A Body Gathered

My favorite thing about Sundays is getting to gather with fellow believers to celebrate Jesus. However, this wasn’t always the case.

I went through a period recently where this gathering produced some tough emotions and it was such a struggle for me. Frankly I found myself not wanting to attend, and dealing with panic attacks and extreme anxiety walking in the doors of a church. (Spoiler alert: anxiety has become a thorn in my side. I’d like to share more of that story another day).

When I was there, I couldn’t sing.

It was no mistake that we found ourselves sitting under teaching from Scripture discussing the church (and not sugar coating the good, bad, and ugly). It was no mistake we were singing songs reminding us of God’s faithfulness and goodness. I’m grateful for the role that Brainerd Baptist, Micah Fries, and the rest of their Pastoral team played in my story. They love Jesus, they love His Word, and they love people.

One of the new songs I heard during this time was one from Austin Stone Worship called “Jesus is Better.” Here are a couple of lines from the lyrics:

In all my sorrows, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
In all my victories, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Than any comfort, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
More than all riches, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Our souls declaring, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Our song eternal, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

This was my prayer: Jesus you are better, make my heart believe.

And. He. Did.

Not even going to lie: this time wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty. But it also wasn’t meaningless. God allowed this season, this suffering for a purpose. He was using it to produce something in us, in me.

Brandi is the bestest person in the whole entire world. She carried an immense load for our family. There’s no doubt that she is God’s good gift to our family, and to me.

This morning I find myself anxious again: but it’s an anxious excitement to have the chance to gather again with the church. We’ll celebrate Jesus together, and then the church will scatter until we are able to gather again.

Maybe it’s your story that church doesn’t bring this level of excitement for you. Maybe for you it brings dread, or anxiety, or maybe it doesn’t produce any emotions at all.

There’s grace in abundance for that.

Because of that grace, today you’ll find me gathering with my family (most of which I don’t share any blood relation) to worship.

My song eternal: Jesus is Better,

Kris

Here’s the entirety of the song in case you want to listen:

The Anonymous Letter (A Followup)

So yesterday I posted an article from Trevin Wax’s blog. It was a post that Trevin had written from the perspective of a youth pastor writing to parents. To be honest I liked the article, and even agreed with the point it made, but it didn’t go over well when I posted it. I’m not exactly sure why- could it be that I read it from a church leadership point of view while some others read it from the parent’s point of view? That’s definitely possible. To prevent any feelings of conflict I wanted to write the why I posted it, and the intent of the original post as I read it.

Why post a controversial article?

Back in the day we used to have what we called “Pot Stirring Tuesdays.” I’m not sure exactly how all that got started other than I would repost articles from different people (Al Mohler, Dr. Moore, and others) and my wide variety of friends would comment and discuss it. I think that there was some value in those conversations because it initiated conversations that would not have otherwise taken place. It was also valuable because there would be people from all different points of views discussing it. A major downside was that it had the potential to create conflict…

I have strayed away from posting some things for the sake of controversy and conflict. Maybe it’s a maturity thing, maybe it’s something else. I do not want to create conflict. I do not want to create controversy. So I must say that I don’t post things for the sake of creating conflict. I literally hate conflict. Dealing with conflict is probably one of the most important aspects of my job, but one of the hardest things to deal with.

Our desire must not be to create conflict, but if we are true to teach the Gospel it will certainly create conflict. We cannot simply run from all conflict. So while I didn’t post the article to create conflict I did realize it had that potential. I made the decision to post it because I saw value in what the intent was. I had no ulterior motives, I was not trying to be passive aggressive and post something for someone to read- that’s not my style. I don’t post vague things on social media to try and get someone else. That’s unwise, and unbiblical. I’d rather talk to someone and work through any issues I might have. I am genuinely sorry if it appeared otherwise. I am careful of what I post because I realize the standard that I am called to, and I do not want to do anything to cause any issues with anyone.

The Intent as I saw it

When I read the post I immediately agreed with what it was saying, but not necessarily the tone. The tone of the letter would be completely unacceptable to write to a parent (or anyone else), and any Youth Pastor/Leader/Pastor should know better. Something that we as a staff have been talking about for some time is the issue of priority— what gets priority, what things do we say “Yes” to, and what things do we say “No” to.

When I read this I don’t even read it as a Youth Pastor. I read it as a leader in the church, with a desire for all Christians to have Kingdom living as their priority. When I read it I hear a frustrated leader that sees people saying that Kingdom living is their priority, but acting like other things are their priority. Actions indeed speak louder than words. The way that we live indicates how we truly believe— and this leader sees a disconnect between the two of the parent he is writing to.

Church vs. Sports/Jobs/Culture

This letter seemed to indicate that there is a competition between church and sports, and me posting could seem that I believed there is competition between church and sports, or that I thought a student must have 100% attendance to be a Christian. I don’t see that in our ministry. While I think it is super important to come to church, and to be a part of the different gatherings— you won’t see/hear/read me saying negative things about someone who misses. The main drummer for our student band will miss every Wednesday night this semester because he plays for the football team. One of my main male student leaders misses on occasion because of his job. Different students miss at times due to homework, sports, or family activities and I understand.

But we must be careful that our involvement in other activities does not become more of a priority than the things of God. Sports are great, but they are temporal. When we stand face to face it won’t matter which extra-curricular activities we were involved in growing up. All that matter is what we did for His Kingdom. And you know what? We can (and should) leverage our relationships in our sports, jobs, etc for the Kingdom. I am not advocating a separation from society. But Jesus must be our priority.

I love my church. I love my students. I love my parents. They are all the greatest. I desire that all of them become more fully devoted as a disciple of Jesus. That means that following Jesus and multiplying disciples must be our priority.

Hopefully this makes sense to you. If you have any concerns feel free to contact me— I don’t want any disunity amongst my family (and that includes all of you!)

I love you guys!

To the Thief

Apparently someone decided they needed a backpack from my Suburban worse than I did. Someone entered by Suburban last night and stole it. What makes it worse is that it had a MacBook that belonged to the Kid’s Ministry at our church. It’s an older laptop, it’s from 2007 and we use it to run the projector for our large group time. 

Not cool…

I’d like it back. If you happen to read this, drop it off on my front porch. No fuss, no troubles, no police…just return it. 

That would make me happy.

The Picture of a Servant

After a week of incredible service with our student ministry I have a solid eye of what a servant looks like. However, what comes to mind is someone who wasn’t even able to partake in much of our week, my wife Brandi.

Brandi didn’t get to participate much this week because she had to take care of our four boys. Not only was I gone all week, but one of the boys got sick, Karson cried and fussed much of the week, and the house flooded every time it rained.

Being a Youth Pastor’s wife is not an easy task, in fact it’s easily as hard as actually being the Youth Pastor. She doesn’t get to participate in everything that she wants to because of having to watch the boys. It’s a tough role, but she does an amazing job at it. She never complains about having to stay behind. She’s the model servant when you think about it. While her service wasn’t with us this week it was no less important. She served me by taking care of our beautiful kids, and doing it with excellence.

A wife with a servant’s heart. I’ve got one. She’s the best.

I love you Brandi!

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Happy Birthday to my Mito Man!

DSC_9545Today is a special day.

Six years ago today we were welcoming a little (8lb 15oz) bundle of joy into the world- the little one that would quickly be known by his nickname- Kar Kar. He was the second boy to be added to our family- something that we were ecstatic about!

Oh the roller coaster that it feels like we’ve been on with him over the past six years. We’ve seen him become to be known by a new nickname- Mito Man, after his diagnosis of mitochondrial disease- a disease that affects the mitochondria of the DNA. For him, it affects his mind and muscles so while he is the size of a typical six year old- his mind is way behind. He doesn’t walk, doesn’t talk, along with a host of other things he should be doing.

On the flip side- we’ve seen him go from a baby who laid on the floor and cried all day- to a kid that gets into everything. He has figured out how to open doors, which is a mixture of a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because he has learned how to problem solve and get past obstacles. It’s a curse because the kid is a hazard to himself and doesn’t recognize the inherent danger that’s present! He can crawl around on his hands and knees, he can walk (some) when he is in his walker, so he has made amazing progress! He shows preference for things- and even greater he gets quite excited when I get home from work! He’ll come from across the home jabbering and laughing. There’s really nothing like the feeling of joy that this gives me!

Have there been bad days? Yes. But the good far outweighs the bad. Our Mito Man has made this verse all the more powerful to us:

“For it was You who created my inward parts;You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began”. -Psalm 139:13-16

That’s what gives us such a peace about him. The fact that the Creator of the Universe and knew him before he was made gives us a sense of rest. The same One who spoke the Universe into being knitted our Mito Man together. And he is fearfully and wonderfully made!

For the past several years there has been an event that happens to fall right around the weekend of Karson’s birthday, and this year is no different. The Dare to Dash 2k and Family Fun Day is this Saturday at Thrasher Park in Norcross. It was started by Lisa Higgins several years ago. Lisa’s precious angel Ainsely lost her battle with Mito last year. It is a great day, full of fun events for the entire family. All of the monies raised to to benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and The Ainsley Paige Higgins’ Dare to Hope Foundation, Inc. The monies specifically go to the  Palliative Care Team at CHOA. The Palliative Care team focuses on relieving suffering, slowing the progression of disease, optimizing function, and improving the quality of life at any stage of disease.

We’ve created a team (named Mito Man of course!) and would love for you to join us! You can visit their site to learn more about the day, sign up to join us, or just donate to help fund these incredible causes!

So Happy Birthday to my Mito Man! I love you pal!

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Mower for Sale

It’s a sad day. Okay, not really, but maybe a little. I am no longer a small business owner…for the past several years I have had a small lawn care business that I have been doing in addition to whatever other job(s) I have been working. This year will be different. There is literally no way that I can manage running that, and do all of the stuff that my position requires so I’ve had to make the decision to shut it down.

I have turned over all of my accounts to a trusted friend who I know will take good care of them. These customers have been amazing for me so I wanted to be sure they would be taken care of my whomever continues cutting their grass.

With that being said- I am having to sell my big zero turn mower. I don’t really want to sell it, but I need to sell it. It is a grass cutting machine, and has been an amazing mower to own. It’s a Toro Model 74295 with a 52″ Cutting deck and a 27 HP Kohler motor that only has 255 hours on it (which means it’s hardly broken in). This is not a mower that you can go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and buy. It’s a heavy duty, commercial grade mower…there’s no comparison to anything you’d get from a big box store.

I’m asking $6,500 $5,000 for it, which is a lot of money, but is quite a deal since I paid nearly $8,000 for it brand new…so if you have a landscape business, have a friend with a landscape business, or simply have a large area to mow and are looking for a high quality, dependable mower that will last for many years to come- let me know!

Here are a few pictures of the mower:

This is Getting Real…

Sunshine on a Ranney Day LogoToday was a great day.

Today was the day that the awesome people with Sunshine on a Ranney Day came over to the house to start making plans for our Mito Man’s (aka Karson’s) new room. In case you weren’t aware we participated, and won, an auction that was benefiting Tripp Halstead. The prize was a makeover by Sunshine on a Ranney Day.

We have been wanting to do something special for Karson for a while now, but couldn’t because of the costs associated with such a project. We wanted to close in our garage and provide him with a larger room for him- both for therapy reasons, and for him to have a safe place to “be”. One of the greatest challenges that we keep running into is making our home “Karson proof”, which is essentially baby proofing on steroids. With the way his mitochondrial disease has affected him he is truly a danger to himself at times. He has no concept of the danger of sharp objects, not to mention the hazards of a kitchen. All of our drawers have locks, the furniture has to be pushed against the wall to keep him from climbing over the back, there are baby gates all over the place keeping him out of certain rooms…the list could go on and on forever. Because while he is severely delayed mentally from where he should be, he is the size of a typical five year old…which means he can (and often does) reach the kitchen counters, Kaden’s school desk, and anything else that’s low. His latest “trick” is that he’s learned to open doors, which meant slide locks on all the closets, and more baby gates to keep him safe!

That’s just an idea of what it is like try and keep him safe, and the struggles that it often entails. Thus our desire to close in our garage to make a space that is truly “Karson friendly”. It was an incredible blessing to win the auction that Sunshine for a Ranney Day was doing for Tripp Halstead’s family. We were able to help out his family, and receive an incredible blessing in a room makeover for Karson! I honestly didn’t think it would ever be something that we could do for him- so I (we) are beyond excited that it is happening!

The blessing isn’t without it’s own difficulties. We’ve found out that Walton County Code requires a two car garage for all houses. So….since we’re closing in ours to make Karson’s room- that means we have to build another one. That’s where we are hoping you might could help out…it’s going to take multiple thousands of dollars for the materials to make that happen. It’s going to take multiple man hours to make that happen. It’s going to take lots of energy, money, and time, to make it happen- something we’re often short of all the way around! Maybe you know someone who does demolition work (part of our driveway will have to be removed), concrete work (after all, we’re going to need a slab, sidewalk, etc), construction, roofing, electrical, any skill necessary to make this work- could you point them our direction? Maybe you know someone willing to donate materials or money to the garage, or his room project- That would be beyond amazing!

We’re hoping to start as soon as possible- because we are limited on the work that can be done for Karson’s room until we get the other garage built….

Whatever you feel led to do, we greatly appreciate! If you’d like to find out more about the work Sunshine on a Ranney Day does (which I think you should), you can check out their website: www.SunshineOnARanneyDay.com

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Some friends of mine are literally living out the Gospel- they’re denying themselves, and living for God’s Kingdom, and for His glory. Would you be able to help them out in their quest to provide a home for this baby?