“Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from his fullness.” (John 1:16)
I don’t consider my story one that’s essential to tell, nor one that’s all that interesting. But I do believe that we do, indeed, each have a story, and each one is important in it’s own right for the simple fact that God’s grace shines differently on all of our lives. Though we may see the same brilliance, the luminescence of mercy is unique to each of us. Besides, even the tales that might seem mundane or boring are important because we’ll never know or fully realize how a personal account or testimony might affect the lives of others.
More than that, though, we’re all apart of a grander story, one that’s playing out right under our noses, whether we realize it or not. That story is God’s story, his story of grace, the story of redemption — and I, for one, am enthralled that he has chosen me to play a part in it.
Therefore, I’m retelling a little about myself because I wish to relate to you just how Jesus Christ and his gospel of grace have thoroughly transformed my life (and are still doing so), and how truly humbled and honored I am that God would further choose one of his dear angels to grace me with a wife. Nothing can compare to living life with the one, God’s one, specifically chosen for your life. Also, what roles media, technology, and sports play in my life and how they coalesce with my gospel worldview.
Perspective is everything nowadays and in order for you to truly relate to and understand me, you must know a part of me. More than just spreading pithy anecdotes or relaying to you my thoughts on a particular Bible verse, film, or song, my true mandate for this catalog of thoughts is to impact you in some way with the power of the gospel and the truth of Jesus Christ. One cannot live a truly successful or meaningful life without him.
My Savior, Jesus, has truly transformed my entire existence and it is only now that I can definitely say that I understand and more fully recognize what true joy is. This isn’t to say that I’ve somehow “arrived” spiritually, for I am undoubtedly and most definitely still a “work-in-progress” by the Holy Spirit. I struggle, I fail, I fall, I waver, I doubt, I fear . . . I’m human. And to deny such realities is to deny your existence, for those “dark” realities are life itself. Even still, it is in this darkness that the light of Jesus’s gospel shines all the brighter.
I grew up in a Christian home, the son of a second generation Baptist preacher. My grandfather was a pastor and Bible professor for over fifty years and, likewise, my dad has been teaching and pastoring for as long as I can remember. Growing up a pastor’s kid is surely much different than if your father had another occupation, as there are a multitude of pressures and preconceived notions about a pastor and his family that naturally increase the amount of scrutiny you face. I don’t mean to be prideful or anything of the sort, but those of you who are pastor’s kids or missionary’s kids will no doubt concur with these sentiments. Still, I would never trade my childhood for that of another’s. I am eternally grateful for my parents and their nurturing throughout my formative and headstrong (okay, stubborn) years.
Surprisingly, though, I didn’t come to accept Jesus’s substitution and direction as necessary in my life until I was 16. I knew about God, I knew the Bible, I understood what it meant to be a Christian (or so I thought). I fooled everyone, including myself, into believing that I was a Christ-follower for nearly a decade before the inconsistencies in my life and absence of God’s Spirit and reality of the gospel shocked my psyche.
I was sitting under the preaching of an evangelist at a summer camp when Jesus seemingly beamed a spotlight of conviction directly on me. I felt as though the preacher was speaking one-on-one with me and that his words were of divine inspiration, and for me they were. The battle for my soul raged, one trying to convince me that I was “okay” and that I should keep on enjoying the sin and the pleasure I was addicted to, and the other pleading with me to embrace my deplorable self and run to the mercy of Christ.
Everything culminated that night, with Jesus prevailing over my foolish pride. I was under such conviction, it was all I could do to get up and walk out in the middle of that sermon. But come the close of the message, I knew what had to be done or else skirt the edge of destruction for the rest of my life. Nervous and trembling, Jesus came over me with a calm and an indwelling that I have never felt. I accepted Christ as my Savior that evening, believing that because of his perfect life and substitutionary death and glorious resurrection, I am gifted the same by grace. I was adopted into his family that night, and, because of his enabling, I’ve been able to see grace and growth throughout my years.
Lest you presume that becoming a disciple of Christ is easy, there certainly have been struggles and conflicts and failures since becoming his child. God has definitely had to wring the pride and selfishness from my heart, and that has become a daily, hourly battle for me. My thick, stubborn skull puts me in trouble, more often than not. Through it all, though, Jesus’s grace has proven victorious and glorious and miraculous to me.
Without the mercy and compassion of Jesus, I would be nowhere, stuck in the mire that was my life before I knew my Savior. Jesus has truly changed my life. I cannot say enough about how thoroughly happy I am to know that I don’t control my own destiny, but that it lies in the hands of an all-knowing God and an eternally-loving Savior, Jesus Christ! More and more each and every day I’m learning to rely on him for everything and to live each moment how he would’ve lived. The old phrase, “What Would Jesus Do?” has become colloquial and trite, a saying thrown around sarcastically and often without true genuineness. Nonetheless, if we were to live each moment by thinking about how we can glorify Jesus and magnify his name with each decision we make, our lives and the lives of those around us would change drastically.
I do not write to you now as a saint testifying that I have mastered the spiritual walk of faith. On the contrary and absolute opposite end of the spectrum: there’s so much more to be done in my life and soul and heart to draw me nearer to Christ that infinite lifetimes could not make me one degree like Jesus. He is infinitely better than I will ever be, and yet becoming like him is my daily pursuit.
Each day, my prayer is that I’ll love like Jesus loved with every passing hour and that I will enjoy life in each passing moment. This is why I wanted to begin writing: to connect with others through the medium of the Internet and bring to readers the joy and peace and the knowledge of God’s grace that transforms lives — and that can only be found through Jesus Christ.
If you take anything away from my thoughts on life in general, please may it be this: that Jesus is the only true solution to everything wrong in the world and that a life lived with him at the center is infinitely more enjoyable than living without him. If you were to gain everything in the entire world and still be without Jesus, you’d still have nothing. My motto for life is Jesus plus nothing equals everything.
Furthermore, my mission (if you want to call it that) is to re-evangelize the “evangelized.” And what I mean by that is this — Far too many “Christians” have become complacent, apathetic, and narcissistic. They’ve misunderstood and misinterpreted key doctrines and key passages of Scripture that have skewed their view of their purpose and reason for living.
My desire is that all would come to a new and radical knowledge of the awesomeness of God’s infinite grace and the vastness of his amazing love. It is the gospel of Jesus’s inexhaustible grace that changes lives and spurs them to pursue God. Nothing else can motivate this pursuit or keep it secure, save for the grace of Christ. I pray that a new Reformation would sweep over the Christian community, over this nation, and that we would return to the matters that are truly important, that is, the furtherance of the gospel and the spread of Jesus’s name. I pray that we’d realize that believing Jesus and pursuing God is a relationship, not a religion — a real relationship with a real person, who’s name is Love.
The story of my salvation and the furtherance of the gospel is truly a remarkable testament to the all-sufficient grace of God. But another evidence of Jesus blessing me far above and beyond what I deserve is by granting me one of his angels, one of his daughters, in my wife Natalie.
I cannot express enough in words how grateful and blessed and thankful I am to have her in my life, a partner who is more loving, more caring, and more deeply determined to bring out the best in me than even my own inner self is. She truly is the jewel in my crown. I love her dearly and I am not ashamed to say that my wife is most definitely my best friend.
Confiding in your life partner with everything seems elementary, but truly being friends with your mate and not just romantic lovers seems to me to be one of the most important concepts to master. And this concept, I believe, is one that requires a lifetime of practice. I would be extremely remiss if any reader were to not realize how important and vital my wife is to me. I love her with all my heart. She and I strive to serve Jesus with our lives, and I am so lucky that God has graciously given me a strong and faithful companion to journey with, through the ups and the downs. I love her, and I’d do anything for her.
I pray you’ll join me on this endeavor to live life to the fullest and find God’s grace all along the way. My desire to chronicle all the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows, with the understanding the regardless how high I feel or how low, Jesus is always there, his mercy never ways. Hopefully you’ll stick with me in this journey.