Letter to My Little Buddy (For Whenever He Can Read Complex Sentences)

halloween 2015If you haven’t heard, we’re having another girl. As my wife put it, “We’re hanging another pink ornament on our family tree.” We love our girls.

But we both also wanted another boy. We prayed for a boy. The Lord had different plans.

Lindsey and I weren’t alone in wanting another shot of testosterone in the mix. Ben REALLY wanted a little brother. In fact, telling B mommy’s pregnant with a girl was one of those, “How are we going to break it to him” things. He was devastated. He just didn’t understand why God chose for him to have another sister. He slept in our bed that night, which only slightly assuaged his heartbreak.

Here’s a letter that, in due time, I hope will help my 4 year old little buddy understand how important his roles as brother is.


Little Buddy,

You told mommy and daddy for weeks that you want a baby brother. You wanted to tackle and play guns and Star Wars with him. That’s why it was so hard for us to tell you that mommy is having a girl…another sister. I know you love your sisters. Even though you get frustrated when Caroline messes up your neatly engineered train tracks or Nora Jane steals your drink when you turn your back, you love them. I see it. And they know it, too.

Like you, I thought about how much fun three Mitchell guys could have together and all the things you’d want to show a little brother. Even now, it’s hard to think that we won’t have another little boy. But mommy and daddy trust that God knows what’s best for our family and for His family.

When I saw mommy’s super mommy announcement picture telling everyone “IT’S A GIRL!”, I had a deep sense of gratitude. I wLetter to My Little Buddyas grateful that God gave us a boy first. I’m so thankful He gave you to us, little buddy. I love being your dad. I love that you’re my son. You have mommy’s eyes and face and hair, but you have the lack of a rear to prove that you’re mine too. You don’t like loud noises, and I never have either.

It’s amazing how much influence you have with your sisters. Nora Jane wants to do WHATEVER you’re doing. When she runs into the living room so proud that she has your far too large pajamas on, I melt. She adores you. And she protects me from your light saber attacks and sniper shots. When you have a great attitude and are obedient, Nora Jane follows suit, and I think Caroline will do the same very soon.

You have been entrusted with a great deal of responsibility, buddy. God is giving you three girls to look out for, to set the pace for, and to help point to Jesus. I can’t fathom now how much your walk with the Lord as a young man will color how Nora Jane, Caroline, and baby girl view Jesus. That’s why mommy and daddy pray with you everyday, for your heart to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit and for your wife to be a godly woman from a godly family (preferably one we know and love).

I had a lot of theological ideas about the love of God several years ago. But you put flesh on those otherwise heady, lifeless ideas. It rocked my world to hold my boy, to give you a name and call you my own. And that’s what I pray the Lord does in your life–that He calls you by name, adopts you as His own son, and you walk with Him in obedience.

Love those little girls well, buddy. I’m going to need your help at school, because they’re going to be drop dead gorgeous, just like mommy.

There’s no boy I would rather call my little buddy than you, Ben Mitchell.  There’s not another one like you.

Love you with all my heart,




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That Time I Wanted to Name Our Son Benjamin Franklin Mitchell

The creative writing teacher at the school where I teach put up a flyer for a contest, and on that flyer is a quote from Benjamin Franklin–“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

“Easy for you to say,” Ben. That’s what I think anyway. A world-traveler. One of the most brilliant men of his day, perhaps of this day as well. An innovator. Inventor. I wanted to name our firstborn Benjamin Franklin Mitchell. I got the Benjamin, but Patrick would have to suffice for that mysterious middle place. Ben wrote and did something worth writing, many somethings.

You may not know but I suffer from what’s called “Golden Age Syndrome.” At least that what’s the pedantic, self-consumed character in the movie Midnight in Paris calls it. When suffering from this affliction one believes that he or she would be happier or more fulfilled in a different age of history. I don’t have a particular age, preferably one where I wouldn’t die from the slightest infection or have to skin a beast for breakfast.

In the minds of dreamers–of which I am terribly given to–the present generally seems most dissatisfying. The past is tempting…mainly because it is known. And I can imagine myself in that already traversed landscape, usually as someone far more accomplished that the present me. The future, though, well that’s a vast unconquered land of bogeymen. Oh the possibilities! Oh what might I be in the land of “what ifs” and “one days”.  I’m an incredible vision caster in my head; you should see it.

But I find myself here today. What would a life worth writing look like? What about a life worth reading? Thinking cumulatively is when I start stressing, feeling anxious about not having done something truly great…like Chia Pet great. I mean, come on, the grass grows like the animal’s hair.

How do I live a more writable life? My conclusion is this, and feel free to push or prod: Living today and its multitude of moments given over to the leading of the very Spirit of God.

Give this. Go there. Say that…no, not that, that other thing. Get up. Put the book down. Pray. Pray more. Pray for her right now. Ask this question. Don’t speak at all. Seriously, shut your mouth.

The Holy Spirit says more each day than I care to hear, which is probably why I don’t listen two-thirds of the time. Should I do all that the Spirit says, my days would look dramatically different. I mean like Chia Pet different. Only God knows how differently my story would’ve read by now.

What if for one day you and I did everything we sensed the Spirit telling us to do, or not do? String together a week’s worth of those kinds of days. Maybe our blogs and facebook pages and tweets and vineagramchats would be more interesting, at least worth reading.

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Being Pro Life is Bigger than Party Politics

The quicksand in which Planned Parenthood finds itself grasping for any relief or aid is not firming up any time soon. Videos continue to be released that depict the despicable details associated with abortion, early or late. When verbiage such as crunching and crushing are used, the tone is hardly mistakable.

This isn’t just murder; it’s sadism for profit.

If anything, the surfacing of these videos has put a spotlight once again on the pro choice / pro life debate. The pro choicers have to violate laws of logic to maintain that worldview, but I want to talk to pro life people, of which I am one.

Being pro life is bigger than party politics. Democrat. Libertarian. Tea Party. Independent. Republican. Each party has pro life tendencies.

What!!! Democrats kill babies!!

Slow your roll.

Why do I say even Dems have pro life tendencies? I say it not because of their position on abortion, but their outlook on helping people once outside of the womb.

I have written before about how being pro life is more expansive than simply being against abortion–which has to be where it begins. But it doesn’t stop there.

For all who spit venom against abortion advocacy, the shouts boomerang back to us in question form: What are you (what am I) doing to support life?

– Am I counseling pregnant women?

– Am I adopting?

– Am I funding adoptions?

– Am I, either through my church or a parachurch ministry, working to alleviate hunger, nakedness, thirst, homelessness, joblessness, etc.? As one satirical cartoon portrays, Republicans will do anything to get you born, but once born you’d better not slow anyone else down or be in need. If you are, it’s your fault.

– Am I fostering?

– Am I housing pregnant teens and showing them a better way?

The questions go on and on and on and on.

What am I doing to show, not just speak, that I am pro life?

It’s easy to make a point, whether on a blog or Twitter or Facebook. It’s easy to get applause during a sermon. But what difference are you making? What difference am I making?

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It’s Like the First Time Every Time

I tweeted the other day (sounds like a confession, doesn’t it?).

I tweeted this – “The more I read the Bible, the more I feel like I’m reading it for the first time.”

This is a blessing that comes with working one’s way through the Bible in large portions. I’ve come to like reading full chapters in the Old Testament and then smaller portions in the New Testament. Find what you will do and do it!
In doing so, though, I’m reading what I’ve read before, but it’s like reading it for the first time. And it’s making me look at my life and my ministry and go, “Okay, these things aren’t lining up.” And I’ll just assume I’m the one who has it wrong.
So for instance, just this morning I read Isaiah 2. Like most writing in the prophets, the chapter is about God’s judgment on his people and his calling them to return to him. So he says of them…
     Their land is filled with silver and gold,
     and there is no end to their treasures;
     their land is filled with horses,
     and there is no end to their chariots.
     Their land is filled with idols;
     they bow down to the work of their hands,
     to what their own fingers have made.
— We don’t make little images or figures and bow down. But let’s be real; we have idols. They just don’t look as dumb to us or everyone else. We call them careers, houses, multiple houses, cars, multiple cars, wardrobes, hobbies, sports, gaming, social media, blog traffic, twitter followers, church attendance, etc…
All of which become little idols when they usurp the rightful place of God on the throne of our hearts.
But because we don’t make little wooden, golden, or silver images, we ignore the rest. Which says…
     Enter into the rock
     and hide in the dust
     from before the terror of the LORD,
     and from the splendor of his majesty.
     The haughty looks of man shall be brought low,
     and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled,
     and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
     (Isaiah 2:7ish-12ish)
So before I piddle away at life in careless fashion or prepare a sermon from the vantage point of “What will make someone want to come back?” I’d better take into account what God says about God. Where are their idols in my life? Where is there pride or a lofty spirit? Where am I being haughty?
Nobody can read for you. Nobody can stand before God and give an account for your life either. So pick up the scriptures and read.

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Morality After Murder? Moral Relativity at its Best

Statement from Eric Ferraro, Vice President of Communications, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue (body parts) to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different. At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards. There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or Planned Parenthood. In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.

A well-funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services has promoted a heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving (maybe don’t kill the life?) scientific research. Similar false accusations have been put forth by opponents of abortion services for decades. These groups have been widely discredited and their claims fall apart on closer examination, just as they do in this case.”

The above is a statement from Planned Parenthood’s VP of Communications. If you’re ever caught doing something awful, you would want such a person, or department, to communicate on your behalf as well.

        Abortion is murder. The only people who don’t think so weren’t aborted.

There are 322 Charleston shootings every day in the United States. They take place in little rooms at clinics, many funded by your taxes and mine. The same government that cries out over 9 African Americans being shot to death throws money at the 2,899 abortions that take place each day. The former should happen. The latter is damnable.

My primary point in writing this is to say that we shouldn’t be surprised if an abortion doctor sells body parts or organs of the babies he/she murders. The bigger surprise would be why anyone on the side of abortion would care.

This seems to be a most striking display of incoherency and inconsistency. The outcry to the President or Congress should come back with a muted, “Yeah, that’s too bad,” if their worldview remains consistent. After all, is there morality after murder?

I understand those standing for the rights of the unborn to still be grieved on account of such atrocities, even after the baby has been blotted out of earthly existence.

But why would any person, and I include government officials, who is pro-choice, be any more grieved over making a little extra cash than over extinguishing a life? Perhaps they wouldn’t be upset if the seller paid taxes on the exchange?

This is yet another example of the logical, practical, and philosophical inconsistency of being pro-choice.

BUT, RIGHTS! one might say.

Whose? I ask.

MINE! one might retort.

What about the one without a voice?

As Ravi Zacharias has replied, “We cannot talk about human rights without the right to be human.”


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Passe or Priceless: Psalm 119 and the Worth of the Word

I have been reading through Psalm 119 again in an effort to rekindle a hunger and desire for the Scriptures in a life giving manner. I tend toward an academic kind of reading of the Word, which has its place–though I would provide numerous cautions in that endeavor. But the kind of reading I was taught doesn’t line up with the message of Psalm 119.

The psalmist speaks of the unsurpassed joy of keeping the laws of the Lord, of walking in his commandments, of meditating on his precepts. The more we read his words, the more faithful to them we should be. And the more faithful we are to him in that way, the more our appetite for the Scriptures increases. Our spiritual metabolism, so to speak, ramps up as we apply what we read and are faithful in the things we know for certain (rather than getting bogged down in the uknown).

In Psalm 119 I read Spirit-inspired words like:

  • I will fix my eyes on all your commandments (6)
  • I will delight in your statutes (16)
  • My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times (20)
  • Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors (24)
  • I will run in the way of your commandments (32)
  • Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain (36)
  • My hope is in your rules (43)
  • At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules (62)
  • It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes (71)
  • The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces (72)

Okay, that last one…seriously? What would that be in dollars? The last I saw, a $20 gold piece was worth roughly $1400. So, carry the 1, divide the remainder into the square root…3,000 of those coins would be $4.2 million. Is the law of God’s mouth, in practice and lived out, better to me than $4,200,000? “Oh yes, absolutely! No doubt!” he exclaimed without flinching.

Then why do I not hesitate to push that law aside in order to justify my lack of action to care for the least of these? It takes me about $40 to sell out…let alone $4.2 million.

I’m pleading with the Lord to let me read his Word anew, with fresh eyes and an undivided mind. “Incline my heart to your testimonies, Lord.”

I want to desire the Word and long for it, more than a latte or new shoes. The video below is a reminder that what has become passe for us in America is still priceless to some:

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How Civilized is Civilization?


One of the great laments I have is that I never read great works of literature. Yeats, Hemingway, Twain, Dostoyevsky, Woolf, Plath and Thoreau are a mere sampling of the great cloud of literary witnesses whose company I’ve failed to keep. Granted, I had some exposure to such works, but I didn’t care at the time; it was college, after all. There was more to do.

While in Brevard, North Carolina one day, Lindsey and I happened upon a used book sale at the Transylvania County Library. There were no copies of Twilight, Fifty Shade of Grey, or The Notebook to be seen, presumably because people checked out those books . What I found, though, was a treasure trove of great works by Faulkner, Twain, Hemingway, Thoreau, and Dostoyevsky. So I bought them.

I read The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway first because it fit in my back pocket. That fish put up one heck of a fight. The old man’s patience was both inspiring and depressing. When patience bleeds into passivity, it is not longer inspiring.

I picked up another book, a double volume, from my nightstand and started reading. Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau were both on my ‘list’. So I started Walden.

I take it Thoreau didn’t watch television and wouldn’t have had it been available. His reach into Latin, Greek mythology, and religion is envious–attainable with time, sure, but who has such time with Netflix?

In the first paragraph of the book Thoreau tells of coming back from his stay in the woods, counting himself “a sojourner in civilized life again.” That line struck me for its Christian undertones. Though acquainted with the Bible, I doubt Thoreau was making that allusion.

Inside of cabin

In light of the chaos of the cosmos and the increasing expressions of darkness around the world, one should ask what and/or who is civilized. It seems to me that Walden’s woods might be the kind of “civilized” we long for.

Here we [read, Christians] are, sojourners in a civilization that sees us as foreign and irrelevant, at best. But it is our irrelevance to the modern culture at large that makes us distinctly Christian. I am not saying pipe organs equate you with holiness. Fundamentally, the message of the cross and Christ is largely impractical and ineffective by count of the civilized.

Thus the task we take on in Christ is to sojourn faithfully, not as escapists or as those who embrace all for the sake of relevance, whatever that is. We engage as those in the world but not of the world.

As the quote below says, would that none of us upon coming to die discover that we had not lived

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