Am Flag

Politics 101: Stop It

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a very political post, but it’s not about any particular candidate or party.  It’s about the political apathy that has seeped into American culture and how it can destroy things.  This post is written from a place of passion for me, and might step on some toes or just straight-up make you mad.  I try to keep posts like this to myself, but I felt this one needed to be shared.  Read at your own risk.

I’ve been labeled as a nerd for most of my life. I guess a variety of things have contributed to that: I love to read, I can watch Star Wars on mute and recite every line, and my childhood was centered around becoming a meteorologist. I’m not bitter about it at all. In fact, I know that I enjoy things that not a lot of people do, which usually is the basis of being labeled a “nerd.” It’s fine.

I also love politics. Not just political TV shows like The West Wing (which you need to watch on Netflix immediately because it’s that good); I love everything about politics. The drama, speeches, debate, strategy, history, vision-casting, and a plethora of other things all contribute to this love. In the past, I have been labeled as a super-nerd because of my love for this. But I’ve noticed a subtle shift in the past few years. Instead of people just writing me off as a super-nerd, I’ve been receiving some anger. As in, “How can you like this trash?” or “What is so great about this ______.” It’s odd.

There’s a lot of feeling behind politics. Most of it is negative. I guess I can understand why. My parents’ generation probably hates politics because they lived in the aftermath of Watergate. My generation (at least the mid 20- and mid 30-somethings) probably hates politics because they saw a superstar President fall out of grace with the nation after an affair in the 1990s. There’s been some dark stains on the political stage.

But isn’t that life? I like to think that I’m mostly good. But guess what? I have some dark stains. You? You’re probably alright. But you have some dark stains, too. Our places of employment, our homes, and our families all have dark stains.  It’s just the way life goes.

But it’s different with political people. Our view of the political process is tainted with this negative view that absolutely no politician will ever be able to climb out of. This leads people to say things like:

“Both candidates are terrible. I’m voting for the lesser of two evils.”

“They’re nothing but a bunch of liars.”

“Voting is irrelevant. It will make no difference.”

Sound familiar?

Our political jadedness is slowly ruining the political process in America. We’ve left voting up to a small percentage of the state and nation. For example, if 10% of people in Kentucky vote in this month’s primary election (which is realistic), that means 440,000 people of the 4.4 million in the state are making the decision of the future of the Commonwealth.

Just take a look at the Kentucky primary election in 2011, the last Governor election year. 2,917,836 people were registered to vote. Out of those registered, only 304,923 people voted. That’s 10.4%. Those 304,923 people dictated which candidate would run for office for high-power positions, like Governor.

Fast forward to November 2011, and the general election fared a little better (but not really). 2,944,602 people were registered to vote, but only 842,528 showed up at the polls. That’s 28.6%. These 842,528 people determined the course of Kentucky for at least the next four years. Are we OK with that?

How about the issues? Some think that issues won’t really change, as politicians are “just a bunch of liars.” But this is blatantly ignoring factual evidence. In 2008, when President Obama was first elected, we had an embargo against Cuba, swarms of boots on the ground in Afghanistan, and health care was the same as it had always been. Regardless of what you think about these changes, you must admit that things changed. In the case of healthcare, things changed dramatically.

Let’s look at just Kentucky. Governor Beshear, when elected in 2007, had a struggling education system. So he pushed forward an overhaul, known as 2009 Senate Bill 1. SB1-09 created standards for Kentucky students to work towards that might just make them more marketable to employers post-high school, and help college acceptance rates. Regardless of what you or I think of these issues, we have to admit that things changed. So to say that things won’t change under a political leader is to ignore evidence and history.

Some people hate the mud-slinging and smear campaigns that candidates run against each other. I understand. It can drive me crazy, too. But as much as everyone complains about it, there’s a reason that they keep running those ads: it works. Again, the evidence supports it, so we can say that we hate it, but we watch (and share) every mud-slinging ad that comes out.

Finally, there’s the lying. When people tell me that a candidate lied, I always want to ask them when. Usually, they can’t name a time, but it’s the cool thing to say, so we say it. Obviously, “promises” made on the campaign trail are going to be broken. But let’s be honest; these aren’t really promises. When a candidate says that they will work hard to do something, or persuade Congress to pass something, it’s a hopeful statement.  A hopeful statement and a promise are not the same thing. We make candidates out to be evil, as if they are making promises just to break them because it’s fun. This line of thinking has to stop. If they do actually break a promise, we can do something about it: elect someone else.

I think it’s become the “cool thing” to hate politics and act uninterested. This is really unfortunate. History proves that the political process in America was an experiment to see if people could actually democratically elect leaders in a republic. It worked. Until now. All for the sake of the “in” thing.

Yes, I’m railing against this mindset. It upsets me when people use these ignorant excuses as to why they don’t participate in the political process, especially since it requires so little of you. Watch a debate, or visit a couple of candidate’s websites. See which one you can support. If you can’t support one, find someone you can support and throw your support behind them! Then, take 10 minutes and drive to your polling place and push a few buttons. I hope that our national laziness hasn’t gotten to the point that we’d let a few voters dictate the future for the rest of us.

Just imagine the future if a majority of Americans voted! Instead of just accepting the two-party system, we might be able to elect a third party president if he or she reflected the mindset of America. Or we might cause candidates to move to the center, where a majority of Americans are. We might not elect a radical republican or democrat, or we might! It’s our choice!

I’m actively involved in the political process. I volunteer for campaigns and research way more than the average American. That’s fine, and I will label myself a nerd for that. I’m not asking anyone to do any of that, unless you really want to. I’m asking you to do exactly what the framers of our Constitution asked you to do: something. For the future of our state and nation for the next four (or more) years, reject the political apathy that’s “in” and go vote.


The Art of Sinking

I really can’t listen to “Oceans” by Hillsong United without getting a little teary-eyed now.

It’s a beautiful song, packed full of daring truth, with a resolve to push followers of Jesus beyond their made-up “limits” and actually do something that matters. But there’s another reason that this song gets to me.

For mine and my wife’s tenure in Middlesboro as church planters, it was our anthem. We felt like we were some of the ones being called “out upon the waters.” We knew that we were in the “great unknown where feet may fail.” The story of Peter walking on water towards Jesus, then falling, but then being saved, was at the forefront of our minds. We knew that we were in the midst of a life-changing work, and that literally anything can happen.

At least I thought I knew. I would belt this song out at church while we still lived in Grayson, right before we moved to Middlesboro. I was ready. We were ready. After all, we had asked God to call us out upon the waters, and he did. Clearly.

Fast forward some time later, and we were packing up a U-Haul, leaving Middlesboro. I was crushed, and I felt like that, like Peter, I had slipped under the waves.

I don’t want to dwell on this, as I’ve dealt with this in past blog posts. And I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about it. But I feel like this song, which inspires this feeling, should come with a disclaimer.

If you ask God to call you out upon the waters, he will.

I know this sounds too elementary, but it’s a truth that needs to be wrestled with. If you ask God to use you to do something bold and drastic, he will.

I’m not saying that you will plant a church, or even move to a city where you don’t know anyone. But you will be face-to-face with a situation where you will freeze with fear, yet look forward with anticipation and excitement. I don’t know what that is for you, but you probably do. And you will, like Peter, step out of the boat. But there is a risk involved.

If you step out upon the waters, you might sink.

I’m not being negative. I’m being truthful. Of course, God is there to save you, just like Jesus did with Peter. But it might happen. It’s not fun, it is painful, and you will flail about like you are drowning (partially because you are).

Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t want it any other way. My wife and I could have played it safe and stayed where we were. But ignoring God’s urging on my life would have driven me crazy. Plus, I would not be anywhere near where I am now spiritually. I’m definitely not saying I know it all or have it all figured out (sound familiar?), but I do know that I am significantly further along than I was pre-Middlesboro.

Peter sank like a rock.  So did I.  And you might, too.  But it’s OK. God is right there with us.

Christians every Sunday shout out this anthem, but I don’t think they realize just what they are asking. They are asking for something wonderful, but they are also asking for something that could sink them. This means that worldviews, pride, thoughts, inklings, and previous knowledge are all shattered. Sinking like Peter means thinking like Peter in that moment. All he could say is, “Lord, save me!” So it was with me, and so it might be with you.

Maybe this needs to happen. I’m convinced that if more followers of Jesus sank like Peter and shouted out for saving, the world will be a drastically different place. We would all be further along in our spiritual journey than what we previously were, and our insignificant pride and insufficient worldviews would be shattered. The end result? A better and stronger follower of Jesus.

I do not think it’s a coincidence that 1 Peter and 2 Peter, found towards the end of the New Testament, are so full of wisdom. Peter didn’t write these texts as a hear-say piece. He wrote them with almost a grandfatherly wisdom, for generations and generations to read.

Truthfully, as I read 1 and 2 Peter, I’m thankful Peter sank. As I look back on my journey thus far, I’m thankful that I sank, too. And I’m sure that if the same happens to you, you will eventually find it in yourself to thank God for the past events that soaked you.

So, sing this song with all your might next Sunday. Just be aware that God might actually do what you ask him to.

Sound Theology Charlie Brown

Linus Knows Best

I just finished a large end-of-the-semester-type paper for one of my classes.  I attend a Southern Baptist seminary, and the paper was, more or less, attempting to take down a piece of their theology.  I didn’t do this with malice or anything; I just really do disagree with them on this issue.  However, it wasn’t always like that.

(And before anyone asks, no.  I will not tell you what this particular piece of theology is.  I don’t want to offend half of everyone.  Yet.)

I spent half of my childhood actively in the church.  I picked up bits and pieces of theology here and there, and it was fine.  I had no framework of reference, so if a pastor told me that the Bible says ____, I believed them.  Why would I not believe them?  I viewed their word as the gospel truth, and everything was great.

I then went to college.  I attended a Christian university, and majored in ministry.  Within my first semester there, everything was shattered.  The things I had believed for so long were slowly getting demolished by an actual study of the Bible.  I then tried to defend my beliefs like any good Christian would do, but I couldn’t.  Things weren’t going my way, and I had nothing to back me up.  I quickly discovered that saying, “My pastor said _____,” or “my church taught me ______,” did not hold up in an academic setting.

I did not know where to turn or what to do.  I wasn’t mad at my church or pastor; I was mad at myself.  I was mad that I could be wrong about certain areas of theology.  I had built this belief system (that, looking back now, was not biblical at all) that could be shoved down by a quick few sentences from someone.

There’s debates and taking sides of issues in theology.  What I was experiencing was just me being wrong.  I did not have biblical beliefs.  I had “churched” beliefs.

“Churched” beliefs got me in trouble.  I might have been able to throw a verse or two that were utterly ripped out of context, but that’s it.  I was experience part humiliation, part anger, and part helplessness.  The professors and students I had been talking to weren’t mean at all.  This was all on me.

I had two responses here, which may sound familiar: fight or flight.  I could fight, meaning that I had to go back to the Bible and actually read it for myself, studying and talking to people along the way, to see what I really believe.  Or, I could leave my college.  Transfer and get new friends.  Even just drop out, altogether.

Guess which one I chose?

I’m glad I chose to fight.  It made me a better follower of Jesus.  I experienced an earth-shattering thing in college and everything I believed was torn down.  With God’s help, we rebuilt it.  I still do that today.

One of the thoughts I kept coming back to in my paper for my class mentioned above was about the problems we have in the church of 2014.  Could it be that we simply have not thought for ourselves for the past 50 years and just went with what the pastor said?

Don’t get me wrong.  Usually, pastors are educated and very informed.  They make great conclusions and hypotheses, and can teach you about theology with little preparation.  However, if we just take a statement as is, without knowing any background information on it, then what is it worth?

Nothing.  It’s worth nothing.

I still say that one of the best things that’s happened within the past few decades for the church is Rob Bell.  He shook things up with a few of his books, associations, and videos.  He said things that made the church mad, and when they went to tell him how he was wrong…

…they couldn’t do it.  We couldn’t do it.  So, we had to think.  We had to read the Bible for ourselves, and actually view it through the lens of context.

I’m not bashing Bell.  I love the guy.  I don’t agree with some of his statements, but I don’t 100% agree with any popular church leader’s theology (even Andy Stanley).  And that’s a good thing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should start thinking.  Actually, we should resume thinking.  We, as a church, did it for 2,000 years.  We just stopped at one point.  Let’s pick that habit back up.

And if you’re going through that earth-shattering and life-changing event that has broken down everything you thought was true about church, God, and Jesus: good.  It sounds harsh, but you’re going to be a better follower of Jesus because of it.

DOOR ky outline

The Sun Shines Bright…

Unless you’re a fan, you’re probably sick of the University of Kentucky basketball talk.  You know, the 40-0-best-team-ever-assembled-in-college-basketball-history kind of talk.  I understand, although I am a huge UK fan.  It can be a little much.

It’s indicative of a bigger thing, though.  Bigger than what a lot of states in this nation of ours understand.

I grew up in northeastern Kentucky.  As most teens do, I dreamed of “escaping” once I graduated college and going somewhere else.  I did that by moving to the middle of five huge cities on the eastern seaboard, in Virginia.  As a small-town kid from northeastern Kentucky, that was quite a culture shock for me.  I loved that city and area (and still do), but I quickly learned that there’s no place like home.

More specifically, there’s no place like Kentucky.

Sure, I may sound crazy.  But I’m in good company.  The love for the Commonwealth of Kentucky runs deep in many people.  I join the chorus of people like nationally-known writer (and Kentucky-born) Jesse Stuart who said, “If these United States can be called a body, then Kentucky can be called its heart.”

It’s true.  I love Kentucky.  The entire state, from Pikeville to Paducah and from Covington to Corbin, holds a special place in my heart.  Not to sound too sappy here, but the natural beauty contained within these borders is difficult to find in other places.  Whether you like mountains, plains, plateaus, hills, or anything in between, you can find large lands of it in the Bluegrass State.

More than that, the people of this Commonwealth are a unique group.  I am one of them.  We’re proud of our part of this nation.  This is why the University of Kentucky is such a huge deal for us.  When we have the best college basketball team in the nation, we’re not just screaming at the top of our lungs for a game.  We’re going crazy because, once again, the spotlight of this land is upon our Commonwealth, and we get to showcase just who we really are.  Proud, loyal, and sometimes stubborn.

This is also the reason we get so worked up when other states like to poke fun at us.  Anytime I travel out of state and tell people I’m from Kentucky (and especially when I say eastern Kentucky), I get the same jokes:

“How did you read the road signs?”

“You’ve got shoes on!”

“How does opossum taste?”

And the ever famous, “Did you marry your cousin?”

Yeah, it gets old.  Quickly.  And, I must tell the truth: it angers me.  Kentuckians are a proud people, and when we hear things like this, we get defensive.  We get angry.  And we know it simply isn’t true.  Because of one article in a newspaper, or one misguided news report from a New York City, our entire state is shunned.

However, Kentuckians are resilient.  That’s why some have lived in the same hollow, road, or around the same creek bed for generations.  It’s also why some people would never dream of leaving this Commonwealth.

I think it’s very fitting that Kentucky was founded by guys like Thomas Walker and Daniel Boone.  Their spirit lives on in our land.  Kentucky is full of pioneers, dreamers, creators, and the like.  There’s always something brewing in Kentucky.

If I never move out of Kentucky again, that’d be alright with me.  What Albert Benjamin “Happy” Chandler said was true: “I never met a Kentuckian who wasn’t either thinking about going home or actually going home.”

Kentucky is important.  The dreamers and builders in this land are invaluable to the nation, and the pride we have in our Commonwealth drives us to be better than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow.  This is probably why Abraham Lincoln said during the Civil War, “I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.”

Yeah, I love Kentucky.  I’m proud of my Commonwealth and I cheer the loudest when the Wildcats are on the national stage, just so the rest of the nation can catch a glimpse of what we experience every single day.  I love to think that this Commonwealth is mixture of the minds, spirit, and bravery of its people like Jesse Stuart, Daniel Boone, Thomas Walker, and Abraham Lincoln.

And to answer any questions that come my way: Yes, I wear shoes, I’ve never eaten opossum, and my wife isn’t my cousin.  Also, I sure am proud to be a Kentuckian.

canal walk

What a Difference a Year Makes

At 8:00 am on Sunday, September 15, 2013 (1 year ago today), I sat in front of Yellow Creek School Center in Middlesboro, KY, as a nervous wreck.  I was waiting for the gates to be unlocked, and I was going into the school cafeteria to begin setting up for an informal meeting that had two purposes: One was to introduce the new location for Middlepoint Christian Church, and the second was to talk about the huge vision God had for the church and the city of Middlesboro.  I was excited, nervous, scared, hopeful…all kinds of things wrapped into one sweaty guy.  My wife joined me a little bit later, accompanied by her parents.  They helped finish setting up the cafeteria at Yellow Creek, and we waited for people to start showing up for the 10:30 experience.

At 10:20, I was starting to get a little concerned.  No one had showed up yet, but I was confident.  People will be there.  Just give it time.

At 10:25, I started walking outside of the school, making sure people weren’t parked somewhere else and to guide people into the right parking lot.

At 10:31, I walked back into the cafeteria, silent.

At 10:45, we had everything packed up and ready to leave.  We stayed just a few minutes longer just to see if anyone would be a last-minute straggler.

A few minutes before 11:00 am on Sunday, September 15, 2013, I was crushed.  I didn’t know what to say or do.  I mainly stayed silent as we worshiped with another church down the road.

September 15 was a big deal to me.  That was the perfect date, in my mind.  It was mid-way through September, which is a prime church-launching month.  It was a nice even date to remember, and it marked just over 3 months since Amy and I had arrived on the field to plant this church.  I prayed about it and I felt strongly that September 15, 2013 was the day that Middlepoint launched publicly.

It didn’t happen that day.  It didn’t happen in October.  Or January.  Or April.  All these dates were prayed about, but nothing happened.  It wasn’t for a lack of trying, either.  I was a broken record about the church.  I unashamedly talked to everyone about it.  But, nothing happened.

If you would have told me on Sunday, September 15, 2013, that I’d be living outside of Florence, KY and the church plant would be shut down within a year from now, I would have laughed.  That was impossible.  I’ve prayed.  Audaciously.  I had asked God to do something huge like making the sun stand still, as it might be heard in Christian circles today.  But the sun set.

To be honest with you, I’m still dealing with this.  I think about Middlepoint everyday.  And I know that my wife and I were in Middlesboro for a reason.  Even if I can’t see that particular reason now, I can realize that we learned a ton about God, faith, and how to pray.  Maybe that’s the whole reason this happened.  Maybe not.  But there are some simple truths that I’m reminded of as we’ve moved forward.

First, God is still God.  I haven’t doubted that.  I’ve argued with him, sure.  But I haven’t doubted that simple truth.  God really is in control, as much as I hate that sometimes.  He’s also in control, as much as I love that sometimes.  The first time I heard this was in chapel at KCU.  Some events had just taken place that had shaken the campus family, and our campus minister, Larry, got up and simply told us that God was still God.  I remembered that for some reason.  I repeated it to myself often while in Middlesboro.  I’m thankful for this simple truth.

Secondly, our mission was to make Jesus known.  We did that.  It just didn’t produce a church.  So in this sense, maybe Middlepoint isn’t considered a failure, after all.  People who didn’t know Jesus or who had a twisted view of Jesus met, hopefully, and maybe for the first time, the Jesus who loves them and wants to meet them where they are.  We were (and still are) passionate about that.

Finally, I have to remember that successes and failures do not define us.  The fact that we are masterpieces of God Almighty defines us.  As a matter of fact, I was listening to a podcast recently in which Bob Goff, author of Love Does, talked about the things that went wrong in his life.  He alluded to the mindset that he entertains; that things do not necessarily “go wrong” or “go right.”  They just go.  They happen.  And that’s life.

And I’m thankful that Jesus is in that “life” business.


An Open Letter About Middlepoint

In 2011, my wife and I were following God’s leading as we packed up a U-Haul and left Norfolk, VA, traveling all the way to Grayson, KY.  We weren’t sure what was next, but we knew that God was leading us back to Kentucky.  For that, we are both grateful.

In 2012, we found what we thought was the reason God led us back to the Bluegrass State.  We were going to move to Middlesboro, KY, and plant a new church.  We were excited and grateful.

In 2013, we moved to Middlesboro and met all kinds of wonderful people from different walks of life.  Some of the best friendships I have now have been made in the past year in Middlesboro.  For that, we are grateful.

It’s with a grateful, yet saddened heart, that I have to announce that Middlepoint Christian Church is shutting down.  After much prayer, conversation, and wise counsel, Amy and I feel that this is the best thing for our family.  As you know, I’ve worked closely with the Kentucky Church Planting Partnership.  We have their full support as we move forward from here, and they will be handling the future of any independent Christian church plant that may happen in Middlesboro.  I ask for your prayer for them as they continue to seek God’s direction for this wonderful city.

This was not an easy decision.  I’ve shed tons of tears and heartache, praying and seeking, as we have made this decision.  But, we feel God’s peace about this.  Let me be clear: God is moving in Middlesboro.  I’ve talked to too many pastors, ministers, priests, community leaders, and local politicians to think otherwise.  Within the past two years, this city has seen a huge turn-around, and Amy and I are honored to have been a part of it.  What God is doing in this city is nothing short of a miracle.  Keep looking at the crater in southeastern Kentucky, because you’re going to be hearing about some huge things going on here soon.

A piece of my heart and Amy’s heart will always be in Middlesboro.  We moved here with the intention of raising our kids here.  We had goals, and I even joked about the things I would say at the 10 year and 20 year anniversary of Middlepoint Christian Church, and how our son would play football for Middlesboro High School.  But, as what sometimes happens, God has other plans.  For that, we are grateful.

Amy and I are searching for what’s next.  We have some interviews scheduled, and our future is something God knows.  We take comfort in that, although it isn’t easy sometimes.  We are looking forward to what God has in store, especially since we want to put down roots and make a home somewhere.

I ask for your continued prayers and support as Amy and I move forward.  I also ask for your prayers and support as KCPP leads the charge in loving God and loving people in Middlesboro.  Although some might look at Middlepoint as a “failed church plant,” I am confident that this is a victory for the Kingdom of Heaven.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Amy and I, above all, are grateful.


The Hope of the World Losing Hope for the World

I’m a fireworks junkie, if that’s a phrase that I can use safely.  Basically, I really enjoy fireworks.  It doesn’t matter when or where; if fireworks are being shot off, I want to watch.  This is why I love Independence Day, besides the obvious reason (that whole “freedom” thing is pretty cool).  Not only can I watch fireworks from the parking lot of Kroger, but I can also stand out in my driveway and watch my neighbors set off fireworks for basically the entire month of July.  It gets old when it’s midnight and I’m trying to sleep, but from 9pm to 11pm, I’m all about it.

I love Independence Day.  I also love the U.S.A.  Seriously.  I’m not talking about loving a political party or having an affinity for hamburgers and cook-outs.  I really do enjoy living in the United States, and being with people who share this enjoyment with me.

This is why I have a problem with some Jesus followers hating on America.  Constantly.  Without doing anything about it.

You know who I am talking about, because 3 or 4 people just popped into your head.  Let’s be honest, it’s a drag to be around them.  They’re the “Debbie Downers” of fun holidays like Independence Day.  They’re constantly saying things like:

“I just don’t know what’s wrong with America.”

“Our country is headed in a downward spiral.”

“The country is getting worse and worse everyday!”

They say this because they see things happening in the country that they disagree with.  With each new piece of legislation being passed (or vetoed), and with each new politician elected, they lose all hope for the country.  To carry it even further, they usually seem like they’re losing hope for the world.

But…isn’t the church the hope of the world?

What happens when the hope of the world loses hope for the world?

There’s a huge problem in this line of “hopeless America” thinking.  If anyone had a right to complain about their country and society and throw up their hands to pronounce condemnation upon it, it was Jesus.  But he didn’t.  He actually loved the country, and encouraged his followers to do the same.

Why?  Because the country (and the world) is made up of people.  And Jesus loves people.

This is the point where the “hopeless America” Jesus followers start to point out the judgment Jesus dished out in the gospels.  I hate to break it to you, but Jesus reserved the harsh judgment for the religious.  Remember the white washed tombs that Jesus referred to (in Matthew 23)?  He wasn’t addressing the nation.  He was talking to religious people.

Let’s not be “religious people” when it comes to our country and the people that live in it.  Jesus loved them, and so do we.

Sure, there’s reason to pray hard for America.  Believe me, I do not agree with everything that happens.  But I don’t have to.  Why?

God is still God, no matter what.  And Jesus loved people, so as a follower of Jesus, I do too.

As a Jesus follower, you are part of the church.  The church is the hope of the world, for the church is the hands and feet of Jesus.  Don’t give up hope.

After all, Jesus didn’t give up hope.