I Received a Black Eye – and I’m Proud of It

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(This post first appeared at Theological Matters)

Recently, I came to work with a periorbital hematoma, also known as a black eye. Everyone wanted to know what happened—did I run into a door, was I mugged, etc. I do not have an elaborate or heroic story explaining the black eye that would permit me to state, “You should see the other guy.” No, the story is much more straightforward. Simply stated, my 7-year-old son gave me a black eye … and I am proud of it. Continue reading

Table for Six, Please

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(This post first appeared at Theological Matters)

My family consists of six people—two adults and four children. Needless to say, in today’s economy, we do not eat out often. However, when we do eat out, there are numerous restaurants to which I cannot take the “Patrick 6.” First, there are the restaurants that possess tables bolted to the floor that fit a maximum of two or four people—there is no option of moving tables together short of breaking concrete. Then, there are the restaurants that possess large enough tables or the ability to move tables together, but they make it quite clear that they do not prefer children. I’ve even been coldly told, “We usually don’t have children here.” Finally, there are the restaurants that “tolerate” my family size but place us in the farthest corner a mile away from the other customers, afraid the children will make noise, throw food, or infect them. Yes, we’ve had other guests actually get up and move after we sit down.[1] Continue reading

Till Death Do Us Part

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This week has been one of marital contrast. On one hand Paige and Dorothy Patterson (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. Their biblical marriage remains vibrant and an exemplar. On the other hand Tullian Tchividjian (Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church) resigned as senior pastor after both he and his wife, married 21 years, admitted to moral failures. Two marriages in ministry – one flourishing, one withering. What lesson can we learn? What lesson can I learn to protect my marriage of 9 years? Continue reading

Prisoners, Yet Free

Chain BreakingMay 9, 2015, the day I went to prison.

Clang, clang, clang, clang – the series of four gates closed separating me from the free world as I was searched and ushered into the maximum security prison. The contrast was instantly striking. The blue sky and slight breeze outside was replaced with the dark, humid, and warm prison. A ringing bell that sounds seven times a day to signal the counting of the inmates replaced chirping birds and the background noise of life. Individualism was immediately replaced by conformity. There I stood on the cold concrete floor, under the ever-watchful eye of guards and the sometimes curious and most of the time stoic eyes of inmates. I was no longer “me,” but was a last name and an eight-digit number. It was palpable that I was no longer in the free world. Continue reading

Lego Daddy

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Recently my oldest son approached me to share his latest Lego creation – me (photo above). “Look Dad,” he joyfully stated, “I made you!” He had assembled various Lego-people body parts to make a new character. The resemblance was reasonable: I wear a suit or sport jacket for work and a hat when the temperature is less than 40°F since I am bald, I have a goatee, and, well, we won’t say anything about me having a round head. I enjoyed my son’s creativity, but the Lego-me also points to an important lesson for any dad: my son is watching me, attempting to mimic me. What a responsibility God has given me as a father! Continue reading

A Man of God: God’s Army Knife

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My father gifted me a Victorinox Swiss Army knife, complete with a Zermatt brown leather pouch/sheath, when I was a teenager. Recently my four children asked to see my Swiss Army knife. They sat mesmerized as I exhibited the various tools housed in the compact, red, polished Cellidor housing. They wanted to try all fourteen stainless steel implements and know the purpose for each tool. Amazingly, we managed to complete the exhibition without lacerations despite eight hands and 40 fingers flying around the Swiss Army knife.

The Victorinox Swiss Army knife is an iconic and useful knife with distinctive characteristics, or marks: compact and sturdy, many functions in one device – literally a toolbox in a pocket, precision, and the classic red Cellidor housing with the famous emblem – a cross on a shield. One day, I too will give my three boys a Swiss Army knife as they begin to transition from boyhood to manhood. The oldest boy is already six years old, approximately halfway to the transition time. Like a Swiss Army knife, I want my boys to possess distinctive marks, the marks of a man of God. I want each one to be God’s Army Knife. Continue reading