Photo Apr 12, 10 46 14 PM

Reflections After Easter

After waking up in a hotel on the outskirts of Houston this morning, I spontaneously decided to delay the start of my workday for a few hours and take a drive into the city. I drove past marshes, near-empty bayous, and through some of the rougher parts of town before ending up in The Heights, where I stopped in to a local coffeehouse in a fun urban district on 19th Street.

As I sat there, I began to reflect on how the events that happened yesterday affect today. While the resurrection did not literally happen yesterday, it was in our thoughts more yesterday than it is most days of the year. Now that Easter Sunday has come and gone, how does that affect my today? Do I return to my normal life and patterns of thoughts until 6 weeks out next year, when Lent 2015 begins? Certainly not!

The resurrection of Christ inaugurated the new way of the Kingdom, which Jesus proclaimed was “at hand”. The Kingdom of God is an alternative society for those who seek to live under the rule and reign of the government of God, where the reality of Heaven is becoming and someday will become fully true on earth. The Kingdom of God is a shelter from the storm of the current state of affairs, until the day when the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our God, and of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end (Isaiah 9:7).

In light of all of this, the extent to which we love one another today will show the world how much we believe in what happened yesterday, how much we believe that the Kingdom is truly at hand.

Since I grew up in a more modern stream of the Evangelical Church, I’m just now becoming familiar with Liturgy and the Church Calendar. I’ve recently learned that Easter is actually a 7-week celebration, not just a 1-day event. (By recently, I mean I just discovered this last night.) As Glenn Packiam pointed out, Lent is a 6-week fast and Easter is a 7-week celebration, which tells us that the feast always outlasts the fast.

The 7-week celebration of Easter leads us into Pentecost, which signifies the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This is significant to us today as a reminder that Christ has gone up and the Holy Spirit has come down to comfort and empower us as we seek to partner with the Father in redeeming and restoring creation, until the day when Jesus returns and new creation is fully established, as foretold in Revelation 21. And so, as you begin this season of celebrating the resurrection of our Savior, may your heart be ignited by the joy and life that resurrection brings.


Transition: A Personal Update

Six weeks ago, I was working with ROC Wheels (a faith-based humanitarian organization) in Mexico, where things seemed to function at a very relaxed and laid-back pace. Since returning to the States, it feels like I’ve been caught in a whirlwind of activity that has yet to die down. I’ve been able to flex with it so far, but the result has been personal projects taking a backseat to my business. I’m in a season of major transition, and the purpose of this blog is to give an update on where I’m at in a number of areas, many of which I would have announced sooner had it not been for the whirlwind.

Church Transition / As some of you already know, I am in the process of a church transition. I am leaving Gateway Frisco after 4 incredible years to be a part of Alan & Nancy Smith’s new church plant, Catch the Fire DFW, which will begin meeting April 26 in Hurst. This has been a bittersweet time as I have transitioned out of all of my volunteer roles at Gateway over the past couple of months. I honestly thought that Gateway would always be my “home church”, no matter where my adventures took me, but sometimes God re-arranges our plans. I have grown tremendously at Gateway and am grateful for my time there.

I want to stress that this has been a very healthy transition. I have sat down with 4 of the pastors at Gateway who I have been serving directly under, and we are all in agreement that this is the next step for me at this time. I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now, but I know that this is where I’m supposed to be at this present moment. I loved what Pastor Randy Cochran told me during our meeting: “Our people are not ‘our people.’ They belong to God, not us. We want them to go wherever He leads them.”

I am so grateful for the Kingdom mindset at Gateway and all of the leaders who have helped guide me through this transition. My family will still be attending FRS, so it is highly likely that I will still make appearances there from time to time.

Identity in Christ / This project, initially for the Mexico trip, involved me writing a book that is divided into short chapters so that it can serve a dual purpose as a 21-day devotional. I’m still trying to figure out how to effectively market this product, as it is truly a hybrid between a devotional and a full-length book.

I just submitted a slightly revised edition of Identity in Christ to Amazon, so it is temporarily unavailable for purchase, though that should change soon. In short, while in Mexico I discovered that it’s a really good idea to have multiple sets of eyes proof-reading a book. As this was a last-minute project, I didn’t have a chance to do that and took a chance when releasing it. Basically, I’ve just re-worded some things; no substantial edits have been made. If you have one of the 82 copies floating around, consider it a limited edition. :)

Creation & Redemption / My more-than-full-length book is still slated to release this fall. It’s going to be tight, but I think I’m going for it. I say “more than full length” because it currently clocks in at 81,000 words (most non-fiction books in my genre are between 40,000-60,000 words).

I’m going to be launching a fundraising effort for C&R soon via Indiegogo. This will allow me to raise a small amount of money needed to cover the initial production costs of the book. What’s great about Indiegogo is it allows me to offer “rewards” for donations that vary based on the donation amount. This means I won’t just be asking for a handout, but that I will be able to exchange existing products, services, and a few surprises for donations to go toward C&R. This avenue of fundraising has proven wildly successful for musicians, filmmakers, and writers alike over the years.

Battle Ground Creative / I launched my own freelance writing business last August, and it has been doing quite well as of late. Business has been strong since February, keeping my schedule pretty full. I have several more potential avenues on the waiting list, but I am not working full-time, as I am trying to keep margin available for development and personal projects, namely my book.

Youth Alive North Texas / I’m currently in my fourth year with Youth Alive, a strategic outreach organization to North Texas schools. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to stay with this ministry for so long, even with a few job changes along the way. Now, my work with Battle Ground allows for a flexible schedule that makes working with Youth Alive a breeze. In fact, just this past week we were in Lufkin at Central High School. It was great to partner with Clawson Assembly of God for a youth service the night before the school assemblies as well.

Burn Wagon / This June, I’ll be helping lead a 3-week long mission trip across the Pacific Northwest. We’ll start in Sacramento and journey through NorCal, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia before looping back around to Sacramento. This is my third trip with the Burn Wagon and my second year to return to the Pacific Northwest. Last year, we worked with local churches and ministries and saw dozens of people saved and healed—not within the four walls of the church, but primarily on the streets of cities like Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Bozeman, and Salt Lake City. It’s really hard to describe the Burn Wagon further without experiencing it. I have seen much fruit come out of this ministry, both in terms of harvest and discipleship for those who attend.

Thanks to the generous support of my friends, family, and blog readers, I still have some funds left over from Mexico, and I’ll be paying for the rest out of pocket, so my trip is fully funded. Praise God!


Eschatology: My Official Position

I’ve had some interesting conversations on eschatology (the end times) today after the appearance of the first of four blood moons. Eschatology is a confusing subject, and to be honest, I don’t think it matters as much as we think it does. Following Jesus is more about how much you love than how much you know, and faith is often more about mystery than certainty. Because there’s so much that we don’t know, I think it’s important that we approach eschatology with an attitude of humility, so that we can embrace the mystery wrapped up in the person of Jesus, so that we may get lost in the wonder of all that He is. I have a lot of questions, sure, but at the end of the day, I prefer mystery and wonder to certainty in my faith.

The world doesn’t need another book, movie, or sermon series on the end times. What they need is to know the love of the Father. And the Church doesn’t need to get caught up in figuring out what’s going to take place tomorrow (or 100 years from now), because that usually distracts us from our mission today. We should be more focused on renewing and restoring the earth, rather than plotting our escape from it. Jesus never told us that we have to figure out what the future holds us; in fact, He often encouraged us to focus on the present moment and let tomorrow take care of itself. When He talked about the end times, it was often in response to His being asked about them by one of the disciples (though this was not always the case). And so, when we see things like the blood moon or other significant “signs in the heavens”, rather than trying to relate it to future events, I simply pocket it as a subtle reminder that the Kingdom will one day come in full.

That being said, here is my “official” position on the end times. These are the things I believe with absolute certainty. Everything else related to eschatology is open to interpretation.

Regardless of what happens, God is still in control.
He remains infinitely faithful and sovereign.

He has already won.
The kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our God.
He will reign forever.

Our accuser will be silenced.
We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb.
For He stands in our defense.

Heaven will fully manifest on earth.
Life will overtake death.
Sorrow will endure no more.
Tears and pain will be wiped away.

He will dwell among us.
We will be His people. He will be our God.
We will be His children. He will be our Father.
For we are all the work of His hand.

He is the Alpha and the Omega
The Beginning and the End
The First and Last of All

He was. He is. He is still to come.
Praise be to Him who sits on the throne.
To Him be all glory and honor and power forever and ever.