Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Another year has come and gone. Here are some reflections on the past year and some things that I have learned.

This last year has been such a profound one in my life. As I look back on it I can see how much I have changed and hopefully matured, as well as areas that I still need to grow and develop.

Year 23 taught me to be bold and make tough decisions. It has taught me that I cannot please everyone, so I don’t need to try. It has taught me that I will only be as close to God as I want to be and whenever I call on His name He hears me.

23 has taught me that if I am actually committed to doing something and I have the right people supporting me in it that I can do anything I want to.

23 has shown me that God answers prayers. He has given me some of the best friends I could possibly ask for. Friends who are full of grace and truth, who love me in spite of my faults, who pick me up when I am down, and who give me a place to rest.

23 has taught me that when I am being who I was created to be I am the most effective for the Kingdom. I am not the typical personality for someone in my position, but as long as I try to be the typical I am robbing the kingdom of someone God placed in it. I believe now that God has uniquely equipped me to meet needs in His Kingdom that others may or may not be equipped to meet and I should acknowledge that and be comfortable in that.

23 has taught me that love has many faces and many forms.

23 has taught me to laugh in new ways. To laugh at myself. To laugh with others. To laugh when I am alone. And to laugh for no reason at all. It is quite enjoyable to see how many different ways you can laugh and even more enjoyable to see how many people you can freak out when you laugh in unexpected times.

23 has challenged nearly everything I believe and has made what I believe my own.

23 has been a hard year.

23 has been a wonderful year.

23 has come and gone. Now on to 24: a new year with fresh adventures and new challenges. A year with joys I can’t yet fathom and moments that might bring me to tears. My goals for the next year are to simply: keep moving forward; don’t dwell on what I don’t have but look forward to what is coming; stretch myself; be proactive; and remember that The Lord is my shepherd and I lack nothing.

Here’s to 24, may it be a very good year.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why I No Longer Want to be a Leader

For the majority of the last 5 years my desire has been to become a great leader. I have read numerous books, been to leadership conferences, read blogs, sat under and learned from some great leaders, prayed and have spent countless hours in a classroom learning what it means to lead. The problem is, who gets to decide who is a great leader and who is not? What is the measuring stick? Is it based on how many followers you have? Is it based on what your followers know? Or what they do? Is the thing that determines if you are a great leader how many leaders you are able to reproduce? Or is it the rate at which you reproduce them? And how do you know when you start out in a leadership position, like I am, whether or not you are doing it right? If results don’t always come in the first 5 years then is it possible that I will have to wait 5 years only to find out that I have failed continuously at what I thought was the right thing? Or is it possible that I misread my calling and wasted the last years of my life?

What I neglected to see is that I was not called to lead. I am called to follow. Every invitation Jesus extended was a call to follow him. He said that he would make his followers fishers of men, but he didn’t say that they would be leaders. He certainly didn’t promise that anyone would like them. When he would ask if someone would like to follow him and they would always respond by leaving whatever they were doing, which was usually what they did for a living, and went with him. There was something about the person of Jesus that created such a sense of life. People wanted to know him and be near him. They wanted to learn from him and hear what he had to say. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that Jesus is so much more than I make him out to be. There is a wonder about him. Something mysterious that always had people asking questions, yet something refreshing that drew weary people to sit with him and soak up his love. Near Jesus the proud had no place to accuse others and the weak had no place to accuse themselves, and often you would find a little child in his arms. And our call was not to go ahead of him, but simply to sit with him and be in his presence. It was a call to follow.

I know what you might be thinking… What about the great commission? Even the great commission wasn’t a calling to go out and lead. It was a call to bear witness to what we have seen and heard. The disciples could only bear witness to what they saw and they heard. They never tried to go beyond that. All they would say over and over is we cannot stop talking about what we have seen and heard. And I wonder how much different my life would be if all I did was testify to what I have seen and heard? All the pressure of comparison is off at that point. All the pressures of leadership vanish. I’m not looking for approval… I’m just trying to tell you what I have seen and heard and what I believe I am supposed to do with that. My responsibility is to follow Jesus and if you would like to follow him with me I would love to be there to encourage you on that journey, wherever it might go.

I am a follower.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Mossy Creek - Part II

So what is the most important thing if it isn’t serving others and it isn’t learning more and more? These things are really important things, don’t get me wrong, but they are not ultimate things. When you look at the way Jesus interacted with the world you don’t actually get the picture that these things were the most important. He would often leave and find a secluded place when the crowds were pressuring him to do something. Did he have this tendency because he was introverted by nature or was it because he knew that there was something more important than being around crowds of people 24 hours per day?

I’m going to opt for the latter.

Mark starts out his Gospel by telling of how Jesus would get up early before the sun was up and he would find a spot where he could be with the Father. Jesus held on tightly to his relationship with his Father; so much to the point that when there were crowds of people who wanted to talk with him he would wake up before the light and find a place where he could be alone with the Father. There were times when others would ask him why he would do something and his response was simply, “I only do what I see my Father doing.” His identity in who he was as a son of the Father was so grounded that it drove everything he did. While he healed many people from illnesses and ailments that wasn’t the most important thing to him or else he would have just sat still and allowed people to bring the ill to him for 3 years. Jesus spent some time learning as well. Luke tells us that he grew in wisdom and in favor with the people. But being a learner was not what drove Jesus forward, nor was being a servant of people.

It appears that the most important thing to Jesus was to be a faithful son. And that was exactly what he was. He was faithful to the end, completing all the work the Father had set out for him to do while never losing his identity as a son of the most high King.

Imagine if the primary person you and I operated out of was that of the son or daughter of the King? What I mean by that is: instead of the thing that defines us being our job, a parent, a child, a student, an athlete, a computer guy, or “that girl” or “that guy”, rather the thing that defines us is the fact that we know and are known by the King and that we call Him ‘daddy’. This would greatly change the way we go about our business. Our prayers would sound less like rambling chants or spells and more like a conversation between a child and a concerned Father. When you tell someone that you will pray for them it would be more like the privileged son of a CEO telling a distressed employee of the company that he will talk to his father on their behalf, because he can go straight to the one person who can fix the problem in seconds. When we show up to a widow’s house to do some work it is not just a “charitable act” rather we are there on behalf of the Father because He wants them to know that they are just as valuable to him as anyone else in His family, so if they have needs then the needs will be met.

Imagine what all would change. There are many implications of thinking in such a way, and I’m sure that you have thought of some that I haven’t. But Paul makes it clear multiple times that we have been given a Spirit that calls out to Him “Daddy, Father”. So let us talk to God, not as if He is a distant concept to believe in, but a Father who loves you and wants to know you and what your fears are, what your joys are, and what you are looking forward to in the next week, month, or year.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Mossy Creek - Part I

What if there was one thing that you were supposed to understand above all else and if you got that one thing right then all other aspects of life would simply fall into place? For several years now I have been trying to figure out what that one thing is and I have a feeling I am not the only one. My thought was, if there is one thing I am supposed to do then I will do it and that will be all I need. But what I found was that I did not need another thing to do, rather I needed to understand who I was supposed to be. This was a hard transition and one that is still in the works, but I would like to share a little bit of that journey with you. If you understand who you are supposed to be then your life will radically change, of that I am quite certain.

I was challenged with this idea several years ago by a pastor in Atlanta. He was preaching around New Years and talking about how everyone always sets out to make New Year’s Resolutions on what they want to do for that year, but rarely do people just sit down and think about who they want to be. The point he was making was that when people become really successful at doing something without being someone they end up sacrificing their character in the name of success.

So I set out to figure out who I am supposed to be and I did what I felt like I should do as a responsible Bible College student: I searched through Scripture. There were two sections of scripture that really shaped who I became over that next year or so: Philippians 2 and John 13. Philippians talks about how in our relationships with others we must have the same attitude as Christ who humbled himself and became a servant to all. Then John 13 is a picture of just that. It is where Jesus understands that he has all this authority given to him by the Father and his response to knowing this is that sheds his outer clothing and gets on his knees and washes the feet of everyone in the room, including the guy who he knew was going to betray him. So, I decided that the person I was going to be was a servant, because we are called to imitate Jesus and Jesus was a servant.

Something about this was difficult for me, but I continued to do it, not entirely sure what I was doing other than showing love to people in the way Jesus showed love to people. But I felt like something was missing or that there was more to it. So I began to study more and learn about different learning styles, study approaches, and the importance of growing in knowledge. The thinking there was that God created the world and everything in it, so if I learn more about the world then I will in turn learn more about the one who created the world. So I set out on a quest (of sorts) for knowledge. And I greatly enjoyed this. I told my friends on multiple occasions that I have such a great job, because I get to sit in an office and learn constantly. One of the most exciting days in my first summer at CrossView was when my friend Kevan taught me about the “memory palace,” this was a concept that allowed me to be able to remember large lists of things and blow the minds of many. It was a very fun time and I learned a lot in this stage… But this only carried me so far. There is more to life than being a good student.

Just to be clear, I am not saying in that being a servant is not something I am willing to be and I am not saying that being a student is not something I am willing to be. Nor am I saying that it is something that we should all give up. All I am saying is that it is so vitally important to get the main thing correct and despite what I have been taught in various settings I have come to a place where I don’t believe that the most important thing is to serve nor is it to study hard, though these things are typically elevated to such a status. I am saying that there is something more important than both of these things along with others that have been elevated to such a place of radical importance. But for the sake of time, because I believe the most important thing deserves a little more than a paragraph, I will save that for another post. So please hear me out in my next post before you pick up your stones or deem me a heretic.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Do Something

Sometimes we set too low of expectations for ourselves and the people around us. If we want something to be great then it is going to take a little effort. If being great was easy and could happen with minimal effort then I would venture to say that most people would be great, as it wouldn't be much of an inconvenience to them at all. However, that is not the way greatness happens. Think of all the greats there ever were.

I think it is fitting to at least mention "The Great One" here,no, I'm not talking about Kevan Duke, but Wayne Gretzky. Wayne Gretzky didn't become great by watching TV and hoping he could be like the hockey heroes of his day, he actually got out and work on his skills. He practiced and did a little more than put forth an effort to become one of the greatest hockey players of his time.

Michael Jordan was another example of someone who desired to be great and did what it takes. But there are other people besides athletes who want to be great. Steve Jobs was one of the three guys who made Pixar animation the success that it is today, but it came at a price. The ladies that would clean the office of Jobs would often report that they would come in and wake him up in the morning because he was working so late into the night that it didn't make sense to go home to go to bed when he could just sleep in the office and wake up the next day ready to work. Pixar became a great movie producing company, but it came at a price.

Those who are willing to pay the price will eventually rise to the top.

The problem is that we have created a culture where it is acceptable to expect certain things to be given to you. That you have certain "rights" if you want to create something great. Whether it is resources, advertisement, production, education, etc. there is a thinking that we are entitled to be given something to start with. What we need is a vision or a dream of what we want and the drive to push through any closed doors to get to what we want.

When I was in high school I was a part of starting up a worship band at our church. There were two guys, who at the time didn't know a ton about what it would take to start a band, but they had the drive to make it happen. They were given no resources and were offered no classes on how to get a band going. They didn't have any equipment and had minimal personnel (Just for clarity, I was not one of the two). They had little to no support from the leadership of the church (in fact, I don't actually know if the leadership knew they were creating a band). We practiced in the basement of one of their houses and we weren't allowed to practice past a certain time because the drums would keep the neighbors up. When we were finally good enough to play for an evening youth service we weren't given much more help. We had no stage, minimal cables, and little space to move around... it was awkward, but we made it work. We didn't have fancy lights, smoke machines, or cool graphics. We simply worked with what we had which wasn't very much. But we continued to expand our resources and we appreciated everything we were given.

I have come to believe that if you want something to get done then you must do something. I know that is probably one of the top 1 million most insightful things you have ever heard, however, it is a truth that we so often overlook. Great things don't happen by accident. Overnight success is just not truly a reality. One person said in reference to this: "my overnight success was 15 years in the making." It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes consistency. If you want something to be great then work at it. It is no longer okay to sit back and whine about something if you do not want to be a part of the solution. Do something.