Tell Me Yours

Before we jump in together on this list, two things that inspired it and finally made me write it.

First, the album Crimson Cord by Propaganda has a song of similar style and idea. I know poetry isn’t my thing, so you get this instead. But if you want to know the soundtrack of my college years up until now, it’s probably every Prop album ever.

Second, there’s the painfully awkward moment after preaching where people tell you how good you did. It’s awkward because early on it feels like a tightrope between humility and arrogance, thankfulness and not wanting to take credit. I’ve learned to just say “thank you so much, glad you enjoyed it” but truth be told, I didn’t learn and grow up in a vaccum. So for every time I say “thank you” What I really mean is this:

I’m by no means looking for thank yous or high fives either, I didn’t earn them. I’m just a servant. But you can thank every person in every church my dad ever pastored. They put up with a smart mouth, Bible know it all, or so I thought. Thanks for the cool houses and for giving my parents a chance.

You can thank the city of Texarkana. The place where for the first year I hated because I was sick of moving as a kid. I remember not wanting to go to school, because I was socially awkward and didn’t know anybody. But even now it’s the city that beats my heart. You can thank every member of Richmond Road Baptist Church from 2000 until present day. I’ve only known love like that in maybe one other church in my whole life. You can thank John Lewis, who saw I had the ability to teach, and gave me opportunities to lead. It was the first time I realized I could preach the Gospel full time and still have fun.

You can thank Coach Bill Keopple and Kris Nichols. They are the meanest men I’ve ever known in my life, and I would even now run through a brick wall for either of them. Thank Audrey Wright for showing me what good writing was, and Matt Coleman for showing I could do it. These two English teachers showed me writing and reading will get you a long way in life. Thank Marsha Petty, who’s chemistry class I hated but she told every student that we were smart enough to succeed. I remembered that in college.

Go thank Dr. Porter and Dr. Slayton, who put up with my Cage stage Calvinism, and loved me enough to let me think I had it all figured out. Thank Dr. Jameson, who told me I was never wrong to ask questions, just wrong in the way I asked them. Go thank Dr. Thomas for telling me “you know how to preach” when I wasn’t so sure anymore. Please go thank Ann G and Corley. Thanks for giving me a radio show, I know that wasn’t easy. Thanks to Dr. New, who I should’ve paid much more attention to in class. Thanks to Nathan Brewer, Jose, Zach, David, Danny, Tyler, most people in my Bible classes. I appreciate the discussions. You guys were a huge encouragement. Thank Alex Geiger, who told me I was the wokest  Reformed guy he ever met.

Go thank Brooke and Maegan for breaking my heart. He whom God would use mightily, He wounds deeply. They were good knives of Soverign wounding. I would’ve never met Allyson, who looked me straight in my eyes in Kroger and said what those two never would: “I’m going with you no matter what happens.” She’s the steel in my spine when I don’t want to keep going. She’s taught me more about grace and love than anyone else. I love you babe.

Please go thank Donny Parrish, who called me a “preaching snob” for wanting the Gospel preached in Chapel. I decided to pick that badge up and wear it forever. That day I decided the Gospel was all I ever needed to be successful. Please thank who ever snitched me out and told the Church in Cassvile, MO I frequent bars. You guys changed my life for the better that day, though I didn’t know it then, I see it now. Thanks for showing me that the grass is greener in other pastures. Thank you.

Please thank Brent and Mack Nelson for giving me far more than a room to crash in for six months while I got my life back together. You’re the best friends I could have.

You can go thank Kevin Hale for kicking my butt, loving me like a brother, then repeating the process. Thank you for loving my arrogance out of me. Thank you for challenging me.

Go thank Lynn and Marilyn, CJ and Roland, Catie and Andrew, Bekah and John. Distance only makes the heart grow fonder. Thank Nathan, for always being my favorite pitcher, partner in crime, best heckler at games. You’re tough as nails, and no one can tell me otherwise. Play hard have fun.

Whatever you do, go thank Tanya. She always taught me how to be responsible. Who listened to the same Peter Pan movie day after day. Go tell her “you did it”. She drove me crazy during my teen years, but all she ever wanted was for me to be a man. Thanks, Mom.

But please, go grab Jerry. Get some salsa, or whatever else he’s making and thank him for teaching me about humility and strength. Thank him for all the Razorback games, all the music he ever sang. Thank him for showing me that manhood is not what feats you can accomplish, the the reputation of your name. Thank him for showing me the only way one stands in the pulpit is humbly. Thank him for all the jokes, the impressions, and movies that bust my sides each time we get together. Thanks for loving me enough to share the Gospel with me so I finally got it. You’re who I’ve always wanted to grow up to be.


The God of Boring Conversions

Maybe it’s my Evangelical, Missionary Baptist upbringing, but I’ve always loathed my boring testimony.  When I was a pre-teen, I went to church camp pretty regular. Every night there was some sort of late night activity: movie night, skit night, musical night, etc. But one year, we were greeted with “testimony night”. What happens is people get up, and in front of everyone , tell about who they were before getting saved and who they are now. This by the way is what introverts think of when they imagine what Hell will be like. Either publicly confessing all your sins so that every stranger in a crowded room of peers and adults know your darkest secrets or an eternity of Stand and Greet Your Neighbor Time and you don’t know anyone.

I never got up. Not just because it’s terrifying but also because I didn’t have a very good testimony. It’s boring. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve absolutely come to a place where I’ve realized that I am a sinner and without Christ, lost without hope. I’m just saying if you are asking for a total black and white transformation I don’t think I can promise you that.

Because I’ve always been in the church.

My parents raised me in a Christian home where we always prayed, we always heard the Gospel. We went to church every Sunday without fail. I don’t remember a time not knowing I was a sinner. Seriously, I’ve always understood that Christ died for me. I made a profession of faith at seven. Seven year olds don’t usually have radical stories of transformation when they’ve grown up in the Church. Sure, I coveted my friend’s Veggie Tale collection, but I by no means was a pagan. And because of that background, my teen years weren’t this rebellious time of hedonism. Again, by no means was I perfect. My parents will be the first to tell you I wasn’t. But I also wouldn’t call my Christian walk a radical transformation.

Flash forward to my Bible college years, and I’m in my bedroom my junior year, sitting there in the near dark thinking, “Am I really a Christian? Has Christ really saved me? I know I’m a sinner and I have nowhere outside of Christ to go. But this radical transformation thing? I don’t have it. I’ve always been here.”

Here’s what I was missing: God is a God of boring salvation too. Yes, there are times when He redeems people like He does Paul (Acts 9); a great black and white difference. He shows up on the Damascus road, rocks our world, shows us our sin and that Christ died for us and keeps us by faith. Sometimes, salvation comes out of nowhere and people are radically changed. And for these we should be grateful. They are great stories of God who goes and saves His people out of their bondage.

But sometimes, God is a God to us and to our children. Sometimes, He is just keeping His covenant promises. He doesn’t need a Damascus road but, rather puts us in families where, like Timothy, we’ve always known the Scriptures. I was born into a family where I would always hear the Gospel. That wasn’t chance, God is sovereign in His redemption. Instead of saying, “Oh He is a great redeemer!” I’m rather struck by looking back and seeing His strong arm to protect me. I could marvel forever at His ongoing faithfulness to keep me when I do sin. As the hymn Abide With Me says,

“Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.”

So if you, dear Christian, would doubt God’s faithfulness to you on the grounds that your conversion isn’t flashy enough, let me encourage you. God saves the rebel. He most certainly does. But He also saves His covenant children. You don’t need get a better story, but to get one more look at Christ.

Christocrat 2: No, Taxation isn’t Theft


I get it. As someone who used to consider myself a libertarian at one point, I get where you’re coming from. You don’t like paying taxes, and the government shouldn’t force you to pay them. And I know it’s edgy and cool for the memelord libertarians to remind everybody of what they think about our current tax structure; especially considering that everybody is focused on paying their taxes right now. But as far as those Christian brothers and sisters who consider themselves libertarian, we need to chat. Because I don’t think you can prove your “taxation is theft” Biblically. In fact I think if you take your premise to its furthest conclusion, you’ll find that your statement is far from what is Biblically acceptable.

First off, let’s just start with the obvious: Scripture doesn’t say that it is. Nowhere in Scripture are taxes equated with theft. They just aren’t. Often in Scripture other sins are equated with another. Hated is equated with murder. Lust is equated with adultery. But never do we see taxation as equated with theft. In fact when asked “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar,” Christ has a chance to outright condemn it. Here it is. Black (or Red) and white for all of us to know for sure. But Christ doesn’t condemn taxation. Rather, He calls for His believers to “render unto Caesar.”

Now of course some will say, “But how much is Caesar’s? What’s the percentage?” But listen to the heart of the question. The heart is not concerned with obedience to God and submission to the governing authorities that He has set in place. Rather it is like the nervous high school student during a True Love Waits lesson in Wednesday Night Youth lesson: What can I get away with? This is not what we are called to practice. Rather, it is putting our political desires above the Word of God.

Not only is Scripture silent on the morality of taxation itself, it does not condemn those tax collectors who collect fairly. Stick with me, we’re about to connect the dots real quick. Let’s assume the Libertarian manta is Biblically true. I’m going to give you this as a test of validity: Taxation is theft. What does that make tax collectors? Thieves. That’s the simple answer. Now we have an instance (Luke 3:12) where Tax collectors come to John the Baptizer and ask him, “What should we do?” or to modernize it, “How should we live?” So here it is, the thieves have come to John and asked them what to do. But John doesn’t tell them, “Get a new job” but rather to collect only what is owed. Don’t lie or swindle people to line your own pockets. So does John excuse sin? Does he advise people to willfully continue breaking the Ten Commandments? Christ does a similar thing in Luke 19:1-10. He doesn’t admonish the tax collector to leave his job. Rather he says that salvation has come to his house. Does Christ excuse or justify blatant sin? Either taxation is theft or Christ is OK with sinners continuing to sin. You decide how you want to answer that question.

Until then, Paul writes to us to pay our taxes because God has placed the government over us (Rom 13:7) I know that’s not fun for the libertarian to hear. I know it’s hard. The mantra is dead. Taxation isn’t theft. Maybe it’s time we give it up for a more Biblical understanding of our duty to each other.