Duh Hood Need Jesus

“Confusion” was spelled out between his scrunched eyebrows. “Hold up, though. You talk to us ‘bout Jesus all the time. What that got to do wit’ you and Mrs. Maggie goin’ nuh Atlanta for two whole years, though?” Read more →

Off the Sidelines

It all started with a question. “What’s your burden?” and at first I didn’t have an answer and then it clicked. Men! If men could get it all together the world would change immediately. That’s what popped into my head then and what continues to sit in the corners of my mind now. Read more →

The Challenge of Cultural Christianity

A couple of years ago, my family and I moved to the Westside of Atlanta. Like most people, who look at our neighborhood from the outside looking in, we understood it to be a low income, primarily African American community that was also culturally and religiously diverse. So, we thought we were coming to reach the socially and economically depressed, under-resourced, unchurched people of our city.  As we began to engage our neighbors, we quickly realized that we would also be faced with the unique challenge of sharing Christ’s love with what could be classified as “Cultural Christians.”  Read more →

Not By Accident

As my wife and I made the decision to stay another two years and serve in Atlanta, we found ourselves in a sticky situation with the Decatur church plant happening. We live approximately .9 miles from downtown Decatur and approximately 4.3 miles from the Old Fourth Ward campus. The East Atlanta missional community that we were a part of was slowly shifting to Grant Park. People were buying homes in that area and moving out of the latter. Read more →

People Need to Eat

Last summer, I had the amazing opportunity to conduct HIV/Aids research in Ethiopia. It was two months filled with tears of joy and pain, little sunshine and lots of rain. Seriously though, as I boarded the plane, I was saddened thinking about the host of hearts I left behind—most of which were longing for a better life. As I ascended, I prayed and asked how I could help, how I could best serve those I was leaving behind. The only thing that kept coming to mind was meeting their basic needs. Read more →

Expansion & Excavation

My name is John, and I’m a pendulum swinger.  I don’t mean to be, it kind of just happens.  I live in a constant state of FOMO or fear of missing out. Maybe you’re like me.  Maybe you are perfectly content doing something and then you see someone else talk about an activity (that couldn’t be more unlike what you’re currently doing) and you feel like you’re missing out on something.  So you, like me, drop everything that you’re doing because you don’t want to miss out.  There’s so many arenas that this takes place in life, from workout plans to diets to hobbies—you name it.  Somebody always has advice on what we “should” be doing that makes us feel like we’ve been wasting our time.  So, we scrap what we’re currently doing and start from scratch. Lately, as we’ve been going through the book of Acts as a church, uncovering the history of the church, I’ve felt this pressure in evangelism. Read more →

My 90-day Plan

Last week, I made a commitment to do something you’d think I do all the time as a pastor. I’ve had the desire, like many of us do, but I needed the discipline…

Just Do it.

I once heard a quote from a pretty famous atheist that has forever changed the way that I viewed the idea of talking to other people about my experience with Jesus.  He writes:

…I’ve always said, you know, that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…HOW MUCH DO YOU HAVE TO HATE SOMEBODY to not proselytize? HOW MUCH DO YOU HAVE TO HATE SOMEBODY to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that… Read more →

Why not?

The harvest is plentiful. I get it.

But I got it last summer when I was a kounselor at KAA and encountered teenagers in need of the hope of the Gospel. (Yes, we spell kounselor with a ‘k’ there, among other things.) It gripped me. There’s a world full of people who don’t know Jesus. They do not have a relationship with the greatest love of all. They are existing, but they are far from living. I even came back home after that epiphany, which followed a trip to Guatemala where the global need for Christ and the vanities of my life in this country were realized, motivated to live an intentionally missional life. I wanted to share with everyone I could, because I’d realized how many people are in need of the Good News.

But then reality sunk in—the kamp experience is not the real world experience. Read more →

Forgive me for asking

For the past few weeks, hmm maybe months, I’ve been wrestling with something inside. My friends can attest to it, because just about once every week I’m venting to one of them about it. I even read some articles that communicated much of what I was dealing with (Anthony Bradley and Jasmine Baucham), but not exactly.  I do feel like an emphasis on discipleship and exposing our comfortable Christianity were necessary books and speeches written and given by David Platt and others, but I don’t think we’ve heard enough of the perhaps less radical messages to give us a healthy tension. So, I feel trapped in the thinking that I have to share Jesus everywhere in everything. I wanted to come to some amazing, John Piper-inspired conclusion about it, but I can’t. I didn’t want to keep questioning God or other people, but I know that God (at least) can handle my questions—even if it means He’ll just respond with even better ones like he did to Job (was that not the finest sarcasm ever?). So, please God, forgive me for asking…

But can I just live a normal life? Read more →

Not Enough

I don’t talk about Jesus enough.  You probably don’t either.  Does that come off harsh?  Judgmental? Insensitive?  It probably does, and those things may be turn-offs to the gospel.  But the truth is that however it came off, it actually came off.  Do you know what perhaps is a bigger turn off to the gospel?  Silence.  And many of us are silent because we are scared of conflict.  We are scared of people thinking the wrong things about us (which is a valid concern).  What’s an even more valid concern is that although our slience ensures that people don’t think the wrong thing about us, it almost definitely ensures that people continue to think the wrong thing about Jesus. Read more →

Clear the stage

As Pastor Muche confessed his own covetousness with us this past Sunday—how badly he desired to have a son—all I could think was, “I know what that feels like.” There was a time where I wanted to play D1 basketball so bad that my family drove 16 hours to drop me off at the University of Connecticut. And there was that time, maybe a time or ten, where I wanted some shoes so bad that I visited the same website every day just to see them—until I could convince myself I was suppose to have them regardless of the price and my uhh insufficient funds. Nothing else mattered as much. But what ran through my mind most vividly was the time all my years of idolatry reached a point that threatened to destroy my soul and kidnap my identity… Read more →

Primed for Mission

As a church, for the past couple of months, we have been going through the Tangible Kingdom Primer. This eight-week primer is a shorter and intentionally more practical version of a larger book that encourages “incarnational living,” “gospel intentionality,” and inviting “sojourners” into our lives. If you’re anything like me, the quoted terms I just used may sound familiar but moreso really strange. When I picked up this book for the first time, I had big expectations for something about my life to change drastically. Now, I was definitely not putting all my stock in any book, other than the Bible, transforming my life, but I did have big hopes that going through it would challenge me in some new ways. So, as I started going through it, I found I did enjoy it a lot. The weekly challenges through scriptures about living a life influenced by the gospel were heart-provoking, and I was able to see my own sin in how I wasn’t allowing the gospel to be preeminent in my own life. With that said, a couple weeks in, I was still waiting for that drastic, life-changing charge that the primer would give. But it didn’t come. All the primer seemed to talk about was ordinary life events like eating, cooking meals, hanging out, working, praying, etc. and how God could use them.

Then it hit me. Read more →

Jesus at Work

Our culture usually assigns value to professions based on the status the job comes with, the average pay, or the amount of education that is needed to attain it. My belief is that many Christians assign a higher value to ministry or non-profit work by using a similar mindset.  The thinking is “my organization has a higher purpose and therefore my work has more meaning.”  But this is not God’s view of work. We see from the example of Adam in the Garden of Eden that his job description, given by God, included manual work (gardening) and creative mental work (naming the animals). We also see that in Jesus’ example. He worked as a carpenter (manual) and also as a teacher (mental).  You could say that Jesus had a secular job before he had an “official” ministry job, though in reality he had been ministering to people since his childhood. Work is a major part of God’s plan for man.  However, the dignity and value of the job is not determined by the type of work being done, but rather on the attitude and heart of the one doing the work. Read more →

Surrender

Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit moving you to do something? Maybe it is a faint whisper or an audible voice. Maybe you hear it all the time or maybe you long for it and wonder why you can’t. Whatever experience is yours, we’ve all been there. I used to hear the voice a lot in college. I fought it a good bit. Well, most of the time. I tended to fight it when I had more at stake. If I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to buy a lottery ticket, you had better believe I’m going to! But the resistance came with the more difficult situations that involved risk and rejection.

One summer, I was in Mozambique on a mission trip, and I had this feeling that I should walk down the road late at night. I was petrified. We were in a rough part of town, and the roads were notorious for being extremely dangerous. I fought hard with rationalization.

“Is this really the Holy Spirit?”

“ I could die! What’s going to happen?”

“It’s hard to see at night, I’ll do it during the day and the Lord can use me more…”

I came to the realization that it was easy to obey the Holy Spirit when it was convenient. Read more →

Ready.Set.Wait.

Go.

We go to work. We go to class. We go to the movies (if we can still afford to). We’re always going somewhere it seems. If we’re not, then the assumption is that we’re lazy. Motion equals purpose in most of our minds. Or, in the Christian context, it means we’re on mission. Jesus told us to “go and make disciples” and Francis Chan warns us not to “make excuses.” Everything seems to fall on us going.

But what about waiting? When’s the last time you were encouraged or had that often prayed for, yet (just as often) rarely attainable peace in waiting? Most encouragement to wait usually surrounds talks about purity and singleness.  Beyond that, who really waits anymore? You have a dream; make it a reality! You want to try something new; do it today! Tomorrow isn’t promised; so, get going!

While waiting can be counterproductive, in Acts 1 we find that everything seemed to fall on the apostles not going (just yet), but instead waiting. Read more →

New Year||New Desires

So, we’re one week into the new year.  If you do any type of writing, you’re kind of locked in to having to write something about the new year before you’re allowed to write about anything else.  Consider it an unwritten rule. It’s kind of like the whole concept of placing money under the free parking space in Monopoly. Somewhere along the line, someone came up with that rule, and it gained wide acceptance.  But look in the actual rule book—it’s nowhere to be found. Although I usually don’t abide by unwritten rules, I found a good reason to position my colorful dollars under the board in hopes of giving you a new perspective on resolutions.

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The Audacity of Halloween

Last night, all around the country, kids, teenagers and adults (not just parents) did something bold and courageous.  They went up to their neighbors and strangers alike asking for what they wanted: candy. In most cases (of course, there are those stubborn apple-givers) their requests were obliged.  But what if the lights were off at one house because no one was home? What if someone opened their door only to tell them they weren’t giving out candy? What if they didn’t get the candy they wanted at that old guy’s house? Unshaken, they kept knocking. Door-to-door they went with hopeful hearts. What they hoped for was enough to keep them knocking.

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To share or not to share?

Be on mission. Make disciples. Do ministry where life exists. Sounds kinda vague, right? But if you’ve answered the call to live on mission right where you are, you’ve probably wrestled with sharing your faith or at least saying Jesus somewhere in the convo. Below are different accounts from different people who share the same faith and hope to spread it to others.

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Running on Mission

“A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat on his strong golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked. “That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbour. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth – we’re chickens.” So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was. ”

-Anthony de Mello

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