Faith Grief

Where Words Fail

I don’t really know how to begin talking about this. It’s a very unnatural feeling, to be simultaneously heartbroken and utterly confused beyond belief at the same time. I think a lot of folks are feeling that way regarding the tragic passing of Richard Logan, his wife Diana and their son Aaron.

In the air hang a million questions all without answers. Like so many taunting mosquitoes that just refuse to buzz off.

By all accounts, Richard was a good man. His life was marked by compassion and service to others. He took great joy in drawing near to the weak, the helpless, the needy. Whether it was troubled youth in need of a father figure, or poor Ugandans in need of clean water and a roof over their head, Richard was there helping.

In many ways, Richard was drawn to those God is most drawn too.

Richard was my youth pastor. I went on two service trips to Mexico that he led. When I graduated high school, while others gifted money (which I appreciated), he gifted me the devotional My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. In college, he offered me a summer internship focusing on local missions. We took a trip to Guatemala that summer together with the organization Living Water. I remember sharing a hotel room, and him telling me how he missed his family, even during such a short time away.

To me, there was never anything even remotely off about Richard, which makes the current situation even more confusing. He loved God and he loved people, plain and simple. That much was evident.

What we are forced to come to grips with now is that clearly there was another side of Richard that none (or very few) of us knew about. As someone who has struggled with depression and mental illness myself, evidently that played a heavy role in his life, as it does for many who are outwardly successful. I only wish he had the opportunity and the courage to open up about it before such devastating consequences could be felt.

What is even more disturbing and perplexing is that Richard was clearly a man who God used to accomplish His purposes. When we see the favor of God in someone’s life, we automatically perceive that person to be good and right, and perhaps even a better person than we are ourselves.

This is a fatal mistake in human judgement, but one that is easily understandable. As Romans teaches, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Apart from Christ, both Mother Theresa and Adolf Hitler are on equal footing before God.

Another flaw in our reasoning is that we often equate good works to be synonymous with a good person. But as Isaiah reveals, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

Again, Jesus teaches in Matthew regarding the final judgment, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

So what are we to make of a supposed righteous man who has allegedly committed the most abhorrent of evil? Frankly, we may be dismayed, saddened and tragically speechless, but a proper understanding of the human condition should not leave us completely caught off guard. As a good friend counseled me recently, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” 

We do not like to think of ourselves capable of horrible atrocities; of unimaginable evil, something so vile and twisted it causes us to squirm and shudder inside. Only the rapists, murderers and genocidal maniacs are capable of such things, we tell ourselves.

But yet, this is exactly what was perpetrated to Christ on the Cross on our behalf. And He endured it. Silently.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

    yet he opened not his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he opened not his mouth.”

Isaiah 53:7

Regardless of the magnitude of the sin we commit on earth, it is all wicked and detestable in God’s eyes. He cannot tolerate even the slightest whiff of sin in His presence, which is why Jesus was sent to earth to accomplish our collective reconciliation to the Father.

I do not presume to know or judge exactly what transpired in the Logan household earlier this week. I am merely attempting to explain and understand how such an act could even possibly occur, given our assumptions and what we knew about Richard. The only way I know how to do this is by reading and interpreting the Word of God.

I am praying for Ambrielle Logan, and for each and every life that has been affected through this horrible tragedy. I am asking the Holy Spirit to comfort and to counsel those who are hurting and those who are confused.

What I can be certain of is that God reigns supreme and sovereign over every human act committed on earth. May we look longingly forward to the return of Christ and the ushering in of the new heaven and the new earth so vividly foretold in Revelation:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:3-4

May that new and glorious reality come quickly, Father.

Faith Spirituality

The False Teaching that’s More Prevalent than the Prosperity Gospel

Do you ever get that feeling that something around you isn’t quite right? Like what you’re hearing and what you’re experiencing are two different realities that aren’t matching up to each other?

I’ve been feeling that way about American Christianity for a while now, but haven’t really been able to put my finger on it until recently.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. The realization that there is indeed a common Christian teaching going around that is more insidious and more subtly false than the prosperity gospel. The best name to describe it is this: self-help Christianity.

The Dilemma

I fell victim to this teaching for quite a while myself, because it sounded right and fed a lot of the doubts and insecurities I had about my faith. Self-help Christianity is fond of maxims like “deep down, you’re really a great person”, and “ultimately, God wants you to be happy.” Or how about “learn to love yourself.” Sounds pretty good right?

The problem is, that’s not at all what the Bible teaches. It’s kinda like western New Ageism and historical Christianity had a child and it was — this.

The problem with self-help Christianity is that it removes God from his rightful position of authority and power and places you (the self) at the center of the solution to life’s problems.

If only you could know yourself deeper and more intimately, then you would finally break through to the next level of happiness/success/whatever. If you take the time and energy to get your needs met, then you’ll finally be able to fulfill your true purpose (spoiler: you are not designed to meet your own needs).

The main issue with this teaching is that it assumes people are innately good at heart, and capable of having a positive impact on the world by undergoing a process of self-discovery. In fact, this could not be further from what the Bible teaches.

I subscribed to self-help Christianity during a period in my life when I was searching for purpose. I had just left another job (the 2nd in 9 months) out of disillusionment and despair. I was feeling repressed, like my talents weren’t fully being utilized (how millennial can you get?), and just generally bored with the whole thing. I set off on a journey to discover what I was really meant to do.

The problem was (and I realized this later), a career was never meant to give me the satisfaction I was expecting to get from it. I was trying to fill the God-sized hole in my heart with work, success, and self-realization. And it was woefully insufficient.

The Solution

The good news is, because self-help Christianity falls so woefully short in solving the big issues of life, it points us towards the ultimate truth: that there is a creator God who designed humans to find complete satisfaction and fulfillment through worshipping and glorifying Him.

It’s a paradox really, the idea that the only way to truly ‘help’ ourselves is to give up all autonomy and control of our lives. This idea flies in the face of our enlightenment-tinged paradigms, but it remains true nonetheless.

If you’re struggling in some area of your life, I invite you to stop trying to ‘help’ yourself (because I can assure you it’s not going to work). As one of my favorite authors Tim Keller says,

“We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

Oh what a relief to realize we don’t have to be the solution to the world’s problems (or even our own!). Let’s come and find our true help at the cross of Jesus Christ.

Adventure Faith Spirituality Travel

Should Christians Do Long Term World Travel?

This is a question I have been wrestling with for a few weeks now. As I’ve spent the last 3+ months tramping all up and down Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, I’ve come to a point where I am mightily fatigued of being a tourist. I’m still enjoying being abroad and exploring, but a part of me really desires stability, structure, and just to feel like a normal person again.

My life for 26 days
My life for 26 days

I feel like I’ve hit the point where I’ve realized, this is no longer just a vacation. This is my life for the foreseeable future. When you’re on vacation you do things like cram as much as possible into a tight time window. You set up itineraries and book flights and make hotel bookings. I haven’t made an advanced hotel booking in over 10 weeks. Even when I crossed into Vietnam and arrived in Saigon at 3:30 am, I just took a mototaxi into the city and wandered around and made noise until someone from a guest house poked their head out. It’s a completely different mindset when you become accustomed to another culture and begin to understand how things operate. You start to lose your fear.

But while that’s all grand and well, some days I daydream about mundane things like going to a park to play frisbee golf. Or Chick-Fil-A, I daydream about their sandwiches. Or even the other day I went to see a Hollywood movie with friends, and it felt really nice to experience something familiar again.


Back home, the struggle was always trying to avoid boredom. Out on the road, the struggle is to not romanticize how that boredom felt and want it back. Because at least the boredom was familiar, it was predictable. You knew it was there if you wanted it, and sometimes even if you didn’t. Schedules and routines felt like cozy fireplaces. When in reality, at the time you thought they felt more like shackles to a life you weren’t entirely sure you wanted.

I suppose “the grass is always greener” aptly describes the traveler and non-traveler’s struggles alike. We tend to want what we don’t have, or maybe even what we used to have. But what we have now is never fully appreciated in the moment.

Hanging Around on Monkey Island
Hanging Around on Monkey Island

And finally, that brings me to the title of this post. Should Christians travel? Specifically solo long-term world travel? Is it possible to have a balanced and thriving spiritual life while your daily life, your bed, and your relationships are constantly changing? Is continual movement the catalyst for growth? Or does structure foster stability which in turn yields deep roots in a community?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, nor am I particularly looking for advice into my personal life. I’m just curious if anyone else has experienced similar thoughts.


For the time being I am resolved to travel a little slower, see a little less and soak up a little more. I’ll let a place show me what is, rather than always running around trying to find out for myself. Because after all, I have a pretty darn good life right now. And while I think our desires morph and change as we get older, gratitude and appreciation for what you have is beneficial no matter your age or what you want out of life.

So for now, I’ll just breathe. Breathe in the moments of life while they’re still here.


Adventure Backpacking Travel

The Villagers Got Me Drunk, and Other Jungle Stories

Well I swear I didn’t plan it this way.

Last week I took a 3 day/2 night jungle trekking trip into the Nam Ha National Forest in northern Laos. Adventures ensued, including getting thrown in the river twice due my poor kayaking skills, and the aforementioned escapades in the village we stayed at the second night.

Jungle Biker Bro

It turns out, the day after we arrived they were electing a new chief (who is actually the same chief they’ve had for the last 8 years), and a celebration was in order. I slept horribly that night, and so decided to forgo the last day of trekking and instead stay in the village.

Bon Appétit!
Bon Appétit!

Little did I know just exactly what I was in for.

It turns out, Laos is hot; and the jungle is steamy. In order to cope with this, the men (and women) partake of a certain locally distilled rice whiskey affectionately known as “Lao Lao.” And they are especially generous in sharing this creation.

"Who Make Party" indeed
“Who Make Party” indeed

But it was election day after all, how could I refuse their generosity? So we drank and we danced (Lao traditional), and I got to be part of something only a minute percentage of westerners will ever experience.

These girls were adorable
These girls were adorable

The people here are beautiful.

Their lives are much different than ours, but their spirit is incredibly welcoming. Never once have I felt unsafe or in danger, even walking around the streets at night. There is a beautiful quality of simplicity that pervades the mountainous countryside.

As they say, this is Laos PDR – “Please don’t rush.” I’ve learned to let go of my western schedules and timetables, and be open to traveling on a bus that takes 9 hours to go 300 km, and stops frequently to pick up various people and cargo along the way.

Looks pretty. Don't eat.
Looks pretty. Don’t eat.

I’ve currently been in the same city (Luang Prabang) for almost a week, and feel like it has been a good amount of time to soak up and experience the vibe. Since I’m blessed enough to not have a set return date (yet), I’m able to walk around and spend more time in places that other backpackers might have to rush through.


Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts 🙂

Khob chai!



What am I going to Thailand for?

I’ve struggled to articulate an answer when people ask me. I don’t know exactly, I just know that I’m supposed to go. I don’t have a plan, I don’t have some elaborate scheme or five-point action plan to win Thailand for the Gospel. I don’t have any of that. All I have is me and what God has chosen to give to me. All I know is I was given the means to come out here, and so I came. That’s pretty much it. The only book I brought with me was my ESV study bible, so I guess I’m pretty prepared. *sarcasm*

Something has been rubbing me recently, a thought about how we live our lives that I can’t seem to shake. It seems that the vast majority of people (Christians included) are intensely preoccupied with earning a living and taking care of their families. Not a bad thing, surely. There are far worse things to be doing… But are there also far better?

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He did not mince his parting words to the disciples. Many of his teachings are presented in parable form, which inherently invites confusion and misinterpretation. Not so with the great commission. It is as clear as clear can be. And I cannot help but think He meant it that way.

So why is there such a disconnect then? Why does the church more often feel like a religious social club instead of the forceful, relentless vehicle of the Gospel that it was designed to be?

Is it wealth that has blinded our reading of the scriptures? Is it a desire for cultural relevance and acceptance that fuels our messages?

The bottom line is this – a church that is not growing is a church that is dying. We are living in the end times, but we’ve lost the urgency possessed by the apostles and the early converts. Jesus could come back any day (or hour), and I can’t help but think His reaction would be “wait, what are you doing? Is this what I told you to do?”

Being a Christian means taking to heart what the Bible says, even if it looks weird. And in fact, it should look weird. If it’s not weird, it’s probably watered-down and not actually the Gospel.

What I’m saying is this – if you look at the world, you’re going to get distracted by worldly things. If you look at Jesus, you’re going to get caught up in His mission. It’s as simple as that.

Oh and that whole eternal life thing? It’s here for the believer to experience now, not just after we die and become floating angel babies in heaven.

I don’t want to discredit the work of the American Church, because it certainly has done some good things. But at the same time, social-economic trends would indicate that America is going the way of Europe and other westernized nations (predominantly secular). Religion is tolerated but becoming less and less important, and church-goers are less and less engaged.

And that is what’s frightening. Something else has filled the God-need inside each one of us, and I’m scared to think it might be ourselves. American wealth and prosperity, decoupled from a sincere desire to know the Lord and obey his commands, will be the downfall of our country. It’s the same story that’s been told over and over throughout history.

I know some will disagree with me, but that’s why this is a blog – a place where I can vocalize my opinions and not be afraid of being wrong.

Anyways, I am in Thailand now, and I will be posting more stories, thoughts & possibly even some musings. Stay tuned.

Here's to new beginnings
Here’s to new beginnings


When you’ve been hurt by the church


I want to preface this post by saying that though this a subject I have personal experience with, it is not a fresh wound in the sense I am not writing out of spite or anger, or any motivation other than a sincere desire to see those who have strayed come back into the fold.

That being said, it breaks my heart any time I hear stories of how someone’s perception of God was permanently altered because of a negative experience they had with a pastor or other member of their local congregation. These events range on the scale from the inconvenient to the downright traumatic. What do you do when something painful happens to you? What can you do? It can be awkward and very difficult to navigate these situations, but fortunately there are steps you can take to facilitate healing and move forward.

1. Know that it WILL happen, if it hasn’t already

I don’t mean this as a foreboding prophecy, but every believer who is actively engaging with a community of faith will be hurt in one way or another at some point in time. It’s just the nature of living and doing life with other people, and it’s nothing new either. We should never be surprised when the pain and suffering of the world infects a local church community.

2. Own what is yours, and let go of the rest

It can be tempting to want to lash out, immediately move on from the incident, or just ignore it altogether. None of these responses are particularly helpful to the wounded or the offender. If you had some participation in the offending incident, however minuscule it may be, offer your apologies for that portion. It will release some of the gangrene attempting to fester in your heart.

3. If needed, seek out help and a safe environment for healing

If the event that transpired was traumatic, you should likely seek outside help from a counselor who can offer a non-biased assessment of the situation. If you have attempted to reconcile with the offender, but they don’t seem interested or won’t admit they did anything wrong, it may be wise to remove yourself from the situation altogether, if only for a season. Pray that God would provide you with a safe community of believers who can support through your trying time.

4. Being hurt by the church is never God’s heart, and also never a reason to resent or reject him entirely

Because so often the perpetrator is a pastor or other leader in the church, it can be very easy to associate that person’s actions with God’s heart for us. This is almost never the case. It is certainly warranted to express your anger and pain towards God, wondering how or why this could happen. But using a hurtful pastor as a reason for rejecting God is like claiming a sick sheep is evidence of an unloving shepherd. Things happen. People get sick and hurt each other. Jesus is the Great Physician who has already and continues to absorb all the hurts of the believer unto Himself.

5. There are healthy communities out there

Don’t give up hope! If you’re like me, you may be tempted to use a hurtful incident as an excuse to detach and remove yourself from the church body. This almost always goes badly. We were designed to live life with others, and our flourishing depends on speaking and receiving the truth of the Gospel. God is capable of redeeming every painful experience to bring more glory to Himself. And that, thankfully, is extremely loving.

What are your thoughts? Is there anything you agree/disagree with? I know this is a very personal issue, but it’s one I would like to see more discourse on in the faith community.


Millennial Identity Crisis


This past weekend I saw the WWII movie “Fury” starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf. Overall I thought it was a good flick, not quite on the level of war classics like Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, but entertaining enough to justify a couple hours on a Friday night.

As I sat there through the canon fire and the Nazi slaughter, I was struck by the subtle attitude in the characters’ zealous belief that what they were doing was not only justified, but even necessary for their (and their loved ones’) very survival. “Best job I ever had” is a common phrase uttered throughout.

And then it hit me – our generation (Millennials) has nothing like what the WWII generation had. We have no great evil to defeat, no supreme national cause for which to labor for, perhaps not even a better future in which to hope in. Instead we are left to squabble in online forums over whose football team is better, or worse, which celebrity wore it best *gag*.

In short, a lot of us don’t quite know yet who we are or what we’re aiming for. But the great paradox is that, more than anything else, Millennials desire meaning in the work that we do and the ways in which we conduct our lives. It’s certainly not for lack of desire that we’ve wandered astray into meaningless endeavors.

So what are the obstacles hindering our pursuit of a healthy and meaning-filled life? How can we recenter our identity away from social media perception? Aside from having no great uniting conflict (which I am mostly thankful for), I believe there are 3 main hindrances which must be addressed before we can truly move forward in the life each one of us desires.

  • Student Debt – This one is huge, and could be an entire post unto itself. We’ve financed higher education on the strained backs of our future selves. If you don’t know it already, your debt is an emergency. Just like a medical emergency, it requires your immediate and focused attention. The longer you delay in paying it off, the more you shackle your future self to a fixed life path. Having options = Freedom.
  • Complicated Family Situations – The sad truth is, divorce has wrecked havoc on our perception of marriage and the family unit; so much so that some of us are choosing to forgo marriage altogether. Until we deal with our broken attitudes toward the opposite sex, we are destined to repeat the mistakes of our parents’ generation.
  • We are Incredibly Selfish – And most of us are blind to it. To be fair, this isn’t entirely our fault. Our parents took the ‘you can do whatever you want when you grow up’ mentality to the extreme, and as a result we’ve grown to expect things when we haven’t earned or worked for them. Few things are as repulsive as entitlement. Choosing to daily combat your inner pride is an extremely difficult, but worthy, charge to take up.

Yikes. So now that we’ve heard the bad news, what hope do we have to be a generation that makes a positive impact on the world around us?

Thankfully, there is hope. By working on our personal issues before choosing a spouse, we make it not only possible, but perhaps even probable, to stay married for life.

By buckling down and getting tough on consumerism and overspending now, we afford our future selves much greater opportunity to pursue work that we love, and still get paid for doing it.

By centering in on what is truly important, namely our relationships and the ways in which we treat people, we give ourselves the chance to leave a legacy much bigger than just our work and our bank account.

Though we may not have a great war to fight, or even a great evil to dismantle, Millennials still have hope for a purpose-driven identity. It just might take a little extra digging around to find it.

Any thoughts? What are your greatest obstacles to a meaning-filled life? Leave a comment below!


25 Life Lessons from an Almost 25 Year Old

1. Don’t take yourself so seriously

Seriously. Life is fun. Lighten up!

2. Be honest with yourself

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Some old dead guy

3. Accept your limitations

You are not superman. You are human. You are enough.

4. Persevere in developing your strengths

You are uniquely wired and gifted for a reason. Honor your Creator (and help the rest of us) by using your gifts!

5. Give thanks for every single day you’re given

Tim McGraw had a thing or two to say about this.

6. Appreciate the people in your life

Read Top 5 Regets of the Dying. All of them involve people to a certain extent.

7. Shoot for the stars

Aim for the moon, and even if you miss, Russia still has a space program 😉

8. Tell your parents you love them

No matter the complications surrounding your relationship with them, the fact is they probably sacrificed a lot to give you things they didn’t have. Give Mom a call! She will very much appreciate it 🙂

9. Tell him/her how you really feel

This one goes back to No. 2. Yes rejection might hurt, but it’s far far better than never telling them at all. Take a risk.

10. Create

We were designed “to work and to keep” the earth.  Be your domain Art, Science, Accounting, or Underwater Basket Weaving, create with everything you have!

11. Find the positive

It’s there I promise. Don’t be a negative nancy.

12. Run toward your dreams

Let me say that again. RUN. Don’t just saunter or jog or dance around in a vague direction. Set your compass towards what you truly want and don’t slow down till you get there!

13. Travel

Experience the world outside your world.

“A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao-Tzu

14. Embrace the hurt

Hurting moments can be learning moments. But sometimes they’re just hurting moments. Don’t despise the growth and change you’re being forced to undergo.

15. Smile

It’s healthy! 🙂

16. Share your life

Don’t be a lone ranger. Share yourself with others. Live in Community. We need you!

17. Be true to yourself

Don’t be a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Or even a sheep in another sheep’s clothing. Just wear your own damn clothes.

18. Inspire others

Practice numbers 1 – 17 and this one is a gimme.

19. Unplug and Listen

The world we live in is a Distraction Machine. Take a hike, get out in the sticks, and leave your battery-powered devices behind!

20. Hug often

If you’re like me and you need your fill of physical touch, this is the best non-creepy way to do it!

21. Get tired

Spend yourself. Pour yourself out for a worthy cause, come home exhausted, then wake up the next day and do it again.

22. Call an old friend

Chances are, they’re probably thinking of you as well.

23. Marvel at Beauty

Be it a Picasso, Nature, the Opera, or Outer Space. Stand in wonder at something bigger than yourself.

24. Feel

Oftentimes we use substance or entertainment to numb ourselves. All feelings, euphoric or painful, demand to be felt.

25. Stay hungry, Stay foolish

– Steve Jobs 🙂

What do you think? Have any lessons of your own to contribute? Leave a comment below!