All posts in Reckless People

Here Lies a Ragamuffin


“Shalom, be at peace. I understand your fears, your failures, your brokenness. I don’t expect you to be perfect. I have been there. All is well. You have my love. You don’t have to pay for it and you can’t deserve it. I expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself. You only have to open and receive it. You only have to say yes to my love – a love beyond anything you can intellectualize or imagine.”

It was three years ago, and I was on a time of personal spiritual retreat. On my drive to the retreat location I had stopped at a bookstore and picked up a book called Souvenirs of Solitude by one of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning. He words above are from the first chapter. They were words he felt like God spoke to his soul during a similar time.

Brennan Manning died last Friday. Far from perfect, he was a man who struggled with grace. He was a Korean war vet, a Franciscan priest who left the priesthood to get married and then eventually divorced, and an alcoholic. Far from being remembered as a Saint, I think Brennan would want to be remembered by the moniker he proclaimed in one of his books: A Ragamuffin. In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan described himself this way:

“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”

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The Harmonica Man

I’m in process of a few projects right now,  so my Blogging time is being pinched. (an announcement is coming…) In the meantime, I wanted to share this video of a man who really was Reckless:

Special thanks to my Mom and Cousin Rick for passing this video on.


On Life and Light


If you like me, stop reading now.

Seriously. I have struggled with how to express myself on this topic, because I know that I will make some people mad.

So…. If you like me, read at your own risk. If you don’t know me keep reading. And if you want to participate in gentle discussion at the end, I would welcome it.

Life Chain is an annual event here in Jackson. Nationwide, thousands of people participate. The goal is to gather people together to pray for an end to abortion in our country, and to be a public silent protest.

I have participated in Life Chain events in the past.  I agree with the organizers that abortion is something that should be stopped. I am Pro-Life.

Life Chain was yesterday, and I wanted to share for a minute why our church and I did not participate.

Many people that I know and respect participate in Life Chain. I respect them and their decision to participate. It’s not that I think Life Chain is bad, I simply think it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. It creates more polarization in an already charged atmosphere. I know the focus is to stand in prayerful solidarity, but we need to understand how it is viewed by the very people the church is supposed to be on mission to reach.

Abortion is one of the most polarizing topics in our culture. People on both sides of the issue can’t comprehend how someone could stand on the other side. Pro-Life advocates can’t comprehend how anyone could terminate a pregnancy and not consider it murder. Pro-Choice advocates can’t understand how anyone can call it murder. When one side sees the other as murderers and the other side sees that side as crazy, it’s hard to have an honest discussion. Continue reading →


Reckless Ace


The airplane would have bumped and jerked as it was hit with anti-aircraft fire. Enemy planes had been scrambled and were forming up to try to shoot him down. In spite of this, Oswald Boelke (pictured above) kept flying towards the enemy lines.

It was WWI, and Oswald Boelke was one of German’s top aces. However this particular mission wasn’t one of war, but one of honor. He was not there that day to deliver bombs or bullets, but rather a letter.

Oswald Boelke was being Reckless.

Days before he had been in a dogfight with two British airmen: Lt William E Somervill and Lt Geoffrey C Formilli. They were trying desperately not to be shot down by one Boelke, who by the time of his own death would have shot down 25 planes. His name was spoken in hushed tones on British airbases. He even mentored Manfred von Richthofen, the famous “Red Baron”.  To get in a dogfight with the man was usually a one way ticket to the ground the hard way.

Somervill and Formilli’s plane after it crashed.

On this day Boelke won again, damaging the British plane to the point it had to crash land in a field. The German landed nearby and found that the two British airmen were wounded, but very much alive. He walked up to his adversaries and exclaimed that he was glad to have brought them down alive. He then made sure that they were taken off to a nearby hospital to have their wounds cared for.

As if that wasn’t enough, Boelke did something crazy. He took letters from the downed airmen, and was so intent on making sure their families knew they were OK, he flew over enemy lines to deliver the messages. His plane took heavy gunfire and other planes chased him, but he managed to drop the message and get home alive.

A soldier who witnessed the act later wrote:

 The German machine very sportingly held on through heavy shell fire from us and the French and was chased by several of our machines and had to run a hot gauntlet on its errand but it escaped alright.

How often are we hesitant to help someone if to go out of our way means an inconvenience to us? Here is a man who faced death, to let the parents and friends of his enemies know that they were alright.

That’s Reckless.



The Man Who Gave


Ann Arbor is about a half hour from my driveway. It is most well known as the home of the University of Michigan and, this time of year especially, as the home of the Michigan Wolverines football team.

It was also recently the location of an incredibly Reckless act.

Howard Cooper Import Center was long known as a reputable and fair car dealership. The founder, Howard Cooper, started the business 47 years ago. This month the business is changing hands as he has decided at the age of 83 that it was finally time to retire. The dealership has been sold and Howard is — rightfully so — ready to take a break.

But he had one piece of business to take care of before he left. Last week he walked into the office with a stack of envelopes and gave one to each employee. In that envelope was a check worth $1,000 for every year they had worked for the company.

One man who had been driving the parts van for the company for nearly 28 years received a check for nearly $28,000.

Another received a check for $26,000. Everyone got something – 89 employees in all.

In a day where the news stories that make the headlines are those of corporate corruption and downsizing, this is a story that needs to be told and retold.

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Inciting Incidents


I never had my 16th birthday.

Seriously. The day simply didn’t exist for me.

On the day before my birthday I boarded a 747 in Los Angeles that would eventually take me to Melbourne, Australia. Somewhere in the midnight darkness of the Pacific Ocean we crossed the International Date Line. June 23rd became June 25th and my special day of the 24th simply vanished into some space-time continuum that I still don’t fully understand.

I was on my way to Boronia, Victoria, a suburb outside of Melbounre. (Picture the southernmost part of Australia’s east coast) It was a Sort Term Mission trip, and it was a trip of firsts for me.

It was the first time I had flown. I guess go big or go home would be the appropriate thought there. My first flight ever was an Indianapolis to Chicago leg of what would be 40 hours in the air, round trip. I wasn’t sure if flying would terrify me, or excite me, or whether I would need to make use of the special baggie I found the airline had graciously left in the seat pocket in front of me.

It was my first extended time away from home. I had been to summer camps a few hours from my house, but never spent two weeks on the other side of the world. I think my mom had more trouble with this than I did. At the end of one phone conversation in which I described having flipped a go cart and catching it’s engine on fire (true story), my worried mother told me from half a world away that I should probably go to bed now.

(Confession time, I didn’t listen. I spent the evening watching Mr. Bean.) 

It was also my first mission trip. It was the beginning of what has become an 18-year odyssey of travel, ministry and stretching that I could never have imagined. One of my passions has been to encourage others to take part in at least one short-term mission trip in their lifetimes. I have taken part in over 20 teams to countries across both oceans. I have led trips and participated in trips. I have encouraged, cajoled, and pushed to get others to join me.


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Death of a Star Sailor


Some steps are bigger than others.

In 1927, French science fiction writer Joseph Henri Honoré Boex was looking for a word to describe explorers who left the bounds of earth to explore space. He hit on a combination of two Greek words: Astron (star) and nautes (sailor).* Twenty years later when the scientific community was looking for a word to describe the new breed of explorers they were developing they chose this word: astronaut.

There is a piece of me that wishes we could just call astronauts “star sailors.”

This past Saturday, August 25, 2012, one of those Star Sailors took his last voyage. Neil Armstrong, the first, and one of only 12 men to ever walk on the moon, died. As the world has reflected on his life, I have been struck by the Reckless nature of those individuals who willingly put their lives on the line, fully understanding what the consequences may be, in the name of exploration.

Astronauts are an amazing example of Reckless people.

Though the course of this discussion of Recklessness we have defined it as “acting without care of the consequences.” It is a person who understands that the path that they are on may be dangerous, or potentially harmful, and they go in that direction anyway.

Some go because of the adventure, some go because of a sense of duty, others push forward because they simply believe the job must be done.

Every astronaut, from the beginning of the space program has understood the hazards of what they have undertaken. The members of the early Gemini and Apollo missions all had friends who had died. We all know the tragic story Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chafee, the Apollo 1 astronauts who died during training when a fire broke out in the cabin. In addition to these deaths, five other Astronauts died as a result of training jet crashes, including Robert Lawrence who was supposed to have been the first African-American in space.

It is easy for us, looking in the rearview mirror that is history, to write off the danger those early astronauts faced. They risked everything, knowing what it could mean, but they went forward anyway. There is a chilling speech that was prepared for Nixon to read in the event that Armstrong and Aldrin were stranded on the moon. (You can read the speech here) There would have been no possibility of a rescue mission. Reading this speech brings the Reckless nature of what they were doing into a whole new light.

These men went to the moon, not without thought to the consequences, but in spite of the potential consequences.

Neil Armstrong himself said it best: “There can be no great accomplishment without risk.”

Too often we live lives designed to avoid risk. But risk is required if we are to accomplish great things. As followers of Christ, called to be redemptive agents in our world, risk is part of the job description.

Godspeed Mr. Armstrong. Thank you for your example.

* If you want to get technical, Boex used the French word “astronautique.” American writer Neil Jones was the first to use the Americanized version “Astronaut” in his book The Death’s Head Meteor.


The Woman in Purple


Every time I think of quitting I will see her face.


We were in the hills of Costa Rica, about five miles north of the border with Panama in a little village called Shiroles.  It’s a place where plantain trees with huge droopy leaves line bumpy roads and where horses are as common as bicycles. A walk in the woods can fill your arms with fresh coconut, cocoa, guava, papaya, and a local treat called mamones that look like sea urchins but taste like awesome.

Pastor Indalecio, earlier in the week tending to some plantain trees.

Our team spent the week doing construction, working with kids, and supporting two local churches in their ministries. On the next to last day it was announced that we would spend the afternoon on a prayer walk. Pastor Indalecio, one of the pastors we were working with, gathered us in a circle and through a translator said these words: “We are about to go into the battlefield.” He then shared four stops we would make and the needs we would be praying for.

It was the second of those four stops that has stuck with me. We had been told the story before we arrived: A couple had been pastoring a church when the husband had decided to leave his wife for two other women.  She was left to provide and care for her family and try to shepherd the people at the same time.
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Where Is The Wind Taking You?


Trust is hard.

We all like to be in control.

This past weekend was an event called the Hot Air Jubilee here in Jackson. Hot Air Balloonists from around the US converge on Jackson for a weekend of flying and competition. Tens of thousands of people flock to a local park to see the balloons, have a corn dog, and get spun around on carnival rides.

Several years ago our church, Rivertree, got involved as a way to serve our community. One thing led to another and now I sit on the Board of the event. It is one of the largest annual events in our county, and does a great deal for bringing our community together.

Our balloon, Syncronicity, piloted by Jeff Halitzer on a different flight

This year my wife and I had the opportunity to fly in one of the balloons. We lifted off from behind a local Middle School and floated over downtown Jackson. Dogs barked wildly as the sometimes noisy bags of color floated above their domains. People stood on back decks and waved. And I tried very hard not to pee my pants. As the town of Jackson fell behind us, we floated out over land that is nothing more than forest and farm land. We startled deer, and flew near a group of sand hill cranes. It was a beautiful flight.

There was one problem: finding a place to land. Most of what we could see by this time were trees. The few open areas that we saw were farmer’s fields, something that balloonists try to avoid landing in because they don’t want to damage a farmers crops.

We had one other problem: You can’t steer a balloon.
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Bus Size Sharks and Free Diving Birds


Birds can hold their breath and swim under water.

At least, some birds can.

This may be old news to you, but apparently I had been asleep on that day of Earth Science class.

This new tidbit of knowledge was passed on to me last week while my family and I were on vacation in Florida. We had boarded a plane and taken the kids down to see Grandma and Grandpa in Cape Coral. The kids were looking forward to seven straight days of being spoiled by Grandma, and mom and dad were looking forward to some extra sleep and maybe some sunshine.

Tropical Storm Debby nixed the hopes for sunshine, and a flu bug kept us close to the bathroom for several days, but neither was strong enough to knock out a grandma intent on her grandkids. The kids had a great time.

Whenever we go to Florida I look for opportunities to go SCUBA diving. It is really the reason why I got certified in the first place: to be able to explore the warm waters of the sunshine state. Diving here in Michigan is OK, but is nothing compared to Florida. The east coast of Florida is the place to go if you are a diver. Ft. Lauderdale and Key Largo are diving meccas.

The tooth in picture at the top is a Megladon tooth I brought back. This picture is a bone from a Dugong.

However the west coast where my wife’s parents live has a diving experience I had been wanting to try for a while: Diving for prehistoric shark teeth.  There is an area a few hundred yards off the coast of Venice, Florida that is called the Boneyard. The bottom is littered with bones: mammoth bones, ancient whale bones, bones of an animal called a dugong which looks kind of like a manatee except it’s tale looks like a dolphin’s tale, and the prize that everyone is looking for — the teeth of prehistoric sharks.These shark teeth can be as large as six inches long, and came from long dead sharks called Megladons that were up to sixty feet long, three times the size of a great white. Definitely wouldn’t want to be in the water with one of those.
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