care more than some think is wise; risk more than some think is safe;
dream more than some think is practical; expect more than some think is possible


At what cost?

Reading has got to be one of God's greatest gifts to man. Not only because of His written word, the Bible, but also because of the 100's of other books of great value that add a lot of needed perspective for this limited-sighted American (me).

The book? A classic in Christian biography ... God's Smuggler, the tale of Brother Andrew and post WWII behind the Iron Curtain.

The following excerpt is Brother Andrew's assessment of a Kingdom couple (Abraham & wife) who had willingly and joyfully given up everything in communist Bulgaria, in the late 1950 or early 60's, for the sake of the glory and kingdom of Christ in a time when to be Christian was outright blasphemy against the "State."
It was 2 hours including the rest stops for us, before we rounded a rocky ledge, stepped behind a screen of wind-twisted pines, and were standing in front of the goatskin tent where Abraham lived. He looked more than ever the Biblical patriarch as he welcomed us to his home. In a moment his wife had stepped outside, as composed as though visitors were dropping into their mountain hide-away every day. She was as tiny as her husband was big, a slender erect little woman with skin like wrinkled parchment. Only their eyes were alike, blue, childlike, trusting. I looked at this woman who had once had a house replete with rugs, cupboards, linens - servants, probably, for they had been well-to-do - and though that I had never seen a face more content with what life had brought (pg164).
This is why I was so struck by this particular paragraph, outside of the unimaginable consequence they were facing as Christians. Recently - yesterday - I signed papers for what is to become mine and Meredith's home. We are so excited, and so so grateful for all the provision that has preceded this moment so that we can afford a home in Virginia Beach. More than that, on our fairly modest budget (by relative standards) we are getting a lot of house - that is not bragging unless it be bragging on behalf of the Lord's grace toward us.

I guess what gets me, is that as Mere and I talked about what we want verse need in a house, our standards from the get go were fairly high. And here, these warriors from the past are showing me that even what we need, is not what we think. I am not saying that just because they lived in a goatskin tent, that Mere and I should, or anyone else for that matter ... because the point is not what we choose to live in or with, but how we submit and follow the Lord. I just know, based on what we both want in our home (which, the Lord provided more than our wants even), that it would be hard to lose the little we have and move into a goatskin tent on the side of mountain for the sake of the Lord's work. It just is a massive dose of perspective in a world with less and less true perspective.

Having said that, we have high high hopes that what has been provided for us - our incomes and home, talents and time - that we will honor the Lord greatly and that our home will shine as a house where all are welcome, where the hungry get fed, the weary find rest, and whatever else. And those are not just cliché phrases, I mean that. I desire to find the balance of opening our home to those in need, for the sake of the name of Christ. That is, we both want to be good stewards of what the Lord has provided.

So I ask myself, what I am willing to give up for the sake of the Lord? Will I follow Him wherever - EVERY WHERE - He might take our family? What about you?


I don't have a dream!

What an absurd statement that would be. I would rebuke you for such a declaration; & I hope you would me.

As I am beginning this new phase of life ... there is this drawn out beginning of about 4 months ... a new phase that includes a "real life" job, "real life" responsibilities, & marriage. Its safe to say that its a new phase. Anyway, as I transition into it, I am mindful of the question, "What are my dreams? ...What is the most outlandish, crazy, & farfetched dream I have?" That's been in my head & heart a lot recently. I guess change stirs everything up again. I am okay with that!

These thoughts also make me mindful of one of my favorite quotes of all time, "Care more than some think is wise; Risk more than some think is safe; DREAM more than some think is practical; Expect more than some think is possible." This phrase strikes a the core of my being in ways I do not know how to explain.

As for dreaming, I think I have lost some of my ability to dream the impossible. My imagination is diminished, to a degree. I think reality can do that. That is why we must get out & find adventure, come face to face with risk, & push the limits of the status quo. When I say adventure, I mean action-packed, on-the-edge of your seat, life-giving adventure! Get out & rock climb, be intimidated by the height & then laugh in its face, climb a mountain, play in waves that scare you, ride you bike too far one way knowing you have the same distance still to go to get home, run until your legs give out, serve the unserved, love the unloved. Do stupid things - with in reason. Go streaking or skinny dipping, I don't care ... DO SOMETHING! I say these things, because they break the pattern of what we have come to tamely call "reality," or "life." These things give life. They are practical, & tangible. I think it helps to awaken our souls to the dreams God has given us that are hopefully much, much larger than we are ... dreams need be grandiose & ridiculous!

So, I commit to as often as I can, finding a source of adventure & taking advantage of it.

I am 100% convinced that we are each given a dream bigger than ourselves, & if that be they case it means we each have a purpose bigger than ourselves. Now, I have what may sound like a simple answer, maybe even cliché ... but that is because we don't fully understand (I am included in that). The only thing beyond us is God. He made it that way. The God-sized dreams of life are because He is the author of them, & has invited us to share in living out those dreams as He makes the impossible happen. If He is the author, than our purpose is to display His ability to make the impossible, the impractical happen. In short, our purpose is to glorify God, by being agents of His glory in Jesus Christ.

So I am fully convinced that big & over-the-top dreams are a necessity of life ... otherwise we get molded into some hum-drum routine. I am not down with that. So, maybe you're thinking,  "Well, you have all this high & lofty talk of dreams, what are yours?" If you were thinking, thanks for asking.

I have had two magnificent dreams for probably the last 10 years, & they've yet to change.

First & foremost, I have ambitions & dreams of being overseas engaging a world longing to meet its Creator, with its Creator; ambitions of being used in some meager or magnificent way of spreading the Kingdom of Christ, of how He invites people to join Him in His unusual means of, grace, mercy, holiness, & justice. It is inevitable & drawing nearer with each passing day, that He will make it happen. So I want to be about it, both here In Virginia Beach & there ... wherever "there" is.

An unbearably close second to that is to have a my own family. You may think these are small dreams, but I have a different take. What amazes me most, is that I am participating in this second one coming to fruition, right before my very eyes! I've met, dated, & engaged my soon-to-be-wife & as I have told her often, as much as I asked from the Lord for "the girl he had for me," I did not ask enough ... because I got a lot more goodness & amazing-ness than I ever knew to ask for. She is amazing, an answer to a long prayed prayer, & perfect. I think that right there is to dream more than some think practical. Because what I know is this ... there is nothing even remotely logical, or explicable about two sinners joining their life together & expecting it to go well. We are both too selfish, left to our own devices that is...THAT IS NOT PRACTICAL. Yet, we are convinced by God's everlasting love & the covenant of grace we have with Him in Christ, that He will provide more than sufficiently what we need to be a living example of that very covenant, the one Christ made for His bride, the Church. So the soon-to-come day when we both say "I do," its not an option, we will have covenanted with each & before God, & are therefore dedicated to each other for life.

We will join our lives together as one, to pursue what extravagant & outlandish dream He has for us as a family, both while here in Virginia Beach & there, wherever "there" is. I am set for adventure, for I believe that I am the follower of a wild, & untamed God who is far to creative to let me be bored in life; because He calls you and me to be completely abandoned and recklessly His, releasing the care of self into His control, and then we are free to be use by Him.


Starting Adulthood

Three weeks ago I asked the 10 year old son of a friend of mine, "How old do you have to be to be an adult?" His answer surprised me. He said 20. We all laughed because he took about a minute or two to think it over, and answer with a question "20?"

Good thing for me, he is wrong. Adulthood begins when you start paying for everything. In my case, by God's grace that has not happened until now. I am aware of how fortunate (and spoiled) that makes me. But my folks are the most gracious and giving people I know, so they have been so good to me to "help me out" these 25 years.

But adulthood has officially been reached when you begin to pay for everything. It begins when you start working a legit 8-5 job, and realize how much you took for granted all the free time of the college years (and maybe a year or more afterward too). I have realized how much my dad has given of himself day in and day out, for longer than I have been alive to provide the kind of life I had growing up. Granted, all we - the Sleepers - have is because Christ secured all blessings at the cross, both eternal and temporal, tangible and invisible alike. But that does not mean my dad has not worked hard and diligent for many years to provide for us in the way he has/does/will.

It also goes to show me how much he must have given of himself, not just the hours and sometimes the really long hours, but the setting aside of self to meet the needs and more often than that the wants of his family. I cannot remember once where his desires superseded the family as a whole. Not once. My mom, brothers, and myself have always said, "He is the most giving and generous person I know." that statement was true then, but now, O BOY! Now it rings with new depth of meaning and significance, because as I sit here I am constantly thinking how I can even now less than 4 months from marrying Meredith, I am thinking how am I going to best provide for her? How will I tangibly and really put her first, ahead of me every single time?Not just in the theoreticals and hypotheticals.

And that is when I recall I have two examples, no make that three. I have my dad, who has been married to my mom for 35 or 36 some odd years. I have my older brother, who has been married to Brooke for 4 and 1/2 years, and I also have CHRIST and the CHURCH. One of those stands tall above the other two, you figure it out.

So, as I begin my adulthood phase of life, I am excited, a bit stressed out (trying to get this new life up and running), a bit anxious with anticipation of all the new coming my way tomorrow, next week, in November, and especially in January. But not so anxious about January, just thrilled out of my mind!

So, how old do you have to be to be an adult? ... I hope there is no set age, because I don't ever want to grow up fully ... you know, I still want to have some child-like playfulness about in the next 60 years.


Some Days

Some days are deceitful.
Or perhaps its the depravity of my heart that makes me feel this way.

Today began with me joining up with some men from a local church that one of my co-workers goes to. He invited me. The breakfast was good, the fellowship uplifting, and the Word was brought in a big way!
Sidenote - I have had basically zero fellowship with the Body of Christ Jesus since moving here, mainly for reasons out of my control (hurricane one week, 1/2 marathon blocking the street week two). So this hour or two was more than past due. It seemed to me to be a bit of a small taste of a land flowing with milk and honey. It was sweet. It was thirst quenching, life-giving, and inspiring. Further, it was re-enlightening as to why we - the Body, the Bride of Jesus our Lord and Savior - have each other; why the Body exists! Ultimately, we exist to give glory to our heavenly Father who is worthy of our praise. Second, the Church exists to make us useful for the sake of Christ. Alone, I flounder, struggle, and eventually wind up stagnant. That is why we need the Church.

Back on topic - why some days seems deceitful...

That breakfast set the tone for my day. Most of it, until one particular moment. Circumstances do not really matter - as much as I'd like to gripe and complain about them - its not good, or worth it. But due to certain circumstances I was unable to watch the 2nd half of the Auburn game ... and was in fact interrupted early through the 2nd quarter. Well, I was in a terror trying to find a place to watch the game. I had by this time already been sucked deep into the grip of SEC and more importantly Auburn football.

The interruption basically let loose from inside of me, a side of me I despise. And there it is ... the day is not so deceitful as my heart is. For my heart can rejoice and be jubilant in the Good News of Jesus one hour (one moment) and turn right back around and curse the ground, the air, whatever is nearest because I cannot watch some precious game. I can wake up and feel the weekend freedom and infinitely more the freedom in the Gospel; and then reject it all to be accosted by my own self-involvement.

In that little instance, my whole day changed. MY plans were interrupted. Bam. Done. I was pissed and remained that way for a long time. Talk about living in the flesh, sometimes it would seem the old man is alive and well, and not so old.

And even now as I sit here, that one instance is still not out of my mind, far from it. My perspective on it is increasingly right, but I am still battling my feeling of embitterment. Still battling the disrespectful comments running through my mind. Still praying for grace to choose forgiveness, to choose mercy and grace in light of grace and mercy bestowed. Its actually amazing.

As you might imagine, I do not feel like a million bucks right now. Far from it. I feel like a failure, and my pride is hurt by my own failure to keep up with my own expectations of myself, as if I am not as in desperate need of the Gospel as I actually am.

So, I am going back to this morning in my mind, in my heart, and in the Word. Colossians baby! ... What matters? A fleeting football game some kids are playing ... or this, "HE is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by HIM all thing were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through HIM and for HIM. And HE is before all things, and in HIM all things hold together. And HE is the head of the body, the church. HE is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything HE might be preeminent. For in HIM all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through HIM to reconcile to HIMSELF all things whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of HIS cross." (Col 1:15-20).

I am going to say #2 matters more, and most. That's where I must find the cross with all my nothingness to offer, with open arms to accept the everything HE gives.