FacebookTwitter

Blog

I cannot imagine what on earth motivated you to find this site, but I am humbled that you chose to stick around. I am aware of the fact that your most likely reason for reading my musings is that you have been put under some type of direst, but I’ll take whatever help I can get. Whatever the reason, thank you for caring enough about my thoughts and opinions to read on. I hope I won’t disappoint.

 

[Disclaimer: Some of the links in this blog are affiliate products. This means that if you click on them and buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that any product I recommend is done so because of either personal experience with that product or because I found a particular product that I consider to be useful or desirable at a good price and just want to pass along that good deal.]

Where Do We Go From Here? My Future in Ministry

Posted by on 3:25 PM in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Where Do We Go From Here? My Future in Ministry

With the closing of our church at the end of last year, many people have asked what that will mean for the future of my time in ministry. This post is an attempt to answer that question.

read more

It’s the End of Our Church as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Posted by on 2:38 PM in Uncategorized | 3 comments

It’s the End of Our Church as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

After six incredible years of ministry, our church is closing its doors. Are we sad? Of course, we’re sad. But we’re not too sad about it. Let me explain why…

read more

What’s REALLY Wrong with the Church

Posted by on 6:21 PM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

What’s REALLY Wrong with the Church

I’ve seen several blog posts floating around on social media lately, popping up in my feed multiple times over the past few months. These posts argue for different opinions of what’s wrong with Christian churches across America. And then well-meaning Christians have been sharing these posts more virally than a common cold making its way through an understaffed daycare. I get it, we are all really good at seeing what’s wrong with stuff. This post isn’t an attack on those posts. I felt like the few posts that I read were written with heartfelt honesty by people with pure intentions. At least, the posts seemed to come across that way. So I’m certainly not attacking them. In fact, there were very few ideas in the posts that I read that I would disagree with at all. I found a lot, if not most of the critiques they made against the church to be fair and accurate. I did have an issue, however, with how these issues were being presented. No, I don’t mean through blog posts. I obviously don’t have an issue with blog posts. This isn’t the pot calling the kettle black (whatever that means?). I actually had an issue with the pronouns being used throughout these posts. Before you label me as a grammar snob and line me up before the firing squad of normalcy, let me explain what I mean. The one commonality between the posts I read that jumped out at me (other than the common purpose of criticizing the church) was that each of the posts’ authors referred to the church in the second and third persons. In laymen’s terms: they called the church “you,” “it,” and “they.” Let me oversimplify and summarize the arguments: The church [it] has a problem. People are leaving the church [it]. That’s because the you [the church] say and do a lot of stuff that you [the church] shouldn’t. So you [the church] need to stop doing/saying these things. And you [the church] need to start doing/saying these things. If you [the church] don’t shape up, then people are going to keep leaving you [the church].   Remember, these are posts written by self-professing Christians and spread like wildfire over social media by other self-professing Christians. They’re not critiques from the outside looking in. They’re critiques from church-goers. Insiders. But they’re all about what someone else needs to do in order to fix the church, an institution referred to as if it could be pointed out somewhere down the street over there, somewhere clearly other than where the posts’ authors and sharers are coming from. And in this subtle nuance you find, in my opinion, what is really wrong with the church: We don’t see ourselves as part of the church. We see the church as something out there, an institution that exists outside of our own direct influence. We talk about the church as if it was some company trying to win our business. But the church is not any of those things without us. I think the real problem is that if we stopped viewing ourselves as outside the church and started seeing ourselves as part of the church, we would logically have to own up to two conclusions: We’re a part of the problem. And…   We’re...

read more

Free Motion Backgrounds

Posted by on 7:33 PM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Free Motion Backgrounds

I teach my kids to that sharing is caring. It’s short. It’s pithy. It rhymes. What more could you ask for, right?   I guess you could ask that I practice what I preach.   Recently I learned a lesson from God that I needed. I was doing some Internet searching for high quality church media to go along with a sermon series I was planning to preach through the book of James. In my search, I ran across a Vimeo account for a larger church on the East Coast who is really using media well in their Sunday gatherings. On their Vimeo page, they had a video bumper for a sermon series on James that was really top-notch. It said everything I would have wanted in a sermon bumper for my upcoming James series. And it was really well produced to boot! At this point, I was faced with a decision. I could do one of three things:   1. I could use one of the various video ripping services and “borrow” this church’s hard work (let’s call it what it is: I would be taking it without asking, so it would be stealing).   2. I could be impressed with their hard work and move on in my search for free high quality materials that expressly state they are posted online for the purpose of sharing (let’s call this what it is: a wild goose chase).  Or…   3. I could roll the dice and contact the church to see if they would be willing to share their hard work with me (let’s call this what it is: a gamble that may or may not pay off).   Their response to my gamble taught me a lot about what it means to be the church. They did not give me permission to rip their sermon bumper off of Vimeo. Instead, they sent me the high resolution file of the bumper video, along with all the Photoshop files for the sermon slides and advertising materials for the series. They were more than willing to help out a small church that couldn’t afford a full-time creative pastor or media team. They were willing to SHARE. It was refreshing. They weren’t looking to make any money off of me. I’m not judging ministries that are in the business of selling media. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making a living (even a good one!) off your trade, and creative people need a paycheck just as much as non-creative types. But it was nice to see that this church, who had already paid their creative guy for his efforts, was willing to share the fruits of those efforts with some people who couldn’t afford it. It was nice to feel that the passages that speak of the disciples “having all things in common” and giving “to each as he had need” could still apply in our capital-driven society. So here is my small attempt to pay it forward…  I recently came across a handy little app called Shift. It allows a person with a decently artistic eye to create some really simple but classy motion backgrounds for worship presentations. So I put my hand to the plow and made a few. I don’t claim that these are super high quality. But they were good enough that we plan...

read more

Why Skip the Oasis?

Posted by on 3:48 PM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why Skip the Oasis?

The word “oasis” probably evokes one of two images in your head. If you are from my generation, then the word probably turns your mind back to the mid-90’s when the British rock band, Oasis, was tearing up the charts like a champagne supernova in the sky. If you are from one of the generations that has no clue what a Wonderwall is (admittedly, my generation doesn’t really know either), then your mind probably conjures more traditional images.  Most people know an oasis to be an area in a desert where vegetation surrounds some water source like a spring or a well. It’s an area of safety and a source of life in the otherwise lifeless void of the desert. For the desert traveler, an oasis is the difference between life and death on a long journey. In fact, oases are the only reason travelers can actually make long journeys through the desert. Needless to say, they are kind of a big deal. An oasis provides the traveler a great deal of amenities otherwise unavailable in the barren waste of the desert. There a person can find rest in the comfort and relative safety of the trees and their protective shade. Canteens can be replenished and camels can be watered. Oases also provide an excellent opportunity for the traveler to recoup, reflecting on the road traveled thus far and mustering the courage necessary for the road ahead. Again, an oasis is kind of a big deal. So why on earth would anyone intentionally skip the oasis in the desert? Skipping the one life-sustaining pit-stop on the desert road would be ludicrous (not the rapper, note the proper spelling). No one in his right mind would travel on by the rest and replenishment afforded by an oasis. But I believe Christians are guilty of this irresponsible insanity on a regular basis. I see the regular, weekly gathering of my church as an oasis in the desert. Let’s be honest: life is pretty brutal. Monday carries a nasty stigma for a reason. It represents the beginning of a spiritual battle for Christians where they will face innumerable dangers between the end of this week and the beginning of the next. During this barren trek, the Christian will be tested, tried, and tempted in an incredibly hostile environment. The rain dries up and the sun blazes down. And every step along the path of this dry and barren trek, we will desperately need a respite from the sweltering heat.  That respite comes when the church gathers. It’s our oasis. The oasis provides rest in the shade. By regularly gathering with your church, you find safety amongst friends and comfort knowing that you don’t have to worry about being attacked by like-minded travelers (or at least you shouldn’t have to, but that’s a whole other post). The oasis gives you an opportunity to fill your canteens and water your camels. A regular church gathering gives you an opportunity to be replenished and refreshed by the Spirit of God, experiencing His grace poured out abundantly through various means. You are encouraged, challenged, held accountable, and supported by all that you find of the Lord in and through His people. The oasis allows you to work up your nerve and plot your course. Church gatherings...

read more

How much courage does it take to stand behind Goliath?

Posted by on 3:33 PM in Uncategorized | 1 comment

How much courage does it take to stand behind Goliath?

Courage appears to be a fleeting concept in modern society. Though I do not doubt that true courage still exists and is exemplified by many men and women fighting noble causes across this world, it has become harder and harder to find in everyday people. In fact, courage often seems to have all but disappeared, along with its ancient counterparts of chivalry and nobility. But like all fashionable trends, courage (or at least the term ‘courage’) is making a comeback.  There has been a lot of talk lately about Michael Sam, a football player from Missouri recently drafted to the St. Louis Rams. Last week, Sam received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY’s. This award is given to outstanding men and women who possess “strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.” Sam was awarded this honor because of his willingness to come out as a gay man in a sport traditionally antagonistic toward homosexuality.  Since coming out, Sam has received enormous amounts of support and acclaim for his willingness to be the first openly gay football player. A quick Google search returned over 200,000 news articles written about him (almost 1400 different article hits on ESPN alone). He has been interviewed, quoted, lauded, and now awarded. So many people backed Sam in his decision that it begs the question: In a society where Christians are vilified, being told to shut their mouths and keep their personal lives to themselves, while outspoken homosexuals are applauded for airing their own personal affairs, exactly how courageous was Sam’s decision? And now, despite the fact that I have made no comment for or against Sam and his sexual preference, this is the point when someone is going to rise up and call me a bigot or hateful or compare me to a slave owner or a segregationist. And that just furthers my point: When you stand alongside the militant majority riding the tidal wave of popular opinion, how much courage do you need?  Matt Walsh, a popular blogger, expressed this conundrum fairly succinctly: “I don’t know Michael Sam. I know more about Michael Sam than I need to, but I don’t know him as a man. He might be brave, for all I know. Maybe he’s rescued kittens from burning buildings, maybe he’s jumped in front of bullets. I’m not saying that he’s not a hero, but I am saying that telling the world about his sex life sure doesn’t make him one. Ellen Page, Jason Collins, Michael Sam — all of these people were greeted by applause and adulation from all across the country. They were hoisted up and canonized by pop culture, most of mainstream society, most major corporations, most of the media, most of academia, most of our politicians, and the President of the United States of America. Their ‘announcements’ instantly ensured them a protected status and, particularly in the case of Collins and Sam, a fame and cultural relevance they would not have otherwise achieved. The criticisms will come from the fringes, and those critics will be drowned out and beaten back by a shouting, venomous mob of dogmatic progressive zealots.” It would be like applauding the courage...

read more

A Letter to the Addicted

Posted by on 1:19 AM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A Letter to the Addicted

[Almost everyone knows someone affected by addiction. I have, over the course of my life, been close to quite a few people in bondage to a number of different destructive addictions. Many of those people I love and care about deeply. It is because of that deep love that I was motivated to write this letter. It is written from the perspective of a person who is heavily affected by someone else’s addiction. And these feelings are not just conjecture. They were forged in the fiery furnace of personal experience. And while I certainly had particular people in mind while composing this letter, it was written vaguely enough to apply to anyone facing similar struggles. If you are someone battling  addiction or are close to someone caught in their own conflict with addiction, this letter is for you.]   A Letter to the Addicted:   Let’s get one thing straight right out of the gate: I love you. Read that again. I love you. When the darkness of your shame and guilt creeps back in, return to that truth. I love you. There is nothing you can say or do that will change that fact. I know you messed up. I know you feel like you ruined everything. But there was at least one thing you didn’t ruin. I still love you.   But let’s also be honest. You did mess up. You messed up pretty big. And while that doesn’t change my love for you, it does change some things. It changes your life. Your actions bear consequences that will affect you for the rest of your days. I hate that, but it’s true.   And whether you are willing to admit or not, your actions also bear consequences for others. You may think that it’s your life to do with as you please, but you’re only fooling yourself if you believe that your life isn’t intricately intertwined with those around you. Many of those people care about you very much. Several of those people depend on you. A few of them even need you.   But you’re not there for them and you’re not there for me. At least, not like you could (or should) be. Our lives will be forever affected by your actions, just as your life will. That’s the unfortunate yet beautiful truth of this communal society in which we live: Everyone is connected. Those closest to you will feel the weight of your decisions through the consequences those decisions bring. So one way or another, you’re not alone in this.   Let’s continue down this path of honesty: I don’t understand addiction. I don’t know what  makes a person choose a substance over a life without it. I don’t know what draws that person back to that substance despite the far-reaching consequences. I don’t understand how that substance can make an otherwise rational person throw reason out the window, all the while ignoring the consequences. I don’t know what it is in a person that makes them scream, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” rushing headlong into what is surely to be a horrible demise. I just don’t understand addiction.   But I do have a pretty good understanding of people, having spent a good deal of time as one myself. I get...

read more

Forget New Year’s Resolutions: Set Goals Instead

Posted by on 10:42 AM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Forget New Year’s Resolutions: Set Goals Instead

Every new year, I hear a lot about people setting new year’s resolutions. I think it’s an admirable thing to take a step back and evaluate yourself, recognizing that there is still room for improvement. What I’m not so keen on is the vicious cycle that seems to follow those resolutions. Tell me if this sounds familiar:   In late December, you know that the new year is coming, so you start thinking about how you want this year to be different than the last one. In early January, you make some decisions that things are, in fact, going to be different. So you make a handful of resolutions. You’re going to eat less, work out more, start running, read more, take up a hobby, etc. You spend most of January feverishly changing your habits to accommodate those resolutions, working tirelessly to make sure you don’t drop the ball (again). By late January, you’ve started slacking on your admirable resolutions and you start to worry that you’re not going to be able to keep it up. By February, you’ve pretty much messed up on every one of your resolutions. You realize that there is no way you’ll be able to catch up. So you hang your head in shame, broken by your failure once again.   Sound familiar? If you’ve ever set a new year’s resolution, you’ve probably walked through that script or one very similar. That’s why I’ve decided to give up new year’s resolutions.   New year’s resolutions seem to always set us up for failure. When we don’t stick to our resolutions, we feel like we’ve seriously dropped the ball once again. And that feeling can be debilitating.   I’ve decided, instead, to set some goals for the new year. What’s the difference? I’m glad you asked.   Resolutions are decisions you’ve made. They’re your final verdict, concluded by your mind and your will, that things are going to be different. But because they are so resolute (see what I did there?), they leave no room for missing the mark, even by just a little. If you don’t achieve your resolution, it sends a clear message: your will wasn’t strong enough to fulfill what your mind decided. Failure.   Goals, on the other hand, give you a little wiggle room. Think of goals like shooting at a target. In the center of the target, there is a small red circle. But around that red circle, there are numerous other circles. If you are aiming for a goal, chances are that you aren’t going to hit a bullseye your first shot. If your only goal was to hit the bullseye dead on, then you would have failed. But if you’re shooting at a target for the purpose of eventual improvement and hit just outside of the center, even though you are a little off your mark, that’s still a win. And there you find the difference.   Goals allow for failure on the road to improvement. Sure, you didn’t hit exactly on your mark. But your first shot gave you a good foundation upon which you can improve with future shots. Goals allow you to see your failures as steps in the learning process. Then your failures transform from debilitating quicksand into trampolines from which you can...

read more

Why This Alabama Fan Will Be Cheering for Auburn (It’s Probably Not What You Think)

Posted by on 1:59 PM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why This Alabama Fan Will Be Cheering for Auburn (It’s Probably Not What You Think)

I wrote a post a few weeks ago after the devastating loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl encouraging the players to keep their heads up and urging us as fans to remember that, at the end of the day, this is still just a game. But apparently the Lord decided to call me on it and put my resolve to the test.   Last night was tough. I hate to lose as much as anyone. It hurts. But it also helps to bring things into perspective in a way that winning rarely can. And this loss is no different. What’s most interesting is what exactly this loss helped to bring into perspective for me. It helped me to understand better my place in this thing called rivalry.   There has been a lot of talk floating around the Internet about the rivalry between the two SEC schools nestled 150 miles apart in the Heart of Dixie. It has been called (rightly so, in my humble opinion) the greatest rivalry in college football. What other rivalry is still being talked about on a national level weeks after it was played?   A lot of that talk has centered around the subject of loyalty. The question has been asked to many an Alabama fan: Who will you be rooting for in the BCS National Championship game? Many have weighed in, from Alabama’s quarterback to Internet bloggers and every social-media-qualified aficionado in between. So why not add one more voice to the deafening roar?   I read the article entitled “WHY I WILL NOT CHEER FOR AUBURN IN THE BCS CHAMPIONSHIP” and actually agreed with pretty much everything this blogger argued. Except his conclusion. But before you jump to your own conclusions about the reasoning (or lack thereof) behind my disagreement, let me say it may not be exactly what you think.   As I said, I actually liked the article. And I agreed with the reasoning behind the article’s conclusion. Rivalries are meant to be more like war than a pillow fight that ends with hugs and hot cocoa. But at the end of the day, I am still choosing to cheer for Auburn on Monday. Do I have a reason? Certainly.   I could choose to cheer for Auburn based off my loyalty to my team. I want what’s best for Alabama football. And the best thing for us is for the team that kept us out of the National Championship game to win the game and show everyone that we lost to the highest quality opponent. It is also good for Alabama football if the years to come promise to have high-stakes, exciting match-ups between quality opponents. The better they are, the better it will be when we beat them.   But as much as I love cheering for the good of my team, this is not why I choose to support Auburn on Monday.   I could make an argument from the conference loyalty position. The SEC, the GREATEST conference in all of college football, has won the last seven BCS National Championships. It would be great for our conference to win an eighth crystal football in a row. It would also be great for the state of Alabama to lay claim to the previous five crystal footballs.  ...

read more

I Blame Me: A Letter to the Kids who Play Football for Alabama

Posted by on 1:40 PM in Uncategorized | 57 comments

I Blame Me: A Letter to the Kids who Play Football for Alabama

To the kids who play football at the University of Alabama:   As a fan of Alabama football, this has been a tough week for me. No, I’m not talking about the loss in the Iron Bowl. At least not directly. Though that loss was certainly difficult, the real reason it’s been such a tough week for me is because of what happened after the loss.   After the smoke cleared and I picked my broken heart up off the ground, I did what at least one or two other people did to cope: I took to social media. I wanted to see how other people were dealing with the gut-wrenching loss. What I found was both incredibly encouraging and overwhelmingly disheartening.   In one corner, I saw faithful Alabama fans congratulating Auburn on a game well played. Some sent congratulatory tweets or wall posts to their Auburn friends wishing them well on their way to Atlanta and hopefully to Pasadena. That was classy, and I appreciated it. Win with class, and lose with even more class.   In the other corner, however, something else reared its ugly head. I saw Alabama fans casting stones. Everybody was in shock. But these people were looking for someone to blame, someone to crucify. Many blamed a kicker, pointing to his missed opportunities as the reason they felt the emotions they were unable to process properly. So they sent him death threats and hurled insults at him. Others blamed a coach for making what they considered to be stupid calls at crucial moments. The same man that they had earlier touted as the best coach in all of football became a target for their scorn. At least one fan blamed other fans for her emotional duress, tragically taking the life of another fan who wasn’t showing the same level of inner turmoil as she was.   Everybody was looking for someone to blame, and I sadly am unable to say that I was any better. I wanted to pin the loss on someone or something too. But now, after a few days of watching how the Alabama fanbase has reacted to the loss, I finally found who is really to blame for what happened on the field that day.   I blame me.   I am the reason things got so out of hand. I am the reason you had so much pressure riding on you as players. I am the reason your coach always feels the pressure to second guess every decision he makes for fear of making even a single wrong choice at any point in his career. If we must find someone to blame for what happened on the field on Saturday and all that has happened afterward, we need look no further than your fanbase. We are the problem.   You see, somewhere along the line, your fanbase forgot one very important thing about the game of football. We forgot that it was a game.   We forgot that you guys are a group of kids in your late teens and early twenties playing a game. Because of our fandom, we turned your game into a life-absorbing religion and we turned you into larger-than-life gods of that religion. We became so enthralled in football that it took over...

read more