Trust The Process

Washing my car is both one of the most therapeutic and rewarding things as well as one of the most tedious and cumbersome things that comes with car ownership.

I own a 2000 Nissan Xterra, and I love everything about it. It’s got enough room on the inside to fit all my stuff, top racks to strap gear to, and if I put a hitch on the back, it could tow up to 6,000 pounds. It’s the quintessential adventure vehicle (in addition to my fiancé’s Subaru Outback). So, I want to keep it extra clean and looking like new, or as close to new as an 18 year old vehicle can look.

A few nights ago, when we were washing our cars, I paid extra attention to the process involved in getting them clean.

First, you give it an initial rinse.

Second, you put soap on it and scrub it down.

Third, you rinse off the soap.

Last, you towel dry the car.

Voila. You’re done. It sounds pretty easy, right?

Not so fast there. While the steps look simple on paper, they are far from easy.

If you don’t give it an initial rinse, the soap won’t pick up all the dirt well. If you let the soap sit too long, it gets all scummy and gross. If you don’t dry off your car, it gets all streaky and looks almost as bad as it did beforehand.

There’s a detailed, specific, and perfectly timed process behind washing your car, and there’s a detailed, specific, and perfectly timed process at work behind the scenes in your everyday life.

We are all in the middle of a process. Whether you realize it or not, you’re in the middle of some kind of situation. You might be just starting a new season of life in a new city, celebrating 5 years at the same job, or getting out of some kind of toxic situation. In different areas of your life, you very well could be experiencing beginnings, middles, and ends. This is what I’d like to call a step. Each process has many different steps, and your life is one big process. It’s a process of getting you from start to finish. And, where you are now is smack dab in the middle of the two points.

Without getting too preachy and pastoral on you, let me put forth a few thoughts.

Each step has a lifespan of potential.

Just like when we put together furniture or refer to a recipe, each step is only applicable for a certain amount of time. In other words, each step has a specific lifespan of potential. You cannot get the maximum amount of output if you try to speed up or slow down a certain step in the process; you’ll pervert the purpose of the step if you try to do so.

So it is in our lives. The step you’re on in life has a lifespan. It’s only potent and relevant for the lifespan of the step. If you try to get out of the situation where you find yourself too early, or try to relive the glory days too long, you’ll miss your window of potential both in that step and the steps to come.

Each step has a purpose.

The minute details within the instructions manual seem pointless sometimes. They seem more cumbersome and boring than essential to the final product. In time, if you dwell too much on the tedious nature of it, you get so frustrated that you start to question whether or not it’s worth it anymore. But, then you finish the last step in the manual and you see that without the small things, the larger picture couldn’t come into view.

This frustrating, annoying, and downright enervating step that you seem to think has no point really does, somehow, some way, have a purpose. The purpose may be solely to get your mind off of what’s coming next and prepare your heart and mind for something better, but no matter what there’s a purpose behind every step of the way.


In closing, I leave you with this idea:

Without the process, there is no product.

If you have a goal in mind for your life, or you believe like I do that a Higher Power has something in store for you, then you must remember that you cannot get where you’re going without passing through where you are right now.

If you want results, you have to do the work. Sometimes the work drags you down. Sometimes the work makes you rethink why you’re on this path in the first place. But, you cannot get to where you want to go without going through where you are right now.

Be aware: in the process, you have to discern whether or not you’re trying to rush the step, or prolong the inevitable. Sometimes in order for the next step to come, you must put an end to the step where you are.

But, at the end of the day, there is no product without a process.

And each little step matters just as much as the big ones.

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Weekend Recap: Tuck Fest 2018

If you’re anything like me, you know that you gotta work hard to play hard. For the past 6 months, I’ve been running and pushing hard at work, and it certainly was time for a vacation. I chose to take this time off to reset, rest, and prepare for the summer season (which everyone in the church world knows is a crazy time for student ministry).

So, the only way I know how to play hard is to get outside. And there’s nothing quite like the outdoors. The majesty of the towering trees, the intense colors of the scenery, and the uncontrollable nature of the roaring rapids are quite powerful reminders of just how small you are, as well as just how big God is.

This past weekend, I spent the majority of my time braving the elements while getting down and dirty out on the Catawba River.

Well… sort of.

Thanks to the team at On The Road And Off and their brands, I was blessed to spend Thursday through Sunday, the first half of my vacation, repping Teva and Fayettechill at Tuck Fest 2018, which is a multi-day festival that celebrates the outdoor lifestyle through competitions, exhibitions, demos, and live music at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here’s how sweet it looked:IMG_0954.jpg

However incredibly fun it was, we still had to work hard. Exhibit A: packing up and getting our displays (pictured above) moved out.IMG_2095.jpg

Yes, that’s me riding on the tailgate of our rep’s pickup. It was packed to the brim with everything we brought, and the gate & window wouldn’t close with the trash that we had to take to the dumpsters. Like I said: you gotta work hard to play hard.

This was my first exposure to the outdoor industry, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. We had so much fun connecting with other vendors, meeting attendees, and selling product to them as they made their rounds.

If you’ve never been to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, then I highly recommend that you make it a point to go visit. This is my second visit to the center, and even though I didn’t get to raft or get out in the water, just watching others is satisfying enough.


While there’s so much I could dive into about what I took away from the weekend, from sales techniques and visual merchandising to starting conversations and drawing people to our booths, the biggest takeaway is this: if you identify or create a need within someone, he or she will be more apt to your solution to satisfy it.

Think about it. Someone walks by our tent, and takes a glance at what we have going on. She’s wearing tennis shoes, and it’s pretty hot out so she has to be thinking, “I need some relief.” What do we offer? A solution to cool her off, starting with what’s on her feet. We invite her to look at our product, see what she likes, and simply ask her to just try on a pair of shoes that are her size. Immediately, she feels relief, and realizes that she needs these shoes, and she didn’t fully realize it before she sat down to try on a pair.

You can contextualize this to your industry, too. Think of your potential customer or client. How do you hook them initially? You find or create a need that isn’t being met in their lives that you just so happen to be able to meet. You hone in on your expertise and convince them they need your product, and voila: they can’t walk away without purchasing or investing in at least one or two units.

Do you see what I’m getting at? Can you see where I’m going with all of this? Speaking from a pastor’s point of view, we know that people around us have needs, whether they realize it or not. We know that we have the same exact needs, too. But, we know something more than the people around us do; we also know that the things that we seek to meet those needs, the needs that are deeper and sometimes the things to which we can’t put words, will never satisfy them. They were never created to satisfy anything deeper than their intended purpose, and it’s truly impossible for created things to meet the needs that only something bigger than us could ever satisfy.

That deeper need? It’s the need for our own purpose. It’s the need to mean something in this world, and do something with our lives that goes beyond who we are as an individual. This is how the world sees the deeper need that those who know God understand as the need for Him.

At its core, if you boil down everything we do as ministers, we’re in the sales business. We make connections with people. We seek to improve people’s lives with our “product,” for lack of better wording. We make appeals day in and day out for the people with whom we come into contact to “buy in” to what we’re “selling.” Products in and from this world provide enjoyment, peace, and some form of satisfaction, but only for a moment. But, we know that what we’re “selling” is eternal, true joy, and true peace.


Within the next few days, I’ll be back with a full recap of the rest of the week, some sweet news about a new endeavor, and how you can get involved with it!

Thanks friends!

-J

What The Enneagram Means For Your Ministry

One of the things I find most interesting is how understanding our personalities can make (or break) different areas in our life.

When it comes to our relationships, understanding how we’re wired is necessary to communicate do’s, don’ts, and don’t evens to our friends, partners, and colleagues. The self-awareness that comes with knowing what makes us run allows us to collaborate, delegate, and initiate with synergy like never before.

Before I move forward, let me acknowledge this: it’s very possible to get too interested in personality profiling. There’s a fine line between healthy observation and unhealthy obsession, and I’ve seen in multiple settings how these helpful tools can become a source of identity and empty fulfillment.

But, when used properly, personality profiling can blow the roof off of your capabilities. As someone serving in full-time ministry, I’ve seen such practices among teams leverage every ounce of productivity, leadership, and, most importantly, vulnerability to create a culture of excellence, innovation, and trust.

In just a few (not so) short thoughts, I’d love to show you why I believe that personality profiling can enhance and propel your ministry to the next level.

WHY PERSONALITY PROFILING?

The beauty of tests like the Myers-Briggs, DISC, StrengthFinders, and Enneagram is that they’re diagnostic in nature; they help you get closer to seeing the real you, and give you a glimpse into how you can best use your personality to move forward. They take simple questions that are seemingly unrelated and use your answers to paint a wide brush stroke of who you are as a person, what fuels you, what drains you, and what you can do with that information. As a result, you can go into different settings, whether business, leisure, or somewhere in between with a solid arsenal of answers when someone asks you to tell them about yourself.

As I interviewed for a church in May 2017, one of the first things they had me do was take a series of tests (which honestly was one of the most painful 3 hours of my life, outside of the SAT). The first half was for their internal purposes, but the second half was purely for my self-awareness. While the results of the second half did go on file, they didn’t get sent to the recruitment team during the process, and honestly the staff members with whom I connected weren’t super concerned with them and how they related to the interview process; they were only concerned with me understanding the results that I received and learning how to apply it as I moved forward, whether as a part of their staff or not. It was great to see, specifically through an expanded Myers-Briggs test, how I’m wired in regards to the 4-letter classification.

However, if you rely on just the Myers-Briggs to fully evaluate your personality, I believe that you’re missing out on a deeper understanding of yourself and how even your spiritual side interacts with the world around you.

Enter the Enneagram, a 9-type powerhouse filled with layers of mystery, depth, and a whole lot of, “Whoa, it’s like this thing knows me.”

Stemming from the 7 deadly sins (with fear and deceit added to make 9), the Enneagram suggest that there are 9 core personality types at work within every single one of us. When it comes down to it, each type has a specific weakness that correlates to those 7 deadly sins. Here’s how it breaks down:

enneagram passions

(courtesy of The Enneagram Institute)

Before I dive further into the Enneagram, most of what I’ve learned about the profile comes from Ian Cron and the aforementioned Enneagram Institute, so for more information that goes more in depth, please please PLEASE: use these resources. Pay the $12 to take the full test on the Enneagram Institute website. If you’re looking to use this test as a resource, then you need to be properly assessed and outfitted with the right tools and knowledge.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Concerning the Enneagram, Ian Cron posits this thought in his Q Talk from 2017: we cannot truly know God unless we truly know ourselves.

Now, if you know me, I write out of my beliefs. What I say, do, and think originates from my worldview. I’m a Christian. I’m a pastor. I’m what the world calls, “pretty religious.” So, it proceeds from that vein that there’s a deep connection between knowing ourselves, the created, and knowing God, the Creator. I would argue that without knowing God, we cannot know who we truly are.

Therefore, in reciprocal fashion, we cannot truly know God unless we know how He’s wired us. We cannot have that deep connection with our Father until we take steps to know what makes us who we are, what makes us stumble, and what makes us succeed. The self-awareness that comes with knowing our personalities will inevitably created a heightened awareness of God within us, and we would do well to prioritize understanding our inner selves.

John Calvin, the famous Protestant reformer of the 1500’s, wrote in his seminal work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God,” as well as, “Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.” This constantly circulating, constantly intensifying, constantly revealing intersectionality reveals that we can’t be who God made us to be unless we first dig deep into the recesses of our souls, only made possible by first entering into a relationship with the Creator.

MINISTRY AND YOUR PERSONALITY

For the Christian readers out there, we have a deeper responsibility than just knowing ourselves when it comes to our purpose. No matter what industry, vocation, or position you find yourself in, we all have the same calling: make disciples. We each have a ministry that is completely our own, and we must use our giftings and blessings in order to bring other people closer to Christ.

There are so many ways for us to use our personalities and gifts in order to reach others, so there’s no right or wrong formula. But, here are a few ideas and thoughts I have concerning how using the Enneagram can skyrocket your potential, both in your personal ministry as well as within the ministries where you serve.

Knowing your vices helps you love people better.

Sometimes, when we admit that we’re messed up, and figure out what our weaknesses are, we have more empathy for those around us. We come to place where we finally admit that we don’t have it all together, and we stop condemning other people for their mistakes because we’re right where they are too. We can stop being a slave to the “holier than thou” mentality, and finally do what Jesus calls us to do in loving our neighbor (see Luke 10:25-37).

As an Enneagram 2, I struggle with my pride. I can, at times, view myself as irreplaceable. I can be too self-absorbed and end up only looking out for me. Just admitting these things is painful enough, but what I can do in knowing my vices is point myself first toward the truth that we’re all in this thing together; we can’t do it alone, and we need each other. And by preaching this to myself, I can help others who are facing the same problems learn that it truly isn’t about “me”.

Knowing how you’re wired helps you plug into community better.

A holistic approach to who we are as individuals not only helps us see ourselves in the right light; it lets us know how we can best connect with others. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone, so it only makes sense that such a diagnostic method should help us ensure that we don’t have to go on the journey by ourselves. Using your vices, strengths, and tendencies, find people who have at least a basic understanding of what you’re going through. Take an inventory of your interests, and look for people who do the same things; more times than not, those people can relate to your struggles because they have similar wirings.

Knowing your strengths helps you lead better.

When we know where we excel, we can play to our strengths and go after situations, positions, and/or opportunities that excite our passions. Knowing your niche enables you to find people, positions, and places that will allow you to feel at home, and lead from a place of security instead of from fear. And that’s a really good feeling. To know that you can be yourself while doing what you love and moving forward with it is one of the most satisfying, gratifying, and electrifying feelings.

Your strengths are what will be on display when you’re at your healthiest, so this is where taking care of yourself comes into play. When you’re self-aware, knowing how to identify the good, the bad, and the ugly within your soul, you have a deeper responsibility to dive deeper into your relationship with God, as we discussed earlier. When you as a believer are detached from the source of your peace and true fulfillment, these strengths and high points ultimately mean nothing.


In closing, I think my biggest admonition to those of you who have made it this far is this: know where you’re at with God. Knowing yourself is great and helpful, but only to an extent. You hit a ceiling of self-knowledge without a definite knowledge of the Divine.

So, wherever you are, whatever you do, however you do it, please take the time to assess your relationship with God. It’s okay to be where you are, but it’s not okay to stay where you are.

The Church’s Intended Purpose

I wrote this article for my friend and former student, Maddie Stiles, for her blog, and I’d love to share it with you. Make sure to check her out her writing and support her!

You can’t do life alone.

We know this, deep down inside of our souls. We have this deep desire to be in what we call “community”: a group of people rallying around a common idea.

As I mull around the thought of togetherness within our world, clearly my mind shoots straight to how the thing we know as “Church” should operate. Being a person who’s been around church my whole life, both as a member and a leader, it’s become my whole life. There’s nothing more that I want to do other than serve in the church, because, as Bill Hybels says, “The local Church is the hope of the world.” It’s the one thing that has and will withstand the test of time, and the one thing that holds this crazy life in balance.

But, if we’re honest as we think about the Church, it’s clearly strayed from what God intended it to be.

When God established the Church in Acts, it operated all in unity, no matter how far west it spread. Today, we seemingly operate toward a common goal in massive division, whether over theology, practice, or interest.

God didn’t create denominations. We’ve set points of contention all throughout our bylaws and constitutions (yes, churches DO have constitutions and governing laws).

The Church used to rule culture. Now, culture determines how churches can and can’t operate.

We’ve strayed far from the original design of this beautiful, wonderful, crazy, and massive institution. And that breaks my heart.

So, let’s answer these questions in the following words: how did God intend the Church to operate? How can we achieve that in this day and age?

How It Should Be

To see how the Church should actually operate, we have to go back to start of it all. Now, if you haven’t spent much time around this thing called church or don’t really know much about how it all started, let’s take a short crash course to catch you up.

The Church was started as a new chapter in God’s beautiful story of restoration, redemption, and rescue. This “chapter” can be found in the latter half of what we call the Bible, a compiled two-volume history of close to everything: how the world was created, how everything got messed up, what life was like back then, how God set aside a people to bring back to Himself, how those people kept messing up, how God actually brought a remedy to the problem, and what we’re supposed to do now.

So, in this transformative history book, towards the end of the second half, called the New Testament, we get to the installment of The Acts Of The Apostles, or “Acts.” Acts was the second of two history books written by a guy named Luke, an early 1st century physician who spent a LOT of time with one of the main characters of Acts, a guy named Paul. If Luke’s name sounds familiar after looking through the books of the New Testament, it’s because he wrote a first book that bears his namesake, Luke. Luke is about Jesus, God’s Son whom He sent as the remedy to the problem, and Acts is about how the world first learned about the remedy.

Okay, that SHOULD be a basic crash course to get you caught up to speed. As we open up the book of Acts and see the early church forming and getting started, the biggest qualities that stick out can be found here:

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:32-37)

So, here’s what we find:

  • They were of one heart and soul.
  • No one was selfish.
  • They had everything in common.
  • No one had any needs.

This is what the Church was intended to be: a place where people belong and are taken care of. God’s design for the Church, a physical gathering of His people, was meant to reflect the way that the Trinity, the Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, operated in harmony.

Now, I get that that’s a big idea to comprehend, even for the wisest, most learned scholars. But, it’s necessary to take into account that the Church is simply a shadow cast by God Himself, meant to turn us toward His heart and mind as we gather together.

In Christ, we belong. In Christ, we’re taken care of. And it’s only appropriate that, in God’s family and in the Church, the same thing happens.

How It Can Happen Now

These seem like pretty straightforward goals for the modern-day Church. It seems pretty easy to just be welcoming and take care of other people, right?

Well, on paper it’s easy. In theory, it’s simple. But, when it comes to execution, at least for me, it’s pretty complicated.

If we want people to feel like they belong, it takes more than just a simple, “Great to see you today!” as they walk through the front doors of the church. Coming from the inside, it takes years and years to build a culture that communicates that everyone is welcome.

If we want to take care of people, it takes more than just a simple, “What can I get you?” when we see someone in need. Our culture has politicized this notion, whether by putting it in the government’s hands or putting in the person in need’s hands. And, when our own preferences and human selfishness gets in the way, it seems like an uphill battle just to muster up the courage to step outside of our comfort zones to help someone who isn’t like us.

You see, over the years, the Church has gone through a major, unfortunate transformation. At one point, for thousands of years, the world around it sought insight and information on how to establish major tenets of science, government, and geography. As a result of the Church’s influence, the earth became round, the sun became the center of the universe, and kingdoms rose and fell. The Church changed the world.

But, as the Renaissance Period ushered in anthropocentric thought and man-driven beliefs, the Church’s role was shifted to the peripheral instead of remaining in the center. Humanism, the cultural movement that turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought, put a whole lot of emphasis on the goodness of people over the importance of supernatural matters. Rational thought trumped divine dependence, and the Church was marginalized to a portion of society, not a driving factor.

So, as we’re living 300 years after this shift, our minds have been conditioned not to be very focused on the original intent of something that our world has said is a commodity instead of a necessity. This history has made our execution of God’s intended purpose of the Church so complicated and so difficult.

Where do we fit into this massive narrative? How do we, knowing that the culture has been pushing the Church to the margins, make waves in culture to bring the Church back towards the center?

There are 3 practical things we can do to achieve the intended purpose that God designed for the Church. Now remember, they’re practical, not easy, so it’s going to take discipline and determination in order to make strides.

Know the God of the Bible.

You can’t effectively carry out something that someone wants without knowing the person. You can’t do what God has commanded His people to do unless you’re in a growing, deepening relationship with Him. Your relationship with Him cannot deepen unless you are pursuing a deeper knowledge of Him. Before you can do anything worth accomplishing, you have to know God. You have to read His Word. You have to seek after Him. That’s non-negotiable. But, as J.I. Packer writes in his aptly titled book, Knowing God, “If we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us.” Knowing about God isn’t an end, it’s a means to the greater end of God Himself

Live out what you believe.

Just knowing about God is part of the equation. Our knowledge should drive us to action, and the biggest action we can take is living out what we believe about God. If we believe that God is loving, we must strive to be loving. If we believe that God is kind, we must strive to be kind. If we believe that God is impartial, we must strive to be impartial. If we believe that God is light, then we must strive to be light. Our lives must reflect God and His character, which means that our character must be above reproach; we must seek to have high integrity and live up to a higher standard.

Teach others about God.

Finally, as we seek to know God and know more about Him and live out what we believe about Him, we must teach others to do the same. We have not learned what we’ve learned in order to keep it to ourselves. Jesus’ last commandment is to make disciples. Historically, we’ve made this command synonymous with “evangelizing people.” That’s just the first step in the process. The whole idea of discipleship can be found in the way that Jewish priests were trained and apprenticed. They devoted their whole lives to learning about the position, learning the laws, and learning everything in between. That’s what we must do as we make disciples: bring people into the family, then walk the journey with them.

As we pursue bringing about the intended purpose of the Church, and as we seek to know God better, I end the way I started: you can’t do life alone.

While it’s possible to get through life on your own, truthfully, you’ll never live up to your full potential and live out your true design if you live isolated.

Church was never meant to be a solitary institution. Neither is it a spectator sport. That’s why, in order for us to achieve the goal that God set for His Church, we can’t sit on the sidelines by ourselves. We have to work together, and we have to work hard.

Every ounce of effort is worth it, and every step of the way will bring heaven here to earth.

You can’t do life alone.

Hold Up. Wait A Minute.

Remember what you were told growing up about paying too much attention to time passing?

“If you stare at the clock, it’ll only go slower.”

And just when you stopped really focusing on the clock and started focusing on what you were doing, just like that, time started to fly.

You didn’t realize it then, but you were staring at the plumb-line of your situation, waiting for it to end. You were focusing on the constant in your experiment while you waited for the variables to change. Time was your only problem, since you were essentially waiting for the next thing to happen, and you weren’t exactly satisfied with what you were doing at the time.

Almost every night at work, I find myself at some point watching the digital clock, and normally during my downtime after I’ve finished clearing tables or polishing silverware. It feels like an eternity for one minute to become the next, and I get extremely anxious for the time when my boss says, “You’re cut. Get on outta here.”

Even more anxiety-inducing for me is looking at the bigger picture. I earnestly desire to be in a place where I’m back in full-time, vocational ministry, serving in a local church as a staff member and making an impact in that way.

And then I look at right now. I’m bussing tables currently, about to transition into a job at a coffee shop. I’m honestly the furthest away from working in a church, minus the fact that I’m interacting with people.

Truthfully, I’m empty. As I write this, almost a week out of being at FUGE camps and doing ministry work, I feel so very unfulfilled with the rest of my life. At times, I feel like I’m in a place where I never should’ve gone, choosing to walk through a door that only looked attractive in theory, but not in practice. I question whether or not I actually listened to God’s voice when moving here to Nashville, or if I chose my own path and sought God’s blessing after the fact.

Maybe you’ve been here too. Maybe you’ve had a time in your life where you’re waiting for your goal and dreams to come to fruition. You’re asking God, “Why me, God? Why do I have to go through this now?” You’ve been faithful to seek after God, you’ve walked in holiness, you’ve held on to hope, but you’ve seen nothing come of it.

We go through times where God seems distant, quiet, or sometimes even non-existent. We feel like our prayers hit the ceiling and never make it to God in the first place. So what do we do with what we feel?

I can promise you that in the course of human history, especially in biblical history, we are not alone. We aren’t the only ones to have questioned God’s faithfulness, timing, and/or leading in the times of waiting. I would go as far to say that there is some instance or component of waiting found in all 66 books of Scripture. Ever since the Fall, there has been a sense of waiting for the promise to come: in the Old Testament, the promised Savior; and in the New Testament through modern times, the return of the promised Savior.

As I survey Scripture, waiting is prominent and sometimes prolonged:

  • Noah built the Ark, waiting amidst criticism and ridicule for the promised rain to come.
  • Abraham and Sarah waited until their old ages for Isaac to be born.
  • Jacob worked and waited 7 years for Rachel, but his uncle Laban tricked him into marrying Leah, and then Jacob worked and waited another 7 years in order to marry Rachel for real.
  • The Israelites waited 400 years for freedom from Egypt, and then another 40 years to get to the promised land.
  • The Israelites also had to wait for the promised land to be fully theirs, having to conquer the foreign peoples that inhabited the land before they could settle it.
  • Naomi’s sons died, and had to wait until her old age for her daughter-in-law Ruth to have a son.
  • Ruth herself had to wait on Boaz to redeem her.
  • David was anointed the next king of Israel, but had to wait years in order to actually become king.
  • Upon going into exile, the Israelites waited 70 years for their return back to their land.
  • The prophets wrote of their waiting for the promised Savior to come and redeem their people.
  • The Israelites once again waited 400 years between Malachi and Matthew, called the Intertestamental Period.
  • Jesus Himself waited 30 years before He began His earthly ministry, which lasted 3 years.
  • The disciples had to wait 3 days for Jesus to rise from the dead.
  • After Jesus ascended, they then had to wait until the Day of Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit.
  • Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica twice about waiting on Christ’s return: once about waiting while working, and once about working while waiting.
  • Paul waited many times for his own death, being imprisoned twice in Rome.
  • John waited on the island of Patmos in exile for his death, writing his gospel account and receiving his vision that was written in Revelation.

This is by no means exhaustive, but it’s pretty clear that waiting is woven into the very threads of Christianity. It’s at the center of our DNA. We wait for that which is to come, the time where we will, with unveiled face, behold the glory of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).

These echoes of waiting found within daily life, the waiting for time to pass and for the next situation to come, even further solidify that our longings are more than just surface level. We watch and observe our situations and wonder, “When will this ever end? When will I ever come out on the other side? When will what I feel You’ve called me to become reality?”

While we wait, what should we do? How should we act? How do we make the waiting go by faster, or at least make the best use of our waiting?

  • Seek biblical holiness. The only way that God can move you from where you are to where He wants you is if you’re actively pursuing Him. If you aren’t seeking a deepening relationship with Jesus above all else, then you won’t be able to experience the beautiful things that God has in store for you, nor will you be able to understand why you went through the situations through which you went.
  • Don’t neglect the spiritual disciplines. Don’t stop reading Scripture, don’t stop praying, don’t stop worshipping, don’t stop serving, don’t stop engaging in community. These are the practical ways you can seek biblical holiness, and these are the ways the you continue learning more about God’s character.
  • Listen more than you talk. Both in your spiritual walk and relationships, make sure you’re taking the time to listen to the observations and words that God and your friends are saying. God uses people in our close circles to speak His truth to us in unexpected ways. Test what you’re hearing against Scripture, and press into the truth.
  • Ask hard questions. Assess where you are in your life, and ask yourself the questions you’ve honestly been avoiding. Are you actually following what God wants, or asking Him to bless your isolate choices? Is the life you’re living now the one that God has for you, or have you created a life independent of Him? Don’t stop asking until you’ve found the answers.

Yes, I’m empty. Yes, I’m frustrated with how things are right now. And yes, I have a holy discontentment with not being in ministry. But I have to wait. I have to press into my relationship with Jesus. I have to work on myself and make myself ready for what God has next.


Here’s where I ask you for help. I don’t normally do this, and haven’t ever really done this in a blog post. I honestly hate asking for help from anyone because I like being self-sufficient and independent.

  • Please pray for me. Pray specifically that a door would open up to return to full-time ministry. Pray that God would work a miracle in my situation to allow me to get back into working at a church.
  • If you’re reading this and you’re on a church staff, looking for a staff member to work in the creative arts/communications areas, please contact me. I’d love to send you my résumé or CV.
  • If you’re on a church staff and know a church looking for a staff member to work in the creative arts/communications areas, please contact me as well.

To make it easy for you to get in contact with me, please fill out this form and I’ll get back with you ASAP.

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I don’t care where it is. I don’t care in what capacity. I don’t necessarily care about how much I get paid.

All I care about is getting back into the work to which God has called me. All I want is to do the work I’m wired to do.

I’ll keep you updated as this journey continues on. I hope to have something for you soon, but I can’t and won’t make promises. All I ask is that you pray.

Doubt And The Fight Against It

 I’m naturally a skeptic. It takes a large amount of convincing for me to believe that something is happening, or that something is real, without seeing it for myself. 

The list of instances in my life like this is a mile long.

  • I was skeptical about moving to Nashville actually working out back in February.
  • I was skeptical that Trump was actually going to win the Republican nomination. Still kind of skeptical that it’s real, but that’s beside the point.
  • I’m still skeptical about the fact that I’m where I’m supposed to be, and that I’ll be able to either get back into ministry or do anything with music full-time.
  • I’m skeptical about finding any job other than working at a restaurant.

I could continue, but that would be belaboring my point.

If I’m super honest, sometimes I still have doubts about if God is listening or working in my life. There are times when I feel like my prayers are just utterances into the air, and times when I can’t feel God’s presence.

Maybe you’ve been there too. Maybe you’ve had your doubts about God, or about God being present at all. Maybe you’re there right now, wondering if your tough situation will end soon, if you’ll get a job, if your prayers will be answered at all.

After being in church ministry for a few years, and sitting in lectures upon lectures about the different denominations, what they believe, and why they exist, I feel like I’m finally able to call myself a church history nerd. Here’s why that’s important: our current denominations have division and find their existence over how God’s presence is manifested.

While I know enough to be dangerous, I am no expert. These are just surface level explanations about the differences; nothing exhaustive, just basic information.

  • Baptists, while not outright denying the continuation of the spiritual gifts, hold to a stance that, in summary, amounts to the fact that God works primarily through Scripture, more or less limiting revelation to the canon.
  • Pentecostals/Charismatics rely more consistently on the spiritual gifts, maintaining that revelation and inspiration are still occurring independent from Scripture.
  • Presbyterians are primarily staunchly in their stance that revelation is only through Scripture, and that the spiritual gifts were only for use in the early Church.

Like I said, not exhaustive by any means, but the major denominational stances differ quite vastly.

On the regular, I find myself asking for signs. I seem to be asking for God to prove His existence. Yeah, I led a ministry and led within ministries, but I have my moments where I lack faith and ask for signs.

This isn’t new to God. This isn’t some newly asked question of Him. In fact, it’s probably the most commonly asked question in our prayers, not just in present days, but in days of old as well.

  • Moses met face-to-face with God, showing the Israelites that this was a sacred practice of meeting with God.
  • All throughout the Old Testament, God’s presence was physically manifested in the Holy of Holies in the Tent Of Meeting, making it a regular practice for the Jews to ask God’s Spirit to fall.
  • When the Israelites went into exile, there was a physical exit of the presence of God from the temple, leading the Jews to ask for God’s presence to return.
  • Jesus even said the Jews were a people of signs and wonders.

Look at John 4:48, when Jesus was talking to the woman at the well.

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”

God knows that we are looking for proof. He knows that we want some sort of tactile representation to confirm that He’s real. He knows that I still have my doubts when times are hard and I can’t feel Him working.

From personal experience, here’s what I’ve learned about this subject: God never leaves us, but there are times where He does allow us to listen to ourselves in order to see our selfishness. By letting us hear how self-centered we are, He reminds us that His life and His operation is about Him and not us.

It’s like He places a mirror in front of us to really see who we are, revealing our weaknesses and our imperfections so we can stop and say, “Okay, God. I’m listening. Some might call this what John Chrysostom called the “Dark Night Of The Soul,” where God seems distant and quiet but is in fact just as close as He has ever been.

The truth, however hard it is to remember, is that we as believers are never without God’s presence. Through the coming of the Holy Spirit, we have unfettered access to His grace, mercy, and love, and we can approach the throne without hesitation.

When it seems like God’s presence is absent, here’s what I tell myself:

  • God will never leave nor forsake me (Deut. 31:6).
  • As His temple, His Spirit dwells within me (1 Cor. 3:16).
  • There’s nothing that could separate me from Him (Rom. 8:31-39).
  • God’s timing is perfect, and His answers always come when they’re supposed to (Rom. 5:6).

Yeah, it sometimes really sucks when things are so far from being ideal, and when it feels like God is silent, but we have this hope that God is for those whom He has redeemed, and if we seek Him, He will be found.

Does This Sound Like Your Church?

When I was a kid, I would have my mom buy the huge boxes of cereal. Why? To my childhood eyes, they looked SO cool.

On the Fruity Pebbles and Froot Loops boxes, there was always some sort of celebrity, like Shaq, and the backs always had some cool design.

Once, I got so focused on the box, I almost forgot that there was cereal on the inside. It was only for a few minutes, but if I had not snapped out of it, I would’ve kept staring at the packaging while the good stuff remained untouched.

It’s quite a funny thing, to focus on the packaging and leaving the contents alone instead of actually partaking of what’s inside.

But I see it all too many times with churches. They focus way too much on the church itself instead of the REASON for the church. They run campaigns about the church, their mission statements are purely about changing how people think about church, and they have sermon series dedicated to talking about church, but there’s zero mention of the name of Jesus, no proclamation of the Gospel, and no call to repentance in Jesus’ name.

When a church focuses more on themselves than Jesus, then the church has lost its focus altogether.

Hear me out on this: I love the concept and institution of the church. It’s a body of Christ-followers united around the purpose of glorifying God and living in community while growing in godliness and pursuing holiness. I’ve worked in churches for years, and I yearn to be back in church ministry, serving the community and working side-by-side with other pastors who seek to glorify God.

So why exactly does the (global) Church exist? How did the Church come to exist? What’s its purpose?

Here are some facts about the Church, which is defined as the global body of believers.

  • The Church is called the “bride of Christ” (Jn. 3:29, Eph. 5:22, Rev. 19:7), which Paul uses to instruct husbands how to love their wives just like Christ loves the Church in Ephesians 5.
  • Colossians 1:18 says, “And he [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church.”
  • Throughout Acts, we see how the Church is supposed to function: taking care of those that belong to it, welcoming new members in who have repented and been baptized, and spreading the message of Christ to the ends of the world.
  • According to Revelation, when Christ returns, He will come back to save His Church and be one with them.

It’s clear in Scripture that the Church is meant to be the agent of reconciliation and grace through proclaiming the truth.

So, in light of this, how is the local church supposed to function?

It seems like a no-brainer at times, but this is where Scripture doesn’t necessarily speak. Any mention of church is almost exclusively in reference to the global Church. So, we must turn to principlization and look at the overarching themes and principles of each mention.

  • The majority of the New Testament, written by Paul, is letters to individual churches. So it’s clear that the local church was always a part of the plan.
  • They operated autonomously, yet still under the supervision and guidance of Paul (or Paul would send Timothy, like he did to Ephesus).
  • There was a universal way to operate in regards to discipline, membership, and pastoral care.

But the biggest thing about the individual churches? It was never about them in the first place.

Their entire purpose, mission, and vision was never to change how people viewed the church, but to lift Jesus high and see people meet Him.


Pastors: if this sounds like the church where you serve, then you and your staff need to take a long, hard look at your mission statement, core values, bylaws, etc., and reevaluate the real focus of your operation. Before you plan anymore events, write any sermon series, or create any budgets, you need to set aside a solid chunk of time where you take a fine-toothed comb and rake it over every governing document that constitutes the way your church operates. You’re idolizing a non-profit 501(c)(3), not worshiping a living and mighty God, and if you continue in this pattern, you will be the church that Ephesus became when John wrote Revelation, who abandoned their first love (Rev. 2:4).

Church members: if this sounds like the church to which you belong, where there’s more talk about and focus on the church itself instead of Jesus, then run. Leave. Get out. Talk to your pastor and tell him that the church has lost focus, then prayerfully search for another church in your area that is preaching the Gospel, serving the needs of the community, and promoting Gospel-driven community within the church.

Pastors, I Have A Bone To Pick With You

Have you ever seen a flock of sheep out in a pasture? Or, better yet, have you ever met a shepherd whose job is to lead a flock of sheep?

9 times out of 10, you probably haven’t. Which is normal, since we live in a very urbanized society where shepherding isn’t really a prominent part of the economy.

The job of a shepherd is quite literally to herd their sheep, keeping them from danger and leading them to food, water, and shelter as the occasion arises.

Sheep are stupid animals. Honestly. If they aren’t led in the right direction or kept in check, they wouldn’t survive. They’re natural followers and have no clue how to make the most of their existence on their own. Without a shepherd leading them, there’s no way they’d make it another day.

The term “shepherd” doesn’t just apply to literal sheep-herders. For those who are leaders in Christian ministry, whether as pastors, directors, or lay-people given authority, we are considered shepherds as well.

Check out 1 Peter 5:2. Peter, as in THE Peter who was Jesus’ disciple, is writing to a group of Christians who were scattered throughout different regions of Western Asia.

[S]hepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;

Those who are divinely appointed by God to lead His people have a charge to shepherd them with joy and excitement, doing what will keep them safe and pursuing God more deeply and more fervently.

Being a shepherd isn’t an easy job, though. It’s not glamorous. It’s normally thankless and, especially in ancient times, it was frowned upon by society.

So it’s quite interesting that we as pastors are called “shepherds”. I use “we” because I have served as a pastor, and I have been in the trenches and the mess leading the flock of God.

Why are pastors called shepherds? Because, like shepherding, the pastorate calls us to do uncomfortable things.

The uncomfortable thing I want to discuss specifically is leading the flock into righteousness and into holiness.


Pastors, this one is for you. This post is solely for you. Church members, I want you to hear what I have to say too. You need to encourage your pastor. You need to lift him up and build him up so that he can continue to serve you. You need to support your pastor and help him walk in the biblically mandated position without hesitation.

I’m just going to shoot you straight, pastors. I have to a bone to pick with you. I’m calling some of you out for your preaching.

Your preaching may be funny, witty, memorable, hard-hitting, etc., but you’re lacking the Gospel altogether.

The Gospel makes things uncomfortable. Paul even says that “the word of the cross [the Gospel] is folly to those who are perishing” (1 Cor. 1:18). It’s supposed to make things uncomfortable. And it’s necessary in leading your flock.

If your sermon lacks a clear Gospel call, then your sermon is no more than a motivational speech on how to live morally.

What do I mean by Gospel call? Here’s what I mean:

  • We are dead in our sins and trespasses, and as a result are not in relationship with God
  • To repair the broken relationship, God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life, take the punishment we deserve through death on the cross, and raising three days later to conquer death for us
  • This sacrifice has satisfied the wrath that we deserve and therefore has enabled us to be in a relationship with God once more 
  • A relationship with God is open to us if we confess that we are sinners in need of a Savior, believe that Jesus is that Savior, and surrender our lives to Him

The fact of the matter is, the only way that people can live out what you’ve preached on should hinge on whether or not they’ve responded to the Gospel through receiving salvation. If your sermon can be applied independent to the Gospel, then your sermon is lukewarm and ineffective.

I know I’m being harsh. But you have been given charge over people’s spiritual development. Yes, at the end of the day, it all depends on God, but He has entrusted you to lead and shepherd His people to godliness and righteousness. By leaving out the explicit presentation of Gospel, you are minimizing the importance of and the primacy of this good news within your church, and ultimately your personal life.

Some of you might say, “But we are living the Gospel out with our lives.” You cite the St. Francis of Assisi quote, Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.

Let me stop you right there.

First of all, St. Francis of Assisi never actually said that, according to research and biographical information. His life was actually focused heavily on explicit declaration through preaching. (For more reading on him, check out this article from Christianity Today)

Second, mere moral living (which we often call “living the Gospel”) never actually results in salvation. Here’s what Paul says on the matter:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:13-17)

Paul doesn’t say, “For everyone who sees someone living the Gospel and being impacted by that will be saved.” He cites that faith comes as a result of the Gospel being explicitly proclaimed.


Pastors, I want you to see people repenting of their sins and following after Jesus. I want you to live above reproach and live according to the biblical mandate. I want you to be able to hear Jesus tell you face-to-face in glory, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

None of this is ever achieved divorced from the explicit proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your sermons will be no more than pithy sayings and wasted breath without the Gospel.

I leave you with 1 Timothy 4:16, which says:

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 

Rewrite your sermons to include the doctrine of God’s glorious, miraculous, mysterious salvation, and extend the invitation for your hearers to partake during your next sermon. 

What That Extra Pair Of Underwear Says About God

Life comes with many forms of little reminders that it doesn’t suck as bad as you thought it did.

It comes labeled as “the universe was looking out for me,” “it’s just my lucky day,” or something along the lines of the odds being our favor.

Yeah, something like that.

I’ve had a few really interesting instances where all I could think was, “Man, life really isn’t that bad after all.” They’re not always huge, but one of the little ones sticks out to me clearly.

It isn’t some major, life-changing event. Just a small part of my day that turned out to be really helpful.

I hate doing laundry nowadays. I don’t have easy access to it where I live, so I normally just go onto Liberty University’s campus and use the coin machines there to do my laundry. Usually, I can go a few weeks without washing jeans since I have about 3 or 4 pairs that I rotate through, and I have enough shirts to clothe a small army.

But when it comes to underwear and socks, I can’t go without those. I HAVE to wash those regularly.

Now, I have a large supply of both of those, but every once in a while, when it’s been about 10 days or so since the last laundry day, I start to go into my “reserves” stock. Kinda weird, I know, but stay with me.

It had been about 12 days or so since laundry day (don’t judge me, life’s crazy), and I woke up worried that I wouldn’t have any clean underwear.

Lo and behold, at the back of the drawer there was ONE more pair of the “reserve” stock, so I fist pumped with a “YES.” and went about my day.

But, is this really a coincidence, a streak of luck where the odds were in my favor?

As someone who takes my faith very seriously, and who has learned a little in the way of theology and dogmatic practices through college and discipleship groups, I’ve learned that this is actually sometimes labeled as “common grace”.

Your small paycheck lasts until next payday? Common grace.

You find an extra pair of jeans so you don’t have to do laundry? Common grace.

You find out you have a little extra money on that Chipotle gift card to get you a burrito? Common. Grace.

That’s usually how people apply it.

But what’s common grace exactly?

My trusty friend Google tells me that common grace is “the grace of God that is either common to all humankind, or common to everyone within a particular sphere of influence.”

Some within the theological sphere might call this prevenient gracedepending on your theological disposition (even though there is a stark difference; we’ll get to that in a minute).

Why is common grace such a big deal anyways?

It’s the idea that little gifts and little coincidences aren’t actually by chance; they’re God incidences. They’re not just random acts of luck or drawing the long straw, but they’re providential blessings given by God the Father in order to make His presence and existence known to mankind, long before He reveals His special grace of redemption, sanctification, and glorification.

Why do we need common grace?

Without any sort of grace, mankind really has no way of receiving gifts from God. Grace at its core is “unmerited favor,” so even though we don’t deserve grace at all, we still can’t operate the way that we were created without it. We need common grace because without it, on either side of salvation, we can’t resist sin, be sustained by God, have a conscience, or receive any blessings from God.


Grace has been the story of my life over the last few years. I’ve been nothing without the grace of God and the grace of God shown through people even when I didn’t deserve it. At my core, my two natures, the spiritual and flesh, are waging war, with the flesh pushing me to create a deeper need for grace and the flesh pushing me to see that I can’t live without grace.

I wanted to define a small portion of what grace is and lay it out for you because I feel like it’s something that Christians know about, but have very little understanding and knowledge on the matter. It’s something we toss around, yet don’t fully grasp. And that’s a problem.

Maybe you’ve been in a situation that’s required grace. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught, and in order for you to get out of it, you needed grace. You messed up at home and you needed grace. You didn’t do what you were supposed to do at work, got in trouble for it, and you needed grace.

I could fill pages upon pages of situations that would require grace. It’s in our daily lives. It’s built into our wiring as a result of The Fall in Genesis. We need grace, and we need it badly.

There’s only so much that human grace can do. Yeah, it can certainly right some wrongs and help us to move on to what’s next. But it’s temporary, and not promised. The grace you’ve received in one situation from one person may not come in another situation with that same person, or from another person altogether.

Where can we find grace that is not temporary, and promised beyond measure to those who look for it?

The short answer is God. But that’s not really the full answer. Keep reading.

Let’s start with some more definition, at least in a very specific way. The Apostle Paul writes this in his second letter to the church at Corinth:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9a)

I think it’s pretty clear that the “he” Paul is writing about is Jesus. Paul just finished talking about a hard conversation he had with Jesus, and this was His response. It changed Paul’s perspective on the “thorn in his side,” the frustrating annoyance that lingered and never went away.

So what does this tell us about grace? We see that God’s grace is sufficient. It isn’t wasted. It doesn’t fail. It isn’t fickle. It isn’t partial. It doesn’t waver. It’s all-sufficient, all-encompassing, and all-powerful to come through.

The grace that God gives is enough. No matter what your situation is, no matter what you’ve gotten yourself into, no matter how hard life is, God’s grace is enough.

How, then, do we receive this grace?

We receive grace through another act of grace: the redemption and salvation that God offers through Jesus. The only way we can receive salvation is through what Paul writes to the church in Rome:

[I]f you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

There’s two parts to receiving God’s grace: confessing, and believing.

First, we must confess that Jesus is Lord. In the early Church, to call someone “lord” wasn’t necessarily a deification or divine title. It was acknowledging that someone was above you, and that they were in charge. Confessing Jesus as Lord brings new meaning to the title, surrendering ourselves to the Master and acknowledging that He is in charge of everything, including ourselves.

Second, we must believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. If you confess something, but don’t mean what you’re saying, then you’re not really confessing anything; you’re just providing lip-service. When it comes to God, the One who knows our hearts (and how wicked they are) and can see what’s really going on, there’s no such thing as lip-service. You have to really believe it in your heart; there’s no magical prayer that can do that. It has to be genuine.

Believing that Jesus is who He said He was, in conjunction with confessing that we are under Christ’s leadership, is the only way that we are saved from our sin. It’s the only way that we can really say, “God, I believe that You are who You say You are, and I surrender my life to You. Save me.”

That’s the gospel. Admitting that we’re messed up, believing that Jesus is who He said He was, and confessing our sins in surrender.

What happens when we receive this grace?

You don’t automatically receive healing of your sickness (unless God allows you to be healed, or unless you take medicine). Your debt isn’t automatically paid off (unless you work to pay it off yourself). Your driveway won’t immediately contain a new car (unless you buy it).

God’s grace isn’t a cosmic vending machine of gifts. Grace is the ability to make through even another second of life. Grace is not having the wrath of God poured out on you.

Yes, God does allow healing to happen as a result of His grace, whether it be miraculous or not. But, the gospel isn’t a health-and-wealth, prosperity kind of gospel; it’s a gospel of dead people being brought back to life through Jesus. Grace doesn’t allow you to live your best life now or live like everyday is a Friday, but it actually allows you have life after this one in Heaven with the God in Whom you’ve trusted for salvation and redemption.

No matter your theological stance, grace is the only way that we can continue living this life. It’s the only way that I’m able to live, move, and breathe on a daily basis. I know that I’m nothing without the grace of God. I’m weak, helpless, and nothing at all without the grace of God. I need it to even type one more sentence, one more word, one more character. I depend so deeply on the grace of God that I can do nothing or be nothing without it.

I hope and pray that you, too, will acknowledge your need for God’s grace. I pray that you see that you are nothing without it, and nothing without Him.