Monday, January 30, 2006

My Story

I did not grow up in a "Christian" home. We didn't go to church much. For me Sundays were about watching football. I spent my entire days watching pre-grames pre-pre-grames, and all the games themselves. Some neighbores invited me to church when I was in middle school. The girls wore short skirts and gave me attention--I liked church from then on.

The youth minister, Kevin Prather, loved me and really paid attention to me. I knew I was loved and listened to what was being taught. I had mixed feelings about it all because I thought I was a Christian because I believed in God. Kevin challenged us to read the book of James, which I did, and it made clear to me the reality of genuine faith--"faith without works is dead". Not only that, but in James 2:19, I was slammed when James says that even demons believe in one god, then shudder. I didn;t like being on their team and that pretty much rocked my theology to that point.

I was convicted of my sin but knew that being a Christian meant no pre-marital sex. I was going to get my opportunities soon, so this was a real issue. I could really forfeit what had been my highest life goal up to that point in life. So I got saved by listening to a purity talk.

I grew quickly and fell into hypocrisy perhaps even quicker, as many young leader do. From my junior year on, I gained a lot of respect but continued to walk in greater hidden sin. In college, by double life collapsed in on me and I was broken and crushed in all my pride. Then I met Carrie after transfering to Texas A&M. I learned to be loved and to love, to accept forgiveness and live in healthy relationships with others.

I had known since my junior year in high school that God wanted me to be a lead pastor. I took a youth ministry job shortly after graduating from college. It was a typically tough "first church" experience; we didn't stay there long, but I loved our students and knew there was much good done through the local church.

The hurts felt by that experience stayed with my for years; my anger towards Christians became consuming. I had been hurt by some of them from the church and I made it my mission to expose the problems in the Christians I met. I still served in ministry capacities, but my antagonism and cynicism made me an aweful Christian. It was tough living with me. It wasn't until three years after leaving our first church that God miraculously healed me. I had been running from God's call on me to be a pastor. We were overseas at the time and God sovereignly healed me, changing my heart. In that process, I had also surrendered myself anew to his service.

I am now trying to follow my Jesus in that direction. I've done the school thing, getting an M.A. in philosophy (my thesis being in Soren Kierkegaard) and an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I'm learning everyday to be a Christian, a husband, a father, and just simply a man. Pray for me and my family.

My Family

I have a great family, with a wife and three kids (as of now). We'd love ot have four. We'll see. My wife is my jewel, my prize, a great gift of grace. She has been a wonderful instrument of redemption for me. We got married just out of college and have moved all over the world. Her patience, boldness, wisdom, and gentleness challenge me deeply. My kids are a joy as well. A daughter, then a son, then one more daughter. Kids always make you think and examine yourself. They really love showing how much of a sinner you are; but I've loved loving them. I love that they perfect my ability to love. It's quite true that you learn a lot about our Father's love ofr us through being a parent. We have given them unusual Biblical names for a few reasons: We want their names to be prayers over their lives; we want their names to provoke spiritual dialogue; and we have reflected our journeys at the time of their birth in their names.

My mom is a hero to me. She raised me herself for the first 2 years, from age 16, without family help. She's sacrificed everything for her kids. She works hard and is incredibly honest. I've never had a real close relationship with my dad growing up, but I hope that changes. He instilled discipline in me where I needed it. I'm grateful for that. We don't really talk anymore, so pray for reconciliation, as I do love him and pray for him often, especially that he'd love Jesus. I have a much younger brother and sister. I don't get a lot of time with them, since I left the house much earlier than them and have moved all over the place. I really hope to grow closer to them as they continue to grow into adulthood.

I really enjoy having the in-laws I do. They are incredible loyal and are probably the most generous people I've ever met. My wife's side of the family gets together a lot. Most are Christians, though I'd love to know and enjoy more about how God daily works in their lives.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Some Help with Hebrews

I've always found Hebrews very difficult to undertstand. My problem has been that I've read it like a theological essay.

I realized this week that this letter is simply a sermon (13:22). It's very pastoral and basically has one objective: to encourage the readers to persevere in the faith. Let me offer a few helps as you read it.

The writer is writing to Jews ready to give up their faith for Old Covenant religion. He appeals to his readers in a variety of ways. First, he tries to demonstrate the exaltation or worth of Christ (Ch. 1-3, 4b, 5, 7). He then tries to incite them with the promises offered by God through Jesus (Ch. 4, 8, 12b). In addition, he repeatedly makes clear the dangers of falling away from the faith. Like a good pastor, he warns them of this (such as in Ch 6, 10). Also, he helps them to see how others have succeeded in faith in the past (Heb. 11). Not only that, but we should consider Jesus' perseverence amid much suffering (Ch. 12:1-3) . The writer finally explains the meaning of their trials, for we can usually endure hardship if we see the purpose (Ch. 12). Lastly, the writer of Hebrews offers some practical ways they can live holy lives (Ch. 13). It is noteworthy as well to see that the closing prayer of benediction well summarizes these points (13:20-21).

Consider Jesus.


This blog is meant to be an invitation for communal conversation, a personal inquiry, a social critique, and ultimately, a theological meditation. Blogs are simply a modern day confessional for Protestants. We've isolated ourselves within western individuality...all we have now are Blogs to confess our sins, doubts, thoughts, and successes. After all, we're not sure who is actually listening.

Feel free to reply to anything I say, but I don't promise to respond. Keep it clean. Keep it honest.

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