility to consider the needs of the one who "doesn't get it." Yes, from a selfish perspective, it might make sense to keep the flag. I don't understand why it brings people such pleasure to have a flag that evokes the darkest aspect of our nation's and our state's history, but I'll take them at their word. So you want to keep the flag because it reminds you of sweet tea and humidity and fried foods, but should you have no consideration for your "weaker" brother who doesn't get that? "Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.'" I guess the argument could be made from the other side. Shouldn't people who oppose the flag bear with the weaknesses of those who want the flag? Well, if you are the weaker party, then I suppose minorities with a faith stronger than yours must be asked to endure your disrespect. If you're happy with that kind of logic then I don't know what else to say.

There are so many things we don't want to and/or shouldn't compromise on, doesn't it make sense to find things that we can compromise on to make the discussion of other things a little more tolerable? If black Mississippians are concerned about the connotations of a symbol that is our state flag, isn't the respectful thing, the kind thing to do, to at least listen and think about if you can accommodate them? If you are not willing to change the flag then what are you willing to do? If the answer is "nothing" then please stop pretending that you are not satisfied with the current level of race relations. Please don't say, "Can't we all just move on?" Please don't argue about the historical "facts" (let's be honest, you haven't done any original research on this, and websites don't count) and claim that this is a made up issue. The truth of the issue is that Mississippians are hurting right now. If a black person were to explain to you why they wanted to be heard on this what would you say? I don't mean what would you say on Facebook. I mean what would you say to their face. If you have a reasoned argument, then great, but most of what I have seen is eye-rolling, exclusionary, dismissive, haughty, heavy-handed rejection. The message is clear. We do not care.

I moved away from Mississippi in 2001. My life's calling has lead me to other places, but my heart is bound to my home state. Everywhere I go I have defended my home state against the perceptions of the world. All the while I know that Mississippians (like all Americans, but that's for another post) live in a wounded society. It is a place full of heart that bears a beauty held mostly in the storied hearts of its people. From my point of view black and white Mississippians have more in common with each other than they do with their own races in other parts of the country. If the music, literature, food and spirituality that is produced in Mississippi isn't enough to bring people together what is?

I'll be interested to see if Mississippians will be willing to do what it takes to put the flag in a museum where it belongs or, even better, to realize what they've been missing by treating each other as less than human.

Monday, April 27, 2015

52 x 19.25

Do you know what is significant about 52 times 19.25?

That is the number of weeks your child will live from birth until they are 19 and 1/4. That comes to:

1,001 weeks.

Most parents have at least some level of influence over their children for the first 19.25 years. Hopefully, we have a lifetime of influence, but for a thousand and one weeks most parents are allowed the strongest voice in their children's lives. What can you do with a thousand and one weeks?

Does this number feel like a threat or an opportunity?

If you think that good parenting depends on your being perfect or always having the right answers then this is probably a pretty depressing number. After all what are the chances of any of us putting together a streak of 1,001 weeks without some kind of major failure or disappointment? How could we possibly make it such a long time without completely destroying or eternally scarring the little people who depend on us? If good parenting is about having it all together all (or even most) of the time then 1,001 might make you despair and want to give up.

On the other hand--thank God for the other hand--perhaps good parenting is about the bigger picture. What if our children learn more from the fabric of their life than the threads? By the fabric I mean the overall picture and impression that our children get from living day-to-day and, yes, week-to-week in our households. If you look very closely at fabric through a magnifying glass the threads often look like a jumbled mess of chaos. Some threads may even be broken, frayed or out of place. But when you "zoom out" on a good piece of fabric the threads all come together to make a pattern and a strong cloth that is useful. So the thread of your life may include many missteps, wrong turns and outright failures, but that doesn't mean that the fabric of your parenting can't have integrity.

When we look at the small picture 1,001 weeks is overwhelming. We experience failure as a parent and think there is nothing we can do to make it better. When we look at the big picture we can see that the failures don't matter so much as the consistent intention and attempt to protect, guide and empower our children to become adults with integrity and passion. The Bible tells us, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

The wisdom of the proverb reminds us that if we have woven the Wisdom of God into the very fabric of our children's lives then it will endure throughout their lives.

So what will you do with your 1,001 weeks?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Don't Feel Like It? So What?

What does a prayer meeting in Iraq look like?

According to VOM's Prayer map Christians in Iraq face a very uncertain situation. They cannot rely on their government or their neighbors for protection against violence. They have almost no one on earth to turn to. I wonder what it is like when they get together to pray. I wonder how many people show up and what they pray about. Are they angry with God? Do they sit in silence? Is there weeping?

I don't mean to over-dramatize the situation. I'm just trying to imagine what I would do. If I were a pastor of an Iraqi church I would be tempted to cancel public Sunday worship services, but I think I would not at any cost abandon some type of prayer gathering. Even if we had to meet secretly in uncomfortable places. Even if the time was inconvenient. Even if there wasn't enough childcare or padded chairs. I would lead my people to pray, to cry out to God for relief.

As the pastor of an American church, I ask my people to pray. And we do. We share prayer requests. We pray in our public services and in our small group meetings. We email out the occasional prayer concern. We pray for the sick and for job opportunities and for broken relationships. We even pray for those who aren't Christian in our community and for opportunities to share Truth with them.

And yet, it doesn't feel that important. We read in scripture that it is important. So we do our best to be obedient. We attempt to incorporate prayer into our daily lives and learn what it means to pray without ceasing. We schedule prayer meetings that a lot of people intend on coming to, but life intervenes. We do studies about prayer and wax spiritual about how if we would just take the time to pray maybe we wouldn't be so stressed about all the stuff that is making us too busy to pray.

I am uneasy about what it might take for prayer to become important to us. How bad does my life have to get for me to become earnest in my prayer?

Before you click away to escape the prayer guilt that you might be feeling (like me), take another moment to consider something. The Kingdom of God is often the exact opposite of the Kingdom of Man. Where we think something is important it is often the least important. Jesus said the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Profound truth here, people.

Those people who are suffering most in this world, especially those who are directly suffering for the cause of Christ, are on the very front lines of God's Epic Work in this world. We might think that God is most at work in places where his church is most visible, but if we are to take the teachings of Jesus seriously then we must realize that God generally works out of sight. The fruit that will be produced will, in the end, come as a great surprise. No one is surprised when a crop produces a 1:3 yield. But if a crop produces a 1:100 ( see Luke 8:8 ) yield that would make world news. That's how Jesus described the Kingdom of God. The unexpected becomes the norm.

So maybe you don't feel like your prayers are very important. Praying for Iraqi Christians sounds like a noble thing, but it doesn't feel very immediate. We won't know if our prayers are doing anything. We usually don't know specifics to pray for. There pretty much zero risk in us praying for them, so it feels a little empty, futile. We don't often get rewarded with an emotional response when praying over a list of needs. We aren't driven by fear or desperation. All we have is the direction of scripture and the call of the Holy Spirit.

In the Kingdom of God that means that even our measly, half-hearted prayers given at least partially out of a feeling of obligation will bear fruit and glorify God. I'm not saying we should be satisfied with that, but it is a start. And until God calls us to deeper and higher things we'd best get busy doing what we can. When the day comes when you really feel like your prayers are needed and like they really do matter it will be all the better if you have been practicing all along. My guess (my confidence!) is that we will find that even our prayers that felt obligatory and thin will have accomplished amazing things we could not have imagined on our own!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Losing Your Grip

I went climbing last night. It was the first time in about 5 months I had grabbed any rock. For my partner it had been about 6 months. We knew we were in for some disappointment. Rock climbing is a sport that requires pretty specific muscle development. You don't get better at climbing by jogging or lifting weights. The only way to stay in shape is to climb things with your fingers. Still, we talked with a little bit of optimism since we had at one time been fair-average climbers.

For my first climb I chose a route rated near the top of my all-time high skill level (5.10 for you climbers). I figured my best chance was to hit it while I was fresh. I made it maybe 15 feet before falling. My arms quickly told me what I didn't want to believe. I wasn't going to be climbing at my old level that night. My partner gave it a go too with all the optimism that comes from watching someone else fail. When you are watching someone else climb you always feel like you could have done better. Then when you get on the wall everything looks different.

I quickly downgraded myself and tried an easier route. Was it just me or were they making routes harder than they used to? I didn't do much better, and since I had nearly exhausted my arms on my first attempts I was worried I wouldn't be able to complete a single climb. Finally, we made our way over to a climb that was rated just high enough not to be embarrassing for grown men(5.7). I climbed as fast as I could before my grip strength ran out and just barely made it without resting. What a relief! We climbed with frequent long breaks for about an hour and a half. In the past we had climbed continuously without breaks for two hours. It was hard not to feel disappointed. There was no logical reason for us to have expected a better outcome, but I guess there's a pride we all have that overestimates our abilities. Just before packing up to leave I went over to the stretching/workout area and grabbed some gripper balls for doing pull-ups on. I found that I was still able to do multiple pull-ups. The problem hadn't been shoulder or upper arm strength. My failure to climb was completely due to a weak grip.

Here comes the spiritual twist.

In the Christian life we can get strong at a lot of things. We can become theological weight lifters that can expound on Biblical precepts. We can memorize the words to all the latest worship songs. We can become ninjas at encouraging others. We can master every Gospel presentation available. We can attend every event faithfully.

But if we lose our grip on Jesus, none of that strength matters. If we neglect the reality of the cross, if we habitually let our focus drift from our identity in Christ, if we don't push ourselves to keep walking in the Spirit, we will loose our grip. You may not be able to escape his grace, but you certainly can slip into spiritual lethargy that is not easy to bounce out of. Just because you had a vibrant, consistent faith years ago doesn't mean you can automatically get back to it once you're "less busy." A firm grip on Jesus is developed over months and years of spiritual discipline. Doing the daily chores of talking and listening to Jesus, loving your neighbor and humbling yourself is not our means of pleasing God. It is our method of consuming and being consumed by him.

You can't become even an average rock climber over night. You can build muscle strength quickly, but your tendons and joints have to develop over a longer period of time. That comes with practice. It is the same way with knowing and loving God. It takes practice and patience. And the payoff is amazing.