Dear Renovation…

Thank you.

That phrase doesn’t begin to convey the deep gratitude and joy that comes to mind as I think of how well you loved us and sent us off into the wild last Sunday. I had the chance to talk with so many people after the service that it made me wish we had a Luau each week. That would’ve been especially nice during those harsh winter months together.

Together. We’ve been together for 10 years. Ten! Lexi, Mac, and Zac have grown up around you and with you. You have loved, supported, cheered on, and been there faithfully in the good times and bad. In fact, you played a big part in helping to make the bad times less bad. As we’ve talked about regularly, only God can truly take bad and make it good. Only Jesus can turn suffering into hope. Only the Spirit can be fully present and divinely helpful in every detail of every challenge.

You are, dear sisters and brothers, the body of Christ. And you have loved and cared for your pastor and his family very very well in the last 10 years. I have been shepherded by you. This reminds us that it is truly the Lord Jesus who leads the church. He “owns” the place, not you or me. It’s just better that way. Plus, it gives us every reason to have nothing but confidence and trust as Renovation moves onward, which it will — to even better days.

If you know my story, you know that I, by God’s grace, have moved forward to better days. As it turns out, I fell in love with the best woman. No, I didn’t mean to, and neither did she, but it seems that this is just what the Lord had for both of us. Now that we’re happily married and are in the process of merging our families, the most important pastoral ministry of my lifetime is unfolding. I am now entrusted with Brittany and her boys, as well as Lexi and my boys. Our kids. Together. With Christ at the center of our marriage, we make a great team. No, it’s not perfect, nor will it be easy, but it will be covered in grace and carried by the promise of redemption, which is all anyone can ask.

Renovation, you prepared me for this new pastoral challenge. Thank you. For the hospital visits, the weddings, funerals, graduation parties, and the sermons. Oh, the sermons. They just went on and on! Thank you for letting me be part of your spiritual formation. I asked Jesus for a chance to lead a church like ours, and he granted that prayer request with flying colors. What continues to surprise me, however, is just how loving and patient you were with me. I came to you as a child and left as a… more mature child? I’m not sure how to measure it, but I do know that you were a big part of my spiritual formation. Thank you.

Lastly, thank you for such a great going away party last week. Britt and I read through the notes and cards and felt loved and heartbroken, held on to and sent off, all at the same time. You’re so gracious and supportive. We know that your prayers and encouragement cheer us on like no other church possibly could. Thank you for your generosity and understanding. It’s time for me to move on, but not time for you to move on. You stay strong, stay together, keep being the faithful, encouraging, generous, and solid church family that you are. Your next pastor is about to find out how amazing a local church in Southwest Michigan can be.

Until then, know that we love you, and that we’re cheering you on.

Don’t’ forget Ephesians 3:20-21.

Love,

Adam, Brittany, Lexi, Mac, Carter, Zac, Cameron

PS: Tell the new pastor that their office might need a little space heater this winter. Those windows get a touch drafty.

Posted in Family, Gratitude, Ministry | Leave a comment

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

Happy Mother’s Day! I was listening to a podcast that talked about Anna Jarvis, the founder/creator of Mother’s Day. It made me think of you. First off, I think about you nearly every day. Sometimes it’s only for a brief second, like when I see an elephant or piece of weird art that you’d enjoy. Other times I find myself wondering what life would be like if you hand’t died 11 years ago.

Sometimes I wonder what you know about my life. My understanding (theologically, which never impressed you, nor should it), is that you are with Jesus in paradise. It doesn’t seem like paradise to know that your loved ones have bad days, like I’ve had for, oh, the past few years or so. No, it’s not been easy. But God is gracious and merciful.

I think you’d be pretty happy with how it all turned out. Redemption, for sure. The same kind of redemption I saw in your life when you said yes to Jesus back in the early 90’s. Things are much better now, and I bet you’d get a kick out of Brittany. You’d love her no-nonsense attitude, sunshine, and determination. You’d be impressed by how well she loves my kids, as if they’re her own. You’d be glad to see how happy I am. Who knows — maybe you already know this. Then you must also know that I picked my nose while I was driving yesterday. And you know where I put it. And I’m sorry.

Anyway, like I said earlier, I heard this podcast that referred to a woman named Anna Jarvis. She created the whole Mother’s Day campaign and ended up hating what it turned into. She lived long enough to see what it did for the floral and greeting card industry. She didn’t like the commercialization of it all, referring to the greeting card as “a poor excuse for the letter you were too lazy to write.” Ouch. I shared that at church today and couldn’t help but notice that I may have inadvertently rained on some parades. It got awkward. But you would’ve laughed and laid the thick guilt on me and Paco, with a smile and that laugh, telling us we should produce 10 pages each. I would’ve sarcastically submitted the screenplay from RoadHouse, and you would’ve set it up on the table and we’d laugh about it, strange as we were.

So, here’s my letter. It’s going really well. I’ve said what I wanted to say. Big hugs. Miss you. Love you.

And thank you.

Posted in Family | Leave a comment

Special Needs & The Doctor Appointment

I recently took our 13 year old daughter to her doctor’s appointment.   Nothing too medically marvelous, just some X-rays to see how her skeleton looks and a talk with the doctor about how her legs and hips are getting along with each other.  Turns out all the bones are happily coexisting, which is good to know.

Lexi is 13, yes, but mentally functions at about a 2 year old level.  Down Syndrome combines with the Autism Spectrum in this one, and the combination makes for some interesting… everything.  Especially doctor appointments.  Especially X-rays.  Especially holding still for X-rays.

She and I walked in, arm in arm, and found the path to the waiting room.  I could see that it was sparsely populated, a slight relief, given how Lexi has chosen now to test the acoustics of the building using her own unique brand of echolocation.  En route to the check-in desk, Lexi sat down.  The reasons for her sudden sitting can be varied, but it’s usually because she objects to something.   No, it wasn’t the waiting room or the obviously approaching interaction with medical staff.  It was the elevators.

She’s suddenly afraid of elevators.  Come to think of it, the last time she was in an elevator was for a quick procedure at the hospital a little while back.  Seated in a wheelchair for ease of transport, she found herself suddenly wheeled into a little room that had hardly any acoustic value and — much to her chagrin — felt like it was moving.  Lexi’s the kid who never wanted to be on my shoulders and doesn’t like to be swung around or tossed in the air.  She’s all about the firm ground and keeping a low center of gravity.  That’s got to be the issue with the elevator.  It’s not like she’s going to tell me flat out.  She’s non-verbal.  And it’s not like I can explain to her that it’s totally legit, and that elevators hardly ever get stuck, and, even if it did, they’d rescue us… eventually.  Plus, if we really wanted to get free, we could just escape through that tiny hatch in the ceiling and… you know what?  I get it now.  Let’s take the stairs.

But no, she wasn’t budging.  Going nowhere near the elevators.  I found myself praying that our appointment would be on the main floor because a haunted elevator (the screams, the terror) would be fun for no one. I get to see people look and quickly look away from time to time, but freaked out Lexi is communal stare fodder.

I lifted her up (she hates that) and she walked to a seat in the waiting room as I approached the check in desk.  Lexi shouted HI! at a lady in the waiting room.  Lady said “Hi, how are you?” to which Lexi responded with the sign for The Wheels on the Bus.  It’s her favorite song (Lexi’s).  Lady did not know the sign for Wheels on the Bus.  Sometimes we translate, but not this time. I was at check in, providing all the necessary paperwork and such, Lexi came up to see what I was doing, setting her chin on the counter where my hands were resting gently. She said HI! to the staff, to which the staff cheerfully replied.  I was getting ready to say the whole wheels on the bus thing but was interrupted by Lexi’s pushing a big cup of pens off the counter and onto the desk below.  Coffee spilled, barely missing a rack of hanging files.  Everyone totally didn’t overreact.  It was, in actuality, pretty funny, at least as Lexi laughed so.  “Quiet hands,” I said as she walked back to her seat.  Oh – a maintenance guy just came in!  HI! (Um… Hi!) So… wheels on the bus?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How To Tell If Your Kid Is Actually Sick

You know the scene, parents: you’re topping off your kid with pop-tarts and pancakes before pushing them out the door to school with (on a good day) combed hair. On the way to the bus he suddenly halts and says “I have to go to the bathroom real bad”, which will make him late… and possibly you, too.

Or maybe it starts even sooner in the morning. Wake up, wake up! Time for school, y’all! They let out an adolescent sound, a long “meh…”, followed by a descriptive symptom and furrowed brow. Sometimes it’s an entire list of symptoms — I have a sore throat AND my stomach hurts AND my left big toe is swollen. Just one symptom is barely enough to stay home. The know that a whole constellation of symptoms has the power to conquer even the strongest willed parent and guarantee a day off school.

That’s you — the strong willed parent — and you now face the impossible question:

Are they really sick?

In that moment, we make rather important decisions. Will we call their bluff? Are they bluffing? Will we send them to school sick? Are we being played? Are we the fools they treat us like? Perhaps.

Perhaps we are.

I’ve come up with a parenting guide to help you make the decision on whether or not your kid can stay home from school. Are they sick or “sick”?

  1. Take away their electronics (I learned this crafty move from Brittany). A sick kid is too sick to be on Insta all day. This can often be the dealbreaker and will save you lots of trouble. Watch out for the divine healing once they get their phone back.
  2. Offer to take them to the doctor. If they say no, CAUTION: it might be fear of shots and they might actually be sick. If they say “sure”, they might be calling your bluff. That’s when you say “if the doctor looks at me and asks why I’m wasting their time, I’ll ask you the same.”
  3. If they’re sitting in front of the toilet and moaning, and you have yet to make the decision, tell them they can go back to bed. If they assume you’re green-light their deception and spring right up like they’re at a Benny Hinn service, off to school they go.
ET always makes me slightly uncomfortable

I’ve been doing this long enough to know that kids can be very convincing. I remember putting the ol’ thermometer on the ol’ lightbulb as a kid, a move I got from the movie E.T. At least I think that’s where I saw it. Either way, it worked. I was a young fool but smart enough to shake it down from 108 degrees, lest we end up at the hospital. Today’s kids can’t do that because we’ve replaced our hot incandescent bulbs with cool LED’s, and we’ve finally realized we shouldn’t have breakable glass tubes of mercury in our cupboards. These days, we’re afraid of getting cancelled for sending our kid to school with a sniffle. The world sure has changed.

There’s one last test I like to try before giving in to their triage. It’s called the laugh test.

The laugh test is where you look your “sick” kid in the eyes and say “don’t laugh.” If they laugh, OFF TO SCHOOL. Of course, it could be because their delusional from fever. In that case, you will certainly be cancelled.

Posted in Family, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Little Engine That Could

I was the “Mystery Reader” in Cam’s class on Thursday, which means I showed up with Britt, a couple packages of cookies, and a book to read to the students. The kids yelled “Cam’s mom and dad are here!” and then immediately started swarming around us in a way that made me wonder if they’d take my wallet.

It was a fun time, no doubt, with a favorite book of mine: The Little Engine that Could. It’s the one with the broken down train full of toys and food for the children on the other side of the mountain. A clown and a bunch of dolls keep flagging engines to get some help. Most of the engines turn them down except for one little blue train engine that saves the day by saying “I think I can, I think I can…”

I’ve read this book to Cam at least 40 times in the last few months. He loves it, and I love reading to him. Written in 1930, the book shows its age, talking about getting peppermints and spinach to the kids, which no kid I know has ever asked for.

I read it to a mostly captive audience, which wasn’t bad considering it was the end of the school day. If anything, it reaffirmed my appreciation for teachers in a big way. Preschoolers aren’t the easiest group to speak to, but still nowhere near as challenging as college students.

At the end of the book, we celebrated that the kids got their toys and lame snacks with a huge cheer, followed by chanting the mantra of the book together (I think I can… I think I can…). It was like a positive thinking seminar for preschool students.

Afterwards, they excitedly showed Britt and I the butterflies that their class has been raising. After that, they were ready for recess, and we were ready to go before they filled up on all the sugar cookies we brought. On the way out, I checked to make sure I still had my wallet.

At the end, we gathered around for a group photo. Cam stood next to me, surrounded by his classmates, and I said “you’re going to remember this for the rest of your life”, which he might. I know I will.

Some kids said “Hey! They’re both wearing blue!”
Cam offering effects and general energy for the reading
Posted in Family | Leave a comment

Next:

Dear Friends,

I am writing to tell you that I will be transitioning out of my role as Lead Pastor at Renovation Church. My last Sunday will be June 26, 2022.

The hardest part is what to write next. I suppose it depends on what questions you might ask. If you’re still reading, I’ll use this space to predict your questions. However, if there are more questions to be posed, by all means, ask me. You don’t have to ask other people. You definitely don’t have to ask my kids. Ask me — I’m fairly approachable — as long as I’m not super hungry. Perhaps you can bring almonds.

**Why Are You Leaving Renovation?**

That’s a great question. Let me start by telling you why I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving to get away from anything, or because I’m desperate to hit the eject button. It’s certainly not because I don’t like my job or my people. In fact, I love what I get to do, and I love my people. I deeply enjoy what I get to do as a pastor… even in dealing with the hard stuff. I’m not leaving because I found something better (more on that later). I’m not leaving because I have concerns about my faith in Christ, the role of the church, or my theological views. I’m confident and firm as a God fearing, Christ following, Spirit seeking guy. I love Jesus and I love the church — especially Renovation.

Why leave? And why now? In classic pastor/preacher mode, I’m going to give you a three point message. There may or may not be an altar call at the end.

— First, I’ve have had the sense for several years that I’d be transitioning out of this role around the time my daughter Lexi became an adult. As the father of a kid with special needs, many elements of my life and our family orbit around Lexi, which is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. However, her life is about to change, and, with those changes come new opportunities, new service options, and a new chapter for her life and therefore ours. It’s strange to think that my little girl, who, in many ways, will always be a little girl, is going to be old enough to vote, buy cigarettes, and drink in Canada. Don’t worry, she probably won’t do any of those things.

Now that she’s entering adulthood, Lexi needs her dad (me) in a different way now. The “normal path” (college, relationship, career) isn’t gonna happen for her. I will always have the responsibility to care for Lexi through housing, medical care, and financial support. This is a situation for the long haul. Sure, I could keep getting side jobs and generate extra income, but, as it stands now, I won’t ever be able to provide what she truly needs both now and over the span of her life. Planning for Lexi long term has to become priority, at least for a while.

— Second, My job as a father is to make sure that my kids have exactly what they need, especially given what we’ve endured over the last nearly 10 years (more on that later, too). As it turns out, we’ve missed out on quite a bit. I owe it to my two sons to find a way to make the most of these last few years together before they, too, become adults. I’ve got my work cut out for me as a dad, which includes a long list of wonderful experiences that my sons have not had because of our years-long family dynamic. While I would love to keep on keeping on at Renovation as is, the truth is that they need me to be dad in a different way than I’ve been able to be. Pastoral ministry is wonderful but demanding, even at a great church like Renovation. Soon, I will have some freedom to lean into a new job (more on that later) and to make the most of our limited time together in this era of their lives.

Everybody told me that kids grow up so fast. I didn’t believe it when they were spitting up on my shoulder and growing sharp teeth. I believe it now, as my 16 year old son is almost as big as me. It’s a little intimidating. Time is short and moves too fast.

Third, I had a very unexpected thing happen last year. I met someone (Brittany) and found myself not only in love but ready to roll into something I wasn’t even looking for. Neither of us were. Yet, by God’s grace, we found each other and are on the way to matrimony. In other words, I’m thrilled to tell you that Britt and I are getting married! I don’t know if you’re aware, but I had to file for divorce a few years ago. While I encounter a myriad of bizarre opinions and judgements from people, mostly out of ignorance, I’m grateful that most of the people in my world have been gracious and understanding. Sure, some people just don’t get it. For example, someone from the church recently asked one of my sons “How’s your mom doing?” I’ll assume he doesn’t know that she hasn’t been part of their lives for 2 years, by their choosing. It leads to a number of awkward situations that unfortunately come with the territory of being a pastors kid, especially when the whole thing unfolded before the eyes of the congregation, albeit without much detail being spelled out.

What’s more awkward than getting a divorce while you’re a pastor? Remarrying while you’re a pastor. Why is this awkward? Two reasons: it asks a LOT for a congregation to endure the kind of things that have happened to my family, and divorce probably tops the list. Every Christian knows that Jesus hates divorce (believe me, I’ve heard that one a few times lately). Not every Christian knows that there are fitting reasons to get divorced, sad as they may be.

Now, on to the good news. Let me take a moment to tell you about Brittany.

**What’s The Story With You and Brittany?**

We’re deeply in love and committed to spend the rest of our lives together, our families and households merged into a sprawling, chaotic, and wonderful new era for all of us. I can’t put to words how much I love her, how made for each other we are, and how excited I am about the future. God’s fingerprints of redemption are all over this story of ours. I know the suffering we’ve both experienced that led to so much loss was not God’s design. But here we are, experiencing what Ephesians 3:20-21 talk about (look it up — good stuff).

If you’re interested in how we ended up together, you can read our story here: https://www.theknot.com/us/adam-davidson-and-brittany-weldon-jun-2022/our-story

**Are You Leaving Ministry Because_________?**

I know an announcement like this can fire up all kinds of assumptions and rumors. Let me assure you that I’m not being pressured to leave, I’m not being “let go”, and that this isn’t because of a moral failure. As far as I know, most everyone from the congregation to the church staff and the Southern Michigan Conference wants me to stick around, which I appreciate. This is nothing more than strange timing where a multitude of roads converge to a single point. I sense God’s leading in the whole thing.

You might think I’m leaving because I’m getting married. As you could understand, Brittany is afraid that people will think that she took me away. She hasn’t. As I mentioned above, this has been in the works for years, and now it all makes sense.

I should also point out that, while I won’t be in full time ministry, at least for now, I will always be a pastor. I plan on maintaining my ordination with the Free Methodist Church and staying connected to the church at large. I won’t be preaching in a church, but I’ll always have the fire of preaching and teaching in me — a fire that I plan to keep stoked as the Lord continues to guide our lives.

**Will You Still Go To Renovation?**

No. When a pastor leaves a post, it’s customary for them to make way for a new leader, and rightly so.

**What Will Happen At Renovation?**

There are things I don’t know and things I know. What I don’t know is who will take my place. Frankly, that’s not really my business. Renovation is connected to the Free Methodist Church, a network of denominational churches with structures and accountabilities for transitions such as these. In this process, the church board will work in conjunction with the leadership of the Southern Michigan Conference as they select and appoint a new Lead Pastor. I don’t know how long that will take, and I don’t know what the process will look like, though I’ve been part of many transitions like this over the years, and it always seems to work out.

What I do know is that the church belongs to Jesus, and that we can trust that He will guide the people who lead. Renovation is more than its Pastor. Renovation is centered on Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and functions under God the Father. Any church that rises and falls on the status of a particular leader is out of alignment with Jesus. I encourage you to hold on, stay strong, keep building community, and keep reaching the surrounding communities. Our mission to help people find, follow, and be like Jesus is more important than ever. To keep carrying out this work, your church needs you.

**What Are You Going to Do Next?**

That’s a great question. I don’t know. Usually when a Pastor leaves, it’s to go to a different church. I’m not going to another church, at least not yet.

Sometimes when a Pastor leaves, it’s to go to another church-ish job, perhaps a para-church ministry or nonprofit. I’m not doing that, at least not yet.

Occasionally, when a Pastor leaves, it’s to jump into a “secular” job, like insurance or construction. I love how we call certain jobs secular, as if the presence of Jesus is devoid in these vocations. It’s just church talk, and those who grew up in the church know what this terminology means. We’re just differentiating between working in the church vs. outside the church. “Secular” makes it sound like I’d be selling insurance to PAGAN GOAT FARMERS or constructing PENTAGRAMS. I’m not doing that, at least not yet.

**So, You Have NOTHING Lined Up?**

Well, no. Not yet. I’m going to spend 6 months not working, allowing me to rest and regroup after what has been a difficult season of life.

More importantly, not working will allow me to focus on the difficult task of merging families. This will be my most important ministry calling ever.

I might pick up some odd jobs. I’ve always wanted to try substitute teaching, consulting, and writing as my life depended on it. Based on how this post is going, I’m not sure the writing thing is a good plan.

Other than that, Brittany and I will work on some home projects together.

And, for the first time in nearly 30 years, I won’t be worried about how the service on Sunday will go.

**What’s The Plan For Now?**

This coming Sunday (4/24) at Renovation, Superintendent Rhodes will give a Southern Michigan update on next steps. I’ll talk more about this, too.

Until then and after that, I’m gonna keep pastoring (not pestering) Renovation Church. Gonna help my five kids finish the school year strong. Gonna keep preparing for a June wedding ceremony. Gonna do my best to finish well at Renovation. The countdown begins.

Our shirts are an inside joke for all of our Free Methodist Friends. Brittany grew up at Evart Free Methodist (North Michigan Conference) and Adam grew up at Westland Free Methodist (Southern Michigan Conference).
happy happy happy
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Smack

Reading through some of your responses, dear FB and InstaFriends, reminds me that I am connected to a group of people with vastly different views on a single event that sweeps the news cycle.

A long time ago, I wrote an article about how social media has made broadcasters out of all of us. At the time, I took the angle of stewardship. Specifically, I suggested that we carefully curate our online presence to represent Jesus well in a broken world. Followers of Jesus can participate in the world while simultaneously being different from the world (John 15:19).

Ask the question: would Jesus slap Chris Rock? Probably not. But that’s not what I want to talk about here. What I want to say is that, no matter the issue, your friends and family will probably disagree with it. And I don’t think it should be this way.

We weren’t meant to know what each other thinks about everything. We weren’t meant to interpret silence on certain issues. We’ve all become broadcasters, and we can’t handle it.

I worked in radio for a while. Broadcasting takes a lot of energy. You have to think about every piece of news. Will we cover it? If we do, what do we say? If we don’t, what are we implying? Listeners would get mad at me about different things, like the time I said that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is an entity created by Montgomery Ward. While that’s true, this particular listener was really mad that I ruined her kid’s Christmas.

There have been a few times where I spoke up about a political issue. People left the church. There have been times where I didn’t say anything about a hot topic. My silence caused people to leave the church. I’m a broadcaster with a label: Pastor. That’s dangerous.

So, I’m not here to speak to the issue. I’m just saying that this is a strange time where everyone has a voice and nobody quite agrees. We used to get along because we had shared interests. Now we look for people of our nearly exact ilk and forsake all other relationships upon discovering they don’t line up. How did we find out they thought differently about something? Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Twitch.

These are the best and worst inventions in recent history. Every positive aspect of the internet is confounded by an unintended negative. Sure, we’re connected, but we’ve lost the bliss of ignorance.

You ever miss those days?

Posted in Hot Topics | Leave a comment

Spiritual Awakening

I’m the Lead Pastor at Renovation Church in Portage, Michigan. I’ve been excited about this month of March because I’ve sensed for a while that God was about to stir our church toward spiritual awakening. Our staff team designed a series of prayer & worship nights that would align with what we were doing on Sunday mornings. For me, the image of awakening and renewal kept popping up. I could see people engaged in worship like never before. Experiences of healing and revival continued to flash across my mind whenever I’d pray about it. I saw what it looked like, but not how to get there. In other words, I had a vision of the box but not the contents. Seemed like the best thing to do was create environments where people could engage with Father, Son, and Spirit in extended spaces. I’d call our folks to prayer, fasting, and other spiritual disciplines related to Lent. I could see it. I could feel it. Awakening was around the corner, if we wanted it. I want it. I want you to want it.

And then… BOOM. As it turns out, I keep getting knocked out. First, Lexi got this weird viral thing that put us in the hospital for a long weekend. After that, Britt and I got the same sickness. Then I crashed my Jeep. I continue to wade through related soreness and discomfort, not to mention the fact that my Jeep is done for. These events took me out for a couple of Sundays.

Today, I’m writing from the waiting room at Belle Tire, as I just blew my passenger rear tire on the freeway. I got the spare on and drove below posted speed limits. Now I’m drinking commercial-grade coffee, watching college basketball, and thinking deeply about Spiritual Renewal.

It sure seems more than coincidental that these bad things keep happening to me and my family. In his instructions about Spiritual warfare and the Armor of God, Paul reminds us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

Have you ever heard the phrase “first world problems”? It’s where we complain about our overabundant comfort being temporarily removed. We complain about bad cell phone coverage or spilling mustard on our jeans and blame the devil. Meanwhile, we have sisters and brothers around the world who are hiding from rulers and authorities that insist on killing them because they follow Jesus.

Ya know, maybe Satan didn’t spill mustard on your jeans, and maybe the AT&T tower is down. But it stands to reason that, in the bigger things of life, that the “spiritual forces of evil” would have it out for all of us who follow Christ, no matter our context. In communist China, it’s a death threat. In Southwest Michigan, it’s arrows of sickness, collision, and mechanical issues. We must acknowledge our enemy and remember: he’s going to do whatever it takes to take out a threat to the ways of this dark world.

I may not be in good shape right now, and I acknowledge that I’m battle worn and weary, and that my chest is sore from loosening those lug nuts on the side of the freeway. I say freely that yes, I am kinda frustrated and fed up with a long string of “bad luck” events, and that I can’t help but wonder if it would be safest to just huddle in my house for a few weeks.

But…

I gotta say…

It feels good to be a threat to the kingdom of darkness. It means that whatever God is doing in and through me is BAD NEWS for whatever Satan is up to. I am a target to be acquired, a threat to be disposed of, a problem for the bad guys. Good! It should be that way for all of us who follow Jesus, right?

If you’re reading this, it means that I have the privilege of speaking into your life. I count that as a responsibility. I may not officially be your pastor, but I do care about you and your soul. If my assumptions are true, it would appear that I am meant to shut my mouth and not get involved. Therefore, in an act of obedience to Jesus and defiance of darkness, I will do the opposite.

Listen: Is God trying to stir you awake? Are you spiritually asleep? Are you avoiding Jesus? Are you comfortably numb, thanks to some kind of addiction? Do you know, deep down, that the Holy Spirit is talking to you right now?

My job is to bring the message. Social media keeps you and I connected. As a person in your life, I want to carry this message right into the middle of your spiritual house and ask: are you following Jesus? Have you given Him your all? Are you a fan or a disciple? Are you trying to become more like Jesus? Are you making space for the voice of Truth? Are you willing to put your life down and pick up the cross? Are you more concerned with what Jesus wants than what you want?

Let’s you and I talk. Let’s get real in the comments. You’d be a fool to say “I’m spiritually asleep, and I need prayer.” Here’s the thing: you can’t follow Jesus without doing something the world considers foolish. Scripture says that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it IS the power of God.”

It takes a certain level of vulnerability to sleep in front of someone else. I remember, back in high school, putting shaving cream on one of our sleeping volunteer leaders, Bill, during a youth group trip to the Ichthus music festival. We thought we were hilarious. Bill, a former Marine, woke up and immediately made it clear that he did not think we were hilarious.

Let’s just say that was the last prank of the weekend.

Sometimes it’s embarrassing to admit you were asleep, especially when someone else has to wake you up. Spiritually speaking, it’s Jesus who wakes us up and invites us to a new way of living. If you say “I’m asleep and need to be woken up”, people may think you’re not as spiritually mature as you portrayed. Fear of what they will think keeps us spiritually asleep, sometimes for years and years.

I can’t have people thinking I’m spiritually asleep. It’s embarrassing. This is for them, not me.

Bologna. You’re a follower of Jesus. We aren’t to be motivated by fear of what others think.

Besides — you know what they’ll actually think? They’ll think “I wonder if I’m asleep, too?” It only takes a few people responding to the Holy Spirit to start a movement — an awakening.

“Awake, o sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you the light.” (Ephesians 5:14)

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Where you at?

Would you consider joining me in pursuing a spiritual awakening?

Why do you think we resist this?

Posted in lent, spiritual formation | Leave a comment

One Fast Food Joint

Here’s an okay conversation starter, suitable for family and friends over long car rides or during those quiet moments when everyone’s phone is charging. The question is this: if you could only have only ONE fast food joint stay open while the rest of them close, which one would you choose? Which would you keep open?

The rules can be customized. Include all the possible Fast Food places, or just a few. Keep Chick-Fil-A off the list because it’s the Lord’s chicken. Or, keep it on the list. Include those quasi-fast food places like Qdoba or Five Guys… or don’t.

Though it’s not my favorite, I would keep McDonalds open and let the rest close. Here’s why: the food is sometimes palatable yet always dependable (except for those ice cream machines), and they have pretty good coffee for a fast food joint.

If coffee wasn’t a factor (can you imagine such a hellish world?) I would choose Taco Bell. By the way, do NOT drink coffee from Taco Bell.

Now… tell me where we agree and where we disagree. Let’s remember, too, that disagreements aren’t bad. Different points of view make us unique, and it is possible to disagree and still be friends.

For example, Britt chooses to keep Chick-Fil-A open. I, on the other hand, reluctantly stand by the clown, partly because I tend to eat every day, including Sunday.

How about you? Which FF place would you keep open, and why?

Posted in time wasters | Leave a comment

Jeep, You are Hereby Relieved of Your Duty.

This side was on the ground. There’s a side mirror somewhere near US 131.
That passenger side fender is sticking out a little bit… might need to gently hammer it back into place…
Take a knee, Jeep.

Just a few pics from my crash. There were much worse cars in the lot. Britt and I look at it like this: I’m very fortunate that my injuries weren’t worse. We’re thanking God today.

Friends, every day is a gift. Every relationship you have is with an image bearer of God. Some of these folks hold the highest place of value and priority in life. For me, it’s my Britt and our kids. The idea that they would suddenly be without me is something I don’t like to even consider. Today I’m reminded of how possible it might’ve been.

Thank you, Jesus, that I have a black eye and bumps on my head. And thanks to the people at Jeep who built this thing to withstand a tree and a rollover.

Hug your people. Tell them you love them, again and again. Value your friends. Treat each day as a gift. Treasure every moment. Reach out to a friend randomly and let them know they’re on your mind. Nothing is guaranteed. Life as we know it is not permanent.

Grace… it’s all grace.

Posted in Family, Gratitude, Jeep | Leave a comment