Monday, February 23, 2009


Alanna turned 1 last month, which means one thing to me.


Since I’ve never really had a “real” job (and by “real” I mean 9-5 and suits and stuff like that) I’ve been fortunate to have lots of time with the kids. 

That also means that I’ve had to take all three kids to get their shots. 

Every time. 

Well…except once. 

The one time, Laura had to bring them, she came home and looked at me with awe.

I played it cool and said, “it’s no big deal”. 

Inside I was saying “That’s right, baby!  You’re married to Superman!”

Of course Brehm’s kindergarten shots were the worst. 

I think I was more traumatized than him, which is saying something considering he was so upset he said he would rather get Polio and spend his life in a wheelchair than get another shot. 

Anyway…this week was Alanna’s turn.

I haven’t decided which is worse; shots with the older kids or the baby.

The older kids have a more expressive vocabulary with which to protest.

“OWWWWW that nurse just shoved a metal spike the size of the Eiffel Tower into my femur, Daddyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

But when they’re babies, they don’t know what’s coming.

They lay down on that butcher paper covered cushion smiling and then….

The breathless scream.

You parents know the one.

Mouth open.

No sound

Red face.

You just want to say, “Breathe! Please!  OK….not funny anymore.  Breathe!”

Then it’s over.

They get bandaids with cartoon characters or silvery holograms (yes! I know!  Where were THOSE when I was a kid?!?!) and before you know it, you’re in the car.

Now, whoever thought of inoculations was either a total genius or the scientific equivalent of a high-school boy. 

I can just see it. 

They’re in the lab with a needle full of something, triple-dog-daring each other to try it. 

The reason I say that is this:

When you explain what those shots are, it sounds completely nuts.

It’s a virus…

…but not a virus…

…because all the virus stuff has been sucked out of the insides…

…but it’s still a virus. 

And so you give yourself the virus so you don’t get the virus. 

It seems like a paradox out of medical bizzaro world.

Almost like when Jesus says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”

Why is it, that I seem to have an easier time with a doctor telling me, “I need to make you sick so you won’t get sick” than I do with what Jesus has to say?

Because when I REALY think about it, it seems crazy.

Just like the shots.

That is, until I bring the concept of possession into it.

Not The Exorcist type possession.

The ownership type.

You see, “health” is not something that the doctor possesses that can be handed out. 

That’s why it’s called a “practice” instead of the “health dispensary”. 

But life….

That IS something that God possesses. 

That IS something that is His to give.

So when He says, "...whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." He's actually in a position to make good on that promise.

One the other hand, "life" is not something that I have the ability to find or create.

And so, any “life” I find or create for myself isn’t really life at all.

But as soon as I give up that counterfeit, I can receive the real deal.

The doctor can only offer “weak, non-virus virus” in exchange for “strong, deadly virus”.

But God….

But God offers “LIFE” in exchange for “not life”. 

And that seems like a pretty good deal to me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hazel and Praying Naked

One of the things that Laura and I have always wanted our home to be is hospitable.  Currently, due to size of house and age of kids, we just aren’t able to have houseguests as much as we would like.  So, of course, when some friends said they had a family member who needed a place to stay for a few days, we jumped at the chance. 

Her name was Hazel. 

At mealtime she got so annoying that we asked her to go in another room. 

The first time we did this she cried.

We felt terrible.

She also had the habit of bursting into the bathroom when I was in the shower or on the commode.

She wouldn’t leave. 

She’d just stare.

However the most humorous/troubling part (depending on how you look at it) was that she took an instant liking to me. 

She began to look for ways to undermine Laura’s position in the family. 

Have I mentioned that Hazel is a dog?

No really. 

I’m not being ugly.

She’s really a dog.

She’ a  “golden doodle”, to be exact. says that female doodles tend to pick favorites in a family.

Apparently, since I was the official walker and pooper scooper, that favorite was me.

That or my raw attractiveness transcends species.

I think I’ll go with on this one.

Anyway, I wasn’t kidding about her trying to take Laura’s place. 

If we went somewhere in the car, Hazel would leap over the kids and get into the front passenger seat of the car.

Then she’d stare Laura down with puppy-dog eyes as if to say, “what? You’re coming?  I had NO idea!”

I got her out and put her back into the rear of the car.

At night, she would try to wiggle in between Laura and me. 

I made her go to her doggie bed. 

It was all mildly amusing because, though she’s a dog, there seemed to be such intent there.  

It was puppy love.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

And speaking of Valentine’s Day, this weekend I lead worship at a marriage retreat….on Valentine’s Day…..without my wife.

**Note from the desk of Laura Moritz:  “I was OK with it….for real.”**

And one of the things they said was this: 

“Intimacy means ‘in-to-me-see’”

At first I thought it was one of those silly sayings people use at retreats.

But then I thought about it.

Plus they explained it.

True intimacy is an invitation to see into our hearts. 

It’s a place of vulnerability and it’s what we should have with God, with our spouses, and to a certain degree, with our close and trusted friends. 

It’s saying to God, “Search me and know my heart” like David wrote in the Psalms.

It’s allowing people to see us bare and honest.

Of course, the key to this being a healthy situation is that it’s requited. 

Unrequited intimacy isn’t intimacy at all. 

That’s why Hazel’s puppy love is cute but not real.

I’m totally unknowable to her and she is totally unknowable to me. 

Plus she has a hairy face.

But all this got me thinking about the incarnation and God’s self revelation.

The Bible, said Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel, is not a story of man’s search for God, but of God’s search for man. 

It’s an invitation to intimacy with God.

It’s God saying, “Come see into me.”

So the challenge for us…for me…is how we respond to God “putting Himself out there”. 

Do we invite Him, in kind, to see into our hearts and have intimacy with us?

Do we (again a retreat saying) pray naked?  

Honestly, and bare before God?

It’s an invitation to life and love everlasting.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a houseguest, with a tennis ball in her mouth, staring me down. 





Sunday, February 8, 2009

Free Falling and The Context

There are lots of things I remember from college. 

Unfortunately, very few of them are the things my family paid a fortune for me to learn. 

I learned how to use my meal card and a salad bar to feed stir-fry to my entire apartment.

I learned that sloshing pure bleach into a shower, while being the only way to clean a bathroom shared by six guys after three months of neglect, will make my coughs taste like Clorox for a week. 

I learned that if I allowed my laundry to filter down to the bottom of the laundry pile it did, quite miraculously, come out less stinky than it went in.

There is, however, a lesson I learned in college that’s proven essential to life.

It’s been worth every penny of my tuition.

Context is king.

The key to understanding everything is to understand the context surrounding it.

Here’s an example:

If I say, “it turned blue”, that could mean all sorts of things.

I could be talking about a  frostbitten toe…

or a pregnancy test.

(for the record, I am NOT talking about a pregnancy test).

I could be talking about the notorious, PC “blue screen of death”…

or the moisture indicator on the front of our middle child’s training diaper. 

You have to know the context to know which one of those scenarios I was talking about. 

And context can drastically change how you feel about something too.

Such is the case with the phrase, “Free fall”. 

Those words have some emotional punch don’t they?

If you’re wearing a parachute and are with a bunch of college friends having a reunion weekend, those words sound exciting.

If you just tripped on an exposed root on the edge of the Grand Canyon…not so exciting. 

If you just looked at your 401K, “free fall”, while accurate, may be terrifying.

If you are using those words to describe your emotional state it may be scarier still.

The context determines if those words thrill you or kill you.

And here is why that is such a great life lesson.

As a Christian, The Gospel is always the context.

God’s unfailing, unconditional, gracious and merciful love is always the theme.

And that changes everything.

So as The Moritz family, like a lot of families right now, wrestles with issues of joblessness and financial strain, we need to live as if The Gospel really is the context.

Will we still be afraid?


But will we be excited that we have an opportunity to see God move?  Will we be emboldened as we embark on this adventure?


Now, for anyone who thinks that I write that glibly, know this:

I had a friend who used to tell me this during hard times. 

I wanted to punch him.

It sounded like overly simple mind games for truly scary and difficult times.

It’s forever been the simplicity of the Gospel that is the biggest stumbling block for the minds of men.

Ironically, it can be even more of a stumbling block for us Bible Major/Professional Ministry types.

We like our coffee strong and our theology complicated.

And so it was the very simplicity of what my friend suggested that made me bristle.

But as Laura and I walked some very hard and painful roads together, and as we truly experienced what it meant to live in the context of The Gospel, we discovered that our friend was right and we can face the free fall.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Moses Sings and The "M" Word

There is single word that can sum up ninety percent of conversations in a multi-kid household. 


And parents all over the world do all sorts of crazy things to avoid hearing that word. 

In America, many parents even spend twice as much at Christmas buying double of everything so each kid has their own version of said toy. 

This, of course, is laughable.  

For, as anyone who has tried this knows, the “M” word is still screamed over WHICH one belongs to which kid.  The only way to avoid this is by marking one of them with an identifier. 


This is laughable. 

No kid wants the “damaged” toy (even if they can’t pronounce “damaged”). 

And so, “mine” is just a part of having more than one child. 

Truthfully, it was a part of our lives even when we only had Brehm.

He constantly wanted whatever was on MY dinner plate.

Though you could justifiably argue that, in that situation, we didn’t only have one child in our house.

I do find it interesting, though, that universally we all have that desire to guard and fight for what is ours. 

Which brings me to my quiet time this morning.

Lest you think I’m more spiritual than I am, “quiet time” here refers to me, with a cup of coffee and a bible, reading while my kids watch “Gofrette”, a terrible French-Canadian Public Television show. 

Not quite monkish solitude, but it’s what I’ve got.

So there I was, reading Deuteronomy 32.

This is the part of the Bible where Moses sings a song. 

Being a musician, I can relate.

And so Moses sings.

Around verse 8 he starts singing about how God gives the nations their allotted land. 

Truthfully, I tend to skim parts like this. 

It’s the Biblical equivalent of singing:

“To the North Dakotans you gave Fargo and to the Texans, The Country of Texas*”

But I didn’t skim it this morning.

And I’m glad I didn’t.

In verse 9, my mind got blown.

It says, “For the LORD’s portion is his people…”

I was stunned.

I’m God’s portion.

He says, “MINE” about me.

He fights for me.

He’s jealously protective of me.

He guards me as one of His own.

In the same way that nations are willing to battle over the land that is allotted them, God will battle for me. 

And yet, all these analogies fall short.

My kids say “mine” out of selfishness.

Nations war out of greed or pride.

Even my joke about North Dakota and Texas could raise speculation about who TRULY has claim to the land. Is it the Native Americans or us?

But God’s claim isn’t sullied by sin, ambition or questionable motivation.

There’s no room to wonder, “Who was here first?”

What He says belongs to Him, truly belongs to Him and He is Righteous and Just to destroy anyone or anything that tries to claim it for themselves.

That’s scary and comforting all at the same time.

And I think that it was meant to be.


*Anyone who has talked to a Native Texan about Texas will get how funny this is.