Remedial Christianity

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This is Lego City.  No, not the one from the Lego movie, but the one in the Shah house.  So, it is probably no surprise that we watched the Lego movie the moment it was released in theaters….and re-watched it recently when it came out on video.  But I better stop here & throw in a disclaimer before I continue.   I was once rebuked for ‘revealing’ the ending of the Lord of the Rings.  It was 9 years after the movie was released, and 63 years after the book was published….but somehow the statute of limitations had still not expired.  I share this to let you know that I’m now going to talk about the LEGO Movie, so….***SPOILER ALERT****….. feel free to skip this is if you haven’t watched it yet.

Anyway, my kids are sort of Lego junkies.  We have an eclectic city that includes (among other things), a pirate ship, the tower bridge, a couple castles, various vehicles, Star Wars ships, Lord of the Rings landscapes, Lego friends buildings, approximately 400,000 Minifigs & this incredibly large R2-D2 overlooking the entire town.

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The city even has “laws” and elects a “mayor”.  [I was recently defeated in the latest election, but that’s a story for a different time.]  It has even been used as the set of a major motion picture.

Anyway, we had waited for the movie to come out and we loved it.  But strangely, I have to admit, I connected pretty deeply with Lord Business.  This was somewhat troubling as he is the villain of the story, but I came out of the theater thinking, “that guy was just misunderstood.”  I pondered it for about 5 minutes, and then proceeded to go on with my life.

Well, last week we watched the movie again, and I had a chance to analyze my deep sympathy for the movie’s antagonist.   As I watched I realized that Lord Business is living out some of my biggest leadership temptations as a PARENT and as a PASTOR….

Like this….

I secretly want my kids (and congregation) to blindly believe that “everything is awesome”.

I am not sure if you have had the joy of hearing that song in it’s entirety, but since we downloaded the soundtrack, I have had the privilege of hearing it sung in our home at least 4000 times.  In the movie it was cute.  Maybe even catchy.

Now I can’t stand it.  The lyrics are absolutely inane.

Seriously, it is the worst.

But in my heart, parts of me are strangely attracted to it.  Sometimes I wish my kids and my church would just blindly sing it and merrily go through life.  Grief, and sorrow, and pain, and doubt….those seem so out of control.  I’m not sure how to help.  I’m not sure how to “fix” those things.  So they scare me.  They make me feel inadequate and weak.

Better that we all put our heads in the sand and just keep singing.  We all might be living in denial about the brokenness of the world, but at least I will perpetuate the illusion that I am doing a good job.

Or how about this one….

I secretly love the idea of a manual that they would follow for life.

In the movie, President Business has provided a step-by-step manual for life for all the citizens.  Oh to be the leader that has ALL the ANSWERS!  Wouldn’t that be fabulous?  Just read this book, and this blog, and listen to these 4 podcasts and you’ll be all set.

Learning how to follow this mysterious God…on the mountaintop highs, and in the valley lows.  Learning to hear HIS voice, and follow our unique path.  Discovering the good works that God prepared for US, that we were created in Christ Jesus to walk in.   Learning how to be sensitive and responsive to His Spirit.  Learning the depths of His Word, and the growing in the wisdom to apply it.  Then teaching someone ELSE how to do that?

That all sounds way too scary.  And dangerous.

Let’s just write a manual.  Or build a program instead.  Or create a one-hour “worship experience”.   Way easier.  And it’ll keep my schedule relatively free.


Whenever something is the way I like it, I secretly have an intense desire to spray ‘the Kragle’ on it.

I speak the words of faith and creativity and freedom…..but deep down I like things neat and orderly.  I like to know exactly what is going on.  I like it being manageable.  

I’m the guy who will use the same post move on you in basketball over and over again until you do something to stop it.   Boring, but effective.

I’ll the guy who will validate using the same strategy forever , with cliches like, “you gotta dance with who brung ya”

I’m the guy who couldn’t handle taking my kids to water parks….because of the noise and chaos and the constant fear that one of my kids was drowning somewhere.

What will happen if things get out of control?

I don’t know for sure, but the last line of the movie sums up my fears pretty well….

“we are from the planet Duplo, and we’ve come to destroy you!”

Let’s not find out what that looks like.

I’m sure I could go on and on.  Granted, over the years  I have grown in many of these areas, but when life gets messy and chaotic I still feel the urge to minimize brokenness, hand out manuals and grab that kragle.  

I am fascinated by a walk of faith.  

I know it is the only way to truly live.  

But part of me still secretly loves control…

Control makes my world seem safer.  More manageable.  It helps me continue the illusion that I know all the answers and what the future holds.  It helps me manage fear.

But then I read scripture.

I read chapters like Hebrews 11…. story after story of faith.  And I can tell you, that none of them are stories about control & safety.  But they are stories of creativity, and adventure, and redemption….all powered by the creator of the universe.

And I realize that although I sympathize with Lord Business….

I don’t want to be him.


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So this week Isaac got his first taste of Ohio State Football Camp.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, he has played football for the last two years, and it is his favorite sport of all-time.  I have been trying to lobby him towards basketball, but he is standing firm.  He knows he is not a star but he still wants to play football.  The last time I mentioned the slim possibilities of ever playing in college or the pros, he turned serious and said, “Dad, you have to let your kids dream!”

And so here we are at camp.  Dreaming.

He has joined 500+ other 5th-8th graders for three days of football instruction, fun and systematic brainwashing. What do I mean by that?  Well, when we first arrived here in Columbus, Isaac was truly conflicted about his identity.  Was he a Wolverine or Buckeye?

conflicted isaac

Those questions are gone.  By the end of this camp I’m pretty sure he will have completely forgotten that he was born at the University of Michigan hospital.

The camp is held at the OSU football complex.  It’s pretty impressive.  After registration the kids were assigned teams, each “coached” by a current OSU player.  Isaac has coach Josh Perry (might start at linebacker this year).  Then they each had a picture taken with Urban Meyer, along with an inspirational speech.


Then began 3 days of activities all oriented around giving the kids the ultimate OSU experience.  They had drills with OSU football players.  My son caught a ball from Cardale Jones and got instruction from Warren Ball. Inspirational speeches from coaches and former players…..assorted messages from “Start each day with a win, make your own bed!” to “Separate in order to elevate!”

ENDLESS chanting of O-H-I-O & Go Bucks!  All washed in a sea of scarlet and gray.

Today it ends with them watching a highlight video in Ohio Stadium and then getting to play “Buckeye Ball” on the field.

I have to admit, it has been fun to watch Isaac run around and play some football.  He is not that big and not that fast, and honestly there have been moments that confirmed my biggest fears about his football career.  Namely, that he is going to be destroyed by large children.

Look at this kid….he was in front of us at the registration line.  At first I thought he was a parent. He was my height (6’0″) and I’m guessing in the ballpark of 220-230 lbs.  AND HE JUST FINISHED 6TH GRADE!!! (by comparison, Isaac just finished the 4th grade, but the look on Isaac’s face says it all)

isaac and large kid
But when Isaac got to his team (all his age) he seemed to fit in.  So that was encouraging.  And he wasn’t quite the slowest kid out there.  Look at him torching these kids….

{Ok, so maybe he got matched up with some slow ones, but he had his moments}

It is kind of funny because I am a Wolverine who is literally watching them groom the next generation of football fanatics here at OSU.  Including my son.  And I don’t really mind.

Because Isaac is LOVING every minute of it.

As I watch him run around I realize that there he probably has very little future in this sport.  He is (Lord willing) going to be a doctor someday or a circus clown or a pastor….but this week he is having fun.  He is being a kid.  He is making memories that he will have for the rest of his life.

And that’s good enough for me.

Now I have to go…..he’s due to play his game in Ohio Stadium any minute now….




Let me say, that you may have noticed by now that all my kids bring me a lot of joy.  To most people they seem like regular (or slightly odd) children, but I find myself constantly fascinated by the unique ways they think, behave and interact with the world.   They also have taught me a great deal about what it means to be a Father….and given me insight into the love our heavenly Father has for us.

Now a lot of times they act like idiots.   Last Sunday after the h2o worship service, 3 of them got on the 3rd floor of the Union and started yelling down at people passing by….”Do you have a parachute we could borrow?”   They were hoping to experiment with some new version of cliff-diving.  Those moments we just shake our heads and hope nobody remembers….

But other times, I will watch the kids and get a glimpse of the unique ways that God has made them.  These are interactions that capture their personalities and heart & as they get older I am trying to SAVOR THESE MOMENTS.

The other day the kids and I were over at Fred Beekman park hanging out with some h2o folks, playing volleyball & enjoying the sun. We were having a great time, but now the games were winding down.  Savita and a friend were practicing on one court, meghan was burying herself in the sand on another, and Sammy was patiently waiting for me to finish yapping with folks.  (poor kid has to do that a lot)

Isaac happened to see two college aged guys throwing a football and was watching them.  After about half a minute he went right up to one of them and asked if he could play too.  Next thing you know he is shaking their hands and introducing himself.  “Hi, my name is Isaac.  Nice to meet you.”

He begins throwing the ball around. Diving in the sand, laughing and horsing around.

A couple minutes later I hear him yell, “come on Johnny, we need some better throws here”  All three of them laugh.

I looked over at the friends I was with and asked, “do you know those guys?”.  “Nope.  They’re strangers.”

I just laughed.  Who does that?  

this kid is BOLD

{When I was 10 I was terrified to talk to any adults that weren’t in my family, of course, my son might be a tad less socially awkward  than I was…}


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Well, the next time I look over a volleyball game has started.  5 on 5, with Isaac right in the middle.  Keep in mind he is not a quality volleyball player.  He is a decent athlete for a 10-yr old, but volleyball is not a game we play much. He prefers games that involve him hitting other people.

But he (and his team) are having a blast.  He is just throwing his body around…cracking jokes and giving high fives to everyone. At one point he makes a mistake and exclaims, “keep your expectations low people…I’m only 10!”  

I just watched him for a little bit.  Who is this kid?

this kid is ENTHUSIASTIC

A few minutes later it was time to go.  I called out to Isaac, and he asked if he could have one more serve.  He served it and they won the point.  Now the whole team asked…”can he go one more time?  Isaac is our ACE server!”

As he served the next one, Isaac explained, “No no no…I’m just an AMATEUR server….like all of you”

So funny.

They won the next 4 points and when they finally lost he high-fived all 9 of the students out there….”Thanks for letting me play!”

“You’re the man Isaac!”

He came over and put on his shoes.  I asked him, “How did you meet those folks?”

“I just introduced myself”

“Weren’t you nervous playing with people you didn’t know?”

“Well kinda, but they were really nice.  College students are the best!

Bold.  Enthusiastic. Loves college students.

I have the perfect job for him.