“The Media and the Massacre”

by Andrew Forrest

I don’t know what to say about the massacre overnight in Las Vegas.  Probably the best thing is to say nothing, to resist the urge to explain, to sit in silence and actually pray, rather than just tweeting that worse-than-useless phrase “thoughts and prayers.”  This morning, however, I came across a brief essay that I actually found helpful in light of today’s evil news, an essay that Andy Crouch wrote in 2012 after the Newtown massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary called “The Media and the Massacre”:

The most basic lesson for those who would comfort the victims of tragedy is that the first, best response to tragedy is presence, and often the best form of presence is silence. The grieving, the sick, and the dying sometimes need our words, sometimes need our touch, but almost always they need our presence. And there is no contradiction between presence and silence in the embodied life for which we were all created, to which we are all called, into which God himself entered. Bodies can be present without a word. That is the beauty of bodies.

He goes on to comment on our inability to keep silent in the face of these sorts of events, how the social media have caused us all to feel as if our voice needs to be heard:

And while there was a time when you could count the number of broadcasters on one hand, we are all broadcasters now. A tragedy like the Newtown massacre becomes not just a media event, but also a social media event. As the journalist Alex Massie pointed out in his trenchant essay this week, silence is not an option in social media. Not to tweet or post or blog is not to be silently present—it is to be mutely absent. He suggested, fully aware of the futility of his suggestion, that perhaps we all could have simply posted one-word tweets on Friday, using the hashtag #silent, and left it at that. But we didn’t, nor are we likely to during the next tragedy. #silent will never be a trending topic on Twitter.


All that any of us who do not live in Newtown, Connecticut, truly needed to know—possibly more than we needed to know—appeared in a 12-word news alert on my phone Friday afternoon. Almost everything else, I believe, was a distraction from the only thing that we who are not first responders, pastors, or parents in that community needed to do at that moment: to pray, which is to say, to put ourselves at the mercy of God and hold those who harmed and those who were harmed before the mercy of God.

Why must we say anything?  Perhaps it’s because we’d rather not actually face the brutal facts: that we are not in control, and that there is inexplicable evil in the world:

The quest for more talk, more images, more footage (none of which would ever satisfy our lust for understanding, no matter how graphic police and producers allowed them to become) is rarely about the quest to more deeply contemplate the brokenness of the world—it is the quest to not contemplate it. Because if we were simply to contemplate those 12 words, we would be brought all too soon to the terrifying precipice of our own inadequacy, our own vulnerability and dependence, and even (so the saints testify) our own culpability, our nearness in spirit to even the most deranged and destructive….


Terrible things happen every day. One day, one will probably happen to you, if it has not already happened. Surely it is our suppressed awareness that tragedy is coming our way, too, our unwillingness to be silent and contemplate our own need for mercy, that turns compassion into compulsion, turns our God-breathed impulse to stop for the wounded traveler into the gawking slowdown on the other side of the highway.

Please read the whole thing, especially his piercing final sentence.



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92 Days….

by Andrew Forrest

Tomorrow is October 1, the first day of the last quarter of the year.  God willing, I have 92 mornings left in 2017,  92 days between now and the end of the year.  I like clean beginnings, and the fact that October 1 falls on a Sunday has got me motivated to nail down some goals for the rest of 2017.  Call them End Year Resolutions.

Like you, I began the new year with hope, and wrote down some goals for 2017.  Now, however, some of those goals seem unattainable, and some just don’t interest me any more.  So, I’m spending some time today to gain clarity and focus on what I really want to accomplish in the last three months of 2017.  I’d like to share one of my year-end goals with you, in hopes that some of you will join me.

“Consistency is More Important Than Intensity”

I believe that consistency is more important than intensity.  In other words, sustaining a behavior over time is more valuable than an intense but brief change of behavior.  So, I’ve staked out a few habit goals between now and the end of the year, one of which has to do with daily scripture reading.  I’ve written before about the power in spending the first few minutes of every day in prayer and scripture: it’s a keystone habit that will affect every area of your life.  So, I’m re-committing myself to spending the first 30 minutes of every day in silence, prayer, and scripture.  (For me, my scripture reading is that day’s portion from The One Year Bible.)

What about you?  I’d love to hear some of your year-end resolutions in the comments below.


P.S.  It really has to be your first minutes every morning.  If you think, “Let me first check my texts or see the previous evening’s news or briefly scroll through Instagram, and then I’ll read and pray” it just won’t work.  If you crack open the door of your mind to the Cloud— even just the tiniest bit, it will force the door wide open and invite in all its distracting (but oh-so-beguiling) friends.

First things first.  Then and only then let the iPhone turn you into a zombie.

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5 Reasons to Love the State Fair of Texas

by Andrew Forrest
(Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas)

The 2017 State Fair of Texas opens tomorrow and I am fired up!  I look forward to seeing Big Tex each fall and each year he doesn’t disappoint.  Here are 5 reasons to love the State Fair of Texas.  [I originally published this on 9/25/15, but hey!–like Big Tex himself, it’s perennially relevant.)


Everybody’s There and Everybody’s Happy

The State Fair is one of the few places in Dallas where everybody comes together: rich folks, poor folks, city slickers, small town farmers; black folks, white folks, hispanic folks; folks from Highland Park and folks from Fair Park: everybody is at the State Fair.  And, everybody is happy to be there.

If there is a better place to people watch, I haven’t found it.


The Food is all Fried



Fletcher’s corny dogs, fried Thanksgiving dinner, even fried beer.

At the State Fair, all the food groups are covered…in batter.


The Car Show is Texas-Sized



I love browsing the 2 huge car pavilions.  It’s fun to sit in the drivers seats and pop the trunks of dozens of cars that I would never ever consider buying.  (Although, be warned: I’ve actually bought two cars over the years after first sitting in them at the Fair’s Auto Show.)


The Demonstrations are Mesmerizing



In several of the exhibit halls, informercial pros demonstrate knives and blenders and shower heads and mops and vacuums and ladders.  These guys are good.  I mean, can your blender make soup?


The Farm Children are Inspiring


(Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas)

It does my heart good to see the little boys from Texas farms tend their donkeys and cows and pigs and goats and sheep.  Little boys with blue jeans and flannel shirts and cowboy hats who look exactly like their tall fathers beside them.  I’m glad that world still exists and seeing those farm families makes me proud to be an American.  Really.


What About You?

If you’ve been thinking about visiting Dallas, you should plan a visit during the Texas State Fair, which runs for 3 weeks every September and October.  The weather will be gorgeous and the whole experience is can’t miss.

If you do visit, Big Tex and I will be waiting for you.

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6 months ago….

by Andrew Forrest
Exactly 6 months ago (3/6/17), my daughter was born and my wife almost died. That night (and nights thereafter) I slept on a chair in her ICU room.
Those weeks were the worst of my life.
Thank you Jesus that we are all safe and home together tonight.
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Police join hands during the singing of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" during an interfaith memorial service for the victims of the Dallas police shooting at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on July 12, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. (Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

“I don’t know what to say.”  When we’re confronted with someone who is grieving or in pain, most of us feel inadequate and intimidated.  But, grieving, suffering people are all around us, and we need to learn how to appropriately engage with them: ignoring them is not an option.  On the first anniversary of the murder of the five Dallas police officers, I thought it would be helpful to briefly offer what I’ve learned about speaking to people in pain.

It’s Not About You

Over a decade ago ago, I was working in youth ministry at a church.  One afternoon, the pastor of our church came rushing into my office: “Just got a phone call: so-and-so has killed himself.”  A high school boy from our church shot himself at home, and his parents had found him.  The pastor drove the two of us to to meet the boy’s family.  I’ve rarely been so sick with nerves.  I was worried that I would say the wrong thing or somehow make the situation worse.  In other words, I was only thinking about myself.  What I realized after visiting with the bereaved father was that it wasn’t about me at all, and to worry about saying the wrong thing or otherwise making the situation worse was selfish and foolish.

In this particular example, literally the worst thing that this father could possibly have imagined had just happened; there was nothing I could do that could make the situation worse.  But, in any interaction with a grieving or suffering person, your words are not going to fix the situation no matter what you say, and if you worry about what you say or how you’ll be perceived, you’ll be making it about you, when it’s really about the other person anyway.  So, remember: it’s not about you.

Which is not to imply that in those situations you should say whatever crosses your mind.

Resist the Urge to Explain

It’s one of those phrases my dad always says that has stuck with me: “Resist the urge to explain.”  We humans like neat explanations, but one of the problems with pain and suffering is that they are ultimately inexplicable.  You and I do not know why that child has cancer or why that couple can’t conceive or why those cops were killed.  Do not speak about that which you do not know.  What I mean is that we should not resort to greeting card pablum along the lines of:

“Everything happens for a reason;”


“I guess God just wanted another angel;”


“God knew you could handle it.”

Those sorts of statements are not helpful to people who are grieving or suffering.  Resist the urge to explain that person’s suffering to him or her.  When you do that what you are really doing is making the interaction about you, exactly what I warned against above.  There isn’t a neat, clean explanation for suffering, and since there isn’t, resist the urge to explain.

Don’t Compare Sufferings

In the same way that you should resist the urge to explain, you should also resist the urge to compare sufferings with the other person.  You don’t know exactly what the person is going through, and it’s unhelpfully self-centered to think that you do.  It’s okay to reference your own experience with suffering, but be sure to refrain from assuming that your situation is comparable to the other person’s (even if it seems to be, from your point of view).

Say “I’m So Sorry”

Rather than trying to compare sufferings, I’ve learned that it’s better to instead share 3 simple words with people who are grieving: “I’m so sorry.”  That sentiment is always appropriate and has the virtue of being true and normal.

Be Normal

Normal people smile when they greet each other and when they say goodbye.  Normal people talk about things in specifics.  I’ve found that many people are worried if they should smile or mention the source of the pain when they interact with someone who is suffering, but remember: it’s not about you, and you’re not going to make it worse.  (It’s already terrible.)  Treat the grieving person as you would any other normal person.  This means it’s important to give the other person the courtesy of a smile (even if it’s a sad smile) and a courteous, friendly look when you greet him or her, and I think it’s important to specifically mention the source of the pain.  When parents have just lost a child, it’s okay to say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”  It’s okay to say to your co-worker, “I heard about the death of your mother and I wanted you to know I’m really sorry to hear that.”  I’ve heard people say that one of the ugly parts of grief is that you feel like such a leper–everyone avoids talking to you about your loss or tries to change the subject.  When talking to someone who is grieving, therefore, just be normal.


It’s normal to want to remove someone’s pain and it’s normal to want to pray.  However, when someone is hurting, prayer isn’t going to change the source of that person’s pain–what’s happened has already happened.  What prayer can do is change that person’s future.  When someone loses a loved one, for example, you can’t pray that the loss goes away–it’s a real, permanent loss.  Rather, what you can pray is for God is be with that person in the midst of his or her pain.  I’ve found that it’s helpful to pray a version of 2 Corinthians 4:8-9:

 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

When I pray for someone who has lost a loved one, for example, I’ll say:

Lord, this person is hard pressed on every side; let her not be crushed;

This person is perplexed at this inexplicable event; let her not be driven to despair;

This person is feeling persecuted; let her know that she’s not abandoned;

This person is feeling struck down; let this grief not destroy her.

Suffering is All Around Us

Suffering is a part of life and no one is exempt.  One of the ugly parts of pain is that it makes you feel alone.  But, there can be a solidarity in suffering, as we reach out with kindness and courtesy to others as they suffer, and when they in turn do the same to us.  I hope the thoughts above are helpful to you the next time you find yourself confronted with a person in pain.



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Brief Reflections on Fatherhood

by Andrew Forrest

Fatherhood is a stewardship.  The Lord gives us the blessing of children, but also the responsibility for them: to teach them to love him and his world.


My children are under my care, and my job is to cultivate Christ-like character in them and to help them see the world clearly and learn to investigate it with curiosity—it’s such beautiful world, “charged with the grandeur of God.”  It’s easy to become distracted by everything else, so I need to be constantly reminded that nothing I will ever do will be more eternally important than raising my children to love the Lord their God with all their heart and all their soul and all their strength (Deuteronomy 6).  And, of course, the surest way for me to do that is to draw near to the Lord myself; I can’t teach what I’m not first receiving.

It says in the scriptures that “we love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  This means that any true love I have for my children will be a sharing in the love I receive from God “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).  Too many times we earthly fathers try to love out of a sense of emotion or duty, and though emotion and duty are good things, they will not be enough to sustain me as a father over time.  To depend as a father on emotion or duty alone would be like trying to exhale and then exhale again, without ever breathing in fresh air.  It’s when I am receiving and abiding in the love of God that I am able to share that love with my children.  I love my children, because God first loved me.

For me to know what a father is like, I need to look to my Heavenly Father, and there I see a God who so loves the world that he sacrifices for it.  This means that fatherhood requires sacrifice: I learn to give my life to the Lord and to die to myself, and then the Lord can use me to love my children in the way they most need.  And, in the beautiful mystery of the gospel, it’s in the giving of my life that I gain it back, in ways that exceed what I can ask or imagine.  In this way, therefore, fatherhood becomes exceedingly joyful: I think I am serving my kids, but in the serving I find myself blessed beyond measure.

Fatherhood is a stewardship, and I’m accountable.  But the Lord who blesses us with children is a good God, and he will also bless us with the love we need to be fathers.  God wants us to succeed as fathers and wants to say to us “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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For This Child I Prayed

by Andrew Forrest
[My daughter's baptism, 4/23/17.]

I prayed for my little daughter for more years than I’ve prayed for anything else in my life.  What I’m reflecting on tonight is that not only is she an answer to my prayers, but also an answer to the prayers of so many other people.  And I’m grateful.

“For This Child I Prayed”

My wife and I have been married for 10 years, and if it had been up to us we’d have had a whole baseball team of kids by now.  But, that wasn’t God’s plan for us.  Rather, God’s plan for us involved a great crowd of people, praying and interceding for us for years.

The picture above was taken on the day of my daughter’s baptism, last Sunday.  My dad baptized her; our family, our staff, and our small group stood up with us.  I love the image of all of them praying for us, because I know that’s what they’ve been doing, and I love it that you can’t even see our little girl: she’s literally covered in prayer.

Just tonight, we received a note from someone in our church who said she’d been praying for us for years–I’ve frequently heard that these past 8 weeks, and it makes me so happy.  In the Scriptures, Hannah prays for years for a child, and when he comes, she triumphantly tells old Eli, the priest: “for this child I prayed.”

My wife and I could say the same, but we’d have to also add, “And so did countless other people.”



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Survivor’s Guilt? Never Again

by Andrew Forrest
So grateful for an empty hospital bed....

Exactly four weeks ago my wife coded after the birth of our daughter and was revived.  She had a harrowing few days in the ICU, but after a week in the hospital she was discharged.  She was weak, but she was well.  And I felt guilty about it.


Survivor’s Guilt

I felt guilty because everything turned out okay for my family, but I know lots of people whose situations are not okay.

Why am I so blessed?

Folks would ask me how my wife was doing and I would truthfully answer, “I think she’s going to be fine.”  And I felt badly about that; I was embarrassed by our good fortune.

It’s embarrassing how blessed I am:

  • other pastors have congregations who hate them; our people dote on us;
  • other husbands struggle in their marriages; my wife is the kindest, sweetest woman I know;
  • other people’s kids have chronic illnesses; my kids are healthy;
  • I am a rich, white, American man born in the 2nd half of the 20th century.  I wasn’t born black in the 18th century or a Russian serf in the 19th century or a Samaritan woman in the 1st century;
  • My parents will have been married for 40 years this year and taught me to love Jesus;
  • I’m even a great whistler….
  • etc.

I could go on, but it’s embarrassing: I don’t deserve my good fortune.  As a pastor, I have the privilege of walking alongside people in every aspect of their lives, cradle to grave, and I know how much people suffer.  I’ve lived in Africa and I’ve traveled and read widely, and I know how difficult life is for so many people.  I know how often it seems prayers are not answered.

And so, after my wife got out of the hospital the first time, I felt guilty at our good fortune.

And then Wednesday night happened.

Never Again

My wife had to be rushed to the Emergency Room on Wednesday evening, and ultimately had to have emergency and life-saving surgery, surgery that lasted all night.  All night I sat in the empty waiting room, and I didn’t know if she was going to survive.  When I learned she would survive, I also learned that she was intubated and on a ventilator, and then I saw her.

Pray to God you never see a loved one on a ventilator, going in and out of consciousness, pulling at her tube with her bandaged hands.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in hospitals, but when it’s your wife there in the ICU, it’s almost unendurable.

The next night we had another scare and I was woken up on the pull-out couch with bright lights and saw a crowd of doctors in our room.  It was then that I decided that I will never, ever again feel survivor’s guilt.

Survivor’s guilt is a selfish indulgence–a luxury–that I want to forgo forever.

When you are at a point of desperation, when a leaden dread comes upon you, when that of which you are most afraid is threatening to happen, you become painfully aware how foolish and selfish is survivor’s guilt.    You think back to the times when you weren’t afraid and everything was well, and you’re ashamed that you were ever ashamed of your good fortune.  And in those moments, you would do anything to get back to the times when things were good.

I don’t know why God seems to answer some prayers and not others.  I don’t know why some of us receive the blessings we do.  But I also know that I don’t deserve my blessings and didn’t earn them–they just came on me, like the rain.  My blessings don’t mean anything about me: all they do is point to their Source and Giver.

Rather than feeling guilty, I want to be grateful.

I am grateful for God’s goodness toward me.  I am grateful that I did not have to come home in the dark on Thursday morning and wake up my little son and tell him his mother died.  I am grateful that my wife survived.  And I’m grateful that I brought her home not one hour ago.

I want gratitude to pour out of me.  I just went to CVS to pick up a prescription and when the cashier asked me how I was doing, I looked her in the eyes and said, “I am so blessed: my wife just got discharged from the hospital.”  And I gave her a big smile.

I don’t deserve my blessings–and I have SO MANY–but I can use them to bless others.

I want to be grateful, and because I’m grateful, I want to be a giver.

Survivor’s guilt?  Never again.


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[My wife's arm after a few days in ICU--it actually looks much worse today.]

Today is my tenth wedding anniversary.  It’s also been 10 days since my wife coded and was revived in the hospital shortly after the birth of our 2nd child.  So, I’ve been thinking a bit about marriage today.


Some years ago, Dr. Paul Brand wrote a book about what he called “The Gift Nobody Wants.”  The book was about pain.  Dr. Brand was a medical missionary for years and he treated patients with leprosy.  Without pain, lepers are unable to know something is wrong.  No one wants pain, but it has a purpose.

If ever there were a culture totally unsuited for enduring pain it is ours.  For most of us, the highest good to be achieved is the avoidance of pain.  We spend our days amusing ourselves to death, popping pills and seeking diagnoses, jumping in and out of bed and in and out of marriages, all with the end of minimizing pain and maximizing comfort.

Pain cannot ultimately be avoided, however.  You can numb yourself with opiates, but the pain in your soul will only increase.  The brief physical pain that comes from dental surgery can be palliated, but soul pain must be endured.  Which brings me to marriage.

On my wedding day I said:


Everyone likes those words; those words are why we want to be married in the first place.

But the vows I said on my wedding day also include the antitheses of those words:

“For better, for worse, for richer, for poorerin sickness and in health….”

How wise of our ancestors to include in the wedding service the words that nobody wants.

Nobody wants worse or poorer or sickness, and yet marriage includes those words, too.  Marriage, like all of life, includes pain.  It’s the gift nobody wants.

Last week in the middle of the night, I leaned over my wife’s bed in her ICU room and used a straw to drip drops of water on her parched tongue as she looked at me with eyes wild with pain and fear.  Drop.  Pause.  Drop.  Pause.  At that moment I was afraid she was going to die, but at that moment I also felt that I was closer to being her husband than any previous moment in our 10 years of married life together.

Pain is the gift nobody wants, and I’m wondering if pain is not also the primary gift of marriage.

Don’t misunderstand: my wife and I rarely fight and our first 10 years of marriage have been exceedingly happy.  What I mean is that marriage has a way of confronting you with pain.  One day of course, there will be the pain of death and the loneliness of being left behind, alone.  There will be the pain of seeing the other suffer throughout your married life together, in small and great ways.  And, most importantly, there is the pain of being confronted with your own selfishness.  This last pain, I believe, is the primary gift of marriage.

Tim Keller says somewhere that selfishness is the cause of all marital problems.  I believe, though, that selfishness is why God calls a man and a woman together into a marriage–to use the husband to confront his wife’s selfishness, and vice versa.  When you are married, you are constantly discovering that your heart is much more selfish than you’d previously understood.  Men and women are different, and the effect of bringing a man and a woman together into marriage is friction.  It’s pain.

That pain is the gift nobody wants.

And yet it’s the pain we need if we are going to become the creatures God created us to be.  If there were another way for us to become holy apart from pain, we’d have discovered it centuries ago.  But there isn’t.

No one chooses pain.  Some people are physically courageous and will endure physical pain, but the deepest pain is spiritual pain, and spiritual pain breaks everyone.  A boxer might step into the ring year after year; he can stand the pain of getting his nose broken over and over again, but not the pain that comes when two sinful people are joined together in marriage.

The pain that comes from marriage is a searing pain: it hurts to know that you are not as good as you want to believe, that you yourself caused your wife pain with a petulant remark or hard heart that chooses not to forgive.  Sin burns.

It’s not surprising that a culture that sees avoidance of pain as the highest good will struggle with marriage.  This is why the Christian story of marriage is so countercultural.  Marriage, the church has always taught, is not a contract to terminate as either party desires, but a covenantal promise that includes better and worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health.  And it’s when we endure the worse, the poorer, and the sickness that we can become wise and good.

I don’t want pain.  I don’t want the pain of watching my wife’s vital signs taper off, and I don’t want the pain of being confronted with my own selfishness and sin in the daily work of marriage.  And yet I know that pain is a gift, even if it’s the gift nobody wants, and I’m grateful.

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Tomorrow, a new president will take the oath of office.  Whether you voted for President Trump or not, there are lots of people who are telling you what you should be doing for your country, either in support of his policies or in opposition to them: folks are telling you to register voters or call congress or attend a protest or donate to a cause or pray for a candidate.  All of those actions might be important, but they are not most important.  In fact, I believe the most important thing you can do for your country is not to do anything.  Let me explain.


Character is Destiny

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus believed that character is destiny.  What he meant is that who you are will inevitably determine what you do.  A brave man will act bravely, a dishonest man will act dishonestly, etc.

Jesus said the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-18).

The English word character has roots in the Greek word for engraving.  You might say that character is etched into a person; it is something foundational to who the person is.

Formation vs. Education

In our culture, we tend to overlook the slow importance of character formation and instead prefer the quicker and easier work of intellectual education.  Our leaders talk about improving education and argue about how best to do that, but I cannot recall a public figure who has recently been talking about the best way to form character in our children.  Education is important, but education without character will be useless at best and dangerous at worst.  Character matters.

One of the major themes of the New Testament is about how a follower of Jesus can become Christlike in character.  The reason the New Testament is so concerned with character change is because the early Christians knew that you can’t actually live like Jesus unless you are being changed like Jesus from the inside out.  Only then—with a “mind transformed and renewed” (Romans 12:1-2)—is Christlike living possible.  It is not possible to love your enemies, e.g., without first becoming the kind of person who loves her enemies.

The moralistic instruction that we are constantly given—be more civicly engaged, reach out to your neighbor, call your congressman, pray for your senator, start a movement—is all good advice, but it is given out of order.  Before you start a movement, you first need to be the kind of person who starts a movement; before you pray for your senator, you first need to become the kind of person who prays for her senator.  Character matters.  “Good trees produce good fruit.”

This is why I believe the most important thing you can do for America as our new president assumes office is not to do anything.  Rather, you should focus on becoming.

So, how is character formed?  How can we become the kind of people who do good things, or to use Jesus’ metaphor, the kind of trees that produce good fruit?

Silence and Scripture

I believe the most effective way to become more like Jesus is to spend the first 15 minutes every morning in silence and scripture.  Before you reach for your phone or check your Instagram feed or see who won the late game, you need to just sit and be still and read a bit of Scripture.  Taken by itself, the principle of the #First15 seems useless: how does sitting in silence result in any new voters registered or any new movements funded or any congresswomen prayed for?  But becoming the right type of person will result in your doing the right type of actions, and on a daily basis nothing will be more formative to your character than the #First15.

Character is destiny: good trees produce good fruit, and bad trees produce bad fruit.  Who you are determines what you do.  There is a lot that needs doing in America, but doing comes after being.  If you become more like Jesus, you’ll inevitably act like him.  (In fact, the more you become like Jesus, the more Christlike actions will be second nature to you.)  This is what the early Christians meant by discipleship.

It was fifty-six years ago that President Kennedy delivered that thrilling conclusion to his Inaugural Address: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  As a new President assumes office, I believe that what’s most important for you to do for your country is to be a certain sort of person: someone who thinks and acts like Jesus.



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