Friday, March 29, 2013

White Christmas - IT’S A GIFT!!!

My father bought me a gift…a TV.  I did not want him to buy me a TV; I felt I could do that on my own just fine.  Compared to my old TV this one is leaps and bounds more superior in every way.  To find out just how much better things are with this TV I had to give it a fair comparison (size, color, clarity, etc.).  I played a movie on both sets, a movie that my whole family has memorized, a movie I probably see 2-3 times a year, White Christmas.  The differences just piled up.

Naturally one of the first things I saw was the actual color of Bing’s and Danny’s eyes; then details on the people’s faces (like any wrinkles, moles, etc.).  Then, during the club-car scene, I could see the pattern of Bing’s tie!!!  Even more, I could see that he had a tie-tac on!!!  Just when I thought I had seen it all I saw a little flicker towards the bottom of the screen…it was Bing’s buttons and cufflinks reflecting off of the shiny tabletop!!!  WHO KNEW THAT THE TABLETOP ACTUALLY SHINED?!!

The list goes on and on.  After a while my surprise and joy started turning to puzzlement.  How come I had not noticed these things before?  Was the quality that this movie was recorded in far superior to the TV sets that it had been playing on….since the move had been produced!  If the technology of years ago was so good to make a movie of such great quality why is it that people weren’t enjoying that quality years ago when those movies came out?

The answer of course lies in the TV set.  For reasons beyond my comprehension movies were made great but the way we saw them wasn’t; our vision was broken and in need of repair before we could see things clearly.  My vision was fixed by my father.

My father gave me my TV.  It was a gift which allowed me to see clearly.  I didn’t ask for it, it wasn’t on any wish list; it was free of charge and obligation.  I was content with my old TV; but maybe that’s because I didn’t know that things could be better than my old TV.

As humans we are born into the world as sinners, broken, unable to see clearly, and even if we were presented with a way to see clear, to fix our broken sight, our sinful nature would not let us choose to do so.  We only know what we have, which is sin, and don’t know that there is something better out there.  In short, since we are broken, we cannot fix anything, including ourselves.  We have to be fixed, made whole, given sight, and we cannot do it to ourselves.

The gift that Christ has for us could only be paid by him, a man that knows no sin.  The gift that Christ has for us is the only remedy for our broken state.  The gift that Christ has for us is a beautiful and glorious thing; something that the world cannot offer or match.  Out of all things, however, that the gift that Christ has for is, I think the best part is that it is what it is…a gift.

This gift cannot be purchased by man for we cannot pay the price.  This gift cannot be given by man for it is not ours to give.  This gift cannot be requested or chosen because 1)our sinful nature will not let us choose to do any good and 2) if we could attain it by a merely asking or choosing…IT NEGATES IT BEING A GIFT!!!!  There are no requisition forms for the gift that Christ offers.  It is a gift given to man by God, period.

We must submit to the fact that salvation is a gift.  We don’t deserve it and we can’t do anything to get it.  If we reduce the weight of what Christ has done for us on the cross we reduce the worth of Him as well.  By believing that one can take an active role in their own salvation one sets themself up for confusion in their spiritual life; confusion that the devil will take hold of and continue to weave doubt into the believers mind with.

As I write this I anticipate the celebration of the baptism of my two sons, Jayden and Kaelis.  On Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, my boys will receive the free gift of Christ through the water and the Word.  Praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


When I was in junior high my father took my two brothers, two of our friends and me to a 3-day Christian Rock festival in Minnesota.  3 days, 3 stages and a circus tent full of audio adrenaline….and yes Audio Adrenaline was also there.  I remember making a checklist of all the bands I wanted to hear.  The list came from our exposure to Z Music Television from our GIANT satellite dish.  That year there were countless emerging Christian bands of all different styles.  One of those bands was Big Tent Revival, author of the hit song What Would Jesus Do?

Now I’m not sure if Big Tent spurred the whole W.W.J.D. movement into action but it’s safe to say that their audio-hit-sensation probably didn’t hinder it in any way.  (To this day I can still play the whole tune, intro and all.)  There were hats, shirts, cds, bracelets, pencils, banners, heck I even saw a WWJD VW bus!  This was movement was as catchy as the flu in a public school.

Fast forward a bit….ok, a lot, to present day.  I still hear people spouting the ol’ What Would Jesus Do anthem, some very seriously and but some sarcastically.  I’ve noticed how this phrase has changed from that of a message of encouragement and such to an imposition of moralism; used as a verbal knife to jab in the side of others when they are not performing up to strict religious or moral expectations.  I’ll admit I’ve had this phrase used on me a time or two and in my general disgust with the people wielding it I end up removing myself from their ever-so-awesome presence.

So I get to thinking.  Cedric, says I, what does this triune God of yours do?  A pretty relevant question if everyone is always asking what He would do….or insinuating that they already know. 

Well, there’s all this carrying people’s stuff an extra mile, washing people’s feet, forgiving and healing people that I’m constantly being “preached” about, but is that all God ever did?  What about Jesus’ Olympic Gold medal in Temple Table Tossing?  How about God kicking the peeps out of Eden and putting an angel with a fiery sword on guard to keep out any squatters?  Was Sodom and Gomorrah just a bedtime story?  Wandering lost in the desert?  Slavery under the Pharaoh?  The ten plagues?  Flooding and destroying the earth?  Are we getting both sides of the coin yet?

I’m a little confused (not really, I’m being facetious).  You’re shoving all this WWJD Law in my face about what I should and should not do and thus imply that the Law is what my Savior is all about (side one of the coin), and after attempting to bury me in guilt and despair you neglect to inform me of the Gospel of Christ, the grace He gave to us all that wipes our sins out (side two of the coin).  So here’s my conclusion: 1)WWJD is a pile of crap.  Jesus is the only one who could do what He did; you can’t do it, I can’t do it, don’t try to guilt me into trying to be my Savior with your sarcastic slogan….I can’t save anything or anyone...including myself. 2)God/Jesus wasn’t warm and fluffy all the time like WWJD implies He is.  Read your stinkin’ Bible and find out.  3) The Law of which you so ardently preach with your WWJD does not mean a thing without the Gospel.  Yes, as born sinners we do deserve a sinner’s death, we deserve to carry our shame, our guilt, our despair, our death, but Christ’s selfless sacrifice paid our debt, forgave our sins, and claimed us as his own.

So please, don’t try to integrate your works-based moralism into my faith; they are non-compatible and quite frankly it’s insulting.  Instead of “doing,” why don’t we perform the opposite, rely.  Let’s rely on the fact that it is by grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone that we are saved.  Let’s rely on the fact that our salvations lies solely in Him, not in anything we do.  Let’s rely on what the Bible says and not what our emotions want.  Instead of living under the Law, let’s use it to remind us to rely on the Gospel.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I can’t believe it’s taken this long.  I guess I just put up with a lot of crap.  Maybe I don’t have an aggressive personality.  Maybe I don’t stand up for things like I should.  Well, here it is.

I’m tired.  Sick and tired of being preached the “prosperity of tolerance”.  Not the tolerance that happens every day; you know, the tolerance whose definition is closely related to politeness.  I’m talking about this bend-over-backward so you don't offend someone tolerance.  The sacrifice your beliefs to appease others otherwise you are an evil radical thinking person…tolerance.

I have read quite a bit, on Facebook, of people that have been hit with this.  My usual response was to chew my screen out or give a simple sigh of discontent.  Then it happened to me.  It had started and ended before I even knew it.  As I looked back I was very ashamed of how I acted.  I put up no argument, no defense, not a single thing.  I was polite, agreeable, and even apologetic at times.  Don’t get me wrong, those aren’t bad traits…but I think they were at the wrong time.

The “brass tacks," without too much detail, is simply this: I need to compromise, to be more tolerant, about matters of my faith/religion.  I need to “ease up” and “cut corners” to help other people out, people with faiths or religions that differ from mine.  If I don’t comply I am an evil person, a “right-wing radical.”   It is the tolerance that “makes America such a great country;” it is that love for each other and each other’s faiths that “truly shows the kindness of our God” (whatever deity it may be).  I should compromise because, “Well, you’re a believer, and doesn’t God teach you to turn the other cheek, be kind to your neighbor, walk a mile in their shoes, and all that What Would Jesus Do?”

Frell with that!  This is my faith.  If I need someone to lecture me on how my faith stands in regards to things like other denominations, other faiths, homosexuals, and the like…I’ll find myself someone who knows what the heck they’re talking about, someone with some education, someone who will teach me…not demand my submission under the cloak of “tolerance”.

The fact that you type of people find it your job to impose your ideas, undermine biblical authority, poison faith, and make people feel ashamed of what they believe is truly unbelievable to me.  I really do pity you.

To those who I have seen this happen to I offer my sincerest of apologies.  I should have offered you my support.  I promise to do so if I see it again.

Having said all that, I hope you will notice that I have not yelled, used profanity, or attacked your faith/lack of faith.  I am calmly saying “no thank you” to your “advice.”  I hope you don’t think of me as a “right-wing radical.”  Now if you'll excuse me, I have some firearms that desperately need cleaning….

Monday, September 24, 2012


Teaching would be a great…if it wasn’t for all the kids.  We’ve all heard that saying numerous times; I’ve even mentioned it in jest a few myself.  It wasn’t until recently, though, when I was thinking about that phrase that I said, “Boy, I’m sure glad God doesn’t feel that way about us.”

Just imagine it, the Creator being fed up with the created to the point He questioned if all this was worth it.  Imagine the questions in our heads; the fear that one might not retain their salvation because they annoyed God too much one day, the questioning “If I did/worked a little more to please Him would he forgive me”.  Can you imagine the sheer chaos the world would see if we a) had to work to get this forgiveness and b) work to keep our forgiveness!

Praise the Lord that we live in a world where God does not treat us the way we treat each other…even when it is in jest!  We are promised from the very beginning of our lives…even before our lives started that Christ sacrificed himself for us as atonement for our sins.  (Romans 5:8)  We praise the living God that gives us life while we were spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1, Col. 2:13).  This new life is a free gift, a gift of love, a gift bought through sacrifice.  We should celebrate with endless joy, in my opinion, what we are given…for it is the greatest gift a person can receive.

A problem can arise, however, when the devil stirs doubt in us; doubt if we are “good enough”, “if we deserve being saved”, if we “really meant it” when “we got” saved.  And this is where the beauty lies; we didn’t do a thing for our salvation…we can’t!  We are given sanctification; there is nothing we do or can do in this process…no appeal to the judge, no forming a committee, no application forms, no fees to be paid, no 6-8 weeks reply in the mail….are we getting the picture.  It is not by grace and a little bit of myself that gets the job done…it is by GRACE ALONE!  For it is grace you are saved through faith.  And this is not of you own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8).  It is grace alone through faith; the faith that has been worked in us by the Holy Spirit, who opened our hearts and understanding to The Word in the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).

It’s a glorious thing!  God loves us so much that He sent His Son to save us; and on top of the grace that is given to us is also the knowledge that throughout our lives God will not grow tired or sick of us and change his mind about our worth.  So let’s take comfort and assurance in the Word of God; rest easy in the knowledge that It and He are constant.

Friday, September 14, 2012


It’s that time of the year; you know, when we receive flyers of stores around the world having sales on things like pencils, pens, erasers, notebooks, clothes, shoes, tissue paper, rubber cement….WAIT…ok, so I got carried away with that last one.  Anywhosal, school is starting up again; summer vacations, weekend trips to the lake, and pilgrimages to Comicon and Star Trek conventions are all memories of days past.  As a teacher, one of the school weeks I look forward to most is the first week of school.  Everyone is sporting their new outfits, their new “dos”, but most of all their new “you’s”.

We’ve all done it; maybe even every year, we buy into the belief that we can make a drastic change in our lives that will make us happier and allow people to glom onto our new personalities with happiness and joy.  What’s more than that is we do it again after Christmas vacation and dress it up as a “resolution to a new and improved me”.  If we tally it up the average teenager, from middle school through high school, will go through no less than 12 “new me’s”!!!

Adding to the pile is all our dear friends heading off to higher education….college.  I cannot count the amount of times I have heard from movies, my senior open house, and the first week of college, “College is the best time of your life.  You can reinvent yourself.  Become a new person.  Become the person you want to be.”

So what you’re saying “average people of America” is that I am not good enough just as I am or that I would be happier molding myself into something else more acceptable to other people?

What a sack of lies and deceit we spread to our youth.  We blame the media, video games, and all sorts of things on the breaking down of generations but isn’t it WE that do it to ourselves?!

I recently talked with a high school graduate that was obviously nervous about going to college.  They had heard much of the same aforementioned “words of wisdom” and asked me if I had any parting words for them.

Well, as in typical Cedric fashion, if I don’t have time ahead to really think through things I don’t always convey what I really mean.  So I said the ever-so-standby answer regarding “being yourself” and the such.  Now, however, that I have had time to mull it over a bit I would like to expound on my answer.

Sod on all that garbage you’ve heard about reinventing yourself.  Have you not heard and have you not read that you are a child of God (Jn.1:12); made in His image (Gen. 1:27).  Don’t you know that He knows the plans He made out for you. (Jer. 29:11).  So if God made you, and made you in His own image, and He knows the plans laid out for you, then why should we concern ourselves with being re-made in the images and for plans of mere people?  If we are practicing Christians shouldn’t we pray for God to lead us where His will for us is?  Shouldn’t we pray to continually be molded by God into the person He plans for us to be?

So students, my advice and prayer for you is to ardently seek God’s will for you.  Allow the will of Christ to mold you into the person He needs for His kingdom.  May any “changes/reinventing” done in your life actually be changes done by Christ Jesus according to His plans for you.  May the molding of your mind and heart be for His glory.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


On the evening of May 31st 2010 I stood holding my son in my arms; not even an hour old.  As he fussed a little one of the nurses told me to sing him a lullaby.  Oh crap….Cedric are you serious….you can’t remember any lullabies?  What?!  You can’t remember ANY songs!  I went from sheer awe of this little child to almost panic because I couldn’t remember a single song.  Then the nurse put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Just sing from your heart”.  Ok then, my heart.  I closed my eyes and slowly began to sing my son his first ever “lullaby”.

Isabelle is a belly dancer with a kleptomaniac's restraint
Tried stealing Helena's hand basket, made a fast getaway, but McQueen she ain't
At the courtroom Joshua judges her ruthlessly on account of Ruth walking out on him.
In the Big House Isabelle is a-telling all to the chaplain who's become her friend.
She says: I don't know why you care, I don't know what's out there,
I don't know where or how just take me to your leader now, take me to your leader now.

I can tell you now that I have very few “favorites” in my life; Mt. Dew and the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers are atop a very short list.  When it comes to music it is a clean win to my top spot as well; a group from “down under” called Newsboys.  My favorite “Newsy” was lead man John James.  He was wild, he was on fire for Jesus, and he shaved his head.  On top of that, he was so cool and tuff that he had TWO first names!  I got my hands on every last thing dealing with Newsboys and John James.  Posters, movies, cds, samplers; anything that was connected with them I knew inside and out; the man and the band inspired me.  I memorized each song from their album “Take Me To Your Leader” and could, if given the first note of the first song on the album (God Is Not a Secret), sing the whole cd in order and their proper keys.

One summer, when I was in junior high, I read in 7-Ball magazine about the newest Newsboys album “Step Up To the Microphone”; lead man John James was no longer one of the “Boys”.  I sat in shock in the K-Mart parking lot in Williston, North Dakota in my mother’s minivan and wondered why this had happened.

The years went by and I was still a devout “Newser”.  When conversations about the band came up I always threw in my trump card “John James”; the best boy of them all.  He was an inspiration to me; he was my childhood hero.

During my last year of college a friend gave me a link to a Newsboy article.  I visited the site as soon as I was done with class.  I was destroyed.  I read about my hero; how he got tangled in a world of alcohol, drugs, and adultery.  This just could not be, the article must be wrong or a fake.  John James was not a boozer, druggie, or untrue to his wife…he was a rock star, a legend; he was my hero…a super Christian, supposed to be set apart from the everyday normal struggles in life.  He was now human, flawed, and fallen.

The truth hurt very badly; I remembering listening to “Take Me To Your Leader” over and over again in a almost comatose state.  Thank God I had not found this out as a younger child…who knows what I would have felt.  I may have given up on Newsboys, a band that has helped shape my musical style and life.

I thought of another very tough guy named Samson; toughest man you’ll ever hear about.  He was big, strong, and hair to shame Fabio.  Just like John fell so did Samson; by telling a secret that God told him not to share.  Consequently Samson was blinded, bound, and made a public mockery of.

Isn’t it funny how we put people on a pedestal, expecting extra-ordinary things from them (things that we couldn’t perform ourselves) and when they fall we abandon or even ridicule them?  We expect god-like qualities out of mere men and women.  Samson and John are mere men.  They were raised to a height of greatness and when they forgot about Christ and his power over all things, when they forgot to fix their eyes upon him, there was no power great enough that they possessed that could stop their mortal fall.

But their story, as you may know, does not simply end.  Both men were humbled, strengthened, and raised again for God’s glory.  Samson destroyed the palace that housed his enemies.  John has since worked on repairing his marriage, recovered from drugs and alcohol, and has become an active member in his church.  Both of these men, these once heroes and fallen, have “re-focused” their eyes on the hero…Jesus Christ.

We can make the world of ourselves and each other but we will fall.  It is only through Christ Jesus that we are able to stand strong.  Never lose the only one ever able to sacrifice himself for you, and then, after three days, conquered death for you; you know, the true hero.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I live in the town of Bowbells, North Dakota.  In my opinion the town is only as good as its inhabitants; and this town is pretty darn great.

My moving to Bowbells was not by my design in the least.  I had been teaching for two years in my home town and found myself on the receiving end of what felt like backstabbing of the century.  When the dust settled I found myself in a community of unmatchable supporters, getting ready to become a father, and not wanting to teach ever again. 

Never teach again; such an odd thought.  I decided that I wanted to teach music in 8th grade, I was in every last music group my schools had to offer growing up, I graduated on music scholarships, music was in my blood…how could I quit?

I taught two years in my hometown: one year as instrumental and one year as vocal and music tech.  A lifelong dream fulfilled at 25.  At the end of the second year a “storm” of sorts came through and I was in the eye.  My wife, my family, and my friends all stood beside me and supported me the best they knew how.  My students got by the best they could; I've had some close supportive friends in my life, but the support and dedication of a student is a strong and powerful thing not to be taken lightly.

Finally it was over.  I saw adults sitting; some crying, some not.  Many of my students went to the hallway; angry, sad, crying, and some even occasionally hitting the wall.  Somehow I knew already, before the day began, I knew what would happen; and even though I had hoped against all hope that things would turn out different, I was somehow in a sort of peace or maybe shock when the words hit my ears.  I got up to leave and a voice behind me said, "It's not over yet".  I turned and said, "Yes it is.  And even if it isn’t, this isn't where I'm needed".  You see even though I was at a formal meeting, and I respect the execution of formal events, I was also still a teacher… one with students that needed help.  So I left to the hall and let my big shoulders catch a pile of tears.

I finished the year as strong as I can; so very proud of the kids.  Clean out my office, help deliver my son, take the summer off.  No aspirations of ever teaching again.  Didn't look, didn't apply, and didn’t care.  Then one by one, like the first raindrops before a downpour, I received emails and phone calls from the Super. in Bowbells, North Dakota.  More and more he persisted until finally I caved in and went for a visit.  I knew the school pretty well; I had heard and seen the program during my college years and even when I was in Sidney.  Bowbells is a proud school; boasting on numerous achievements both in academic and extra-curricular.  For some reason I felt something push me to take the position.

Towards the end of my first year at BHS I realized that I had not dealt with my leaving Sidney at all.  I had pretty much cut ties with friends and former students (many of them in college now) and told myself that I was "good" and was "over it".  Then out of the blue, during a rehearsal, I realized new students helped me find my passion for music again.  Those little turkeys snuck into my life and showed me the love I once so proudly declared since eighth grade.  Though those Eskimos helped start the healing process it’s still a long road to be walked.

There are so many times in life when we don't allow healing, when we don't accept help, when we don't let love.  Whether our hurt is big or small, inside or outside our body, we don't allow others to help; we prevent healing.  Call it pride, call it human nature, call it's just not right.  Do you think that Christ wants you to suffer unnecessarily?  Do you think he wants you to deal with pain alone?  Don't get me wrong there are probably things out there that we have to go through, and some of them maybe even alone, but when time for healing comes, when the time for help comes we must be strong enough to look past ourselves and accept that help and healing. 
Accept a car ride in a blizzard; cry on a shoulder; don't hide from or suppress pain, accept that it is there and accept that your friends, family and Jesus are willing to help you heal through it.

A final thought

A friend wrote me a note during my last few months in Sidney; of the many things she said the one I've held dearest is, "Finish Well."  I know she was writing about my remaining time teaching in Sidney, but it also reminds me that we need to strive to be the best Christians we can be. We must fully rely on God and heed his word/calling so that when our time comes we can all Finish Well.   Thanks Bonnie.