I grew up in a home that was nominally Christian but we did not go to church regularly. During the summers, my brother and I lived with my grandparents in northern California who took us to church, sent us to camp and Vacation Bible School, and talked to my brother and me about Jesus.
I decided to follow Jesus, really try to learn more about him and do what he says, when I was in middle school. Middle school was the first time I really felt peer pressure, the desire to be cool. My good boy upbringing and my desire to be cool came into conflict. It was during this time that God spoke to me clearly. I was lying in bed one night and God made it very clear that I could not ride the fence between two paths. I either had to choose to follow him or I had to choose to go another direction. Would God be my path and guide moving forward or would other things be the source of my worth and satisfaction?
I chose to follow him. That decision produced a pretty dramatic change in me. I started to read the Bible and understand it. I began to pray and go to youth group. I started to encourage kids rather than ridicule. I stopped helping kids cheat on exams.
Since that time, I have tried to follow Jesus. There have been periods when I have wandered away from Jesus, where other things have distracted me from that pursuit. The pressure to be accepted and viewed as successful that were at work in middle school were still at work in high school, college, graduate school, and now as a professor. I am still prone seek fame. I seek comfort and satisfaction in the approval of others. Yet, I am reminded, as the Bible says, “all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-25)
Jesus, has provided me hope by forgiving me for all of times I have sinned in the past, when I sin today, and when I will sin in the future. That freedom--that I am loved and forgiven while I am still a sinner--gives me hope. This is a more enduring hope than the promise of next professional accomplishment or the recognition of my peers.
Got to get behind the Mule
in the morning and plow
Friends describe me
as loyal, thoughtful, and adventurous.
Watching and playing sports, golf, reading, travel, board games, spending time with family and friends
Fantasy dinner guests
Abraham Lincoln, Clint Dempsey, John Coltrane, CS Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Best advice I ever received
If you never break anything you never get anything new.
My worst subject in school
If I weren't a professor, I would
Killer Angels, Master and Commander, Gilead, Improving Your Serve
Star Wars, Fletch, Indiana Jones
Nobody knows I
went to a high school whose mascot was an acorn.
My latest accomplishment
I had a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Politics
I am studying the political factors that influence turnover in the permanent civil service.
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