Wednesday, September 24, 2014

your pettiness is embarrassing.

Ask us Millennials what denomination church we got to, and we’ll look at you, confused. Why does it matter? So you can put us in a box, something definable? “Oh, that’s the way you think” is what would run through your mind if we picked a church and gave you a name.

No thanks.

“Obama didn’t salute? He doesn’t respect our military!” “Foul! Foul! Foul!” I blandly scrolled through the previous generation’s cries, shares, and likes. Surprise, a day later the rest of the clip is revealed, where the Commander in Chief stops in his tracks and realizes his absent-minded faux pas, and takes the time to shake the hand of the Marine who’s salute he barely gestured to.

I stood in a friend’s screen printing shop and listened to a middle-aged woman order shirts that said “Team Phil.” They were not for groundhog day, they were for an immensely wealthy television personality the Christian religious sector felt had been misrepresented by the media. My heart sank and the words “why do you give a shit?” resounded in my mind louder than I wanted them to.

With 23,000 employees and revenue of $3.3 billion, Hobby Lobby stood it’s own without the help of the general public and defended their religious rights, much to the relief of Conservatives nationwide. This, while thousands of illegal immigrant children flooded into the United States each week. Congratulations, you loudly protected your local store worker’s right to not have more choices while hundreds and hundreds of malnourished and terrified small children’s bodies flooded across the border.

Christians, what is it about crowd-sourcing your passions and values that’s so attractive? Stand. On your own. Two. Feet. Read your bible and see who Jesus truly was. The church, as a whole, is undeniably struggling more than it has in the previous two decades. I can’t be sure, but I have a few ideas as to why.

Firstly, your idea of community is foreign and forced. It doesn’t belong. Church as a modern-day structure doesn’t work that well outside of the religious context. That isn’t a good sign. Compare it to the ecclesiastical model, and the church building fund looks a little fundamentally frail. And can you tell me what your church does to integrate the more introverted individuals? What about people that are going through a divorce. What happens when the church community catches wind? Because I can say first-hand that people immediately pick sides, which is insane. My family aside, my Athiest friend did a better job loving me through my divorce than most of my church community did. The pervading question was “what happened? I’ve heard her side of the story, I need to hear yours.” Or “I heard this, is it true?”

So much of church is conformance to the culture. Standing, sitting, listening, laughing, reading, conversing comfortably….everything is a dance, the church building contains it’s own culture, and it is ALL foreign to non-believers. Which means it’s missing the point.

Good friends I grew up with informed me about their weekly “outreach”, and my heart hurt. They go (and this is not made up) and protest at abortion clinics outside their town. As someone who has been very close to someone who had an abortion and was alongside them during their decision-making process, I can tell you that as a God-fearing Jesus-loving Christian, the practice of protesting outside of abortion clinics is barbaric and has no place in this faith. Why? Because it focuses on fear-mongering, guilt-tripping, and threatening people who are hurting.

Two important facts to note: if you’re about to make an intensely personal decision and a stranger out of nowhere approaches you to demand your attention, it will not be taken any other way than threatening. Also, the actions of Jesus himself do not ever reflect those of one who protested in front of clinics.

Against abortion? Focus elsewhere. Either the alternatives to abortion, build into those systems and structures, volunteer there. Or go after abortion legislation. Do not “protest” outside clinics.

“So where’s the hope? What are you suggesting should be different? How do you fix it?” my Mom always asks.

Stop being petty, Christians. Stop looking for causes to champion your beliefs and point out the brokenness of the world -- that isn’t what Jesus came to do and it isn’t what He did when he arrived in this incredibly broken world. Love others in humility. Serve them. That’s what Jesus did. He told stories about people, talked with people, walked amongst people, and showed them who God was. He wouldn’t have chosen “Team Phil” or played along with the bullshit of arguing which was better: to legalize marijuana or keep sending people to jail for carrying more (or less) than an ounce on their person in public.

Jesus, if he were here today, would be no different than he was in the bible, other than probably more culturally relevant.  He would say “I know you’re scared to keep the baby, I don’t think you should get an abortion, you have options, but if you do, I’ll still love you.” He wouldn’t’ve darkened the door of a church van headed to protest for a damn second.

Live your faith in and for the hope that you say it has Christians. Quit being so insecure about what you believe that you’re pointing out ghosts and agendas all over the place. Even if you’re right (and you usually aren’t), no one wants to hear or be a part of that. Start practicing what you preach and not getting people to go to church, but instead getting them to share their struggles with you so you can love them.

If you start seeing individuals as an outreach, you’ve already lost. Don’t be like that (a judgemental jackass). Jesus didn’t say “Zaccheus, come down from their so I can minister to you.” He said “let’s do lunch.”

So do lunch.

Unlike most of the older generations I’ve enjoyed talking to, I do have a lot of hope for the future. I think the world is right now bright and ripe for so many opportunities to make huge differences, and I plan on being a part of as many as I can. So just cut out the gossip, don’t make people go to church, take them to lunch instead, quit liking and sharing the junk food yellow journalism of the internet, and don’t entertain pettiness.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

an open letter to my brother.

Thanks for your incredible work with James+James. These last two years working with you have been the best years of my working history, with no exception.
I thank God for every single day we got to work together as brothers, and I attribute a huge volume of our growth as a company to your hard work, relentless serving, leadership, decision making and relationship growth.

Each time you walked into the office it was very clear that you were setting the tone for the rest of the team -- whether you knew it or not -- and it was a very calming, honest attitude you brought with you. This was very important, as it set the culture for many of our management's interactions and how they processed through issues with each other.

During most meetings whether formal or informal, you shared focused emotions and took the time to ask very specific questions that helped guide our team towards becoming more successful together.

One of the traits that set you apart and made you extremely good at your job was your inability to ignore the nuances of someone's statements. You would pursue how someone felt past the situational context, really listening to who they were and what their needs at that moment might be, asking penetrating questions to ensure you were responding in the most appropriate manner.

You have an excellent leadership voice, one that meets those around you at their level and challenges each individual in very specific ways.

Throughout the difficulties with managing a crew, learning and gathering financial reports, training, and purchasing, you were able to establish the right levels of energy and passion. This proved essential in connecting with the team, accomplishing your goals, and working through the growing pains that were heaved on you from time to time.

Often rather than lecturing or trying to teach a member of our company, I would overhear you telling them a story instead. Rare was the time you would simply tell an employee "do it this way because I asked you" as you understood that was a poor way to manage. Instead you would encourage them with an example or narrative, bringing you together rather than making a top-down demand.

In whatever you pursue next, brother, I hope you will continue to lead and serve in the same way you did with our team here in Northwest Arkansas.

Hebrews 13:7 "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith."

Your brother,

Sunday, February 3, 2013

tiny meals.

I'd close my eyes and try really hard to think about Jesusy things.
It's what Dad did.

I wasn't always sure exactly what I was supposed to do, but from what the Pastor said every fourth week or so I figured it had something to do with sins. I'd think back to something I did that week, apologize for it to God, then work really hard to fill all the rest of the seconds thinking about the Holy Spirit or something.
It was a "long Sunday" or Communion Sunday. And until today -- just over a month after I've turned 25 -- I haven't really known exactly what to do when I get my cracker and grape juice.

Some crackers are really hard. They're more stale than others, a sign the church had bought in bulk. If I was lucky the church I was at would serve bread instead (usually French bread, delicious) and I'd get to rip off my own portion.
"Not that much" my Mom (or later on in life after I got married my wife) would tell me. Did it really matter to God that I was a little bit hungry? Or sometimes a lot? Besides, he made me. He knew all about that. And I was trying. That's the important part.

I've always seen this communion experience as one of the holiest things a Christian can do. It's right up there with baptism, the laying on of hands, weddings, and casting out of demons. Entirely unique to our faith, it is a community event that manifests it's value in your intimate relationship with Christ, a paradox right up there with the fact that the bits of food and drink directly represent the body and blood of a Savior.
I would once a month for almost the entirety of my life, take the carbohydrates and hydrates in my hand and think back on how important a moment in history this was, and how Jesus meant so much by it, and how much it must've meant to his disciples that he was saying this to them.

But today I realized they probably didn't have a clue.
They were at a meal, sitting all splayed out on the ground like the pictures, lounging about eating.
Jesus stands up and announces these very foreign concepts to them, and maybe he gets their attention, maybe he doesn't.
This was new to them. What were they supposed to make of it? I like to think it bothered them, that they had no idea what it meant and that it must be important, but really, it started with obedience.
They interacted with Jesus at his level. When he said "this is really important, this is me I'm talking about" they listened. Then over time as they grew in their faith, the value and the significance of that event became much, much more special to them.
Eventually it was documented, they wrote about it as if it was one of the holiest moments in their walk with Jesus, and celebrated it even after he was gone, pushing the churches to do the same.

Thousands of years later I find myself at the same place as they were that first night.
I've been practicing in obedience for so long assuming it was instantly significant and I was just missing it, when in fact the disciples very likely felt that same way.
It was as they grew, and likewise as I grow in faith that it becomes apparent the magnitude of what communion meant when Jesus first offered it.
I don't fully understand it, but he knows that. I have a lot of learning to do. So did the disciples.

My mouth will always start to water when I see that plate of crackers or hopefully bread start my direction from the front of the room. But that's how Jesus made me, always hungry.

Friday, September 28, 2012

'Merica's rough past.

In the last quarter of the seventeenth century, a series of crises rocked the European colonies of North America. This would become the first time Apple outsold themselves, as there was an issue with one of their factories and it rapidly became apparent that while there were enough iSextants, the glass manufacturer was not able to keep up with the demand. Also, there were hundreds of rich v. poor, free v. slave, and settler v. Indian conflicts that began to erupt as people in the New World, or "Brooklyn" tried to learn how to get along.
The bloodiest and most bitter conflict occurred in southern New England, where in 1675 an Indian alliance launched attacks on farms and settlements that were encroaching Indian lands, all the while yelling incomprehensible gibberish about "unfair wages" and "3 cents an hour with 3 cents an hour tax isn't fair."
New Englanders described the Wampanoag (named after the snow monster from planet Hoth in Starwars who makes "lemonade" snow cones) leader "Metacom" (predecessor to Kim Dotcom) as the uprising's mastermind. This proved to be false, as the Indians operated under no leadership for this attack. This was the second misconstrued idea in the New World. For the first, Google: Half-Way Covenant on your iSextant.
The attacks continued, and soon the Indians had attack nearly half of the New Englander's settlements. A year and a half later the tide finally turned when the Indians bent down to tie their shoes all at the same time, and the New England settlers gained the upper hand immediately.
Needless to say, Metacom was captured and executed, or maybe executed then captured, no one really knows.
No longer welcome, the Indians were forced to move from their homes and board ships to become servants in the West Indies "it's really fun there, we promise", and the New England colonists walked around feigning surprise at all the property and crops that were now at their disposal.


The restoration of the English monarchy when Charles II (or Charles the Two Eyes as he was more commonly referred to as) assumed the throne in 1660 sparked a new period of colonial expansion.
This was done through new trading ventures, such as the chartering of the Royal African Company (they had to do with Africa) and giving them monopoly of the slave trade. Or giving the slaves Monopoly games to trade, no one really knows.
Within a generation, the number of English colonies in North America doubled. The first area to come under English control was "New Netherlands," seized in 1664 during an Anglo-Dutch war that also saw England (or the Anglos) gain control of Dutch trading posts in Africa.
This took place during a several hundred-year world-wide event not mentioned in the textbook called a "Seizing Party" wherein every nation on the planet worked on seizing as much land, resources, trade or mercantilism as possible. Originally there was a planet-wide agreement that this party was "not for keeps" but as is always the case with "not for keeps" it was in fact, for keeps.
King Charles the Two Eyes awarded New Netherlands colony to his brother James the Duke of York after an embarrassingly short arm wrestling match, conceding to him that he could have the region "and make all the rules he wants to." This is actual history. He really told his brother that. Hence the colony became "James the Duke of York", a name every "James the Duke of Yorker" loathed, so they promptly shortened the name to just New York, but haven't stopped being bitter about everything since.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Someone asked me what I did for work at school the other day. Curious as to their reaction, I answered "I'm in sales."
The person I was talking with got up, packed his books, walked out of the classroom and dropped out of college.

People loathe individuals in sales because pretty much everyone has had a crappy experience from a bad sales guy.
It probably looked something like this:

"Do you carry any [insert need]?"
"No but we have this. This is better. This is more expensive. You don't know it but you actually need this. You're stupid for not knowing you need this. If you don't buy this right now you run the risk of being very very stupid."
"Oh, okay. How much is it? I only have six dollars."
"I can run a credit report and we'll get you on an easy payment plan today this very second don't delay because you don't want to climb the stupid ladder. Get in my office. Sign all this paper work. Get a 9th credit card because ours is better. It has worse rates. No one cares about the APR anymore, that doesn't matter. You need this. I can see you getting stupider by the second."
"Alright. When will I get this [insert thing needed]."
"Three weeks. Any other questions?"
"No, I'm just sad about everything that happened here today."
"There's free popcorn over there if you want some."

Want to avoid being the bad guy in sales?

The Key To Closing The Deal Every Time (or TKTCTDET)

1. Ask them what they're looking for. This is important because if you don't ask them, you probably won't find out. Plus it gets them to talk more, which gives you +5% in hit points because everyone likes the sound of their own voice more than yours. By extension that means the more they talk, the more they like you.

2. Listen to them tell you what you're looking for. This is important because if you don't listen to them while they're speaking, you won't know what they're saying. Unfortunately some people share urban myths or suggested methods around this when in fact, there are none. This gives you +5% hit points as well.

3. Say something to make them laugh. If you don't do this, they run the danger of feeling like a customer. This gives you +6 hit points.

4. Say these exact words: "Good news, we have exactly what you're looking for." Often times this step is avoided for the reason that the sales person is mildly dumb or alcoholically incapacitated at some level. Why is this so imperative? Because if you don't say the words "we have exactly what you're looking for" it leaves the customer wondering "do they have exactly what I'm looking for?" This gives you +4% health.

5. Tell them as few details about the product that best fits their needs. Why not tell them more? Let me put this as simply as I can: THEY DON'T CARE. They already explained in great detail what they needed from you, and if you followed step 2, then you both know that what you're giving them will meet those needs. This gives you +8% experience.

6. Tell them the price. If you don't tell them the price, they won't know. While this may be complicated, it's still vitally important. Continuing on to step 7 without them knowing the price can cause much bruising of feelings, which should be avoided at all costs. This gives you +5% hit points.

7. If the customer disagrees with the price, agree with them. I like to call this the "defense game." The person who is on defense automatically loses and after the phone call/interaction is over, must punch themselves in the face thirty times. If the customer doesn't like the price and wants to haggle, take the product away from them and move to a cheaper product. Tell them that this less expensive product was created with them in mind, and that the first, best product is now out of their reach.
They can't have it.
You can tell them this any way you choose. I suggest something like this:
"I agree. That is a lot of money. Great news though (everyone likes to hear great news all the time) we do have this product. It's less expensive and will suit your needs just peachy. We've altered these aspects to make it cost less, which seems to be exactly what you're looking for. This gives you +10% special powers.

8. Close the deal. Some suggested ways of making this happen are as follows.
"May I go ahead and get your order? I'll need your credit card information or you can send me a check."
"How would you like to pay for this?"
"Would you like me to send you an invoice? We'll need half upfront to start work on this for you."
"Unless you have any other questions, I'd like to go ahead and get the payment process started."
If you walk away from the sale with a promise of purchase or another appointment, you have lost and should punch yourself in the face thirty times. +5% experience points.

9. Accept their credit card information for the first, more expensive product you showed them. Everyone only wants what they can't have. For instance, I have literally never stopped wanting a dinosaur. Why? Because I know I can't have one. If by some miracle I was given a dinosaur, I'd want a comet. This would be fine with me, as it would probably kill the dinosaur so I could go back to wanting one again. +100 gold coins.

Once you've leveled up you can move on to more advanced equipment and training in things like:

Avoiding the Awkward Pauses.
How to Meet Anyone
Dealing With People Who Have Already Decided They Hate You
Fixing Your Mistakes
Connecting With Weird People
The 5am Phone Call Sale
Someone Who Just Wants To Email Forever
The Sale Under Pressure or: Talking While Holding Explosive Diarrhea In

*Quick Fact: it was also the worst film in universe history.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Businessy Things.

Now that I have been in business for approximately 30 (minutes) I would consider it an honor to bestow much wisdoms upon your brains and tell you some of what I've learned.
Hopefully you'll be able to take what I know and apply it to your self and your business selves, and those business elves can go and make you many more monies.  This is a time-honored tradition that the corporate world loves to reserve for events like "Rotary" "Executives Association" "Entrepreneurial Alliance" and the "Men's Restroom."

The Business Lunch.
The reason this specific (and delightful couple) of terms is capitalized in such a way is because Business Lunches are the absolute pinnacle of achievement; the top triangle of the pyramid; the uppermost animal carving on the totem pole... you get the point.
Every entrepreneur's first goal: to learn how to spell "entrepreneur." Note: with the advent of personal computers and consequently, spell check, this goal has become almost obsolete. Almost.
The next goal an entrepreneur has is to set up a business lunch. With someone. Anyone. The words "I'm sorry, I have a business lunch, can I meet with you on a different day?" mean that said person is at least somewhat successful. If they actually have a business lunch. Some slimy folk (usually the competitors) have been known to make up lunch events just to seem important. This usually signifies a "C" or lower in their local Community College "Business Ethics" class.

Business Lunches usually take place when there are either a.) two parties and/or b.) they have something to talk about.
Most of us have seen someone on a Business Lunch with their self before, and while this is strange, it's not entirely dis-honest and if put in essay form would still earn a deserved "A" at a Business Ethics class, because as long as there is a phone-piece present, it can still count as a Business Lunch. *See: Tax-write off.

"I'd like to take them to lunch" or "Let me take you to lunch" are two power-house phrases I would suggest you use in the workplace to get these sorts of things off and rolling. Once seated with food present, even if one party deals in socks and the other multi-grain cereal or a specific non-gravity based solar shield for a space ship, if they're strong enough entrepreneurs, the Business Lunch will not only go better than crappy, but they may meet once or twice more in a year together, just on the basis of mere creative stimulus.

Important to note. (From now on, wherever you see these three words in bold you'll know that what follows is important to note.)
When someone who has a potential future with either a.) you and/or b.) your company, and the first words out of their mouth is "I'm a family man" you know one of two things. a.) they are not a family man, and/or b.) they probably don't even really like their family.
Real family men will sit down with you and say nothing. Why? Because real family men don't have to justify to you that they're family men. They don't care if you know or not. You should be able to tell that just by the fact that they a.) look tired and haggard with bags under their eyes, and/or b.) order anything with and/or without caffeine. If they order something with caffeine you know they've had five entirely sleepless nights in a row with at least four infants. If they order something without caffeine you know it's because they don't let their kids have caffeine.
What does this have to do with the Business Lunch you ask?
Because everything.

Example: A man sits down after saying "I'm a family man" asks the waitress "is this really hot? What's really hot on the menu?" Orders a beer to start, then tells you three personal stories in a row that bore you to death.
What should this tell you?
The bid he is going to ask you to make for his eleven thousand tract homes will net you approximately seven dollars and take the next six years of your life away entirely.
Because he'll think that's what it takes for you to really get the work and after all, he deserves it. And he'd like to talk about it every day on the phone with you, conferencing you in to his twelve board members who live in Northern California. He'll have you believe that there is literally no one else doing business on the planet except him, and he is the big breakthrough you've been working your entire life to reach.
What should you do based solely off this hunch and what he ordered?
Order a beer as well to make him comfortable, but only drink half because it's 11:30am and your stomach is churning at the thought. Then let him know the bid you gave him is exactly what you can do the work for because you are the best option for that job the local market has to offer and watch him squirm. As he yells into his cajun chicken that came with twelve chili peppers next to the name on the menu, smile and nod like you understand him, but reiterate your thoughts, all the while thinking of other business things that will net you more money. This can be anything that will net you a value of more than seven dollars.

Should it matter what you eat at a Business Lunch? Not at all. The food is secondary. Why is the food there, you ask? Well a.) because OBVIOUSLY if it was called the "Business" instead of "Business Lunch"... well, that wouldn't make very much sense now, would it? and/or b.) just in case the person becomes an inanimate object or the whole world blows up and there's just the two of you at the table, at least there's still the food to talk about.
The food should be secondary, the drinks should be secondary (with the obvious exception if everyone is getting together for "Drinks" in which case it may matter .07% what you order) and the initial conversation should be secondary. That's the point. Everything about a Business Lunch should be secondary, just as it's written.
"Business" then "Lunch."

The First Rule.
The first rule is to never call yourself a "Start-Up."
The only people who call their companies "Start-Ups" are young hipster recent college-grads who want to short-cut everyone and everything to make lots of money with no work. Who likes anyone who cuts in line? And correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the word "Start-Up" in any combination (Start-up, startup, start-Up) look like a great branding for toddler diapers?
Anyone who calls their company a "Start-Up" has just presented you with a kaleidoscope vision of their future. No matter how you turn it, things will always look amazing and pretty and bright, but it'll drop away into nothing when it reaches six inches from your face.
"I've helped launch a bunch of Start-Ups" says every young entrepreneur.
"Oh yeah, well how many have you seen through into successful companies with things like a "payroll" and "happy investors" or even "a franchise"?" says every old guy.

Go forth now, un-Start-Up-ify thyself, and order many hot things on the menu!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Radical Hope.

I dare you to read this. 

Written by someone I admire, love, and one of the few people on earth who I feel was created identical to me, my good friend Jon opens up and shares something I think every Christian should read. 

Jon helped me through the darkest times in my life. He relentlessly encouraged, challenged, and reached out to me.

Let him do the same to you in a way that only someone speaking Spirit-breathed truth can.


The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And He said unto me, Son of Man, can these bones live? I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. - Ezekiel 37:1-3

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blessed assurance control: That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and has shed His own blood for my soul. - "It Is Well With My Soul", Horatio Spafford 


My dear friends, brothers, and sisters,

If but one life can be spared by this testimony, or one soul be snatched from the clutches of Hell, my life and experience will not have been in vain.

One of my favorite passages in all of scripture can be found near the end of the book of Ezekiel, in which God brings His prophet to a valley of utter destitution, where bleached and dried bones populate the barren ground. God then commands His prophet, Ezekiel, to prophesy over these bones, causing them to reanimate, regaining flesh, blood, and the breath of life. God then explains to Ezekiel that these newly reconstructed bodies are the sons and daughters of Israel, who claimed "our bones are dried, and our hope is lost" (Ezekiel 37:11). The Lord then commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to His people, saying "behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel ... and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live" (vs. 12, 14). 

This passage not only presents stark images of the awesome and incredible power of God, but also points to several key attributes of His being: healer, restorer, and rebuilder. It is in God's very nature to work the miraculous, and to restore hope to those who are broken.

For those who are hopeless, I offer this testimony as living proof of God's miraculous, all-encompassing love and provision in the lives of His children, as well as a testament to the very real and eminent nature of sin and death, exacerbated and perpetuated by an enemy who roams like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1st Peter 5:8). Our faith alone does not make us impervious to the Evil One, but rather gives us the mechanism through which to combat his objectives and claim victory through Christ Jesus our Lord. It is only through His infinite grace that I am afforded the opportunity to write this message of hope to those who are suffering, and encouragement to those who desire to help them in a way that is effective and glorifying to the Lord. 

The Subject of Suicide:

The subject of suicide has become taboo in American society. In many ways, this is entirely understandable. The topic does not make for pleasant dinner conversation. Frankly, it does not make for good conversation at all in nearly every social context. For some, it is simply a morbid and unsavory talking point. For others, it is a painful reminder of the loss of family, friends, or acquaintances to fatal, self-inflicted wounds. Above all, it is a stark reminder of the very real cost of human suffering, and of life laid to waste by hopelessness and despair. It is a very real issue, and an equally important one. 

I write this note predicated upon a foundation consisting of four pillars: 1) honesty, 2) sensitivity, 3) exposure, and 4) hope. I pray fervently that this letter would serve as a spark to a helpful and meaningful dialogue, as well as uplift, encourage, and give hope to those who are or know someone who is struggling with this issue. More importantly, this letter is intended to glorify Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, without whom I would not be presently typing this letter. The personal testimony recounted here is a testament to the power and presence of God in the lives of hopeless, broken people, whose worth and value are inestimable to a Savior whose strength is made perfect in weakness. Life and relationship are the most precious gifts we have been given by God, both in temporal and eternal contexts, and it is my hope that these words would instill not only a deeper compassion and understanding concerning those who are suffering from suicidal thoughts and behavior, but an insatiable desire for life, lived to the full in Christ.

As a disclaimer. I must also confess that I am not an expert on the topic of suicide. I do not hold degrees in psychology or biology, and do not consider myself particularly well-versed in either of these fields. I speak strictly from my limited research and experience. Any factual errors or inadequate explanations are faults of my own, and should not diminish the serious nature of this topic.

The Statistics:

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), 12 of every 100,000 Americans committed suicide in the year 2009. This may seem an insignificant sum in the grand scheme of population number-crunching, but such a number is equal to 36,909 deaths annually. Additionally, the AFSP reports that nearly 100,000 Americans make a suicide attempt every year. On an annual rubric, the rate of suicide in the United States is at its highest level since 1993 ( In 2008, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) labeled suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Statistically, 11 suicides are attempted for every successful endeavor, reinforcing the numbers reported by the AFSP concerning the ratio of suicides that are attempted each year ( According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in their annual National Vital Statistics Report, suicide in the United States constitutes three times more fatalities per year than homicide ( On a global scale, particularly given the current volatile state of the world economy, suicide rates have skyrocketed, especially in Western Europe ("Debt Most Deadly", Newsweek, 2012). Particularly in the nations of South Korea and Lithuania, suicide has been perennially considered one of the leading causes of death nationally, with rates of up to 30 persons per 100,000 committing suicide each year.

The Roots and Demographics of Suicidal Behavior: 

Such statistical data is certainly striking enough to give pause to even the most skeptical of souls. However, numbers alone do not fully encapsulate the issues surrounding suicide, its causes, or its impact on the lives of millions each year. It is imperative to understand the emotional, biological, spiritual, and psychological motivations behind suicide attempts before one can helpfully participate in the prevention of such actions. The roots of suicidal thoughts and behavior are as diverse and varied as the individuals who suffer from them, and are by no means easily compartmentalized. According to the NIMH, major depression, family history, broken relationships, physiological and neurological imbalances, and post-traumatic stress all can serve as primary motivators for suicidal tendencies, impacting the ways in which the brain processes and reacts to emotional and intellectual stimuli on a daily basis. However, these are by no means the only significant patterns existent within suicidal behavior. Age also plays an important role when dissecting suicide rates internationally, as well as gender. According to analysis compiled by the AFSP, the older an individual is, the more likely he or she is to commit suicide. Additionally, men tend to successfully commit suicide at a higher rate than women, although women make more attempts per year. Judging by these factors, it can be deduced that the roots of suicide are expansive and highly individualistic, creating many dilemmas when attempting to address the topic in a statistical, academic, and/or scientific fashion.

The above statements are by no means attempts to boil down suicide to a science, or ignore the deep-seated spiritual and emotional issues entangled within this topic. Rather, they are intended to present an accurate description of current research on the subject, highlighting the serious and diverse nature of this tragic global malady. 

So... Why Talk About It?

I had never fully contemplated or understood the implications of the act of suicide before I decided to take my own life. The subject has rarely been broached in my family due to its prevalence on both sides. On the whole, the topic of suicide has been neglected by society at large, and particularly within the Christian community. It is not an easy topic to broach, nor is it in nearly every context an enjoyable and fulfilling conversational experience. However, popular neglect of this topic does not facilitate its removal from society, nor does it offer effective methods of understanding and assistance to those who contemplate ending their lives. Due to the lack of positive exposure this topic receives, many individuals who stand on the brink of suicide feel intense isolation, guilt, and shame due to their feelings, and often do not express their struggles for fear of further humiliation. I speak strongly in this regard and without reference because my words stem from experience. 

Recently, I attempted to end my own life. I had planned this event thoroughly and with conviction, down to the slightest detail. For the first time in my life, my entire being was overwhelmed by complete and utter hopelessness. Two years of silent depression, broken relationships, feelings of inadequacy and total failure, and an oppressive fog of confusion and despair culminated in an attempt to commit a selfish act from a heart that I sincerely believed to be broken beyond repair. 

The night my life should have ended, God intervened, proving beyond doubt that even the best laid plans of men cannot withstand the power of God to save, restore, and renew the lives of His children. As proclaimed in Zepheniah 3:17, the Lord my God was in my midst, and was indeed mighty to save.

As I prepared that night for my expected end, my plan went inexplicably awry. The mechanisms through which I had planned to terminate myself, present within my home just days before, could not be found. Anywhere. Seemingly vanished into thin air. Undeterred, I went instead toward the first of several contingency plans. Subsequently, these various contingency plans fell through one by one in what can be explained as none other than miraculous means. The bizarre circumstances that kept me from executing my very meticulously planned death can only be described as divine intervention. Frantic and broken, I grabbed my keys and headed to my truck, determined to find oblivion. As I reached for the doorknob of my front door, I heard my phone vibrate from within my room. Oddly compelled, I returned to my room to check this message. It was a simple text from my 14 year old sister, from whom I receive a text at maximum once or twice per month. This text message consisted of a reference to Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, and was followed by the words "I love you". At that moment, my resolve for self-destruction snapped. I fell to the floor and wept for I am unsure how long. Utterly spent, I crawled into my bed, held my bible to my chest, and fitfully slept. If not for that text message and the intervention of the Lord, I would not be alive to write to you this message that is so deeply impressed upon my heart. 

Suicide is not a punchline. It is not a simple compilation of statistics. It is a frightful reality in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions worldwide. It is a method utilized by the Enemy to extinguish the most precious gift we have been given by God: life. It exists in every facet and corner of society; within every socioeconomic, religious, and ethnic group on earth. It is destructive not only to the lives of those who attempt or commit suicide, but to all who love and care for these individuals. It is an issue that must be addressed.

What should we then do?

Suicide Prevention:

With the above information in tow, it is now imperative to stress that there is an incredible amount of hope for prevention and recovery for individuals who suffer from suicidal thoughts and behaviors and those who care for them. There is hope for recovery. Hope for healing. Hope for the full restoration of the promise of life, made full and complete through the blood of Christ. As we are told through scripture, God has plans only for our good, that we may have a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). For those who suffer, here are some important things to consider and remember:

1) You Are Not Alone, and You Are Loved: When in the midst of suicidal contemplation, there is an enormous amount of shame, guilt, and isolation that exists within ones mind and heart. It is important for you to realize that you are not alone, you are not forgotten, and that you are loved by God. There is no shame in your hurt, and no condemnation to be found in the arms of Christ. Your life is precious to God, and is worth the price of His son, who came to earth as a sacrifice so that you may have life, and life to the full. Remember that your life is infinitely precious to God, and that your existence is purposeful, meaningful, and significant in the eyes of the Creator of the Universe. You are not alone, and you are loved.

2) Talk to Someone You Trust: It is very difficult to express your heart to another in an honest fashion concerning any topic, let alone your very life. It makes you open, exposed, and vulnerable. But this is exactly what you must be in order to fully combat your feelings of despair and hopelessness. I cannot stress this point more strongly. It is absolutely imperative that you open your heart to trusted individuals and be honest concerning your plight. Without open and honest communication, it is extremely difficult for others to help you in your struggle. In humility and honesty, you must open your heart to those you trust. A pastor, a parent, a sibling, a dear friend, or all of the above. It is very important to establish honest communication habits that foster an open dialogue, accountability, and trust. 

3) Distance Yourself From Negative Emotional Triggers: If there is a song that feeds your feelings of hurt and destruction, delete it. If there is a book or story that causes you to feel inadequate, guilty, or full of despair, get rid of it. Scripture clearly teaches this principle in Matthew 5:29, and encourages us in Philippians 4:8 to meditate on things that are noble, pure, true, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Your feelings of negativity and despair will not easily or quickly subside, but feeding these emotions will only serve to prolong and exacerbate emotional decline. Know your triggers, avoid them, and replace them with things that promote peace.

4) Seek Medical Attention: Particularly in cases of moderate to severe depression, suicidal thoughts and behavior become increasingly common. For some, much of this could be due to biological or physiological imbalances, perpetuating further feelings of despair and frustration. If you have been in a consistent state of depression for many weeks or months, it may be necessary to seek the attention of your physician. If you are uncertain concerning the biological nature of your symptoms, there are a plethora of resources online and in print (medical and psychiatric journals, WebMD, etc) that are easily accessible and can assist you in determining whether or not your emotional state could be attributable to physiological causes. If able, seek the counsel of your physician to determine whether or not further medical attention may be necessary. If you have attempted suicide, see your doctor immediately.

In my own struggle, each of the above have proven themselves to be enormously beneficial in my road to full recovery and healing. It is imperative that you do not remain silent in your struggle. There is hope, help, and healing for you. It is in God's heart to restore and heal you, to repair your life like the dried bones of Ezekiel 37. There is radical hope for the broken. There is grace for those who suffer in the arms of Christ. As the church, it is our commission to serve as the active, living hands and feet of Christ in the lives of the lost, broken, and hurting. Within the body of Christ, there are many who silently struggle for their very lives. We must be the hands that lift them, the arms that hold them in the love of Christ, and the feet that walk with them through their journey. 

With sincerity and humility, I dearly love you all. God bless you and keep you through His son, who paid the ultimate price so that we may live.

In Him,


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

logical colons.

I don't do logic. Ever heard the saying "you can have too much of a good thing?" Of course you have, because you wanted to purchase a more-than-acceptable amount of candy in the presence of an adult. In the grown-up world, logic is everywhere, and there's too much of it around all the time, regardless of how good it is.
It's at work: "no, we don't need a pool installed out back"; in church: "you're not a child, don't go up to the front when he says it's time for the children's sermon"; and in writing: "that's not how you use semi-colons and colons."
Well world that tells me how to use punctuation, may your colon explode for some reason unexpectedly one day.

None of this worked, my wife said I still needed to shave off the second half of my mustache and get out of kitchen because it wasn't a restroom. So I stepped out of the sleeping bag, untied my boots, took them off and put on a shirt, then stomped upstairs to the bathroom to sulk.

Logic is ruining our planet.
When I was a kid, if a bully came up to you and said brusquely "What up. I'm a bully and I'm gonna punch you in your face if you don't give me your lunch money" the correct response would be to grab the nearest light saber and fight him off the nearest cliff, because in real life bullies never spoke that way. It was a dream. Not logical.
Nowadays if a bully says that to you I'm told kids are supposed to reach in their pockets and hand him their money then go find the nearest adult and explain calmly to them exactly what happened. This is logical. Do you not see the problem though? LOGIC MAKES AWESOME FIGHTS EXTINCT.
I was in high school when I got in my first fight. What happened? I'll tell you. I lost. I lost completely. It was astonishing the sheer volume of losing that one skinny little white guy was handed, and yet I took every bit of it. Did I cry? Absolutely. Why? Because.
Ask me this though, did I lose the next fight? No. I chose it very carefully, at a time and place of my own choosing. I wasn't going to let another big Hawaiian kid get the best of me again. So I waited until the time was right, then I chose a kid much smaller and weaker than myself.
"Get off the slide."
"But it's my turn!"
"Not any more it isn't."
"Aw man! Okay." And he stepped off the ladder. That was it. I won with almost no bloodshed. Scraped my knee at the bottom of the slide because I came off it sideways, but no biggie. I was tough and didn't tell anyone, I just got water from the water fountain and drank it instead. Ever seen a pro boxing match? UFC fight? Wrestling championship? What's the first thing they do when it's over? Drink some water. Exactly like I did. Stand down.

To you, logical world, I ask this: which ended better – the fight I lost logically, or the second fight I won illogically? The second, of course.
Logic is also demanding. You have to use it all the time, like toilet paper. Who originally proposed that idea for a hipster startup?

"We need something people will keep coming back for over and over again for the rest of their lives."
"Already been invented, Steve."
"Oh, sorry. Um… batteries?"
"No Steve. If it has a name then it's already been invented and we can't use it for an awesome startup."
"Oh, sorry. Um… knackeries?"
"What's knackeries, Steve?"
"Don't know. But it isn't a thing yet, we could use that, right?"
"No Steve. We can't. Let's just use our original idea and make using your hand to wipe a really gross thing and sell people paper instead."
"Sounds good. Like letters and journals and books and stuff?"
"No, like butt-kleenex."

Once someone finds out that you know how to use logic, you're expected to use it all the time, every time, and I find that high of maintenance exhausting. Folks should learn to drive to the store in reverse every once in a while, just to break free of the chains that bind society. Free yourself up from the butt-kleenex and get creative. Stick it to the status quo and disobey logic occasionally, I think you'll find it exhilarating. Like using colons however you please.

What am I listening to right now? A lecture on the environment given at a Korean summit. Do I speak Korean? No. Will I let that limit my mind expanding into unknown territories, just because it's "illogical"? Definitely not:

Friday, June 8, 2012


I’ve rarely met a wall I ended up hating. Walls are like people: most of them get along with me, and I with them. You can mostly depend on walls. I say mostly because one time I tipped my Dad’s wheely office chair backwards and the wall moved so I fell and hit my head on the floor. Got mad about that one. Did the wall move? Psh. Of course not, where do we live, Narnialand? No. The wall didn’t move which is good, because that would be stupid. What the wall also DIDN’T do was lean forward just enough to catch me. Which is why I got mad at that particular wall. Was it the wall’s fault? Let’s talk about that for a minute.

No. Good talk.

It wasn’t the wall’s fault because walls don’t move. They can’t. I learned that at a very early age.
"Wait, what did he learn?"
I learned that because something can’t do something to stop something else from happening doesn’t mean you don’t necessarily get mad at that thing that didn’t do what you wanted it to do.
Case in point. Gas prices. You mad at them? Probably. Is it the gas prices fault that they’re so high? No. They aren’t smoking anything illegal, otherwise it would be their fault they are as high as they are, but they’re not, so it isn’t. That doesn’t mean you’re not mad at them though. I hear you, standing in line at your grocery stores and after church. “Gas prices” you say. “They’re so high!” And you’re mad about it. Which is cool, cause I’m mad too.

When I fell that early October morning (yes, it was October) and hit my head against that particular wall, my sister was watching. She laughed at me. “Why are you mad at the wall?” she sneered, with her sneering face. “Because it wasn’t there and it was supposed to be” I explained, only driving her vicious mirth onward. To you, laughing sister, I present this: how happy were you when you last filled up your minivan? That’s what I thought. Gas prices are pretty high, aren't they?
And the wall wasn't where it was supposed to be.
I only recently (two months ago) acquired all the words in my vocabulary necessary to complete the mammoth task of documenting this phenomenon. After extensive research I’ve determined that my ability to reason at this level of complexity at such an early age as this instance occurred (seventeen and a half) meant I had a very special gift of extreme intelligence.

For six months of my life I was a child prodigy. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Lots of people have too much ears. My wife would kindly point out "Sweetie, that isn't correct grammar" but in this case, she hasn't read what I've written yet. So it is correct grammar. Because the issue isn't the way the words are arrange or in what tense I'm writing – in fact I'm very relaxed right now, not tense at all – the issue is, plainly put, each ear just has too much ear to it. Not anything startling mind you. Just enough that while you're speaking to/with them, you privately notice "wow. God blessed you with some ears there champ, didn't he?" It doesn't matter how proper and composed you are, it's a unique fact of life that if someone has a physical anomaly attached to either side of their head, the rest of the world is obligated to notice.
This is 2012. Why haven't we (and by "we" I obviously mean some mildly overweight dude in his 50's) invented a solution to this problem that plagues America? I'm not being sarcastic either. "But James, you must be sarcastic. You can't mean that seriously." Oh, I do mean it. In all sincerity. Because I'm 24 and somehow have "all" the planet's sincerity within my grasp. I say that this is a problem that plagues America because it is A.) a problem and B.) because this is America. Gone are the plagues of locust, rivers turning to blood and crickets who play the banjo. We have entered into a new era. One where we have normal, everyday conversations with folks who have extremely large ears and pretend they don't know we're holding back our comments. If society allowed it I'm sure many people would come out with public statements such as "Yeah, I saw you there while we were talking. I could tell you were listening to me but you were distracted by my huge ears. I knew you weren't just talking with me about sports, you were really just not talking about my massive, oversized ears." But this is the world of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. The truth is held captive and the world is forced to stay silent on the topic of large ears.
Not me. I stand before you clean and reconciled like a freshly mopped floor (yes, I know how to mop). No longer am I bound by the chains of other's physical features. I am free. You, random sir, and you, random ma'am, have large ears. And I can't stop looking at them. The fart in the room is out in the air and you may sniff if you like, but I for one, feel much, much better.