For the past few years, I have regularly considered giving up blogging. Every three or four months or so, I would wake up, think about all the things going on in my life, and I would be 100% ready to stop blogging. And every time, that very same day, I would get an email, or a note, or a text thanking me for having written something that encouraged or motivated them.

And I would get back to my laptop and hack away at it.

Sometimes those encouragements would be from a close friend, and sometimes from someone I knew casually, and sometimes from a completely stranger. It never ceased to amaze me how God would use my ramblings to help someone else, and to give a voice to the voiceless and an image to the unseen.

But now I am sure that I need a break from blogging. Not just a week or a month, but for the rest of the year (or longer).

Read more about why I’ve made this decision…

What Happened When I Became a Christian?

#tbt: me, Ann, and Bradley (who lead me to Christ)

What happened when I became a Christian, twenty years ago today?

Not much.

There were no fireworks, no inner feelings of joy or relief.

I didn’t tell anyone, for weeks at least. I just went on with my day (July 31, 1995), which involved football workouts, of course.

Nothing felt different. But now that I look back, I know that a real change did take place, underneath my skin and within my soul.

Click here to learn what did change…

Dark Stripes

See the Stripes Poem

This poem was written and produced a year ago. It’s about Clemson University’s dark and striped past, in its link with the brutal institution of slavery.

I’m sure that people will react on all parts of the spectrum. Some will embrace the words too much and resist a hope that can only be found in the gospel, and some will oppose this poem too much and resist a chance at gospel-centered reconciliation.

Take a few minutes to watch and listen to See the Stripes by A.D. Carson:

Here’s a snippet that stands out to me:

“for some reason or another—
it’s uncomfortable for some people to talk about
slave owners, supremacists and segregationists on those terms,”

You can read the full poem here.

What’s the call-to-action? I think it’s about acknowledging the facts and having others-centered conversations. Too often, we (and I’m pointing at myself, too) want to assert our feelings and opinions and facts, and insist on being heard first.

As I tell kids at in our programs, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, because He wants us to listen more than talk.”

Let’s be open to loving dialogue.

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”  Colossians 4:6

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

Related Links:

10 Inspiring Quotes from “Through Gates of Splendor”

book_ through_gates_of_splendor amazonIf you heard someone say, “”Every Christian should read this book,” what would you do? You may or may not listen to him.

But if that person is an elder at your church, and says this while teaching on a Sunday morning, you are more apt to listen to that wisdom.

And if that person has been a mentor for you for over 15 years, you definitely follow his advice.

A man like that encouraged our church body to read Through Gates of Splendor last fall. I’m glad he did, since this book was one of the top books I read in 2014.

If you haven’t read this book, or if it’s been a while, here are some excerpts that inspired and challenged me:

In preparation for the mission

“We’ve already put our trust in Him for salvation, so why not do it as far as our life is concerned?” Ed McCully (in a letter to Jim Elliot)

Click here for more points to ponder…

Citizenship, Culture, and the Church

Citizens_SermonSeries GraceChurch

I have lots of thoughts on this week’s sermon, Citizens: Identity. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch below:

It’s important to remember the context of this message, that the sermon is primarily for Christians, the body of Christ. Likewise, virtually all of the Bible was written to those who follow God, or at least say they do.

As the pastor (Matt Williams) said:

“We have to train a culture of Christians to think courageously, and look at the Scriptures and apply them to us.”

Therefore, none of what I say here should be taken as “Those people should do this,” or, “What if someone else (not a Christian) wants such-and-such?” Those may be valid points and worthy of discussion. It’s just not the focus here.

What IS the focus? Click here to keep reading…

Can You Help Fill This Gap?

Vox Josh Courtney

One of My Boys is coming to Greenville, and he could use your support.

Courtney Owens is a young man from Allendale who . . .

  • was one of the hardest working guys I coached;
  • volunteered at every camp that I asked him to work (and that was a lot);
  • shows a desire to improve himself, such as reading every book I’ve given him, and even going through a book study with a group of guys;
  • impressed a local business owner enough to get hired — an impressive feat in a community of high unemployment and few employers.

Now, he has graduated high school, and is wanting to move on towards success in life. The question before him now is, what does that life look like?

Courtney has been raised by a loving and strong mother, and with the influence of some caring men to give him guidance along the way. But he can use more. He can use Vox Bivium.

What is Vox Bivium? Click here to learn more…