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…

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…

How Do You Gain Trust: 5 Simple But Difficult Steps

Are you about to move to a new neighborhood, new school, or new job?

Or maybe you recently made a change? Or maybe you did a while ago, but you want to do better engaging those around you. Are you wondering how to earn the trust of your new community?

From our experience of moving (more than I ever thought I would), I have learned 5 simple (but difficult) steps to gain the trust of those in your new community.

The short list:

  1. Get on their turf.
  2. Be humble.
  3. Build relationships.
  4. Love and empathize.
  5. Trust in God.

For a more complete explanation, check out my latest guest post on the Culturally Engaged blog, called Neighboring: 5 Steps to Earn Trust.

I trust that you’ll find this useful. But I probably missed some tips and principles.

Let us know in the comments (here or the CE blog): What have you learned about earning the trust of a new community?

Related Links:

Grace Church, Elevate Youth, Me, and You

I’ve been a part of Grace Church for 19 years now. No doubt, 99% of who I am is because of how people in this church have taught, mentored, lead, and served me.

I could say I owe Grace Church a lot, but the truth is that God deserves all credit and glory. Grace Church has been His tool that has shaped me.

But a very important tool. Grace Church . . .

  • is the first church I was a member of (I became a Christian 20 years ago);
  • was where I first started serving with children (I knew nothing about kids, except having been one);
  • was where I met my wife;
  • entrusted with me leading Children’s Ministry for four years;
  • empowered and equipped our family to serve in Allendale, SC for 3.5 years.

As a whole, Grace Church has continued to support and partner with me (and with God’s ministry through me) for nearly two decades.

And it’s still going on.

Read more about Grace Church’s partnership with my new organization, Elevate Youth, on the Grace Pastors Blog.

Then, you can check out these links for more explanation and inspiration: