Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Blog Has Moved

As part of the relaunch effort, Sola Miscellany is going through a bit of a transformation. The blog will now be a part of the community - an site started by my good friend Corey Reynolds to explore Baptist distinctives and their relation to the overarching cause of Christ. I've changed the title to Already But Not Yet: Living in the Millennial Kingdom, and the new address is I'll also be a contributor to the main TrueBaptist site and will add some new content to my personal blog along with the distinctive flavor of Sola Miscellany. All the old posts and comments have been loaded into the new site and new updates will no longer post here, so please adjust your RSS feed to the new blog and I hope you'll join me in my new digs!

Back in the (Blogging) Saddle

The past six weeks have been absolutely spiritually and emotionally exhausting, and as a result Sola Miscellany has all but vanished. I'm very much ready to change that. Blogging has become a means of sanctification over the year-and-a-half since I hit the web, and I need the careful self-examination that writing brings now more than ever.

To any of my readers who still check here semi-regularly: you really don't have much to do, do you? Seriously, though, I'm going to be jump-starting things around here, and I hope you'll swing back by. If you've still got me queued up in your RSS reader, then this is your notification that the feed's about to get busy again. I look forward to continuing this means of sanctification, and I pray it contributes in some small way to yours as well. Plus, it's a crapload of fun.

A Chapter Closes

Last night, my four-plus years as Hazelwood’s youth pastor officially came to a close. I led my final night of worship with my Sola5 students, teaching about the immeasurable power, majesty, and glory of Christ from Revelation 19:11-21. As I stood before a great group of students, I was humbled that God would use me to speak his word into their lives. I never imagined that I’d be a youth pastor, and in fact when the Hazelwood job was first brought to my attention by my former pastor I laughed at him. How much has changed since then.

So much of what passes as youth ministry in our culture is little more than moralistic babysitting. This pattern always frustrated me, and made me skeptical about youth ministry’s usefulness. We seem to have this conception that teenagers aren’t particularly interested in the Bible, so we have to pretty it up with a ton of bells and whistles. Let me tell you with certainty - that is a lie. My teens not only were able to handle the weight and power of the Scriptures, they hungered for it. They didn’t want any punches pulled. As I taught them, week-by-week, from the Bible, they taught me much about being a follower of Christ. The majority of my students come from families that are not Christian and not connected to the church in any way, yet God has transformed them by the power of the gospel. I’ve watched a young man impact everyone he meets with God’s grace and lead countless people into the faith. I’ve watched a girl who was the group’s “problem child” when I arrived transformed into a passionate, thoughtful, and deep-minded follower of Christ. I’ve watched a group of students who wouldn’t sing to save their lives 3 years ago become a group who belts out 300-year old hymns with amazing passion and excitement. Plainly put, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when we get out of the way and let the word do the work.

I’m not a “gifted” youth pastor. I don’t relate particularly well to teenagers. I didn’t relate that well to them when I was one, much less now. And yet, God’s power is made perfect through weakness. What did I learn in four years at Hazelwood? The gospel is power. God transforms lives by his word. He’s in the business of using useless individuals like me to do amazing things. Grace is the single most powerful force in the universe, and God has hard-wired us to marvel at his story of redemption and echo it back to him in a million different ways. The power is not in the messenger, but with the message – and because of that reality, I can say with absolute confidence that if God used me in the lives of the teenagers at Sola5, he can use you. He can use you in the life of your spouse, the lives of your kids, the mission of your church, the people in your workplace. As my old professor Jim Orrick used to say, the gospel has the power of a thermonuclear bomb. Our best abilities are the equivalent to strapping a firecracker to the bomb and marveling at what an amazing addition it is to the equation. Get out of the way, let God work through you by his word, and you just might see him do some amazing, eternal things that will change you forever. I know I did.

To any of my crew that read this – I love you guys tremendously, and I’m so thankful that God brought you into my life. Press on in the faith, and know that the rider on the white horse has your back.

Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Not a Crutch But a Stretcher

"Christianity isn’t a crutch for the weak; it’s a stretcher for the dead. The gospel doesn’t claim to help the weak; it claims to make the dead live again. We reject the notion of the crutch of Christianity because we don’t need something to help us walk along; we need something to make us truly alive." - Michael Kelley

HT: Vitamin Z

Kanye Isn't Done

Apparently, interrupting Taylor Swift's speech at the VMAs wasn't enough for him...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Deja Vu

Ever since watching my beloved Panthers get destroyed by Arizona in last year's playoffs, I've been anxiously awaiting their coming redemption in the 2009 season. With week 1 in the books, I'm still waiting.

Carolina was destroyed 38-10 by Philadelphia in a game eerily reminiscent of that playoff debacle. Impressive Carolina opening drive and 7-0 lead? Check. Sudden glut of Jake Delhomme turnovers leading to a big deficit? Check. Early second half Jon Beason interception offering glimmer of hope? Check. Immediate turnover after said interception squashing said hope? Check.

This is two miserable games in a row for Jake, and many of my fellow Panther fans are ready to run him out of town. I've always been a supporter, and to be fair, our O-line was absolutely terrible yesterday, but Delhomme's recent play has me a bit worried. However, nobody's coming to the rescue. Time to turn it around, Panthers - and with upcoming trips to Atlanta and Dallas, time to turn it around fast.

Friday, August 28, 2009

This Changes Everything

I've long been a fan of pastor/evangelist/apologist Voddie Baucham. Having heard him preach at several conferences has been a great blessing, and his ability to clearly communicate the truths of the gospel is extraordinary. For many, however, Baucham is a polarizing figure due to his support for family-integrated church ministry. Baucham is a firm believer that the modern church's methodology of breaking down people into age-divided groups (children's ministry, youth ministry) is unhelpful, counter-productive, and without biblical warrant. A couple years ago, I attended a seminar where he explained and argued for the family-integrated approach. My pastor and I came out of the seminar convinced and struck by what he had to say, but wondering how on earth such an approach could be implemented in our modern church culture. I quickly filed it away as a novel but impractical approach and that was that.

Fast forward a couple years. Seeking to find a book that Heather and I could read together as we sought to raise our daughter to know and love God, I picked up Baucham's Family Driven Faith. I can now say that the book has flipped our world upside down. Over the course of the book, Baucham makes the case that Scripture calls parents to be the primary disciplers of their children (which few Christians would dispute) and looks at how that principle affects life at home and how it should impact the ministry of the local church. As he makes the case that the family is the most fundamental, basic, and vital means of discipleship, the conclusion of the final two chapters comes with striking impact - if that is the case, then our modern way of organizing the church is about the most counter-productive way possible to achieve family unity and discipleship.

Hearing an seminar on the idea was one thing, but reading his case fleshed out in the context of the entirety of the Christian life was a game-changer for us. I've spent the past 4 years of my life as a youth pastor, and while I certainly wouldn't say the time was fruitless or wasted, I've begun to seriously reconsider what the most effective way is to reach our communities - both kids and adults - with the gospel message. I don't have the space here to fully flesh out Baucham's case (this article serves as a decent introduction), but I cannot recommend this book to you strongly enough. It has been the single most impactful book for my marriage, family, and minstry in years. Accept or reject them, Baucham's ideas are things that deserve to be considered and thought through. I'm incredibly glad we did.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A New Chapter

Well, after a whirlwind of a month, I figure it's finally time for me to explain my recent absence from the blogosphere. Two weeks ago, I resigned as youth pastor at Hazelwood. It was a tough decision that was prompted by many different factors, but it has been exciting to see the way that God has used those factors to prepare Heather and I for the next step of our journey in ministry.

We will be moving to Raleigh, NC to meet up with several friends and explore church planting together over the next couple years. We'll be working with some of the guys who served on the team with me that led Hazelwood during last year's interim period, which is very exciting. Being back closer to home will be a nice thing for us (and even more so for Jordan's grandparents), and the prospect of taking new and difficult steps for the gospel is one that we've felt drawn to for a while now.

Leaving Hazelwood, and the many friends we've made over the last 8 years in Louisville, will be hard. Announcing my resignation to the church was about the toughest thing I've ever done. However, we're confident in God's leading and hopeful about this new chapter in our lives. A line from an old Caedmon's Call song about God's sovereign direction has been ringing in my mind these past weeks - "But if I must go, things, I trust, will be better off without me." God has a plan for Hazelwood and for us, and though we're taking seperate paths, we're still united in our task to take the gospel to all people. Please be in prayer for us as we prepare for our move and follow the Lord's leading into the future.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Church as One-Trick Pony

"Some of you are always looking for a new trick, a new tactic, a new angle - [it's about] Jesus! We are a band with one song, and we just play it 'till we see him!" - Mark Driscoll

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Update

Well, if you're a regular reader of my blog (and I'd really like to thank both of you for your support), you've probably noticed that my posting volume has dipped a bit of late. The past few weeks have been pretty crazy in my life, and God has really been challenging and growing me in several different areas. Time and mental energy have been at a premium lately, and the ol' blog has been an area that's taken a backseat. I'm still here, I still love writing, and I hope to return things to normal around here soon. I would ask you all for prayer for wisdom and boldness in my ministry - I'm contemplating some big ideas right now, and I pray that they serve to magnify the glory of God!