The Road Home from Nashville

Wow! It has been a while since the last time I wrote a blog!

This year has seemingly flown by, but it has been a massively full year! With some transitional things going on with our church group in Memphis, to spending more and more time with saints from the NC Micro Group we are part of. With my family pursuing the adoption of our daughter Amiya from China, which by the way is getting close to us traveling (squeal!), including all the blessings that this journey has brought with it has all been overwhelming!! To say that God has had our backs this year would be an understatement! The outpouring of love and charity shown to us by friends and perfect strangers alike has been otherworldly, literally. There have been many events that have brought us to our knees in thankfulness to our Lord, who I believe has been guiding us through this process much like He has always guided His people throughout history, ever faithful, never-changing.

I was driving home from Nashville today, returning from our company year-end meetings, and I was listening to for a while before selecting some music on (those that know me know music always has a way into my depths). Anyways, the first song to come on had the following lyrics in its chorus: “Mercy, weep over me, let Your tears wash me clean. Majesty, be merciful with me, for my eyes have seen Holy”.

That last phrase “…my eyes have seen Holy”, stuck with me for the remaining two hours of my ride home. I just kept recollecting all the “Holy” I’ve witnessed this year alone! I wanted to list some of them here.

The word, “holy” itself is defined as dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred. divine. It appears however, that the song writer is using this word more like a noun, thus “Holy” could be considered Christ himself. 

I have witnessed “Holy” in the saints that I’ve grown with since I was a young boy. Saints who have literally left everything to dedicate themselves to Christ’s teachings. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in the many men who mentored me in my youth, being examples of what a disciple of Christ should look like. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in my parents relentless pursuit of that “treasure buried in a field”. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in my former boss, who countless times and without saying anything would pay all his employees, often leaving hardly anything left for his own family’s needs. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in the church who would do anything to minister to its members, even if they are literally living in tents and gutted school buses on a cow pasture. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in the celebration that ensues at the passing of an old friend and fellow disciple, who gets to “go home” and be with our Heavenly Father. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in the legacy said friend leaves behind. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in the small group meetings we’ve been participating in this past year at Neighborhood Church and the young, yet sincere, growing friendship and dedication to each other and our Master. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in our pursuit of adoption. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in the other adoptive families that we’ve been so honored to meet, couples who are really deserving of having their feet washed and just generally getting smothered in God’s grace and love for all their devotion to their adopted & fostered children. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in my beloved wife, who has tirelessly worked on every detail to hasten bringing our daughter home. Getting to watch how much her faith has increased in such a short period of time has been among the greatest pleasures of mine this year! I’ve witnessed “Holy” in the assistance we’ve gotten with the groanings of conquering habitual and lacking parenting techniques with our sons, preparing for the addition to our family. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in the innocence of a little boy I know named Eliyah. I’ve witnessed “Holy” in the new friends that we are getting right in our own neighborhood!

These and many more recollections, clouded my vision today through tears of gratefulness on the road home from Nashville.

Peace be with you all and Merry Christmas!


Is Christ Divided?

The following is a blog that I wrote back in January 8, 2011 and never posted until now.

I was reading in 1 Corinthians last night and in the first chapter Paul is admonishing the Corinthian church about their quarreling among each other. Paul is concerned because of the division among the brothers in Corinth. From what I can gather from reading the text is, some of the men there have started to assert that their experience was better or more real than their fellow brother’s experience… That’s an issue in itself but I want to talk about Paul’s response…

Paul had laid out to the church there that he’d heard what was going on between them… His first question to them in verse 13 was…

“Is Christ divided?”

I can imagine the emphasis that Paul meant to have in this question! As I was reading this it made me think of the emphasis we should put on that question as well. In a time where division is as commonplace as the church buildings on opposite corners of the same intersection, with each group of attending people thinking at least something contrary about the other group and the error they’re possibly, or worse yet, likely in… We would do well to seriously ask ourselves that question, often in fact.

I recently was at a large church event, that was terribly disappointing because of the commercialization that it underwent in the production of this particular event, while there I was talking to a couple who were on the outset trying to get me to “join” their “church” and how they had finally found their faith family there after trying out several other churches in the area etc… I don’t mean to dis anyone, but this is a problem, division so common that we go around to different churches until we find things that are familiar to us or that we like… the worship songs are better here then the last church we went to, this Pastor is more interesting than the last… What ever happened to finding things that are intimate? Things that are really life changing and that challenge us into those changes? What ever happened in searching until we find Christ?

Mainstream western christianity has become so mundane and sentimental that it’s mostly powerless in all its aspects, ministry, evangelism, worship, bible studies etc… I mean all of them!

Where is love?

I recently heard a sermon by the late David Wilkerson that is extremely powerful titled ‘A Call to Anguish’ (you can YouTube it). It is an extremely powerful word that he delivers and no doubt from the Spirit, he is essentially asking where the Church’s ability to cry out to God go?… but I have to ask, where is love? It only makes sense to me that true love, or the the longing for such love, for someone or something would ever be able to produce the anguish that Wilkerson speaks of… It seems though that true love has been removed from this age… the very thing that Christ said we would be known by… has been laid aside to allow other things to take its place! Beloved, if we would try ever so much harder to fit into God’s plan rather than trying to fit Him into our boxes He would then be able to open our eyes to His will because let me assure you He is bigger than any box we can imagine.

Let me suggest a change of mindset…

Instead of us responding to alter calls and always “accepting God into our hearts” why don’t we give our lives to Him, and do everything to be known by Him? We need to be known by Him if we want to have any shot at eternity. Commit yourself to other real disciples, taking care of one another, walking in obedience to the commands given in scripture, and together pray for God’s will and guidance, scripture tells us that the Spirit will lead us into all truth. Ask God to reveal His love to you and train you how to wield it! I assure you it is a weapon that is unmatched! Love is to sacrifice ourselves… So be prepared! Be prepared to be inconvenienced, to be ridiculed, to be put on the spot, to step out in true faith, to have late nights and early mornings, to have all manner of trials… these are they that God has chosen for his disciples…

“If we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes.”

Let us overcome all things that stifle God’s love and take back the faith!

Hope for the Hopeless

I was reminded of this article the other night. It is a writing from the former Press Secretary of the Bush Administration Tony Snow during his fight with cancer. I know nothing of this man other than what you read below yet, it seems after reading his article that we have more in common then we can understand…

mentally that is…

spiritually on the other hand, I can relate to this even though I don’t currently suffer from a terminal illness in a physical sense. There is something down deep inside me that is moved when I read this article, even now after I’ve read it numerous times.

Anyone with a real understanding of our race-humankind will know how we are ultimately a spiritually afflicted race, especially at this time of year while we are celebrating “Good Friday”. What would’ve been the point of Christ dying for us if we weren’t a stricken race of people, destined to live in spiritual disease, falling away from God continually with no hope until God sent His Son to show us how to really live? Anyways I’ll stop there and let you read on, I admit this is kinda long but I believe it’s worth the while… An incredible reminder to just how much our “attitude” about life plays a part in a rippling effect we have on others around us. Mr. Snow shouts out in his own words… Death where is your sting? And you O grave, where is your victory?!!!

Tony Snow Talks about Facing Death

‘Blessings arrive in unexpected packages,
– in my case, cancer.
Those of us with potentially fatal diseases
– and there are millions in America today –
find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality
while trying to fathom God’s will.
Although it would be the height of presumption
to declare with confidence ‘What It All Means,’
Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn’t spend too much time
trying to answer the ‘why’ questions:
Why me?
Why must people suffer?
Why can’t someone else get sick?
We can’t answer such things,
and the questions themselves
often are designed more to express our anguish
than to solicit an answer.
I don’t know why I have cancer, and I don’t much care.
It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact.
Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly,
great and stunning truths began to take shape.
Our maladies define a central feature of our existence:
We are fallen.
We are imperfect.
Our bodies give out.
But, despite this, – or because of it, –
God offers the possibility of salvation and grace.
We don’t know how the narrative of our lives will end,
but we get to choose how to use the interval
between now
and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety.
The mere thought of dying
can send adrenaline flooding through your system.
A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you.
Your heart thumps; your head swims.
You think of nothingness and swoon.
You fear partings;
you worry about the impact on family and friends.
You fidget and get nowhere.
To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death,
but into life – and that the journey continues
after we have finished our days on this earth.
We accept this on faith,
but that faith is nourished by a conviction
that stirs even within many non-believing hearts
– an institution that the gift of life, once given,
cannot be taken away.
Those who have been stricken
enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight
with their might, main, and faith
to live fully, richly, exuberantly
– no matter how their days may be numbered.

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts.
God relishes surprise.
We want lives of simple, predictable ease,
– smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see, –
but God likes to go off-road.
He provokes us with twists and turns.
He places us in predicaments
that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension
– and yet don’t.
By His love and grace, we persevere.
The challenges that make our hearts leap
and stomachs churn
invariably strengthen our faith
and grant measures of wisdom and joy
we would not experience otherwise.
‘You Have Been Called’.
Picture yourself in a hospital bed.
The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away.
A doctor stands at your feet,
a loved one holds your hand at the side.
‘It’s cancer,’ the healer announces.
The natural reaction is to turn to God
and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa.
‘Dear God, make it all go away.
Make everything simpler.’
But another voice whispers: ‘You have been called.’
Your quandary has drawn you closer to God,
closer to those you love,
closer to the issues that matter,
– and has dragged into insignificance
the banal concerns
that occupy our ‘normal time.’
There’s another kind of response,
although usually short-lived,
an inexplicable shudder of excitement
as if a clarifying moment of calamity
has swept away everything trivial and tiny,
and placed before us
the challenge of important questions.
The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
things change.
You discover that Christianity
is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft.
Faith may be the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution.
The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks,
reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies.
Think of Paul, traipsing through the known world
and contemplating trips
to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain),
shaking the dust from his sandals,
worrying not about the morrow,
but only about the moment.
There’s nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue,
– for it is through selflessness and service
that God wrings from our bodies and spirits
the most we ever could give,
the most we ever could offer,
and the most we ever could do.

Finally, we can let love change everything.
When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion,
he grieved not for himself,
but for us.
He cried for Jerusalem before entering the Holy City.
From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness,
and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.
We get repeated chances
to learn that life is not about us,
that we acquired purpose and satisfaction
by sharing in God’s love for others.
Sickness gets us part way there.
It reminds us of our limitations and dependence.
But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy.
A minister friend of mine observes
that people suffering grave afflictions
often acquire the faith of two people,
while loved ones accept the burden
of two people’s worries and fears.
‘Learning How to Live’.
Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God’s arms,
not with resignation, but with peace and hope.
In so doing, they have taught us not how to die,
but how to live.
They have emulated Christ
by transmitting the power and authority of life.
I sat by my best friend’s bedside a few years ago
as a wasting cancer took him away.
He kept at his table a worn Bible
and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer.
A shattering grief disabled his family,
many of his old friends, and at least one priest.
Here was a humble and very good guy,
someone who apologized when he winced with pain
because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable.
He restrained his equanimity and good humor
literally until his last conscious moment.
‘I’m going to try to beat [this cancer],’
he told me several months before he died.
‘But if I don’t, I’ll see you on the other side.’
His gift was to remind everyone around him
that even though God doesn’t promise us tomorrow,
he does promise us eternity
– filled with life and love we cannot comprehend, –
and that one can, in the throes of sickness,
point the rest of us toward timeless truths
that will help us whether future storms.
Through such trials, God bids us to choose:
Do we believe, or do we not?
Will we be bold enough to love,
daring enough to serve,
humble enough to submit,
and strong enough
to acknowledge our limitations?
Can we surrender our concern
in things that don’t matter
so that we might devote our remaining days
to things that do?

When our faith flags, He throws reminders in our way.
Think of the prayer warriors in our midst.
They change things,
and those of us
who have been on the receiving end
of their petitions and intercessions
know it.
It is hard to describe,
but there are times
when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,
and you feel a surge of the Spirit.
Somehow you just know:
Others have chosen,
when talking to the Author of all creation,
to lift us up,
– to speak of us!
This is love of a very special order.
But so is the ability to sit back
and appreciate the wonder of every created thing.
The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid,
every happiness more luminous and intense.
We may not know how our contest with sickness will end,
but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.
What is man that Thou are mindful of him?
We don’t know much, but we know this:
No matter where we are,
no matter what we do,
no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects,
each and every one of us who believe each and every day,
lies in the same safe and impregnable place,
in the hollow of God’s hand.’
T. Snow

Tony Snow passed away on July 12, 2008 at the age of 53 after a long, candid and public battle with cancer.

Conquering Our Fears

I wanted to share a little revelation I got the other day concerning one of my struggles. As I was preparing myself to go door to door to raise some money for the project I talked about in my last blog I was struggling with the unknown of whether people would step up to the call and pitch-in or if they would reject me.

reject: –verb (used with object)

1. to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.: to reject the offer of a better job.
2. to refuse to grant (a request, demand, etc.).
3. to refuse to accept (someone or something); rebuff: The other children rejected him. The publisher rejected the author’s latest novel.
4. to discard as useless or unsatisfactory: The mind rejects painful memories.
5. to cast out or eject; vomit.
6. to cast out or off.                                         (Courtesy of

Rejection, I don’t like being rejected, actually I would bet that there isn’t anyone who likes being rejected. I was concerned about it, doing something outside my comfort zone and having it turn out a terrible experience was not very appealing to me. I prayed about it, asking God to help deal with that fear in me. What helped me the most was getting my thoughts out one evening with a dear friend and coming to the point of just deciding to set my fears aside and deal with each person one at a time, endeavouring to be an embassador of Christ.
As I settled in on that decision I was wondering why it seems like so many people struggle with being rejected? Then I thought about how at least I (I’ll use me for the example) react to being rejected…
I didn’t deserve that!… They had no right to talk to me that way!…Who do they think they are?! That’s normally my reaction.
(And this is where the revelation happened)I realized that my fear of rejection was rooted in my pride. This was so freeing to me because I have no desire to be prideful. But that’s not it, realizing it was pride that caused that fear in me let me know what the proper tool to conquer my fear was… namely humility, the opposite attitude of pride.
I had so much fun walking around the neighborhood, those few evenings that I did, I felt free as the wind, no more awkward feelings, no fear, I felt… love, love for people and life and I think I turned another chapter in the book that’s my life.
Some food for thought

If we are walking in true humility how would we in turn react to those who “reject” us? Would we become indignant? Angry? Would we really think about how we didn’t deserve that kind of treatment?…
I don’t think that true humility would recognize any of those reactions as a possible response. I have a couple in mind but let’s hear from you 🙂 What do you think would be a proper response?

An Encouraging Afternoon

We out here at the Gatehouses wanted to reach out to the neighborhood and not just that but to find something to draw us all together more. One idea that came up was starting a sort of work day on the weekends to help people with repair work in their homes. So we set out to do just that, we picked out a need at house not far from our own where the sweetest lady lived with her 30-year-old son who is also sweet and definitely interested in the welfare of his mother, from what I’ve witnessed they have a closer relationship than most mother/sons in this day. The need was an exterior door that was in dire need of replacement, our neighbor needed a new door.

We decided to try to raise $200.00 from around the neighborhood to pay for the door and hardware needed. I was the blessed individual to have the job of collecting that money, and do I mean blessed! I never thought that it would be so fun to go knock on people’s doors and tell them what we were trying to do for our neighbor and that we thought it would really bless her and her son if we were able to tell them that the community purchased her door for her!

The RESPONSE was more than I or anyone could ask for! we had made a flyer to pass out and the first couple of hours I spent walking around we raised over  a hundred dollars! the best part to me has been meeting everyone, sometimes it was just a quick introduction and other times it was 10 minutes of conversation.

We even have had people stop by our house to give money, one man in particular brought his young (7-9 years old) daughter because she wanted to help out too, while she was pouring the change that she had been saving in our hands she said “God bless you”.

I’m here to tell you that even though we are still in the middle of this specific project what that girl said has definitely already  happened. It truly has been a blessing and no doubt from God. It’s funny to me that every time we act in obedience to God in taking care of people we think that “we are going to bless people” or that “He is going to bless people through us” which I’m sure that He does in a way but in turn we become blessed and in the end you have to ask yourself…

Who was helped through this the most?

That’s the way God works through his people. It’s reciprocating, His blessings, love, life, hardships, trials, everything He does has such a unique stamp on it and it leaves us only one option… To praise Him.

To God be the Glory!

Competing for My Allegiance

Have you ever heard a song that you feel was written just for you? I know I have, and it was the inspiration for the address of my new blog site. There is a song titled “If I Stand” that was written by the late Rich Mullins (who by the way was an incredible song writer, I would encourage the reader to look him up) There is a line in one of the verses that says…

The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the giver
Of all good things

This song and more specifically these lyrics have helped me tremendously over the past couple of years.

Breaking the Lyrics Down

There are a few important, core doctrinal attributes to operate on when actively following Christ. Things like love, humility, patience, perseverance, keeping a clear conscience before God etc… These are things that are spoken about repeatedly in the scriptures as things that we should continue in. I find that when I walk in these attributes I feel in my heart God’s great pleasure, that He is pleased with me. Oh, how often we ask God to “please” us when we should be asking if we are pleasing Him.

Whether we like it or not the doctrinal attributes I’m speaking of were specifically given to us to walk in, not to rationalize or to try to explain away with distant theologies, but simply to walk in.

Now let’s talk about when I’m not walking in them…

Stuff of Earth

This to me is when “the stuff of Earth” is competing for my allegiance to Jesus Christ.

The things that this earth offers us always seem to me like they are a sort of anesthetic, they numb us to the call of God, cloud our consciences, and have the potential to become addicting. You’ll notice that in the things that pertain to sound doctrine (Tit 2:1-13) you might see individuals who are consumed with the “stuff of Earth” have one or even a few of the attributes, an example would be that a wealthy man might have perseverance in attaining that wealth he so desires to have, where another might be temperate in his dealings with others, but you never seem to see just such an individual with all of the attributes. We as followers of Christ are to have all of them!

We cannot succumb to the vaporous self indulging idolatry Satan tries to force upon us with the materialistic things of this earth… If he could just get our eyes off Christ for just that one moment he gains ground, doing damage in varying amounts even if just a little, that little makes room for more and he is good at what he does; always waiting, always patient  for the right moment.

My Allegiance

This is how I would describe allegiance, to say: “Lord, come hell or high waters I have to be with you. I realize that without you Lord I can do nothing, you are my life, my sustenance, the very air I breathe and nothing else can compare to your loving kindness towards me. Father, keep me.” Not just to say this but to live this, to fix our gaze upon His face.

It will always look like “going the extra mile”, not just merely doing God’s will but loving God’s will, not just being “willing” to lay down your life for another, but actually doing so, setting yourself aside so that Christ can reign through you. When hardships come we will go beyond just bearing them, we will learn to rejoice in them!

You get the picture.

We go through our days fixing our gaze on the Light, keeping our consciences clean so that very same Light can shine in illuminating our mind, heart, soul and spirit so that we can become transformed to His likeness, He doesn’t just want part of us, rather He wants our whole being.

Anything that hinders this allegiance must be thrown out. We “cannot serve two masters”. We need to ask God as Jim Elliot so well put: “God make your mark on my ear so I can hear your voice”.

We must be loyal to our Lord.

The Giver of All Good Things

Christ is the giver of all good things. Everything that He gives us is for our good even if it looks the exact opposite. We have so much to be thankful for that we don’t spend enough time meditating on; I would advise that we do spend more time doing that though. I know that when I spend my days being thankful to God I’m spiritually ready to be a minister of His word “in season and out of season”.

Do take note that I said when I spend my days “being thankful to God”, I left out  “when I’m feeling thankful to God” I would say that feeling thankful is definitely helpful in the being thankful but not required. I picture it being much like learning to rejoice in our trials and tribulations…

So to sum it up I think that it has to do with our attitude as Christians. What we do with the things that seem to complicate our lives. How we perceive and justify ourselves on a level that falls drastically short of our heavenly Father.

I don’t think that we ever have trouble relating the good things (or the things that we like) that happen to us as coming from God… but what about the things that we don’t like? or further, what about the bad things that happen to us? God at the very least allowed them to be present in our lives. but we don’t often think of it that way do we? Dare I say that He must have such a larger picture of what we need then we ourselves do? I believe that to be true. Why? Because i’ve both experienced and witnessed it at Rose Creek Village with whom I’m a part of.

Sometimes as things happen you can see the hand of God working, sometimes it’s not until after the fact, maybe even years later that you see His hand in a situation, I’ve realized that throughout my own life His hand has been in it shaping me, working on me, saving me, giving me more friends that you can even imagine! and of course Life and that more abundantly!

I’m indebted to Him who I call my Lord and Father, He is that giver that gives all good things, and it’s to Him that I give my life too.