Another quick open letter to Joe Blow. I’ve known Joe for 16 years and had the privilege to watch him grow and mature. It was a pleasure to see him in the Washington, D.C. area over the weekend. Thanks man, I love you brother!
“Nothing happens to any man that he is not formed by nature to bear.”
“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 NASB
High School Football in Milwaukee
I just want to spend this evening and say it was so good to see you this weekend. When I saw you with your small carry on suitcase walking through my apartment complex of course you are going to get a bear hug! 🙂 I’ve known you for 16 years and I have your back and always will. How could I not almost squeeze out your liver. I mean you will grow another one right?
I want to say that is has been a joy and a privilege to watch you grow and mature. I still remember the first time I picked you up in Milwaukee. I was asked to work with you. Of course when you were in D.C. I had to remind you of the one time I jokingly directed you to drive the wrong way on Wells Street in Milwaukee. But seriously its a joy to watch you grow into a man. I know you played football but I have no idea you would grow into coaching and developing other guys as well. That Joe is neat. Its amazing to watch you learn, talk and speak the football language. It is in its own way its own language. Kind of like “Christianese” or the military or the medical profession. Please keep me posted and I have one request. When you are the offensive coordinator for the University of Wisconsin and you guide the Badgers into the Rose Bowl, can you get me tickets on the field at the 50 yard line? Would that be possible?
I appreciated the long conversations we had. You have no idea how much I crave them Joe. The truth is living in the Washington, D.C. area is hard. Its part of the reason why I work so hard at maintaining friendships in Milwaukee, California and elsewhere. All the people I know have moved away for the most part and I am working hard to get to know others. But D.C. is a transitory environment that’s very fluid and I really need to accept that, I really do. Its amazing as I reflect on it as in some ways our paths went the same way. We both were members of Wooded Hills Bible Church in Colgate, Wisconsin. We both did Campus Crusade…me at Marquette University and you at University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. Its kind of weird to know how our paths followed each other for a while.
These last few years have been hard. The faith crisis was unplanned. Also unplanned was being unsuccessfully recruited into Sovereign Grace. The pain that has come in my life the last four years has been hard. Unless you go through something like this I don’t think you can understand. I often find myself pondering and asking the question…why is religion so painful in this country? Why are so many people getting hurt? I’ve been through so much in my life…it baffles me why its so hard and so difficult. It seems like its easy to find the bad places and hard to find the good ones. That conversation we had in Panera was good Joe. That talk reminded me of those talks we used to have in Milwaukee years ago.
I am super glad you are also a home owner. That is pretty neat. I have to say I am a little jealous in that you have more room and a yard. I could never afford something like that in the DC area. What I would have to do is buy a house in Richmond, or Hagerstown and then commute. But in all seriousness the fact that you have a home is good for you and your wife. You can grow, develop and find something you both can work on. That leads me to my next point. Your wife is amazing. I don’t have to tell you this as you already know this but you are blessed and fortunate to have her as your wife. Look out and be thankful for her. I noticed when you spoke about your wife you actually glowed. That’s cool to see Joe. It really is. One of these days you are going to be a father and I look forward to watching that develop as well. I still can’t believe Kyle is one and now with number two on the way I am thankful that I am not in Wisconsin as the state is being invaded! 😛 All joking aside when the time comes you will be an amazing Dad. Let me state again I really enjoyed going to your wedding. That was memorable and amazing and I reflect on it from time to time.
This blog has been a lot of effort and work. I started this as you know when I was at the end of my rope. I was so frustrated and reeling in so much emotional pain. A sincere, and deep “I’m sorry” and talking it through would have done it for me, but that is not going to happen. So after seeing how destructive religion can be I can’t turn a blind eye to some of these problems. The biggest thing I have going on is a project on the Evangelical Free Church of America Joe. I am calculating the rate and growth of Neo-Calvinist theology in the denomination. I can tell I am writing about a denomination that is currently being theologically hijacked. Speaking of the Evangelical Free I am writing about a corrupt church outside Philadelphia. The Senior Pastor is Joni Erickson Tada’s main biographer. His son allegedly raped his wife and allegedly domestically abused her. Another time she woke up in bed to allegedly seeing her husband load a gun and point it at her. When she filed for divorce the Senior Pastor Steve Estes had her daughter-in-law excommunicated and driven out of town. He did this to protect his son who is a Jail Guard. People appealed for help to the Evangelical Free at the district and national level in Minneapolis. Minneapolis was okay with an alleged domestic abuse victim facing ex-communication. When I heard about it I started to write aggressively about it and gave the denomination a good strong hard kick in the ass. Then the denomination did backward summersaults when they realized they were being written up on the internet. Why do I do this? Because in my darkest night I had hoped that someone would come alongside and help me. I wished and hoped that someone could have intervened and stop the pain. This has been really hard to do as some of the stuff I have heard has been hard to let go. Domestic abuse, child sex abuse and so much more are horrific. Many people want to act like they don’t exist but they do. And they are a serious issue in evangelical Christianity.
There’s a lot more on my plate. I am concerned about the direction of Cru. I learned that TCX is going to have one of the main speakers be someone involved in Mars Hill Seattle. It angers me that Cru either struggles with discernment or is taking a Neo-Calvinist agenda. Some of the growing issues in Cru need to be addressed. On the flip side I am also getting to know skeptics and atheists. I love people Joe. It really time we focus on internal problems and deal with those. The key to it all is stepping back and not thinking of it as a tree, but looking at the broad picture the forest.
Anyhow I wanted to get up something to say that I loved seeing you. Can I confide something? I cried in my bedroom the other night just thinking of how I have known you and what I would have lost had I not re-engaged in 2002. You have taught me so much Joe. My life would be spiritually poor and bankrupt had I not re-engaged. What little I have given you, you have returned ten fold to me. So I just want to say thank you. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your love. Thank you for being you. You are unique, precious and amazing. Its been such a joy to watch you become the man you are today. I smile in knowing that I got to see that happen, both in Milwaukee and from Washington, D.C. Please know that my place is yours, so if you ever come back you or Kyle, Greg or anyone else is welcome to stay. That’s just who I am. You come again and we’ll have to hit another Smithsonian. Glad you enjoyed the Air and Space Extension in Dulles. This is my second letter to you and in the course of time there will probably be more. Give a hug to Kyle, Greg and the others. Tell them I miss them as well. Its so nice to know that I am blessed to know many people in the Milwaukee area. I know you like U2, but for a change how about Snow Patrol? If you don’t like it Joe I can change it for you.
Keep in touch, and know that I love you brother. I will always have your back no matter what happens.