My personal calling is to love students, share the gospel with them, and live life with them every day...and to enjoy the journey.

"We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us." 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Sunday, December 14, 2008


It rained hard a couple of days last week. Traffic was worse than normal. My commute is about 40 minutes on a good day, but on a rainy day it can be an hour. That's not fun.

On one of those rainy mornings last week, I pulled in the parking lot at work and it was pouring. I was already annoyed from the commute, and now I was going to get drenched getting out and getting my umbrella from the trunk. As I sat there getting my phones, keys, etc., an old man walked up to my car. He walked slowly and had one of those massive golf umbrellas. As I got out, he asked me if I had an umbrella and if I needed him to walk me to the building. I told him I had one in the trunk, but thanked him for the kind gesture.

We walked together to the building. I put my umbrella down and opened the door. I motioned for him to go on in ahead of me. He said, " go ahead. I am going to stand out here and wait to see if anyone needs my umbrella." As best I know, he stayed out there all morning walking people from their cars to the building. Kindness. I thought a lot about it that day. I didn't think of the man really, just his kindness. I think at times I forget the basic things in life that matter. Being kind is certainly one of those.

I'm trying to be kinder to people. I'm trying to remember the little things that are so easily forgotten. In my life and work, I am doing my best to be like Christ in my teaching, in my leadership, and in my relationships. I am so focused on those aspects of His ministry that I easily forget He was kind, loving, humble, and gentle.

I am pursuing kindness this Christmas season. I'm looking for ways to share Christ through actions...even if noone ever knows I did.

I'm looking for rainy days.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I was thinking about Thanksgiving today. I think I would've been a pretty good pilgrim. I mean, didn't they live in tents, hunt all day, and then have a big feast? Maybe I am a pilgrim? Didn't they wear stretch pants?

I am looking forward to the holiday this week. It will be nice to spend some time with family. I get to hunt and spend time outdoors, which I greatly enjoy. Too bad turkey season is in the Spring. It is also nice to have a time and season to reflect on all the things we have to be thankful for...and I have tons.

Interestingly enough, the Bible has lots to say about gratitude and thanksgiving (not the holiday, the attitude). All through the Old and New Testaments, we see and hear God's heart about how and why we should be thankful. Psalm 100 tells us,
Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us, and we are His-His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.

What beautiful language the Psalmist uses in this psalm of thanksgiving. Many of the Psalms have similar language and give us a snapshot into the heart of God and how He longs for us to glorify Him with our thanksgiving.

Psalm 100 tells us to show thanksgiving through our worship (v.1), our service (v. 2), and with our praise (v. 5). We are also told why we should glorify God with thanksgiving.
First of all, because of who He is.
He is Lord (vs. 1), He is God (vs. 3a), He is creator (v. 3b), He is the owner
(v. 3c), and He is the shepherd (v. 3d).
Secondly, because of His attributes.
He is good (v. 5), His love is eternal (v. 5), and His faithfulness endures forever (v. 5).

As you spend time with family and friends this week, remember to be thankful. Not only for what you have, but for the giver of all good things. And more than even that, be thankful because of who He is.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I love Fall. It's probably one of my favorite seasons...if it's not my favorite, it's at least in my top 4. A new season always seems to bring with it new things. Not just changes in the weather, but new opportunitites, new attitudes, and new feelings. This new season brought for me a new opportunity. I believe God wants to do in me something new...something brand new. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that "There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven..."

God's timing is perfect and He is faithful to bring to us new seasons. Not only the physical seasons (Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter), but spiritual seasons as well. Seasons bring opportunity for change, for transition, and for growth. There is a time for everything...and that time is in His time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It depends on your definition of moderately…

Not too long ago I was at my parents’ home in the Atlanta area for a short visit. My family and I were on our way to the lake in the mountains of North Georgia for a Memorial Day respite, and my parents’ home is a good place to stop and break up the trip. It was a nice day; actually it was a hot day. I was looking forward to hitting the pool with Samuel and Anna and working on my tan…not really. Unbeknownst to me, dad had a project he wanted us to start. On the back portion of his yard, my dad had cleared and leveled a pretty large area for a “playground.” Apparently, Papa had purchased a playground that he was going to build for the grandkids and he wanted me to help him get started. I’m not sure what mental picture you formed in your mind when you read the word “playground,” but I can promise you it wasn’t what papa had purchased. When I saw the picture on Box 1, my first thought was, “he bought the playground from the Biltmore Mansion on EBay and had it delivered to Loganville, GA!” This was not a playground, this was a starter home. Below the picture was the following disclaimer:


I don’t know what your first thought would have been, but mine was, “how does the Biltmore Playground Company define moderately?” If they define moderately the way I define moderately, then we had a problem. I knew in my heart, as dad and I stood over “Box 1 of 5,” that neither of us was in the ballpark of moderately skilled. I wish I had the words to pen a description of the 90 minutes following the opening box 1, but I don’t. If I did, you would not find the phrases moderately skilled, progress, or on the right track in the description. Suffice it to say, complicated would probably be the word you would start with to explain the playground project.

The playground project demanded something from me that I didn’t have in order for me to find success. This was not a “come as you are, follow the directions and you will be fine” kind of project. It wasn’t for everyone. It certainly wasn’t for me.

I began to ponder my spiritual life. I began to think of the simplicity of Jesus’ teachings. I remembered that when He draws us by His Spirit and calls us to Himself, He requires nothing from us, only something of us. There is a difference. The playground project not only required something of me, (hard work, commitment, discipline, and obedience to the instructions) it also required something from me (a pre-developed set of skills). When Jesus prompted my heart, offered me His salvation, and invited me to join Him on a journey, He required nothing from me. He bid me to come as I was. I bring nothing significant to the relationship, only the sin and baggage of my life without Him and yet He gave me new life. He doesn’t require moderately moral, moderately good, or moderately ethical people. He wants me just as I am; hurting, broken, and in need of Him.

As I continue the journey with Him, He does require something of me; my life. That’s right, He wants our life. He wants of me the same thing that the playground project did; hard work, commitment, discipline, and obedience to the instructions. The difference is He requires nothing from me, which is good because I have nothing to give.

In Ezra 7:10, we read that the hand of God was on Ezra. We also get a glimpse as to why the hand of God was on Ezra. “The gracious hand of his God was on him, because Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Sounds like a pretty simple plan for spiritual growth, doesn’t it? I believe simple faith and obedience, like Ezra showed, is what Jesus expects of us. Ezra didn’t do a lot, but He did what mattered most. He did what was required of him.

2 Peter 1:3 reads, “For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, by the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” As we, believers, journey with God, we have all the tools we need. Unlike the playground that required a skill set and my own tools, the journey requires nothing from me and even provides me with all the tools! I want to be an Ezra. I don’t want to make complicated something that God made simple. I want to determine in my heart to know God through His word, obey what His word says, and tell those things to others. I don’t have to be moderately skilled to do that, just obedient.

As of this writing, no significant progress has been made on the baby Biltmore, but I will keep you updated.

Da, da, dot, da, da, dot!

So I was listening to a sports talk show this morning on the radio and the guy talking was covering the topic of recently resigned Governor Eliot Spitzer from New York. (click here for story) He threw out a few statistics that I have heard before, though have never heard where they came from. He said 55% of marriages end in divorce. He also said that of marriages that stay intact, 70% of those consider themselves unhappy. Based on these stats, and the increasing number of high profile politicians, teachers, Pastors, musicians, and movie stars that quit on their marriage or commit a gross sexual transgression (affairs, prostitution, pornography, etc) that we (society) may need to change how we view marriage.

One of his suggestions was to treat marriages like sports contracts. Instead of making a life long commitment to someone, just make a contractual agreement with them. He suggested 5-10 years at a time. Are you kidding me? The logic was, if something isn’t working, then society needs to be smart enough and brave enough to evaluate it and make changes. He went on to say that most divorces are within the first 7 years, so that may be a good number to aim for in a marriage contract. I was not only surprised by the logic, but with the inconsequentiality that the host and the audience displayed for marriage.

Here are some thoughts that I had as I listened:

Society and culture are more unwilling than ever to accept any form of absolute truth as a governing factor in their life.

What am I doing, as a follower of Christ, a believer in Biblical, moral, and ethical absolutes, as a married person, and as a contributing member of society to be an example of what I believe marriage to be?

How do my neighbors perceive my marriage to be based on how they see me interact with my wife?

It seems as if people are more willing to change belief systems, truth, and societal norms than they are themselves.

For people that are not followers of Jesus, and therefore do not use the Bible as the sole means for Truth, how do they decide what they believe, and what do they use to measure their lives by?

Maybe I should just stop listening to the radio.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I have favorites, things that I prefer. I prefer Starbucks coffee over any other coffee. I like regular Coke in a glass bottle than a can or plastic bottle. I prefer jeans and a t-shirt to pants and a collar. I prefer Coke over Pepsi, talk radio over music, and Chinese food over Mexican food. I have favorites.

I came across an interesting passage in the book of James recently. I like James. It’s a good book, very applicable to everyday living and it gives what I would call “straight talk.” Right above the beginning of Chapter 2, the heading in my Bible says, “The Sin of Favoritism.” I have read James many times, and that heading had never caught my attention before. I was intrigued. Here comes the straight talk I mentioned James was known for, “My brothers, hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ without showing favoritism.” (James 2:1) Ok, so what does he mean? Could it mean that the genuineness of my faith is evident in the way I treat others?

This passage tells the story of a well-dressed man and a not so well-dressed man. The story describes some possible scenarios of how we treat these two men based solely on how they are dressed. The verse says, If you look with favor on the man wearing the fine clothes so that you say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or, “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” haven’t you discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:3-4) While the story is used to make a point about how we treat others who may come into our churches, I believe the focal principle of favoritism applies beyond the scope of how we treat people in our large group meetings.

What about our neighbors? What about our coworkers? Friends at school? Do we show favoritism and judge others? What assumptions do I make about people based on external things such as dress, physical attributes, material possessions, etc? I want to honor God in all my relationships and showing favoritism and casting judgment certainly does not honor God. The last verse of this section explains that mercy always triumphs over judgment. What an incredible promise from Scripture, and what an application for our lives. This means that those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy. But those who practice love and mercy, to them mercy will be given. Will we learn to show others mercy draped with love and compassion? We are never more like Christ than when we treat others with mercy, love, and compassion, because that is who Christ is and what He is about…others. Mercy, love, compassion….these are a few of my favorite things.

It's OK

I say that to my kids all the time. I’m not sure why I do; it’s not something I usually think about before I say it. Maybe its just one of those ingrained sayings that parents just say, similar to things such as “be careful”, “do you understand me?”, and “we don’t wear orange.” Maybe it’s something you heard your parents say and swore you would never say when you were a parent, and then of course, you do. I’m not sure where it came from, why I say it, or really what it means, but all the time I tell my kids that it’s going to be ok. And you know the funny part about that-I’m not always convinced it is.

Last week, I was working in the yard with my son, Samuel. On some level, you really need to know Samuel, or have been around him, for this story to make sense. In a nutshell, he is an amazing child. He is very needing of routine, and he is most comfortable when things have a “way.” In other words, he prefers to do things the same way every time. Whether we are making a sandwich, watching the game, or mowing the grass, there is a right way, a right pattern, and a right order, and to do it any other way makes him uneasy. So as I said, we were working in the yard last week and had finished the front and side yards and had started on the back. (I say we because as I mow, Samuel pushes his little mower beside me the whole way, every step, every turn, precisely as I do it, he repeats it. I’m not kidding either…he mimics my exact movements) So, we started on the big hill under the tree in the back and there were some sticks and rocks that were getting caught in my mower and making raucous noises that were scaring Samuel. In fact, he took off running and went to a safer distance down the hill.

I turned off the mower and asked if he was ok and told him to come back and help me finish mowing. He declined. I started the mower and got back to work. I looked down at him and could tell he was having a struggle. He wanted so badly to be back up there with me, but he was battling fear. I looked down at him and over the sound of the mower I screamed, “It’s ok.” That’s it. That is all I said. And Samuel came back up the hill, “cranked” his mower exactly like I do, and began walking right beside me. I was stunned. What just happened? How did he go from fear to composure with “it’s ok?” The conditions hadn’t changed, still rocks, still sticks, still noise. Still risk, still unknown, but no fear, only trust. So what changed? The promise of a father to a child is powerful. In all honesty, I couldn’t guarantee that all would be ok. Samuel still could’ve been hurt and frightened by a stick or rock or anything. But he wasn’t. He trusted the promise of his father. In his mind, if my dad said it will be ok, then it will be ok. No questions, no hesitations. Wow! I think if I actually understood the depth and breadth of responsibility that brings me I would surely crumble under the pressure.

As a child of the Father, I want to have the kind of faith Samuel does. I want to trust the promises of the Father, even if in my eyes, the circumstances seem unsafe or risky. If you read through the Bible, there are countless ways that we, as children of God, are given promises. Remember Joshua 1. Joshua has just mourned the passing of his friend and mentor Moses. Now it is his appointed time by God to step in and lead the people. We can only assume how Joshua is feeling based on what God continues to remind Him. “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you. “Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. (Joshua 1:5-7) “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Above all, be strong and courageous! (Joshua 1:18b) God was letting Joshua know that it was ok. Joshua was probably sad, he was probably confused, but most of all he was scared; and God knew that, and God told Him it would be ok. Like Samuel in the yard that day, Joshua had to put his trust in His Father. Despite the fears of the unknown and potential dangers, we have to trust and remain in the promises from our Father. Over and over again in the Scriptures we are promised by our Father that it will be ok. He will protect, He will provide, He will keep His promises. I want to have the faith and courage of Joshua, but even more than that, I want to have the faith and courage of Samuel. No matter what it is that we endure on our journey with Christ, it’s ok. He will be with us like He was with Joshua. We need not fear.

Really…it’s ok. I have never been more excited to mow the grass.

There's No Such Thing As a Free Lunch...Just Free Water

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” I have heard that adage countless times in my life. It really isn’t that great an adage. It just doesn’t have any grit, you know what I mean? You want an adage to mean something, to have essence. You want it to move you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a free lunch, but how did that become a celebrated adage?

I was kind of in a funk the other day. I mean a real funk. I felt like a Daniel Powter song. It was pretty bad. There had been a series of events that had been compacting in my life. The ending that I had been anticipating took a weird turn. All at once, it seemed, my personal, professional, and spiritual struggles converged at a point and at a level I was unprepared to manage. I was mad and sad, wounded and angry, confused and disappointed. I had a lot of questions for God. Normally, this would be a time when I could lean on those closest to me for encouragement, but in this case, they were experiencing a similar time of frustration.

I needed to get away for some alone time with God. I needed Him to not only hear my questions, but also answer my questions. But I was sensing He wanted me to wait. My spiritual frustration continued to grow. I decided to follow through on that alone time. I took off for a 5-mile run. It was a nice day, I needed the exercise, and it was a great way to talk to God. About 30 minutes into the run, I passed a guy who had a wagon full of bottled water. He was offering free water to runners and riders that passed him on the trail. When I passed, he offered me free water. I declined. I’m not sure why I declined because I was really thirsty. I guess it just caught me off guard. Maybe I assumed there was a catch. I don’t know why I said no, but I wasn’t ten steps past the man with free water that I began to regret my decision.

I continued to run, but I began to be really bothered about the offer for free water. Why would that guy do that? What did he want in return? Was it really free? I began to be restless in my heart and I realized that God was trying to teach me something. I began to try to put the pieces together theologically and scripturally about what it was that God wanted to show me. I thought about salvation. It’s free, right? I thought about grace. God’s grace is free, isn’t it? I know, God is reminding me that water is a symbolic picture of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in my life. The more I tried to figure it out, the more I realized that I was getting ahead of God. He was trying to show me something and I wouldn’t let Him. So I quit thinking and just focused on running. About that time, I was passing the free water guy again. He asked me again if I wanted free water. I stopped, said yes, and then I asked why. The free water man told me that he was there to be a blessing. He wanted to be an encouragement to someone who was discouraged. I told him I was blessed and that I was encouraged. He told me that God loved me. I said I knew that, but needed to be reminded. The next few miles were different.

God loves me. God is the only one that can bring peace to my soul when I am hurting. He is the only thing that can make me rest easy. God was reminding me that He loved me that day. I was looking for something too big and too complex, when God knew that my hurting soul just needed to be reminded of His love. God worked a miracle in my life that day. Through the generosity of a stranger, He began to heal my hurting soul. He didn’t use those around me, or even His Word. He chose to use a middle-aged man with a wagon full of water to remind me of His love for me. That was good water, water that I needed; water that was healing and soothing; water that was pure.

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but I’m thankful for free water.