Against? Not again.


It’s taken nearly 2000 years but I think we Christians have finally done it. I think we’ve successfully turned following Jesus Christ into something more like standing opposed to a mile-long list of this and that. We’re known more by what we stand against than what we stand FOR. Ugh. Gross.

So as a follower of Jesus, let me tell you what I stand for…
God’s glory
Holiness (my own; yours is between you and God)
Passion for Jesus
Being a husband and dad I’m not ashamed of
People, who are God’s prize creation
Making my flawed faith vulnerably visible
…and little else.

What about you?
Forget “against” for a few minutes. What are you FOR?

“I hate teenagers.”

I was in a well-known big-box store two days ago, standing in the check-out line, waiting patiently for my turn as the lady in front of me wrangled with the cashier over the advertised price of a toy she had planned on buying.  It appears the price on the shelf and the price the computer came up with were two different numbers and naturally the customer expected the lower number to prevail.  They got it settled (she didn’t buy the toy), she was on her way, and it was my turn.

Now, I’m a give-them-the-benefit-of-the-doubt kind of person and maybe this cashier was at the end of her shift, but she just looked worn out.  She looked to be in her 20’s–maybe even early 20’s, she was overweight, unkempt, and overall kind of homely looking.  The recent entanglement with that last customer surely didn’t help her attitude, so I tried to step up and be extra cheery. As she rung up the 2 or 3 items I had placed on the conveyor belt, 2 teenager girls  stepped up to be next in line to check-out behind me.  With no trace of a smile, the cashier pointed to her lane number which was NOT lit and said, “I’m closing.”  With no discernable response from the 2 teen girls, she repeated herself but this time a little louder: “I’m CLOSing.”  The 2 girls looked at the cashier, looked at each other, rolled their eyes and walked away.

Then the cashier looked at me, somehow with even less of an expression than she previously had and mouthed the words, “I HATE teenagers.”  Without missing a beat, I cheerfully replied, “Well I LOVE them! But I’m a youth pastor, so there you go.”  I continued, “But lots of people feel like you do, so you’re not alone.”  (Whatever kind of twisted solace that was.)

Most of the ills in our society can be traced back to the teenage years.  I want to be sure you don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.  I’m not vilifying teenagers, not at all.  I’m simply saying that a huge chunk of who you are, how you think, what you feel about others, and your overall worldview started in your formative teen years.  And like it or not, for most people it sticks around well into adulthood and for many even to the grave.

Think about it: most habits you have (that make up your much of your “identity”) began in the teen years.  Did you know the average age for a new smoker is 13?  About half of all teens graduating high school have reported to have already had sexual intercourse.  And half of THOSE did so under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Also, as we have progressed technologically as a society, we have ushered teens into a “have it now, have it all” mentality.  With our amazing modern conveniences, we have seen nearly stride-for-stride a moral compromise.  The word “could” has reached the level of “should”.  In other words, if a cell phone is within my reach, I should have one of my own.  After all, my friends all have one.  If a Facebook page is the social norm, then I should have one of my own.  If every pair of jeans I see walking around appears to be painted on, then I should also have mine painted on.  Its the word that has unfortunately become commonplace when talking about teens today: entitlement.

And this is why I LOVE working with, serving, teaching, and loving teenagers.  Because I get the extraordinary privilege and responsibility (and sometimes challenge and headache) of showing them a far better way to think about life, view life, and live life.  I get a front row seat to watch teenager after teenager come to the realization that not only are they not the most important thing on the planet, they’re not even in the top 3.  I get to watch them open their eyes to the reality that while God loves them, died for them, forgives them, and lives within them, their happiness is not His #1 priority.  And they embrace that.

That’s why I meant what I said to that cashier.  I truly do LOVE teenagers.  Not because they’re always fun to be around, or because they’ve got everything (or anything) figured out, or because they’re respectful.  It’s simply because I know that once they see the awesome potential that God has placed within them and they surrender that to Him, they’ll be unstoppable forces of God’s grace and redemption on earth.

Moral Failure

You’re about to read a blog that comes from an extremely passionate and angry part of who I am.  Without any attempts at sensationalism, I’m going to be quite candid.  If you’re in a marriage relationship, please feel free to comment or even call me on the carpet for what you’re about to read.  I welcome it.

Nearly 3 years ago I had a friend.  He was more than a friend really; he was a partner in ministry.  In fact, he was someone I’d consider my closest friend in student ministry.  We spent tons of time together, we always got along well, we had a similar passion for students, we shared many interests, and we really enjoyed each other’s company. All in all, we were close.  Yet as it turns out, not close enough.

I say that because I clearly wasn’t close enough to see what perhaps he kept hidden from everyone; his inch-by-inch journey into moral failure.  Until one night, seemingly out of nowhere, I found myself sitting face-to-face with my friend, pleading with him not to leave his wife and kids.

He left anyway.

Soon after that, I heard someone say something about the situation that I still to this day disagree with.  It was a statement I’ve heard in other situations as well. You’ve probably heard it too.  It’s a statement that has nearly reached the status of cliche’:  “There but by God’s grace go I.” or more to the point: “That [moral failure] could have happened to any one of us.”  I completely disagreed.

You see, my friend who left his family didn’t slip and fall into a hole.  He climbed in.  Moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, he CHOSE to keep hidden an inappropriate relationship; one that he KNEW would ultimately bring about the end of his marriage.  Do I feel compassion for him?  Absolutely.  But do I also hold him responsible?  You better believe it.

It’s utterly flabbergasting to me how many people in ministry (and those who are not) wrongfully justify immoral behavior.  And in today’s world of hyper-connectedness, we’re literally surrounded by ways that we can step into an inappropriate relationship.  But no matter how many traps are set for us, it is always our choice that leads us into sin.

Consider 1 Corinthians 10:13:  “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

Simply put, Satan sets a trap but God gives an escape.  According to this verse, you’re NEVER cornered by the enemy’s schemes.  God is always faithful to provide you with a way to get away and free from the destruction Satan desires for your morality and for your marriage.  ALWAYS.

Now, I know better than anyone else just how imperfect a human being and husband I am.  That being said, one of my desires for my life is to be one of those men that–if you know me–you think of as a man who is head-over-heels crazy in love with his wife.  But more than that, a greater desire is for my wife to know that and to feel secure in it.  To that end, there are certain things that I’ve set as principles/boundaries/habits in my marriage (I recommend them to every husband):

1. My wife has full access to my phone & computer; including all text messages, web history, call history, & calendar.  Period.

2. My wife and I have a standing weekly date–just the 2 of us–to talk about anything and everything.  (It’s the highlight of our week!)

3. I swat my wife’s behind every chance I get.  It’s my silent “I love you.”  (This is a multiple times daily occurrence.)

4. I tell my wife not only that I love her, but that I’m IN love with her. And when I say “love” I don’t mean “you give me butterflies” (though she does that too), but that “I’m completely committed to God, to you, to us, to our kids, to this life together. This love is a committed decision. Period.”

5. I consistently confirm that I’m in a spiritual relationship with my wife, not merely a physical and emotional relationship.  I faithfully remember that on our wedding day while I was surrounded by family and friends, I stood before God and made a covenant vow to Him that it is to this woman I am giving my everything; and all for no other reason than to have the joy of her company, the strength of her friendship, and the security of her love.  And God helping me I would provide these things to her as well.  That was my VOW TO GOD.  Oh, that husbands and wives would study carefully and understand the word “vow” before they make one.

No, moral failure such as my friend had (and still lives in) wasn’t a “oops, I slipped and fell” kind of situation.  We CHOOSE to fail.  We CHOOSE to stop loving. We CHOOSE to look where we ought not look.  We CHOOSE to get reconnected with that old “flame”.  We CHOOSE to show interest in that co-worker.  We CHOOSE to send that text message or picture.  We CHOOSE to cross the line of our marriage covenant into moral compromise.  We CHOOSE to put our spouse and children aside while we pursue utterly selfish and lustful desires.  We CHOOSE to get emotionally entangled then physically involved with someone other than the one we’ve made a vow to.  We CHOOSE.

And here’s what I CHOOSE:

I CHOOSE to grow old with the same woman I once was young with.

I CHOOSE to put on display for my kids the fact that their mother has no reason to worry about her husband’s commitment to her.

I CHOOSE to show my wife that I take completely seriously the fact that I am standing in God’s full view and accountability as I live my love for my wife out on a daily basis.

I CHOOSE to be a man of integrity, of passion, of morality, of mind-blowing monogamy, and of Godliness.

And when my vision fades and my eyes close on this life, I will look back and know that I have shown the world that in regards to marriage: “THAT is how it’s done.”


I’m not a legalist.  I’m just putting that out there.  I’m not a follower of Jesus who’s in it for the comfort of rules and order.  I think Christians get far too well known for our proverbial “Don’ts” than for anything else.  There are people living right now who reject Jesus and (more accurately) Christians/Christianity because it seems most like a long list of what you’re not allowed to do.  So, before I get into what I’m about to say I want to say first that I hate the fact that I’ve had to say what I just said.  Now that that’s out of the way…

Something happened to me recently that has started/restarted a conversation with myself (yet another) about a specific issue; the issue of practical holiness or as some refer to it as “sanctification”.  I’d like to add to that “daily sanctification”.  Here’s what happened to me:  We recently signed up for Blockbuster’s “Combo Pass” which allows us to take out any movie or video game from our local Blockbuster store for any amount of time.  (If you’re thinking that a pastor shouldn’t be a member at Blockbuster, you might be a legalist.  If you’re not sure, reread the first paragraph.)  The Combo Pass allows us to take any movie or game out, one at a time, and keep it from anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.  When we return it, we trade it in for any other item we’d like.  There’s a flat monthly fee and since we use Blockbuster a bit and since the monthly fee for this month is 50% off ($7.50 for the  month), we thought we’d give it a shot.  In a nutshell, we’ve used it to the hilt.

So, a couple of Friday’s ago I had the day off.  All the kids were in school, my wife was at work, and I was essentially on my own to do whatever I felt like doing.  I decided that I’d head to Blockbuster and get a video game to play.  I thought I’d try that “Black Ops” game everyone seems to be abuzz over, but when I looked over the selection, I decided on what I thought would be a bit tamer: Goldeneye 007 (A James Bond movie-based game).  With a few hours to kill and a video game under my arm, I headed home.

I put the game into the machine and was soon underway on my first spy mission.  Goldeneye is known as a “FPS”-style game, or “first person shooter” game.  The screen is filled with the images I would see as I walk through bunkers, up stairs, and around corners on my way to the rendezvous point.  Graphically, it was pretty cool.  But as anyone who plays or knows FPS games can tell you, the word “shooter” in the title is pretty much the whole point of the game.  So, as I glided, ducked, and snuck my way through the game’s first level, I had to–ahem–shoot people.

I could really draw this out, but I’ll just cut right to the chase.  Within about 30 minutes of playing this “first person shooter” game, I began to feel physically ill.  I quickly concluded that the stress of the game, the imagery of the shooting, the pressure of the mission, and the overall fantastical experience of being that shooter for 30 minutes had truly been detrimental to my mind, and quite literally my body as well.

I returned the game to Blockbuster within a couple hours of picking it up and the whole experience soon faded from my mind.  That is, until today.

I knew that today would be the day I’d cut the grass and for me, every chore is better with music.  So, I fired up my Pandora radio (built into my phone), chose the “80s Throwback, 90s Comeback” station, yanked the cord on the mower and started out on the work at hand.  I listened to the likes of Bon Jovi, John Cougar Mellencamp, and GNR.  And it was during that second Guns ‘N Roses song that I began to notice something.  Not quite as acute as my 007 incident, but I could have sworn that I had literally begun to feel “down”.  I can’t say that it was entirely physical though there was an element of that.  I suppose its best described as a “soul blah”.   Now I want to restate right here that I don’t think people who listen to secular music are bound for hell because they listen to secular music.  In fact, I own and enjoy several albums of non-Christian musicians.  Its just that I can’t deny the effect that this music was having on me.  Recalling my half hour as James Bond, I decided that right then and there I would stop the mower, change the station to one that played Christian/worship music and see what happened.  Guess what?  I almost instantly began to feel lifted, stronger, and overall better.  Again, I’m not proposing that Christian music is magical; I’m only conveying MY experience right there in my yard this morning.

As a man who decided over 20 years ago to turn it all over to Jesus and His Lordship of my life, I must confess to you that as I get older, I see a direct connection between His Lordship and my sense of peace and ease.  Not at all that full surrender brings full bliss and problem-free living, but rather that full surrender brings confidence and certainty while the opposite brings, well, the opposite.  The Bible puts it this way, “You will keep him in perfect peace who’s mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”  (Isaiah 26:3)

Daily sanctification is the result of the day-to-day choices we make as to who we’re going to follow.  Those choices reflect our heart, for better or for worse.  And while its arguable that video games and music choices play a minor role in our overall holiness, I’d submit that they play just as much an integral a part as any other choice we can make; from running that red light to stealing that item to committing that adultery to ending that life.  How can we dismiss some choices, claiming they have no bearing on the choices we’d call bigger?  Doesn’t each small drop of rain contribute to the torrential downpour?

So, based on my experiences as of late with gaming and music and if I were to make a decision on those isolated alone, I’d have to say that filling my eyes, mind, and ears with things that don’t make God the center draw me farther from Him and likewise filling my eyes, mind, and ears with things that do make God the center draw me closer to Him.

The conversation opens when I realize (because its true) that there are plenty of Jesus-following, God-honoring people who are reading this post and love first-person-shooter games.  And there are people who love Jesus and are listening to Guns ‘N Roses while reading my blog.  And again, if you think they’re not really Christians then you need to go back and re-reread my first paragraph because you may need to check yourself for legalism.

Instead of drawing this all up with a nice bow, I’d like to invite YOUR thoughts on the effects in YOUR life of “secular” media choices; gaming, television, music, movies, etc.   This is a great opportunity for any who have been faithful readers but who have never posted a comment to do so!  All I ask for is honesty and respect for others viewpoints.

Why Do We Want

While its true that I’ve been invited to speak at a revival series later this month, I’m not yet sure if I believe in the concept of revival.  At least, not in the way we have come to understand it, describe it, and daydream about it.  Hear me out.

It seems to me that we talk about revival like we’re at a bus stop waiting for a bus that may or may not exist; one that has no schedule, and worse yet — no clear destination.

So, approaching the idea of revival with the body of believers I’m honored to be invited by, I’ll begin with one often overlooked question: “Why do you want revival?”  I mean, it sounds like the right thing to want but if we look deeper than the surfacey nice-nice it portrays, I think we’ll see some hard truths that must be faced before forward motion can happen.

First, the desire for revival must, by definition, include an admission of the need to be “revived”.  Let’s not get too complicated here; if something needs to be revived, what we’re really saying is that it’s dead or nearly so.  The very desire for revival must first be okay with confessing our deadness.  And we’re Christians.  Ouch.

Secondly, revival by its very nature declares that we are not complacent to stay where we are any longer.  Inject a Christian with truth serum and they’ll likely tell you that they feel spiritually stuck more often than they care to admit.  But to all those who I’ll be joining in NC later this month, and to all those reading these words, I share a wonderful quote from the prolific, late Mike Yaconelli when he said, “Being stuck is the prerequisite to being unstuck.”  So, Christian stuck in your _________, rejoice!  You’re right now in the perfect position to be unstuck!  If we’re going to call for revival, we’re going to have to make up our minds that we can’t possibly stay here.  Here is where we’ve been.  Here is where we’re comfortable.  Here is what’s familiar.  Here is where our routine lives.  So, we must march on…and out of here.

Finally, revival calls for God to do something.  (As if He hasn’t done enough.)  Essentially, we prepare, we plan, we pray, we plan, we coordinate, we pray, we prepare….and then we wait.  And if God doesn’t “show up” in the way we have planned and prescribed for Him to show up, then…well…dangit.  We’ll have to try again next year.

Here are 3 things that I believe revival does.  If you’re looking for complex and deep then get ready for disappointment:

1. Revival calls us out of the sin we’ve wallowed in.  And I’m talking about “Christians” here.

2. Revival calls us into the Word of God–for nourishment, for sustenance, for comfort, for counsel, for all we need.

3. Revival sparks within us an unquenchable love for the lost and for sharing the message of the cross in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are there more thoughts I have on revival?  Sure there are.   And if the Lord enables me, I’m excited to share them with the people of New Life Baptist Church later this month.

Getting Up Right

I’m a pretty good waker-upper.  I might lay in bed for a minute or two after opening my eyes, but I’m not a grouchy, leave-me-alone, just-another-five-minutes, for-the-love-of-Mike-I’m-gonna-kill-that-alarm-clock kind of morning person.  For the most part, I’m an up-and-at-’em kind of person.  And while genetics might play some part of that, I really don’t think they do at all.

I’d like to suggest that today is the only day God is interested in.  So when I wake up every morning, I want/need to see it as one more opportunity to participate in something God is intimately interested in.  I look at my day as a one-day extension of my time in the mission field.  I look at my day as one more day to enjoy the mystery of having a relationship with the Creator of everything I see, while still understanding that I can’t see Him…yet.  When I open my eyes and I’m still alive, I consider this a message from God that essentially says, “Okay Jerry, let’s do this one more time. From the top.”  In reality, each day is gifted to me to do with as I wish.  To squander, to waste, to destroy, or to benefit from–and hopefully to benefit others in.

I typically have several things in my mind that are effective at getting me up and out of bed.  Here they are in no particular order:

  1. The coffee is on.  Even having given up sugar long ago, I still enjoy a morning cup ‘o joe.  There’s just something about it.
  2. Along with my coffee is my Bible reading. Lately I think I’m “o.d.”ing on devotions.  I’ll start off with Dennis Kinlaw’s “This Day With The Master”, follow it up with John MacArthur’s “The Quest for Character” (a study on the Beattitudes), then a healthy dose of straight Bible (currently working my way through Genesis & Job again).  After that, I’ll head into the New Testament and just go where the wind blows (usually the epistles somewhere; they drip with practicality).
  3. Thoughts of what must be done today.  Like I said, I think God is only interested in today.  Given His eternality, how can he be anything but?  God doesn’t plan for tomorrow.  God doesn’t even have a tomorrow.  Not only that, but Jesus warned about looking too far into the future because tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.  Matthew 6:34 is a great example of Jesus’ teaching on this.  2 Cor. 6:2 is also a great verse that emphasizes the “now”.  So, I try and keep my thoughts to what must be accomplished TODAY.  Does that mean I don’t plan for the future?  Does that mean I’m not thinking about the details of next week, next month, or next year?  Absolutely not.  I simply keep my focus on what’s directly in front of me.  It’s ALWAYS plenty for the time I have today.
  4. The simple yet profound joy in my life.  I am a guy who is blessed beyond measure and who knows it.  My wife is smokin’ hot and is in love with Jesus which makes her even hotter.  My kids are by no means perfect, but they’re perfect for me.  I can’t describe how blessed I am that they call me “Dad”.  Everyday I get to do exactly what I love–student ministry–the thing that I feel I was born to do.  And the people I serve with and minister to seem to like having me around.  I know it more than anyone else: I’m unbelievably fortunate to live this life I’m living.  And I don’t take it for granted.  But that sense of joy of life is like a springboard that flings me out of bed.

What are YOUR first morning thoughts?  Do you utter a prayer?  Do you wake up joyful or stressed?  Do you have a routine that helps set your day?  I’d love to hear from you about what your waking moments (and what follows) look like!

A Cathartic Bump In The Night

It’s 1 a.m. The rest of my family is sound asleep.

I’m up because–well, it started in a dream.  About a half an hour ago I was having a bad dream; one of those bad dreams that ends in a loud noise that your mind swears happened outside the dream.  Jarred from my deep sleep, I woke with the very convincing notion that someone was at my front door, trying to get in.

I’m a lover, not a fighter so the only weapon I have is a fixed blade knife.  And since I’d never be willing to get close enough to any intruder to use it, its pretty well pointless.  But just in case intruders read my blog, I’ll keep its location to myself.

It turned out, no one was at my door.  So I went back to bed, only after checking around the house while swallowing my heart repeatedly.  While lying in bed wide awake, I heard another noise.  This time I KNEW I wasn’t asleep, and that this noise was definitely real.  Out of bed I sprang again, and once I again I felt the “what if someone’s really around that corner” lump in my throat.  Knifeless, I checked around each corner.  No one there.

After yet another round of noises and checks, I decided that the noise is coming from my air conditioning ducts–well, actually its coming from my house that is literally being sucked inward when my air conditioning kicks on.  Since my vent filters apparently need cleaning, its working a bit harder to do its job and therefore sucking in creaks and squeaks like I suck in my gut at the pool.  So, here I sit at my blog which feels to me much more like a long lost friend than a website address.  I decided to come down and write because quite frankly I have had a ton of things on my mind and laying in bed thinking about them doesn’t do me a bit of good.  So here I am.  Let me tell you about some thoughts I’ve been thinking recently, in no particular order, and with no particularly well-crafted substance to prop them up.

For years I’ve wanted to write a book.  I can’t tell you how many people have told me I should.  I’ve been told by many that I have a peculiar knack to be able to bring the reader into my thoughts, and that’s a sign of a talented writer that people want to read.  I want to say that I whole-heartedly would love to write a book.  I’ve actually written several in my head and am constantly starting what I think are great ideas for great books on a fairly regular basis.  But I’ve got to tell you that I view the publishing world as an incredibly confusing place.  As much as I’d love to see a book published, I haven’t the first clue as to how to go about getting a book published.  Now, I’m sure someone is sitting there reading this saying, “Oh, it’s easy. You just do this, this, and this.  That’s all.”  Well, if you’re that person, please drop me a line and tell me what those three “this’s” are because I’d gladly listen.  I once went to a seminar on getting published and left more discouraged, frustrated, and confused than when I went in.  It seemed the consensus of the published authors that led the seminar was that there really wasn’t any more room for more authors.  It felt like they were behind a huge door saying, “Sorry, its really crowded in here.  Besides, you don’t know the secret handshake. Go away now, thank you!”  So, my latest book idea is titled “This Way To The Publisher”.  The book cover would have a standard diamond-shaped road sign with a black arrow on a yellow background, but the arrow wouldn’t be pointing in any direction at all.  Maybe by writing a book about the arduous adventure of getting a book published, I’d learn along the way how to do it.

I’m afraid that “para-church” organizations are contributing to the death of the Church.  I should have warned you that I’ll be changing topics with little or no warning whatsoever.  This thought about the parachurch came to me last week when I attended a quarterly regional luncheon for Richmond-area youth leaders and out of the 30 or so people present, I was only 1 of 2 other pastors from actual churches.  Every other person there was representing some parachurch organization.  The reason I fear that the parachurch is contributing to the death of the Church isn’t the parachurch’s fault.  So if you work for such an organization, please back away from the red button in the corner you’re about to click.  Parachurch organizations are organizations designed to come alongside, support, and supplement the Church.  However, not one of them would exist had the Church stayed true to fulfilling its mission on Earth.  It hasn’t or even if it has, other pursuits have crept up and seemed like really good or noble or necessary pursuits.  Even though they were not, enough people thought they were and as a result, here they are.  Not only that but more times than not, the parachurch-to-Church connection isn’t strong enough and even if the bridge is visible, not enough people are walking across it.  Some people will contend, “But we’re all the Church.”  I don’t know how to argue that point at 1:15 a.m. except to say that I don’t think that’s true.

I’ve spent far too much time in ministry giving attention to those who make God sad rather than those who make God happy and I’m taking responsibility for this wrong decision.  Lately I have given far more mental energy toward people who’s decisions frustrate me to no end, and not nearly enough investment and attention to those who’s decisions and actions reflect the attitude of Christ.  It may seem like I’m saying I’ll only interact with Christ-like people.  That’s not what I’m trying to say at all.  It’s just that with the sheer numbers of people I see knowingly living lives contrary to the right decisions they should make, I often find myself shaking my head in disbelief.  I’m not talking about people living in ignorance or unbelief; I’m talking about disobedience despite full knowledge of the truth, and for no other reason (that I can see) than that of utter selfishness.  And don’t think I think I’ve arrived anywhere.  I certainly know my own faults, shortcomings, and sins.  (Heck, writing this paragraph might be viewed as one of them.)  But one thing I do: “forgetting what lies behind, and pressing on to what lies ahead”, I lean toward the person of Christ and in Him find rest, salvation, satisfaction, and a Lord I can gladly serve.  And I only find my greatest desire is that others would do the same, and far better than I have.

I think I’m in a time of reflection and I’m guessing that since I’m 37 years old, you might suspect that its nearing “midlife”.  I suppose it might have a hint of that, but really its not nearly that purposeful or thought-out.  Instead, I find myself to be observational–even more so than usual.  By nature, I’m a listener/processor.  I liken myself to a crock pot:  my thoughts may take a while longer, but what you get is correspondingly more flavorful.  Or so I like to think.  Along the lines of my reflections has been that my greatest fear is uselessness.  Like I said, I’m 37 years old.  I work with teenagers and have been in one way or another for nearly 20 years.  Wow.  And I’ve had 20 years worth of experiences; highs, lows, bedsides, roadsides, gravesides. Courtrooms, police cars, bedrooms, counseling sessions, housing runaways, and trying to be a soft place to land. Not only that, but speaking truth consistently, understandably, and practically.  20 years of working with, teaching, standing by, crying with, reaching out to, sharing God’s Word with, and investing in teenagers.  I’ve always wanted to do this ever since I learned that I could.  And as long as God will allow me to, I’ll keep on loving teens and their families.

I’m excited about an upcoming speaking engagement this fall.  If all works out, I’ll be sharing a number of revival service messages with some of the good folks of North Carolina.  If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of revival, its the week or so out of the year that Southern Baptists are excited about Jesus.  And if there’s a week that you want to be with a bunch of Southern Baptists, its that one.  Having grown up in a small Baptist church, I’m familiar with the concept of revival and have all confidence in the Spirit of God that He will be pleased to use even a flawed vessel like me to bring it about.  Honored to be invited, I’ve been thinking often about this special and precious time we’ll have together in God’s Word, in all-out worship, and in deep-fried fellowship together.  And what a powerful opportunity to again tune my own heart to God’s praises and to His voice regarding revival in my own life.  While I may have been asked to serve the meal, don’t think for one second that I’m not going dig in to it myself! I have a spiral notebook where I’ve been keeping the things God has been nudging me with and impressing on my heart through Scripture, by His Spirit, and in our talks together.  And if that group of His children in NC will still have me after reading this paragraph, then I can’t wait to get there and experience this time together!

I haven’t contributed to my blog for nearly a month now, and while I’d say that’s mostly been blamed on time, I suspect that there’s more to it than that.  (Not to mention “lack of time” gets way too much use and is way too lame to be used that often.  We all know that, but no one likes to admit it.)  I talked with my Dad recently about his regularity in contributing to his blog (check my blogroll to find it).  He’s a bit more systematic than I am.  Scratch that–my Dad’s writing schedule is more like a well-tuned machine while comparatively speaking mine would be more like a pile of dirt.  Nonetheless, I like to think of it as good soil that occasionally springs up a blade or two of green grass now and then.

I’ve been writing for over an hour now and I feel less burdened than I did before.  I suppose whatever else lies just inside the fingertips of my feverishly typing phalanges might just have to wait until next time to emerge.  Until then, whenever that may be, whether sooner or later, good night.