Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One Year Later: Snow, A Dog, and Family

Blogs are like scrapbooks for your kids. When you forget, it's completely forgotten, but when you pick it back up, dust it off (a year later) and look through it, you realize that you probably should put it back where you found it because it won't get finished.

I want to pick up blogging again not because my life was dull and is now radiant, but because it's a good way to chronicle life events and look back at them later (because my memory is about as long and detailed as the three goldfish we've flushed).

In the past year, alot has happened. Small groups at CrossPointe exploded and we found our adult small group relocating to the church. The youth guys I lead on Wednesdays (and pretty much any other day they will have me) is going great and are some really awesome young men. We got a dog, who is spoiled and alot of fun (she is a real dog, and will grow to a normal size, no toy dogs here!). And south MS got its' wish: SNOW.

In the first picture on this blog post, you will see my wife, Sara, and my son, Ben. These two are absolutely the highlight of my life. God placed a grand responsibility on my shoulders by becoming a husband and father. Often times I feel inadequate to be leading a family (and in all honestly I'm sure I am), but I have learned many things. This is our 5th year of marriage and Ben's 3rd year of life.

Here's What I've Learned:

- It's not about me.

That sums it up. I'm still learning this lesson through loving my wife, serving her where I can, sharing responsibilities with Ben (and the dog), and trying to avoid selfishness and entitlement.

I love what I do: teaching school, leading students, leading my family, and trying to be a friend (to those that would have me).

Since it's my blog post back, I'm not certain I was as focused as I should have been. That being said, here is one point to take away: YOUR life is not about YOU, instead it's about how YOU need to serve others in Jesus.

I can do this, my heart is to speak the word. I don't have the gift of speaking, so I use the tool I have: the written word.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Around my house things are changing. We have quickly moved away from all things baby and have arrived at the point of a little boy. Over the past few months, my son has become engrossed with all things hero. Star Wars, Batman, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Spider Man, Superman, basically if it looks like it could save the day, he loves it. Ben loves to fight by holding up his fists and saying, "I fight!" His room is Avengers, his pajamas are Batman and Superman, and his bath towel is Star Wars.

From a very early age, Ben has loved adventure. Sticks are swords, guns, lightsabers, or any other form of weapon. My hope is that as Ben gets older, he will not "grow out" of his adventurous nature. By that I don't mean at 25 he is sitting around in Captain American underoos with a Thor beer helmet on eating cereal out of a Hulk bowl. What I mean is that I hope Ben never loses his sense of adventure. Do I want him cliffdiving? Not especially. Do I want him basejumping? Not really.

Adventure for me is a very real idea. Books contain loads of adventure and I feel like God has talented many people to write adventures in stories that would never get to occur outside the pages of a book. Also take into consideration that I am a 25-year old 5th grade Science teacher who works with middle school guys. Maybe not the highest marker of an adventurous life, maybe books contain alot of adventure for me. But that doesn't mean I can't live an adventure. For me, an adventure is anything that is out of an ordinary routine. When I break out of the everyday cycle and venture into the unknown, then I have adventured.

Is an adventure just about adrenaline? Is it just about the rush? Because I see loads of adventure when I look at the Bible. You want action? It's there. Read just about any story with Elijah or Elisha. Delve into the stories of David and Joseph, Moses and Jacob. Those men had adventures. But then I ask myself, how can I have an adventure like that today? There are no giants to slay, no Pharoahs to dethrone, no angels to wrestle.

Yet God calls each and every one of us into an adventure. Specific to who we are, where we are, and most likely unique to us. Many would not consider teaching an adventure, and while most would consider working with middle schoolers an adventure, it's not something they would willingly take on. But God has called me to this specific place, in this specific time, to go on adventures in my life. Whether it's answering some of my student's questions at school, or hanging out with middle schoolers, or doing something new with my family, these are my adventures. Will they go into a book? Will my life become a movie? No, but still I take up the adventure that has been given to me, rushing headlong into the fray that is my life, sword and shield or not, it is mine.

Friday, February 1, 2013


This feels like I am walking into a room that is familiar, but lined with dust. I haven't written in a while, due mainly to life just being life. Tonight was date night though. It's the rare time that I can go out in public with my wife and not be on patrol. We were in Belk at one point and I looked around me in wonder thinking, "It's weird not having to chase Ben around." I missed the little guy dearly and we always wind up talking about him at some point, guess that is just part of being a parent.

Sara and I went to eat and then to a movie, Warm Bodies. If you like zombies, it's for you. If you like romances, it's for you. If you don't like either, it's still for you. I've been on a kick recently of trying to find the meaning in things. I downloaded an app on my phone called Cultiword, which teaches you new words and their definitions through a process. Pretty neat if you like to know the meaning of big words and be able to use them colloquially (see what I did there, new word).

Warm Bodies isn't exactly the typical romantic story. Well, when you think about what's cool today, I guess it is pretty typical. Zombie/human love will probably be on the rise now. Anyway, there was a theme to this movie that went beyond zombies or "corpses" and their relationships. It was an idea. An idea that is common to the Christian faith, but is not commonly spoken about.

We focus on the negatives. You don't go to church, you don't listen to K-love, you don't look like me, you don't have a pulse (movie reference). And we in turn begin to look like bigots, racists, close-minded, hateful, arrogant, loveless people.

I'm not a free love guy, so don't think that I advocate acceptance without change. Christ calls me to change daily. It may be a small change, but it's a change nonetheless.

In the movie, a change begins to happen in R, the lead corpse. Without giving too much away, in the end, love turns him human, cures him. This is the type of story I've been waiting on for a while. A movie with a plot line where Love resurrects us from death.

Hmmm... Where have I heard that before?

In ancient Egypt, God spoke in the culture. On Mars Hill, God spoke through the culture to the people. Why can't we accept that God might be speaking to this culture, in this time, in this way, about His love that brings people from the grave, back to life?

It's a powerful message, simple yet profound. But this message will go unnoticed. This message will fall to the wayside and be dismissed as we look to this culture and say, "No, we don't accept you. No nothing you do or say is right." I think God, in His infinite wisdom, took aspects of the culture of the day, and revealed Himself in them.

The message is there folks, start a discussion, spread the word, let others know about the cure.

Thursday, December 6, 2012



          God broke my pride, and in turn, he broke my heart. Every Thursday, my school allows a group to assemble known as the Bible Club. It's not school run, but instead is led by volunteers from the community, mostly pastors and youth ministers. The children choose to attend, and they sing songs and the guest talks about something related to Jesus.

          The enthusiasm I have at Bible Club has been at higher points in my life. For one, the songs are cheesy and the motions are worse. The kids come back to class and they are jacked up to where it's just not funny. In so few words, I dislike having Bible Club duty. There are times where I second guess many things the guest speaker says, criticizing the way he says things and how he does things.

          Alright, I have a bit of a critical spirit. I tend to lean towards the negative. I think that may be why my name is Paul, so that I can work toward being humble about these things. This Thursday, God hit me with something I hadn't realized before: the Bible Club isn't for me. It's purpose is not to grab my attention, to entertain me, to peak my curiosity for Jesus. In all it's cheesy glory, "It's for the kids." For some reason I hadn't grasped this notion before this point. As I looked from the middle-aged man doing hand motions to the kids around me my perspective immediately shifted. The kids were singing the songs, doing the motions, and generally enjoying themselves. Too often I chalk those things up to unnecessary and "extra" and forget that is how kids get engaged.

          I saw some of the worst kids in the school singing a song about Jesus and happily participating with silly hand motions and really getting into the dancing. Kids need to move. They need to play. And they need to know that faith isn't humdrum and boring. That there are times to dance, there are times to sing, there are times to be silly, goof around, and have a good time. I forget sometimes that kids need to be kids. My son is 2 and I keep wishing that he wasn't speaking in small sentences now, that he wasn't potty training, and that he was still a small baby I could rock and hold. That isn't happening. He is growing faster than I can imagine and I've got to give him the best opportunity to be a kid.

          Jesus spoke on several occasions about children and how much he treasures them, and how much of a treasure they are. I think it could be because at their core, children worship more freely than anyone else. When they love, they love with everything they have. When they are honest, they see past all screens, masks, and makeup to the very core of your soul (haha). They are unbounded by culture, tradition, and social cues until the day where we put our ideas into them, some good, some bad.

          I've got to be less selfish, this isn't about me. Honestly, nothing is about me. It's all about Jesus and I am just blessed if I get to participate. Once I was set right about this, I was able to smile and have joy at seeing those students having a good time. The Grinch-esque attitude had been wiped away and replaced with the simple understanding that Jesus is good, children can have joy and enjoy him, and that's all that need be. Thank God for moments like that.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


          Set the scene: A small New Orleans-esque restaurant dimly lit and featuring specials particular to Creole food. A couple sits in the booth across from one another, staring into each other's eyes, thinking about the present and the future. Fast forward to Giordano's pizza in Chicago. A large group of teenagers and adults passing around thick, cheesy slices of Chicago's finest. Come to a stop at today, well actually tomorrow. Tomorrow night, the small group that meets at my house is having Thanksgiving dinner a little early. We will serve a traditional meal of turkey, with ham and dressing, there will be rolls and probably many sweets. Just talking about it makes me feel hungry. But I'm not hungry for the food...

          Food is good. I enjoy it and we spend a good amount of time eating or preparing to eat. We eat on the run, at the table, on the couch, at our desk, just about anywhere we can grab a bite. But food is not the point where a meal is concerned. When I say I want a meal, I want moments like those in that dimly lit restaurant, or Giordano's in Chicago, or what will be experienced tomorrow night.  A meal is more about relationships than anything else.

          Jesus often times shared a meal with his friends. We see this in several places in Scripture. He sat down with the Disciples, with the Pharisees, with tax collectors, and with prostitutes. It wasn't like the Pharisees had the best wine to serve and the tax collectors had the best meat. Jesus sat down with these people to tear down a wall that divided. A meal shared opens the door for conversation. A meal shared opens the door for new friendships. A meal shared opens the door to fix old relationships.

          Too often I'm on the run. Many times I eat it is in the car and it is McDonald's (which is my son's preference, 4 piece chicken nugget happy meal with no sauce and a chocolate milk). I miss meals, I long for meals in which I can sit down with my wife and son and just enjoy the time we have together. Maybe mealtime isn't important to you. Maybe it should be. Your son or daughter could have something they needed to tell you. Your husband or wife might need to see you besides "Good morning" and "Good night." After this current election, I'm not sure who really should have won, but I know that we need more time as family and friends, around a table, breaking bread together.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


          The other day I was having a conversation with a good friend. Sometimes the topics are light and airy, while other times they are intense and challenging. This one was of the latter. I actually stepped into the conversation by accident; don't you love those situations. Hi, how is everyone? BAM. Theology and reasoning discussion opens up.
          The sticking point this particular time was, there are too many what ifs in Christianity to let go of and "follow" Jesus. The reasoning part of the brain forced them to engage their minds and try to sort/reason things out. The difficulty in that is that sometimes God doesn't line up with our formula of rationale. There are some times that God chose to do things in opposition to the culture. There were many times that God used the inferior people to carry out his plans.
          When I was in college I had this big deal about giants in the Bible. I wanted to know where they came from, where they went, and why some of them had six fingers and toes. Still unclear about that one. If you go to certain rural parts of our country, you might find people with six fingers and toes, but it's most likely akin to running into giants with a similar predicament; you are not going to be happy about the outcome. Anyway, for a while, my sole focus was on figuring out about those Anakim and Nephilim and whatever other names they had. You know what I found out? Squat. Specifically Jack Squat. There were some interesting webpages dedicated to it, but I was pretty sure they were not as reliable as Wikipedia.
          In all of that, I came to a conclusion: Giants were there, somewhere, but they weren't the center of the gospel. I also loved thinking about the Ark and the Plagues and the Creation and the Fall. Many brilliant minds have struggled with these stories for a LONG time. And many great men have died without their answers. Does God delight in keeping us in the dark? No! His main focus is for us to tell all the world about Jesus, not necessarily the six-fingered gargantuan than I'm just a little weirded out by.
          Men and women of great intellect have struggled over many aspects of the faith. There are just some hard things to forget about... And I don't think we should. Far too often Christians accept Jesus, get baptized, and then never struggle again in their lives. HUGE conflict with Scripture. Jesus did say that if you love me, the world will hate you. Jesus is polarizing. So, we should struggle sometimes. We need to mull things over in that great mass inside our heads. It could be healthy to delve into Scripture about something you are unsure of. Don't think you're a heretic because you don't have the answer, or are unsure of the answer.
         Believers have what ifs as well, and if they don't, there is some spiritual sickness somewhere. Having a hunger for the word can mean seeking to having your questions answered. Some may come to the conclusion that it cannot be answered and it becomes one of the many mysteries of God.
         The person I was talking to, and I have respect for them and the journey they have gone through, said that it was okay to be caught up in the what ifs, that's just where I am.
         I then said that many believers are caught up in the what ifs as well. What's neat is that God invites us to walk in faith with him, and to bring our what ifs along for the ride.
          For those of you scared to think about what ifs, don't be. Just know that God is bigger than the what ifs, that his plan extends beyond the what ifs, and it can be fun to walk in faith with the what ifs.