Thursday, November 8, 2012


Why I am pro-life

Each of us have defining people in our life.  Our parents, our grandparents, teachers, friends and many others have profound influences on our lives.  From each of them we pick up a characteristic, learn something, acquire a behavior and ultimately, shape the person we are to become. These influences impact who we are, but more importantly the way we each make a difference in this world.

For a lot of people abortion is certainly a touchy subject. I have no doubt that the decision to have one conjures up raw emotions, feelings of apprehension and sometimes a sense of regret. As a man, I will never have to know any of these things and I fully recognize that. And as someone who is very much pro-life it is easy for one to judge me as being so because I'm a religious zealot, right wing extremist or just against women's rights in general.  None of these are true- while my faith forms the core of who I am, I am by no means a zealot.  Right wing? Hardly- I've voted for just as many if not more Democrats in my lifetime (think Bill Nelson and Alex Sink type, not old school by any stretch) and I will tell you any day of the week one of my favorite politicians is Dianne Feinstein from California. And if you get to know me and what's in my heart, you'll know that I am not against any person's right to be happy and healthy.

No, the reason I am pro-life is because of one lady who touched my life and shaped much of the way I see the world. I am beyond blessed to have been first cousins with Lynnette. When Lynnette was born it was obvious something was not right. Born with spina bifida, a condition where the spinal cord is not fully developed or is separated at birth, Lynnette had more major surgeries in the first few hours of her life than most of us will ever know.  My aunt and uncle were told she would not last through the day, then the week, the month and so on. But they were wrong. Conventional wisdom and the best doctors in Florida were wrong.  They were wrong. So at this point you're saying to yourself, ok great, Lynnette made it, but what about the burden of caring for her.

Let me tell you about the burden. Did my aunt and uncle and their other child have to make adjustments in their life- absolutely.  But the burden was not on them- but on Lynnette.  She carried the burden of caring and loving for each and every person. I don't mean the type of hollow "I love you" we pass around.  I mean a deep, passionate love for people. There was not a home football game she missed, sitting in the center of the bleachers talking to everyone as they came by. Every year at the county fair you could find Lynnette in the same place with a hug and a firm squeeze of your hand, followed up with "Be good". And for her nephews and anyone in our hometown, she was the biggest baseball fan at the field.  While she did have her faults- rooting for the Seminoles, cheating at rummy and stealing cracked crab legs off your plate- she loved as perfectly as anyone ever could.

So back to my point- why am I pro-life? There are a lot of people in this country who do not want to be inconvenienced or "burdened" with a child, much less one who will spend their life in a wheelchair or have special needs. But I ask you- what would you miss without that special someone in your life? Lynnette was the first physically disabled person to ever graduate from our hometown high school- that's right, graduate, with a diploma. Every time I see the ramp going up to the stage I think about her and the physical mark she's left by paving the way for other disabled students in Sumter County. And then I think about the mark she left on my heart- the desire to love each and every person for who they are- not what they've done.

It's been almost two years since I answered the phone at six o'clock in the morning to hear my dad, barely able to speak, telling me that Lynnette had died unexpectedly in her sleep. Doctors said she wouldn't last 30 minutes, but God gave us over 30 years of the most loving caring person this world will ever know. Modern medicine tells us my aunt should have terminated the pregnancy. It would have been easier on my family that way.  But that's bullshit.  There, I said it like it is. We live in a world where it's all about us. For someone like Lynnette it was all about other people.  She could not run the bases like her nephews, show steers like her cousins or walk up and down the bleachers like people in our town.  But she could love.  And she could love like no other.  How many other Lynnette's could there be if we were willing to love people more than ourselves? What would this world be like if we all had a heart and mind like Lynnette? Now I ask you, how many lives are lost each day because we fear the burden they will be to us, to society, but most of all to our selfish inclinations to carry on our lives caring only for one person- ourself? 

Lynnette was not a movie star, a college professor, politician or great business person. No, she was a fine young lady in a wheelchair who I spent my summers with fishing, playing cards, eating Velveeta Shells and Cheese and loving. Her influence taught me that all life is precious- not just those that are easy and do not mess up our own plans.  It is because of her I see the value in all life.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Proverbs 13:20 NIV
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harms.

So a few days ago a friend of mine came over and critiqued my housekeeping. Let me preface this by saying I am a HORRIBLE housekeeper. I keep my kitchen and bathroom clean, but other than that, I have a bad habit of hanging on to things a lot longer than I should. As a result, I have powerpoints from freshman year for a class I'll never use...but I have them!

It kind of makes me think about housekeeping in other areas of my life. How often am I willing to hold onto grudges, instead of simply tossing them aside? Much like my old powerpoints, some things simply need to go.

I also have a picture frame that recently got broken. Inside it contains a document which is very near and dear to me, one that took years of hard work to accomplish. As I was going through things, I made the decision to ditch the frame, but to keep what was inside. It reminds me somewhat of some friendships. We spend years cultivating them, and then, over petty things they are broken, cast aside, and ultimately done. But what remains inside, the memories, the experiences, those we can carry with us, long after the shell is gone.

This may not make much sense to anyone but me, and I guess it really doesn't have to. I've learned over the last few weeks, and really this weekend, that much like Proverbs says, if we choose to walk with those who are wise we in turn grow wise. But when we walk with fools, harm is sure to come.

It's time for me to do some spiritual housecleaning, to let go of some things, to make amends with friends, and to move on from others. At the end of the day, the Lord created this house, and it is up to me to fill it with things that bring him joy.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Deuteronomy 30:19

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

It’s funny, one of the trademark reasons for not believing in God, or for believing in him, but following your own set of rules, is that, it’s my life, I will live it how I choose. Many people believe that our decisions, our actions, our words are all just that- ours. And while we are the human “host” of all of these things, none of it belongs to us- but instead, to a much higher power.

The really great thing about our God is that he lets us choose. We can choose between our life, and the life he wishes for us to live. He is a loving and forgiving God yes, but at the same time, his instructions are clear to us about how our lives should be lived.

I was watching the Senate debate on healthcare on Saturday (yes I am a nerd) and one of the speakers used this verse to illustrate why abortion is wrong. For anyone who knows me, you know where I stand on this issue, and this blog is not intended to be about that, but hearing the verse made me look deeper at the meaning of choosing life- for the life of an unborn Child, or for the life of an already born person.

God blessed each and everyone of us today with life. He gave of us a family, friends, and an abundance of his love. He also gave us choices to make- good and bad, right and wrong. Temptation awaits every Christian who allows themselves to look for it. I myself face temptation every day- many times giving in. But the older I get and the closer I try to walk with God, I realize this temptation will always exist, it just means finding ways to cut it out of our lives. Choosing to live instead for ourselves and for God, not for the temptations placed before us. God never gives us more than we can handle- more than we can LIVE with.

You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:20

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Whole World

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
- Mark 8:36

Those of you who know me well know that I am a HUGE Florida Gator fan. I live, sleep, eat, and breathe Florida Gator Football. Right now is an especially good time to be a Gator fan for a number of reasons. One, we're doing well. Two, we have a phenomenal quarterback. When I say that, I don't just mean in the athletic sense, but also in the sense of he as a person exemplifies what it means to be a Christian role model. A few weeks back, Mark 8:36 was placed under his eyes. My friend Julianne pointed it out, and it got me thinking, here this guys stands to make millions some day, but first and foremost recognizes all of that is worthless without God.

I am a solid year away from graduating, yet I'm still ever vigilant in the search for what is next- teaching, a career, grad school, law school, anything. All of these options have their positive points- time at home, great money, great connections, but in the midst of all of this, I rarely find myself asking the question, which way will allow me to serve God.

As I enter into what I hope will be my last year of school, I just ask for the wisdom to know what is right. If I am meant to teach, I ask that i will be placed in an area where I can minister to students. If I am in a job of financial wealth, I ask that I may be directed to give back in ways that will help others. If I am placed in a position of leadership, I ask that God's hand will guide all of my decisions.

The whole world is at our footsteps, but what have we gained if we have that, and nothing else.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What for but to shine.

We are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works.-Ephesians 2:10 (NRSV)

As a part of human nature, I am constantly questioning things. Why did this event happen? Why did i make that decision? Why, why, why. Why? Because God wanted it to.

I look around at people, in my life and beyond, and I wonder, why do they do the things they do. I see people commite horrible crimes, and wonder how a loving God could let that happen. But then I realize out of every actions, comes a reaction- allowing God's love to shine forth. Sometimes I look at my friends and wonder how they can make such stupid decisions. And then I remember they are but God's children, and will stray from time to time. And I look at my own life, and realize all of the mistakes I have made and all the ways I have sinned. I know it's wrong, yet I still do it.

God created each and every one of us. he created us not out of greed, not out of desperation, not out of entertainment, but out of love. We were each created in Christ to do his good works. So why aren't we doing them?

Last week I had the chance to attend the National FFA Convention. I always leave in awe and inspired by things high school students- high school students- are doing in their communities. Raising money, building houses, feeding people, the list goes on. They are using God's creation for good works.

Matthew 5:16 (New International Version)-
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Their actions speak louder than words. Their good deeds and light shone forth to glorify God. So why can't mine?

We were each created in God's image to do good works. Sometimes our sin takes us away from that- it diminishes our ability to praise God because of the distractions in our life. I pray today that God will remove those distractions, will give me strength to resist sin, and will let my light shine forth for him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Jesus Nut

Make no friendship with a man given to anger,nor go with a wrathful man,or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.
Proverbs 22:24-25

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend in Tallahassee with my Grandma. Saturday night we went to mass and I heard a message that in a lot of ways, was exactly what I needed to hear. I know, not surprising that God tells us exactly what we need to hear in his house, but nonetheless it really got me thinking about my relationship with Christ and with other people.

The homily that day was about a lady who had written a book called "The Nut that Saved our marriage". It told a story of a woman whose son had come home from the Marines and was telling them about a helicopter, and how the blade was held on top by one little nut, called the Jesus nut. Why? Because through all things, if we have Christ we can survive. Without him, we are nothing. The helicopter, without the Jesus nut, could not function.

The homily went on further to say that if Jesus isn't the center bolt of our lives- if everything does not revolve around him, we won't reach new heights, and we will fail in all that we do.

So I started thinking about relationships. How many relationships with people do we have that are lacking Christ completely? I got to thinking about my friendships with people- and sadly, a lot of them revolve around things other than Christ. My friendship with my workout partner is all about the gym, but I rarely talk of my faith in there. My friendship with my classmates is all about school, and God certainly isn't found there. Even some of my purely social friendships revolve around anything but God- Gator tailgating, going out at night, hitting the beach. And how good are these relationship? None are the type to last forever.

I've had one friendship in particular that I've really struggled with lately. As I strive to surround myself with people who build me up, I find myself at odds with one of my closest friends. Some of the things they are allowing to influence them I fear are eventually going to tear us apart. But the one area I know will endure is our mutual love for Jesus Christ. While many times I have wanted to end or alter the friendship, I know that they need me as much as I need them- and that cutting someone out of my life is not the Christian example. It is because our friendship is centered on Christ that it must last.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Prov 17:17

On the flip side, I have another friendship where God's love is shining brighter than I ever could have imagined.  We've been friends for years now, but at different times we would grow distant, many times over petty things, then come back together.  Here recently though we've begun doing a devotional together, discussing it every few weeks.  This does two things- it makes Christ the center of our friendship, and holds us accountable to each other and to him for our actions.  In this way we are brothers in Christ and have a solid relationship that shows God's love.

So I feel like I'm rambling a bit here, but I want to boil this down into two points- one, we must have all of our relationships centered on Christ.  Two, we can't allow a relationship to fail simply because we disagree with the actions of a friend.  We must love them as God's love us and pray that we may be there for them.

Look into your life.  Are some of your friendships based on the beer in front of you, instead of the Bible in your backpack?  Do you have a relationship built purely on lust, and not on the heart  and emotion found in God's love?  Are you allowing something other than Christ to dominate the person you are and the relationship you have?  

Moving forward, I pray that I will have the faith and the ability to make Christ then center of all I do- work and lay, friends and family, labor and leisure.  And I pray that I will have God's hand to hold me up in times of adversity, for me, and for my brothers.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
-1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NRSV)

One of my goals after national office was to grow.  To grow physically, to grow mentally, and to grow spiritually.

Physically was easy, sort of.  I hired a personal trainer and got some good workouts.  I loaded up on protein powder, chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta.  And I trained.  6 days a week.  Some weeks 7 days.  Sometimes twice a day.  I worked out, and I grew.  I started at 125 and ended the semester at 165.  I was pretty pleased.

Mentally, well, I changed majors.  I found that I had a calling to teach.  My classes in communications were not interesting to me.  How was I helping people in this arena?  When it came time to register for mass communications, I knew that my heart was not in communications, but in teaching.  So I met with my advisor and changed majors.  I messed up my schedule.  But I found a way to grow myself mentally.  I was pleased.

So I was hitting the gym, and I changed majors, but what about my spiritual life.  A few months back I had a chance to speak at my home church for the first time.  It's funny, I've spoken to a lot bigger, and a lot harsher crowds, but somehow speaking God's word is a bigger deal.  At the end, I felt fulfilled.  As time has progressed, my relationship with God has grown.  I've made mistakes, learned from them, and grown closer as a result.  And I continue to make mistakes, but I continue to grow in my walk with God.

In the first two areas I had advisors, trainers, people who directed me in my growth.  But in my lost area, I struggled.  I did not have a pastor I was close enough to.  I did not have just one friend that pushed me.  What I have discovered though is I have a network of advisors, trainers, mentors.  I call them friends.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another"

Proverbs 27:17

I now realize my friends are those who push me.  Those who grow me.  Those who make me realize how truly fortunate I am.  They are training me in the ways of godliness.  

Who surrounds you?  Who sharpens you?  Who is walking the path that brings you closer to God with you?  I am excited about the coming days because one of my best friends and I are doing a Bible study together.  Even though we are separated by a continent, I am excited to grow in Christ with someone else.  In many ways, we are each others trainers in Christ.

I encourage you to seek out a trainer.  Seek out someone who will push you to learn more, do more, serve more, love more.  Surround yourself with people who will push you towards God, not pull you away from him.  Happy training!