Author: dhandy

Helping Moths

As I was driving home the other night, I saw something that looked like a bat flopping around on the road in front of me on a quiet street.  As I pulled over, I got out to find a very large moth that was -for some reason- unable to fly away.
What struck me then was the utter helplessness I felt when it came to ensuring that this moth didn’t get crushed by the tires of the next car.  I was not afraid to touch the moth – instead I knew that if I picked him up, I was more than likely to cause worse damage by my touch than I was to help him.  I had learned, long ago, that what allows moths to fly is a layer of powder on their wings.  I’ve seen it before too.  If that powder gets rubbed off, the moth can’t fly any more.

So there I was, standing there awkwardly, trying to figure out how to help a moth out of the road; caught by my understanding of his plight, my desire to help and my inability to do something productive without making matters worse.

As a pastor, I often find myself in similar situations.  It’s not unique to pastors, though.  Many of us find ourselves in situations like this with people we want to help.  Sometimes, there are friends with deep wounds that we don’t want to dredge up in our attempts to help.  Other times, we just don’t know how to help, so we try to stand awkwardly close by without knowing the first step to take.  Still other times, there are those who are so fragile that anything but the perfect touch will wound them in ways we don’t want to imagine – so we stay away.

Teacher MothWell, I think there’s a secret in what happened with the moth.  Maybe it can encourage you too.  First of all, the moth was not (ultimately) my problem, I chose to involve myself out of compassion.  If we can remember that reality with friends and associates – that peoples’s problems are first of all their burdens to bear with God – it will help us to gain perspective.

Secondly, I realized that I would rather try to help somehow than wait around for the perfect solution to present itself.  Sometimes this works out well, other times it doesn’t.  For me, that night, I didn’t want to stand outside in the heat for much longer, and I didn’t want a car to come up and risk being hit or seeming like a fool watching a moth in the road.  I tried to use a stick to move him gently, but it didn’t work out well.  With people, it’s often okay to try to help – even if our help isn’t perfect.  If we wait too long to help someone, we might slip into self-protective mode rather than actually loving the person in need.  Try to help even with imperfect attempts.

Thirdly, when I saw that pushing the moth with a stick wouldn’t help, I tried to set the stick in a way that the moth could grab it if he chose to do so.  When helping people, it’s so important to remember that (most of the time) our help is help, not heroic rescue.  Offer the best help you can without forcing your help on a person in need.
Finally, I gave up.  After trying for enough time, I gave up and walked back to my car.  My gentle nudges, my foot-barrier attempts to direct the moth off the road, and my “see the tasty stick?  Grab it and I’ll carry you off the road” attempts all failed.    Then, after I gave up and walked back to the car, I saw the moth fly away in my periphery.  Some of us have healing gifts and talents, but none of us is God himself.  Keeping that in mind is a great way to serve the hurting around us.   Remember that the Lord is the healer, not me or you.  It’s humbling and sobering to see that our attempts don’t always win the day or gain public approval, but humbled and sobered is a great place to be…even a great place to stay.

Well, that’s my moth story.   I did nothing useful.  But, maybe the most useful I can be is to pass on some considerations on helping moths to help others help people.  There’s a lot of hurt and wounds in this world – let’s lean on each other in pain and even in our learning to help.


The Bar is Set High; Set the Bar High

Growing up, our family was very involved in sports.  We played a few and watched lots of games, sets, matches, olympic events; you name it, we watched ‘em.  One thing that I remember very clearly was the young “me” being astonished that the players would miss certain shots.  I’d even say to my parents, incredulously: “I could have made that!?”  I wasn’t lying or boasting, I was genuinely confused. As we watched, it seemed like there were tennis shots that I could have made, soccer goals I could have scored, long-range basketball shots I could have made and open fields that I could have run through with a football in my clutches, maybe even outrunning the linemen I thought were so slow.  What was the big deal, I wondered. To their credit, my parents didn’t shoot me down or discourage me for a long time.  They just listened and probably smiled knowingly or shared looks that my young mind didn’t pick up on or understand.  After awhile though, I started to get a different response: “Darryl,” they’d say: “you might really be able to make that shot.  But what separates you from those world-class athletes is not just opportunity, they can make those shots and score those goals and run that fast every day, multiple times per day!”  That shut me up, but I still didn’t fully understand.  I overestimated my skills and figured that I could do the same thing if given the chance.

As I’ve matured, I’ve discovered how true those words were.  I’ve been fortunate to know some excellent athletes personally, and I’ve watched others from afar, as they  take the global stage every two years (summer and winter Olympics and World Cup soccer), and after awhile, I’ve noticed some other themes that are pertinent to life beyond the turf.

First of all, my parents were so right: excellence in sports is a matter of consistency.  Day in, day out, game or no game, world-stage or practice field.

Secondly, in order to be consistent, we need to be conditioning.  World-class athletes are always in a cycle of conditioning and rest.  Weight rooms and ice baths; stair-runs and physical therapy, altitude training and nutrition choice – all these are regular fare for the honed athlete.

Finally (for my purposes today), there’s the hard one of endurance through obstacles.  Have you ever noticed how many injuries are not devastating for professional athletes?  It’s not just a matter of million dollar franchise budgets, it’s mental toughness and repeated decisions to work through the difficulties and push through pain for the goals they set.

Our faith and faithfulness to Christ are of infinitely greater worth than trophies, record books and winning rings.  These principles are the same, lets pursue them together.  Instead of allowing our surrounding culture or popular thoughts, ethics or media to shape us, let’s consider Christ our God and the Scriptures as our guide.

1- Faithfulness to Christ is not a matter of “I did that once!”  It’s a matter of living for Christ all the time, in every moment.  He’s God and the loving sacrifice he made shows his love for us.  Let’s set the bar high for ourselves, Christ has freed us to follow him every day.

2- Conditioning is an every-day reality.  The armor of God (Ephesians 6) is not a list of optional accessories, it’s a list that points to the tools God has given us for moment-by-moment spiritual conditioning as we face the very real battles of spiritual opposition. Employ them regularly for optimum spiritual health.

3- As I have grown in life and the Lord, I see that the people who get it are not the ones who are fair-weather-fans of Jesus.  The people I most admire press on through hardship, hold on through difficulty and fight hard when they’re wounded.  Just. Like. Jesus.

This is no pep talk.  Faithful living with Christ at the center is hard work and it requires commitment at the most costly of levels.  I want to encourage anyone who reads this to set the bar high for faithful living in Christ.  I want to encourage us to live beyond the ease of armchair faith and statements like: “I could do that!”  I want to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to be world-class in our faith.  Not as if it is a competition, but because the best of athletes have their own standards and drive that push them.  Let’s set the bar high.  Let’s live into the standards that Christ, our Lord has given us: “if anyone would follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23)

Thoughts On Freedom

I’ve had a couple moments in the past week where I’ve gone from reading /posting about atrocities in Iraq to laughing about a silly video – all within moments. At first, I had to resist the urge to think this was somewhat schizophrenic. Then, I remembered that this is part of what freedom means. Certainly, far too many of us spend far too much time observing culture from in front of the blue-trimmed screen of Facebook. I’m not debating that. Faithful use of time is a mark of a good steward and those who call Jesus “Lord” understand that our time is not ours to spend flippantly. Still, there’s another piece to this that I want to think about and celebrate: what freedom means. Freedom means that I don’t have to feel guilty for spending some time enjoying myself. That is the freedom that I long to see for the innocent victims in Iraq, Israel and Gaza, Liberia and everywhere there is war or injustice (sobering link below, showing current wars/conflicts: Jesus said that he came so that His people would have abundant life (John 10:10), and abundant life involves work and leisure, joy and pain, freedom to be silly and sober reflection. But that’s not all freedom means.

Freedom in Christ also means that when there’s an opportunity, we seek to do what is right. Following Jesus’ example and indwelling Spirit (ask me about this doctrine if that “indwelling Spirit” comment seems bizarre to you) means that we don’t merely live for ourselves and our own freedom and peace, but we take opportunities to bring the same for others. Freedom in Christ means that we are compelled to act, not by a bullet or threat of violence, but by compassion and a drive to see God glorified. It has been an interesting week for me personally and I have been reminded that there is indeed a war going on in many places, including the hearts and lives of people who are not in a physical threat of war. This week, because of my commitment as a man of Jesus Christ and a pastor, I have seen people who are choosing to yield their lives to Christ. I’ve seen a man step up and take on responsibility to love and lead other men as they grow in their faith. I’ve seen men encourage one another to live lives of purity, faithfulness and goodness in a culture that insults those values. I’ve seen women choose to bless one another with their words, apologize and show grace to one another. I’ve seen young people excited to serve others with their time.

There is surely a physical battle in Iraq right now; and in so many other places. But there is also a battle in our souls – every one of us. We seek freedom for people on a mountain, and that is good. Let us also seek freedom from the mountains of greed, selfishness, unbelief, lust, impurity, hatred, envy and all forms of ungodliness. That is a battle that will rage on as long as there is life. That is a battle that must be fought daily; not with munitions, but with grace. That is a battle in which we need each other constantly. That is a battle I want to win.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
(Galatians 5:13 ESV)

Sawdust and a Savior

Today, I was a mess.  And, by mess I mean that I was covered with some stuff that wasn’t mine and didn’t come off easily.  It got everywhere, covered everything and even made it dangerous for people to walk near it.  Sawdust was the stuff that made me messy today.

I’ve been working on a small project at home for a couple days and today I was really getting into it.  As the power tools gnawed into the wood, the sawdust took to flight.  And boy did it fly.  Sawdust Into the air, onto the floor, into my lungs, into my eyes.  Sawdust; everywhere.  Yeah…it was a good moment.

Who minds getting a little dirty when you’re building something?  Not this guy.  It was actually kind of one of the best moments of the week!  What great satisfaction as I worked with my hands and the fruit of my labor was so obvious and immediately visible.   Even those tiny bits of wood were a testament to the work I was doing and the inevitable finished product that would soon arrive.

Sawdust? I don’t mind.  It means something important would soon emerge from the wood.

Scripture tells us that during the early years of his life, Jesus was a carpenter.  The people used this against Jesus in Mark 6:3; implying that the guy they knew as Mr. Fix-it couldn’t be some great spiritual leader.  They definitely had a hard time believing he was God!  Not me.  I love that the “author and finisher of our faith” had hands-on experience creating and finishing things during his earthly life before his public ministry began (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus is still crafting.  I doubt there’s wood that Jesus is shaping on His Throne, but there are certainly lives and souls he’s caring for.  Jesus is mediating between the Father and humans (1 Timothy 2:5), interceding for those who call on him (Hebrews 7:25) and with the Holy Spirit, Jesus is making us holy (1 Peter 1:2).

Power tools on wood makes sawdust.  God on life makes dust too; it’s messy work.  Dust flies from the life that’s being chiseled and sanded.  Habits become bare.  Sin flies and it chokes, covers, blinds and hinders – even making things slippery for others.  That is a hard reality; and not one we like to talk about.  Still, if we’re going to live in the kind of supportive, encouraging, loving community where Jesus Christ is refining us, we should know that and prepare for it.  He was a carpenter and he knows how to build.  He knows how to create and finish (Heb. 12:2).  Jesus also isn’t afraid to make some messes in the process, are you?

-Don’t be afraid of a bit of dust.
-Don’t run when you see your own life-in-process isn’t as pretty and polished as you’d like it to be.
-Don’t run when you see the lives of your friends and they’re sometimes raw, sometimes hideous, sometimes scary, sometimes polished.  That’s what real workmanship looks like in various stages and we are God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
-Don’t run if you thought it would be all clean but you’re now seeing that Christianity in this life is filled with people who are being worked on.
-Don’t run!  Yes, I know that sawdust is no fun, but when it’s flying as a result of this Master Craftsman, Jesus, at work, it’s actually a very good thing and it means He’s making something good.

Today when Anne and the kids walked in and saw the dust, they didn’t complain.  They didn’t whine about the light brown film over things; they helped me vacuum.  They cheered me on regarding the product I was finishing.  Let’s be those kinds of people for one another  – seeing the real us and not complaining, not critiquing but loving and longing for the finished product as we bear some of the burden ourselves and look to the Master Builder as He works.

Fully His Man

I wrote this after reading about some horrific events that have taken place in our country and around the world.  It’s for my sons and yours…


Fully His Man


When you claim that substances, “made you this way”

When you say circumstances ruled over your day

When you blame all the victims and point every which way

Then you will be less than a man, my son.


When you look at the helpless and then turn away

When you think that women are some sort of prey

When you use your creativity to advance foul play,

Then you will be less than a man, my son.


When you spend less on justice than at the cafe,

When you know less about your community than about hair spray,

When you turn a blind eye to others’ dismay,

Then you will be less than a man, my son.


Stand up, look around you, the world’s full of hurt!

You’ve been blessed with so much, now, your strength, assert.

Jesus said, “Love each other.”  That won’t ever be passe,

Go now.  Live well.  Be a man, son, today!



For the Watchmen

Here’s to the soldiers, whose Christmas ain’t white.

To the man and the woman who watch through the night.

Your family won’t see you or feel your embrace;

Your dog won’t wake you with licks in the face.

While we wrap and share presents, you put on the line

Your life, your limbs, your safety for mine.

Your task now is fearful, now it bores you to tears.

The losses you witness?  More than most count all their years.

Not cookies and milk.  No.  Not ham or casseroles.

Your dinner is mass-produced.  Your feasting; controlled.

You face sand and desert, while we travel with glee.

You lift up the fallen, while we decorate trees.

We remember you today, dear soldier abroad.

Your sacrifice makes us stand and applaud.

We truly won’t know what your duty has cost

But we thank you for your service and for those you have lost.

Merry Christmas, today I celebrate the birth

Of another who gave of himself for our mirth.

Jesus was born and he lived, died and rose.

He came as a baby; but gave his life up for those

Who not only scorned him, but hated his kind;

He loved them and freed them from sin’s deadly bind.

We remember you today; we’re grateful for you.

You give up your freedom for others’ too.

I hope you get time, too, to think and to pray

Cuz Christmas isn’t all about reindeer or sleighs.

It’s about Jesus; and even if we do,

He’s still giving love for Christmas and he won’t forget you.