This blog is meant to be an encouragement to you as you journey through your day. If you have a question about the life of faith, please feel free to email me. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I welcome the conversation.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Protect - - - - - - - Prepare

For a number of years Esther and I have spent time in conversation with parents about parenting... Not as experts, of course, as that would just be silly, but as fellow travelers, sharing what we have learned, are learning, and hearing the same from others. It is one of the things we enjoy most.

Many times, our conversations involve the idea that our goal as parents is to help our children become healthy adults who are making a difference in the world, rather than some other things, such as being popular kids, or kids that have everything they want, or cool teens. With that as our purpose, we make decisions as parents, and we create environments where such an outcome is more likely.

Inevitably in these conversations, there comes a point when my need for a white board, or a big sheet of paper, becomes unbearable. I walk up to the white board and draw a long horizontal line. I then write a word at each end of the line. 
At one end of the line is the word Protect and at the opposite end of the line is the word Prepare. I then say, "I am about to tell you something really hard. It may be the hardest thing we have to learn as parents, but it is absolutely essential. It is not complicated, or particularly insightful, but it is very important."

"Notice the relationship between the words protect and prepare. They are at opposite ends of the line. This is because, and here comes the important part, in order to prepare our kids for what life is like, we must protect them less. There is a time when our focus is on protecting, and most good, loving parents know how to do this. However, there comes a time when we must choose to prepare them for life, which means protecting them less.  Sometimes this is counter-intuitive. We want to jump in and protect, but we must fight against it. We risk them getting hurt, but it is a risk we must take. Yes, we must protect, but if our goal in life is to prepare them for healthy adulthood, protecting cannot always be the most important thing."

My speech is usually met by some positive nods of the head, usually by those parents who have not gotten to the difficult moments of parenthood. Some of those difficult moments are anticipated: leaving your child with a sitter for the first time, putting them on a school bus, giving them the keys to the car, dropping them off at college. But most of the difficult decisions of "protect/prepare" come by surprise: dealing with a bully, stepping in when we think a teacher or coach is being unfair, watching our child deal with relationship issues, etc. While we have all laughed at the stories of "helicopter parents," who hover over their kids' lives, ready to jump in at a moment's notice, when we are honest we admit that we have been tempted to do so ourselves.

As I have talked with parents for many years, I am surprised that we seldom make the connection to our lives of faith. You see, God also has to deal with the "protect/prepare" continuum in  our lives. There are times when God protects us, and sometimes we may not even be aware of the danger. But there are other times when, in order to prepare us for our present, future, and eternal lives of significance, God does not protect as much. We face difficulties that challenge us beyond what we can bear alone. God does not remove or deny the challenge - we are forced to face it, head on. But we do not face the challenge alone. As Jesus said in John 14, we have a Comforter.

So even while we as parents find it necessary, in order to allow our children to become healthy adults, to step back and allow them to face the challenges of life, we are called to follow the example of our Father. We step back, but we do not step away. We are right there, ready to encourage, comfort, and support. As Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12, "For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory."

Grace and peace

Friday, May 20, 2011

"I Told You So!"

I have to admit, there are times when I have turned to friends and family, and in my best smug, condescending tone, uttered those words:

 "I told you so."

Like the first time I watched a certain reality TV show, in order to see what all the excitement was about among some of my female friends and, dare I say, colleagues. After about 15 minutes of "Jon and Kate Plus 8," I confidently stated, "This is a train wreck just waiting to happen. This will not end well, and I feel really sorry for the kids."

Well ...

"I told you so."

However, I am not going to do that this time. On Saturday night, or Sunday morning, on the other side of May 21, I will not smugly remind folks that I knew Harold Camping was wrong. I will not reiterate that, while Christians should live every day in anticipation that we have little time to show God's love and grace to the world, Jesus made clear that we will not know the time or date of his return. Harold Camping seems to be more sick and deluded than evil, but he is definitely wrong.

This is a train wreck just waiting to happen. Thousands of folks are dramatically changing their lives (not necessarily a bad thing), selling their stuff (again, not necessarily a bad thing), because they believe that they are going up in the sky to meet Jesus on Saturday, May 21. Some (not all), seem to not be all that concerned that their neighbors, colleagues and friends will not be joining them.

Worst of all, when we wake up on Sunday morning, the world will be just like it was 24 hours before, except a whole lot more folks will have yet another reason to write off anything we say about God, love and grace, all because a civil engineer thought he had figured out a secret code in Scripture.

He didn't, because it isn't there.

But it will be up to us to pick up the pieces.

And I feel really sorry for the kids of the adults who bought into this. If they didn't already think so, now they will be sure the God their parents said they were following is not real, and everyone who says otherwise is a fool or a liar.

I promise not to say, "I told you so," because we have better things to do. We have already wasted too much time on this.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Check out Luke's EP  "Cognitive Dissonance"  at 


"Singularity" by Odist Abettor
(Copyright 2011 Luke Schutz)

Today I saw the future of earth inside a plastic box
and a forest of mannequin dolls with hearts like clocks
corporations ruled and democracy was based on stocks
and inflation, it rose like the seas we unfroze,
and do you suppose it was a dream or not?

Today I saw the children of my children’s children losin hope
they’d been starvin on the seeds of reapin’ all that we had sown
the machines of our greed and thoughtlessness had exponentially grown
in a singularity of woes, getting lost in all the things we own
but do you suppose in these fears i’m all alone?

Today I saw the mind of the last human genius getting trashed
downloading his consciousness into the creation that was erasin his past
ludicrously lost we all were struggling to care, much more to act
and it just goes to show that with all the things we think we know
well in the end I suppose, it’s all worth a good laugh
what do you think of that?

Today I saw the world as a grave for the almost dead
but a blind man walked by and told me to think of other things instead
there’s so much to look forward to, he winked behind his mask and said
and who really knows where this whole story goes
and do you suppose it was all in my head?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"The One-Eyed Man"

Check out Luke's EP  "Cognitive Dissonance"  at 


"The One-Eyed Man" by Odist Abettor
(Copyright 2011 Luke Schutz)

Old soldier sits in a burger joint laughin’
On his shaking shoulders, a well worn green jacket
Talkin’ to his buddy, hands wavin’ wild
As the horrors of his past hide behind the occasional smile
“For King and Country” declares the back of his coat
in an ironic sort of grey
On top of a patched-on, upside-down American flag
that’s unusually un-frayed
He stops for a minute to sip from his cup
a bit of coffee and a bit that’s not
hen pats his friend on the back with a sadness in his eyes
thanking God for all that he’s got

And we see it everyday
We don’t know quite what to say

Will you go down to the bridge by the river
and meet all the folks who call it home?
Will you walk past them on the sidewalk
and look for someone to talk to
or just do your best to be left alone?
Will you make a sacrifice that could save a life
or just give some pocket change
to ease your troubled mind?
Will you live to be the change or would you rather stay the same
and just like me keep on walking blind?

Donate to charities, maybe even get on your knees
Send up half-hearted prayers for those others in need
But mostly day by day we’ve got our kinds of problems
And the issues in this world, not like we know how to solve ‘em
Is it despair or is it apathy, whether you care or not it’s gotta be
Do your part so long as you never see the face of the broken
Even when you’re looking in your own mirror [chorus]

We’re all guilty of hate crime
‘Cause we hate to be bothered
by someone who might waste our precious time
We’re all guilty of racism, sexism, classism, narcissism
Isn’t it time we realized
The guilt is yours, the guilt is mine/The guilt is yours, the guilt is mine
The guilt is yours, the guilt is mine/The guilt is yours, it’s mine!

Will we go down to the bridge by the river
and meet all the folks who call it home?
Will we walk past them on the sidewalk
and look for someone to talk to
or just do our best to be left alone?
Will we make a sacrifice that could save a life
or just give some pocket change
to ease our troubled minds?
Will we live to be the change or would we rather stay the same
and just keep on walking (by...blind?)[repeat]

Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest Blogger Ryan Scott - Honesty

The following is written by my friend and colleague Ryan Scott, from his blog http://onemorethingblog.blogspot.com/.


It has apparently taken me two and a half years to be affected enough to write another blog post, but Osama bin Laden was killed last night. I have a lot of thoughts. It is a rare situation when people feel open to be completely honest. This is one of those. I appreciate the honesty of people to say, "I'm glad he's dead," and frankly I'd expect nothing less. I am also touched by those who've expressed their conflicted feelings about being happy. That sort of honesty takes courage. It only seems fair to be equally honest.

My first response to the news was awe that it actually happened. I, like a lot of people, felt bin Laden was going to die of old age. My second response was nervousness.

This death does indeed bring some closure to an unsettling experience that began with a terrible tragedy almost a decade ago. I am one of those whose life perspective has been shaped by dealing with 9/11 and its repercussions.

I was beginning my Junior year of college at ENC, just south of Boston. The planes took off from Boston. There were guys on my floor who, for a while, were worried their father was on one of them. A fellow student lost a father as he responded from his fire house to help evacuate the buildings. I was not disconnected from this tragedy. It was real. It felt personal.

Two years later God changed my life. The result was a shift, from preparation for a career in politics to enrolling in seminary and the process of preparing for ministry. My encounter with scripture profoundly changed by perspective on life. I found a gospel that demanded my full allegiance. It meant a departure from the story my culture was writing for me to participation in a story God has been writing since the beginning of time.

News I would have cheered in 2001 brings sorrow in 2011.

I say this with no affinity for Osama bin Laden. He dedicated his life and his considerable wealth to increasing fear in our world. Fear, which is directly counter to a gospel of love. In this case, I cannot think of a more appropriate word to describe his legacy than: evil.

That being said, Osama bin Laden was a beloved creation of God's and every death is tragic. We do not have the right to kill anyone, no matter how evil. Judgement belongs to the Lord.

There has been much talk of justice, when people really mean revenge. Justice would have been for bin Laden to express real remorse and for the victims of his aggression to express real forgiveness; justice would have been for us to create a society in which George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden could live in peace.

I am not so deluded as to think this is possible, short of a miraculous work of God. Yet that miraculous work is the vision of the future laid out in scripture. What else to the wolf and the lamb, the bear and calf, the child and the serpent represent than sworn enemies living in harmony?

The real issue today is not how we handle death and killing (you can read my previous blog entry for that), but how we respond to them. I take Jesus seriously when he says an "eye for an eye" no longer applies, but instead we're called to love our enemies. Even if one feels that killing is necessary at some point, it should be done with repentance and regret - never celebration.

I am sorrowful because I believe that celebrating death is destructive to people. We cannot control the emotions life brings out in us, but we must control our responses. Revenge feels good; we've made someone suffer in the way we've suffered. But revenge can never bring healing. It can never bring restoration. That comes from loving those who don't deserve to be loved. It comes from remembering that we are all, simultaneously, undeserving of the love we're shown and profoundly deserving of love.

God weeps for Osama bin Laden. I'm not sure I can muster that response, but I do weep for people who rejoice in death and I apologize for any arrogance that may communicate.