the Weekly Town Crier

towncrierBlippity bloppity boo to you too. So what of it?

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Outside‘s 2015 list of “The 16 Best Places to Live in America”. Did your town make the list?

Read about the “121-year-old bottle of whisky” found in a “Scottish time capsule”. Would you try it?

Browse Paste‘s list of the 10 best things on Crackle (other than Seinfeld, though Jerry does make an appearance).

Read as Oregon Live catches up with NPR’s/”Portland’s Own” Ari Shapiro.

Read Time‘s report: “J.J. Abrams Says Nazis Inspired the New Star Wars Villains”.

Read about “One Woman’s Attempt to Become a Wrestling Fan”.

Browse this list of “15 Composers To Watch” in 2015.

Read reports that “Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence are writing a movie together”.

Read as Salon explores “Why the ’90s are literally disappearing from history”.

Read FACT‘S piece reporting: “Spotify demands access to your contacts, photos and location”.

Adding traffic sound effects on ants makes them entertaining to watch“.

Browse Time’s list: “14 of China’s Finest World Monument Replicas”.

Read Outside‘s piece: “John Muir Knew How to Live”.

Read The Atlantic‘s piece: “How Coolness Defined the World Wide Web of the 1990s”.

Enter the debate: “Are Older Whiskeys Really Better?”

Read as Banksy interviews Run the JewelsRead about Banky’s Dismaland. See the trailer.

Read about “Pop Tart Beer”.

Watch Seinfeld Recut as a Devastating but Heartwarming Lifetime Movie.

Apparently “Axl Rose and Slash are friends again” prompting many to wonder about the possibility of a Guns n’ Roses reunion.

BrowseUncut’s 50 best bootlegs”.

Read Paste‘s report: “Paul Thomas Anderson to Release Documentary on Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood”.

See a $20,000 opal, which looks like “a nebula trapped in a gemstone”.

Read NME‘s report: “Morrissey announces release of debut novel. See the cover.

Browse Paste‘s list of “6 Fictional Languages in Literature”. What’s your favorite?

Read as the Washington Post laments: “We’re now averaging more than one mass shooting per day in 2015.”

Read Flavorwire‘s report: “Bruce Willis Probably Got Fired From the New Woody Allen Movie”.

Hear “Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp’s Hollywood Vampires cover The Who’s ‘My Generation’.

See photos of rarely seen cultures.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that Odd Future rapper Tyler the Creator has been banned from the UK.

See “Harry Potter re-imagined as the villain of a horror movie”.

Read the Washington Post‘s report that the Mormon Church will continue its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.

Watch “a Supercut of All the People Batman Has Killed”. For a guy with a no-kill policy . . .

Browse Spotify‘s list of “the most timeless songs ever”.

Should We Yell At The Lost Sheep For Being Lost?

lostlambOver the years, there have been seasons of life during which different passages of Scripture have played special or significant roles. I am currently spending a lot of time with Psalm 46, but that’s not what I want to talk about today. Several years ago, prompted in great part by Tim Keller’s treatment of the last part of the chapter: the Prodigal GodI spent a lot of time ruminating on Luke 15.

No doubt you have heard segments of the chapter preached in evangelistic contexts: God is chasing you like the lost sheep and hunting you down like the lost coin and/ awaiting your return like the younger brother. This is certainly an implication of Jesus’ illustrations but they are not the point of the chapter. In fact, when we approach the three illustrations this way, we actually lessen their impact.

We are currently trying to sell our house. Please buy it. It’s got the three most important things to look for: location (near the freeway), location (near Chipotle) and location (near AJ’s). Similarly, the most important things to remember when approaching a passage of Scripture are: context, context, context. Let’s step back a little before stepping forward.

Luke 15 occurs near the middle of Luke’s account and is found in the midst of Luke’s record of many of Jesus’ parables, many of which center on the true nature of God’s kingdom. The chapter is broken in to four sections, with verses 1-2 setting the conceptual context for everything that follows:

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus reacts to the grumbling Pharisees and scribes. verse 3 tells us: So he told them this parable. In the context “this parable” actually refers to three different illustrations all making the same point. It is key to note that, even though he tells three stories, Jesus is making a specific point in response to the grumbling and complaining religious folk.

imagesThroughout Luke, but especially in chapter 14, Jesus pushes against the “religious”understanding of who is part of God’s family and who is not. As Chapter 15 opens, we see Jesus once again pushing the generally accepted traditional, religious boundaries by actually eating with sinners. Not just in word but in deed, Jesus was telling society’s outcasts that there was a place at God’s table for them. And this drove the religious people bonkers because they thought that their place at God’s table was exclusive and that people had to meet certain standards before being welcomed. Jesus comes right through the middle and shatters everyone’s status quo. To the religious, Jesus says: there is room at God’s table, in God’s family for sinners. I have come to bring God’s lost children home. You should be happy instead of furious! To the “sinners,” he says: You have always felt judged and pushed aside and marginalized and taken advantage of and unappreciated and used as political pawns, you who feel like you have no place in society: come, find your true home. Your true family. Your true identity.

Jesus tells the story of a shepherd who loses 1 of 100 sheep (verses 3-7). He drops everything until he recovers the lost sheep and asks his friends and family to rejoice with him. Jesus switches the analogy in verses 8-10. A woman loses 1 of 10 silver coins, turning her house upside down until she finds it, asking friends and family to rejoice with her. Jesus once again switches analogies, this time with the tale of two brothers (11-32).

I’m not going to break down all of this last section, except to point out that, in the established context, the point is not to primarily associate ourselves with the younger brother as a picture of redemption, though it is certainly and beautifully that. The point is that the religious people should be rejoicing that Jesus has come to bring home the lost children of God. Instead, they rest in their religious position as their security and become furious that these “sinners” don’t belong in God’s family without meeting God’s standards (which, of course, they themselves dot and cross every day).

You can almost hear the frustration in Jesus’ voice to the Pharisees and scribes as he equates them with the older brother who was furious at his brother’s return. After all, he had stayed and done every obligation the way it was obligated to be done. How dare the father welcome back this vagabond. Jesus implores with them: these people, God’s children, who were once far off are now with us! They were once enemies and now their family! Pick up a cup, drink, rejoice! This is a family celebration!

Many evangelicals know enough about grace to know, of course, that we cannot earn our way into God’s family. It cannot be merited. That’s why it’s called grace. And yet, we are somehow unable to be extend that same grace (to be gracious) to those still outside of God’s family.

Culturally, many American Evangelicals are more like the Pharisees and scribes than we’d like to admit. Instead of extending “good news” to those we perceive to be “sinners”, we bludgeon them with judgment. We berate them for not living according to God’s standards and we exclude them because they are not like us. In the context of Jesus’ illustrations, it’s as if the shepherd went out and threw rocks at the lost sheep, kicking him for being lost.

I’m not saying that Christians should not have a voice in the public square. Nor am I saying that we should turn a blind eye to society’s evils or that we should somehow pretend that there is no such thing as sin or right and wrong. But I am saying that, far too often, we are not “Good News People”. We lead with critique rather than love. We follow-up with judgment rather than service.

I know you’re not supposed to point out a critique without also offering a solution but I certainly don’t have anything figured out. I am troubled by the fact that the sinners loved to be around Jesus and couldn’t stand to be around the religious folk. Some how, some way, Jesus was able to bring people to a realization of their sin without them ever questioning that He was for them. I wonder what this implies for the Church in America’s relationship with the surrounding culture. Are we perceived as being for our society or are we known by what we’re against? How can we hold true to God’s Word without being jerks? How can we hold fast to virtue without being self-righteous and judgmental? How can we be “Good News People” in a world filled with bad news?

I worry that we’ve forgotten that Jesus exposed and dealt with sin in loving ways while we expose and deal with sin in shouts of judgment and exclusion. I worry that we’ve forgotten that Jesus’ harshest condemnations of sin were actually for religious hypocrisy and that he came to bring good news.

What might it look like for a Christian culture in America that sacrificed itself for the good of others? What might change if we were known for being for others rather than against them? Maybe we might have the chance to be heard?

the Weekly Town Crier

YeOldeTownCrierBuy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Rolling Stone‘s list of the “100 Greatest Songwriters of All-Time.”

Read Paste‘s report that Sesame Street will head to HBO in the Fall.

Read as Rolling Stone wonders: “Is Apple Taking Over the Music Business?”

Read as NPR’s “the Good Listener” asks: “Are Tall People Obligated To Stand In The Back At Concerts?”

Browse as R.E.M.’s “Michael Stipe lists his 10 favourite books”.

Browse Paste‘s list of “Five Band Photo Cliches”.

Browse as: “Radiohead‘s Jonny Greenwood reveals his current favourite album, book and video game”.

R.I.P. Bob Johnston: “Producer for Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash“.

R.I.P. Pink Floyd.

R.I.P. Yvonne Craig, television’s Batgirl.

See “A Ziggurat of Mirrors”.

Read Alternative Press‘ report that “the Crow” re-make will happen.

Read as NME considers the biggest talking points from Morrissey’s recent Larry King interview.

Read as AV Club considers the world of professional wrestling.

Read Paste‘s report that “Tracy Morgan Will Return to Host SNL in First Post-Accident Performance”.

Browse as the Guardian makes their picks for “The 100 best novels written in English”.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that Flight of the Conchords are writing a movie and planning a tour.

See Banksy’s “Disney-Trolling pop-up Theme Park”.

Read this piece wondering: “As humans, we have an urge to explore. So, where to next?”

Read as Politico considers: “How Google Could Rig the 2016 Election”.

Have you tried “The breakfast beer of champions”?

Read as Stephen Colbert says: “‘I Am Here to Know God, Love God, Serve God’.

Read as: “Jeff Tweedy talks Wilco, Star Wars and Bob Dylan”.

Now you can buy a “record label in a box“.

See Mumford and Sons re-make themselves as a ’90’s boy band, “Mumtown”.

Read as the Atlantic considers “The Unlikely Reanimation of H.P. Lovecraft“.

Read about “bicycle desks”.

Read Uncut‘s piece: “Joy Division: “We didn’t know Ian Curtis was approaching his breaking point”

Read about the “Origin Story of the Iconic Carlton Dance from Fresh Prince”.

Read as “Jane’s Addiction Break Down ‘Ritual de lo Habitual’ Track by Track” for Rolling Stone where Dave Navarro says: “”The Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, Bauhaus, Van Halen and Rush were all part of our sound,” and Perry Farrell giggles: “”If you ask me, I think it’s one of the greatest records of all time.”

 

Art Is A (Necessary) Luxury

IMG_6362I’ve got a sketchbook that’s found itself a special place in my heart. It’s not a particularly special sketchbook except for the fact that I’ve place a stretch of weird tin-fin-foil-duct-tape that my son Danny received for his birthday across the front of it.

I know this is an odd observation. But  it’s been with me for at least several months now which has got to count for something. It’s been responsible for pieces like this and this and this and this and this . . . (you get the idea, weird doodles one guy makes so he doesn’t have a nervous breakdown.)

It’s been a great sketchbook and I’ve really appreciated it. But there are only a few pages left so I know by experience that I’ll be lucky to get one more piece (by my own subjectivity) out of this particular sketchbook.

I know that in a few days, I won’t have this sketchbook anymore, so I’m in the midst of a weird grieving process that will likely only make sense to those who weirdly attach themselves to inanimate objects.. I go through the same thing every time I finish I finish a writing journal (I prefer Moleskine Classic if you’d like to buy me one) as well (though I don’t “journal” in the traditional sense).

This has set me to thinking (as many things do).

I am under no illusions of grandeur (at least in this area of life). I am not a particularly meaningful artist in the grand scheme of the universe. But art is very meaningful to me. I understand that I have been given just enough artistic ability that I am continually frustrated by normal suburban life but not enough that I will make a living selling my art. And I am OK with that. But I’ve been thinking a lot about a couple of ideas lately:

Art is a luxury (Art always costs):

For purposes of today’s conversation, we’re going to simply define art as:

the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination

I’m thinking of a broad spectrum of things. Things like dance, painting, music, poetry, drawing, Andy Kaufman, writing, knitting, sculpting, theater, and the like. I’m thinking of such a broad spectrum, 01) because they all fit the definition: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, and, 02) because they all cost. You cannot participate in these activities without giving something in exchange. Like a sort of modern alchemy’s equivalent exchange.

I was made keenly aware of this fact the other day as someone who is currently between opportunities. As you may know, I dabble a bit in the doodlings (sample my dabbles here or here). I prefer Staedtler pigment liner markers and my 0.8mm marker went dry on me in the middle of a doodle dabbling. Ever the Proverbs 31 woman, my wife had a Michael‘s coupon. But that didn’t change the fact that I’m currently unemployed and (even more than normal) every cent counts. I had to stop and think about how we were going to pay for the marker.

Art always costs. I have a friend who sits inside a closet after his family goes to bed so he doesn’t wake them while he practices guitar or writes songs. Art is a luxury because it always requires something from the practitioner. Whether it be the cost of an item, the time taken from some other task, art costs, which means that many view it as prohibitive.

Art is necessary:

Art may be a luxury, but unlike caviar, art is necessary. I can only speak from the microcosm of my own existence but I know that, for me, practicing creativity has helped me through some of my most difficult times. There is a therapeutic (and/or cathartic) value to externally expressing one’s self in a creative venture. It forces you to either take your mind off of something that’s bothering you (hopefully then being able to return to that vexing issue later with more clarity and calmness) or to work through the issue in some sort of external manner, forcing you to consider the issue issue in different ways.

But art is not only necessary because of its internal personal benefits. Art gives us the unique opportunity to see the world the way others see it. It broadens our thinking in often challenging ways. Art can soothe or stir. Art can critique or celebrate. Art can gives us windows into complex issues and help us understand one another in deeper ways.

The Faith-Art Connection

My faith teaches me that I should be content with food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8) and that I should give sacrificially, expecting nothing in return (Luke 6:35), considering others more significant than myself (Philippians 2). In other words, sacrifice is at the center of my religion.

My faith also teaches me that I have nothing to prove. Because of Jesus, I have all of the love and acceptance I could ever hope for (and more). When God the Father looks at me, He says “this is my child in whom I am well pleased”. I am able to work from my identity rather than for my identity. My being produces my doing.

This may seem initially unrelated to topics of art, but for me, it is integrally related. I have known many artistic people over the years and many of them view their art as a way to give their lives meaning. They find their identity in their art (in their doing) and therefore, by necessity, they are also tied to the continual pursuit of approval. I don’t know about you, but when I am seeking the approval of others, I take fewer chances. I’m more likely to find a winning formula and stick to it.

It is not necessary or helpful to believe that every single piece of art we produce will be a sea change. But art is always tied to creativity and creativity naturally pursues growth. Most artists mature over the course of their careers. But this always means that there were evolutions in their style and approach. And this means that they had to be willing to change. And this means that they had to be willing to take a risk. And this means that they had to be willing to fail.

The freedom to fail does not come easily.

I have scrapped many, many pieces of art. And that’s OK. It does not mean that I’m a failure. I have also let people see pieces I probably should have kept to myself. This also does not mean that I’m a failure but it does mean that lots of people know that I’m open to failure. The freedom to fail can only come when our identity is not tied to the task at hand. If my self-worth comes from my art, I will not take chances because I can’t risk my identity. The freedom to fail only comes when our doing flows from our being and our being (our identity) is tied to something greater than ourselves. Something not shakeable by our failures or successes.

Art requires vulnerability.

Putting a piece of creativity out into any sort of public sphere (sharing it with anyone) always requires vulnerability because it always involves the possibility of exposing more than you’d wished and that it will bring criticism.

Since art is often the expression of something deep, it requires vulnerability to share it. But sharing our creative expressions also means that we are aware that others may not like it or may not “get it”. Once again, if I find my identity in my doings, in my art, then I will either not take risks with my creativity or I will now share them with anyone.

Those With the Least to Lose Have the Most to Give, or, Those With The Least to Prove Should Take More Risks

It pains my heart to know that some of the worst “art” in recent generations has been produced by Christians. This pains my heart because this has not always been the case. Some of the best art the world has ever known has been produced by Christians. I believe that Christians should be at the forefront of every artistic endeavor. We have the freedom to fail because our worth comes from Jesus! We have the security to be vulnerable because we live to give rather than to receive.

It’s time for Christians to once again value art as more than propaganda. Go, create something today and share it with others.

The Weekly Town Crier

YeOldeTownCrierYes it’s been a while. I’ve had a lot going on, OK.

If you’re not familiar with the concept; I collect and post links that, for whatever reason, caught my interest. You browse said links and we all find enlightenment. Or something like that.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Read about Apple’s possible entry into the wireless market.

See a portrait of Putin by a Ukrainian artist from 5,000 shell casings from the separatist east.

Ever wonder why coffee makes you poop?

Ever wonder why your pee (may or may not) smell like Asparagus?

Ever wonder why you have to poop at bookstores (apparently this is a real thing)?

Ever wonder if you could make money selling your poop (apparently this is also a real thing)?

Read about the pop-up Pantone cafe offering Pantone coordinated snacks.

See the Runcible, a new minimalist cell phone that wants to be an heirloom piece.

Read about “The Origin Of “Piss Poor” And Other Popular Sayings”.

See how creepy the Teletubbies can be in a Joy Division video mashup.

Read the Atlantic‘s piece: “The Covert World of People Trying to Edit Wikipedia—for Pay.”

Read about the Canadian who set the “Beer Mile World Record,” eh.

Read about the guy who refuses to mow his lawn, saying: “Instead of putting nature in its place, we need to find our place in nature.”

Read Paste‘s report that Bill Murray is confirmed to make a cameo appearance in the new Ghostbusters reboot.

R.I.P. author and critic Alan Cheuse.

R.I.P. Rowdy Roddy Piper.

R.I.P. Columbia House.

Browse pianist/composer Dustin O’Halloran‘s list of influential albums.

Read as David Byrne calls for more transparency from the music streaming business at the New York Times.

Read about the hitchhiking robot who made it all over Europe but was killed in America.

Have you heard the mysteriously released Nirvana demo material? Thoughts?

Read Fact‘s report that the soundtracks to David Lynch‘s Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me will be made available on vinyl.

Read Paste‘s report that William Shakespeare smoked marijuana.

Read FACT‘s report that David Lynch is set to record the new season of Twin Peaks as one continuous movie and then edit into episodes.

Watch the new Homestar Runner short: “Flash is Dead”.

Read about Martin Scorsese & Leonardo DiCaprio’s plan for a movie adaptation of The Devil in the White City.

Read Salon‘s piece: “David Foster Wallace is long gone, but Bret Easton Ellis is keeping the feud alive”.

Read the Atlantic‘s piece pondering “Why the pressure to achieve academically is an impediment to the learning process.”

Read Flavorwire‘s report that Showtime is set to “Adapt Patti Smith Memoir ‘Just Kids’ Into Miniseries.”

Read Paste‘s report: “Netflix Acquires Mascots, Christopher Guest‘s Mockumentary.

See everyday objects re-made with human guts.

Read as the AV Club wonders why “Why 35 screenwriters worked on The Flintstones movie” and it still stunk.

As many people reflect on a year without Robin Williams, read Time‘s piece: “Why the Funniest People Are Sometimes the Saddest”

Has the tomb of Nefertiti finally been found?

Browse “Relevant”‘s list of 10 Fall television shows to be excited about.

Read about Seattle’s move to tax firearms and ammunition.

Read as NPR wonders: “Would Voters Entrust The White House To An Atheist?”

Read the NY Post‘s report that the Mets have already begun selling playoff tickets. Too soon?

Read as “Michael Jordan says There’s ‘No Question’ He Could Have Beaten LeBron James One-On-One.” Thoughts?

Read an interview with the 19-year old Fall Out Boy fan who stood between police and Ferguson protesters.

Browse NME‘s list of “30 Of The Greatest Ever Second Albums .”

Read reports that Steven Spielberg has coaxed Gene Wilder from retirement.

Read Paste‘s report that Winona Ryder has confirmed that Beetlejuice 2 is “in the works”.

Learn these “9 Habits of People Who Are Always on Time”.

Find out “What Your Name Says About You”.

Browse Mental Floss‘ list of “15 Movies That Were Turned Into TV Shows”.

Read PRI‘s piece: “What happens when the dictionary is just a website?”

Read Entertainment Weekly‘s piece: “Fox confirms ‘X-Files‘ reboot talks”.

See “The Stunning Geography of Incarceration”.

Read The Atlantic‘s piece: “Essential Oils Might Be the New Antibiotics”.

Browse Paste‘s list of “7 Sorely Missed Cereals from the Early ‘90s”.

Read about the gals from Broad City telling the gals from Sleater-Kinney: “We Wouldn’t Be Heare Without You”.

Listen as NPR’s All Things Considered previewed 2015’s jazz scene with Christian McBride.

Download two high-quality, recent Chris Forsyth shows.

Read Paste‘s report that “Thom Yorke Will Compose Music for Broadway Production Old Times”.

Browse Phoenix New Times’ list of the “10 Coolest Churches in Metro Phoenix”.

Read about the five-year old who received an invoice for missing a friend’s birthday party.

Read FACT‘s report: “Kurt Cobain solo album set for November release”.

Are Russia and Nato ‘actively preparing for war’?

Browse Paste‘s list of “The 10 Biggest Rebrands of 2014”.

Read as the Atlantic wonders why so many of us hate talking on the phone.

In the world of mathematical tiling, news doesn’t come bigger than this.

Browse Flavorwire‘s list of “50 Books Guaranteed to Make You More Interesting”.

Browse BoingBoing‘s “Great list of classic ambient albums.”

Ever Wonder “Why didn’t people smile in old photos?

Faith Anchors the Soul

2014-09-20 14.18.09I have come to believe that the search for “identity” is one of the key issues facing us all. By “identity,” I mean more than simply your name, rank and serial number, though that’s as deeply as many of us think on this key issue. Instead, I’m referring to how we understand ourselves and present ourselves to others. I’m talking about where we find our worth and our security. I’m talking about self-knowledge and security.

Our sense of identity is uniquely tied to what we do. In fact, many of us (unconsciously or not) find our identity in our jobs. Don’t believe me? Think about just about any time you’ve met someone new. After the exchange of names, what’s the usual first question?What do you do? 

Of course this is understandable. Our jobs are where we spend the most time and we rely on them for income, and by extension, stability. It is understandable but it is not healthy. When we find our identity in what we do, we find ourselves in the never-ending pursuit of working for our identity rather than from our identity and thus we rarely find true security. We will feel more valuable, we will have more worth (literally and figuratively) when we get that promotion or that other job. And when the work is not fulfilling, we are not fulfilled. We never truly find out who we are because we are looking for that in moving targets.

Unemployment is a special kind of hell in the midst of this essential conversation. I have applied to over 125 jobs across multiple states. I’m currently receiving 2-3 rejections daily. Every time I see someone I know, they ask about the job search; an unintentionally cruel reminder that I have been unable to find work. They mean well. But the question stings and, when repeated hundreds of times, can cause one to question their identity.

There are mornings when I second-guess the decisions that led to this point. I could have stuck out that situation but should I have? What am I doing with my life? What do I want to do? Does it matter what I want to do? Why can’t I get a job? How many no’s can a person receive without taking it personally? Am I not worth hiring? What am I worth? How do I know? Will I be happier when I find a job? How do I remind myself that I am not what I do, when all I can think about is wanting to do something?

This is why the issue of identity is so important and why my faith in Jesus is so essential. I have a tattoo on the underside of my left arm which depicts an anchor amidst a storm with the words: “Faith anchors the soul.” This is a personal reflection on Hebrews 6:13-20 which reminds us that our hope in Jesus serves as an anchor for the soul.

I don’t know how you deal with struggles or your personal faith journey but I know that, without my faith in Jesus, I would have had a nervous breakdown by now. The heart of following Jesus is not the politicians we vote for, the radio we listen to, the things we boycott, or the issues we oppose. It is that our very identity is changed and it is secure. In spite of our circumstances and in spite of us.

When the Holy Spirit brings someone to faith, a mysterious thing happens. We are somehow united to Jesus so that what’s true of the Savior is true of His people. We are transferred from the “domain of darkness” into Jesus’ kingdom, in whom we have “redemption and the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). “He who knew no sin was made sin on our behalf so that we could become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are united with Jesus in His death to sin and resurrection unto newness of life (Romans 6) and we are “seated with Him in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 2) even now.

But, our union with Jesus means more than just getting in to heaven when I die. It has drastic implications for life here and now. I don’t have to find a job to be worth something (though I would like to find a job). Yes, I find my “identity” in something outside of myself, but instead of something like a job which ebbs and flows, my identity is anchored and becomes my anchor.

Over the past couple of years, I have meditated more on one scene of Scripture than any other. Do you remember the scene where Jesus goes out to the Jordan to be baptized by his crazy revival preaching, bug-eating cousin (found in Matthew 3 , Mark 1 and Luke 3)? As Jesus comes up out of the water, the Spirit descends on Him in the form of a dove and a voice comes from the heavens saying: “This is my Son in whom I am well-pleased.” Curiously enough, Jesus is immediately sent into the wilderness where Satan immediately attacks Jesus’ identity: if you really are who you say you are. . . but that’s a study for another day.

I know that, while we feel like our house will never sell, while it seems like I will never find a job, I know that I already have all of the comfort, security, belonging, and love that I could ever hope for because my identity is God’s child. He is pleased with me even when I am not pleased with my circumstances. I don’t have to work for acceptance because I am accepted by God. This is good news indeed.

I may not see the light through the clouds yet, and the waves don’t seem to yet but I have an anchor in the midst of the storm. This is good news indeed. This is how, even in the midst of life’s storms, we can “be still” and know that He is G0d (Psalm 46). I simply pray that these storms cause me to hold on tighter to my anchor.

Rent a Preacher

pulpitThis might not make sense unless you’ve been in “vocational ministry” in some capacity (and even then it might not and that’s OK), but, after 10 years of full-time pastoring with no break, it was important for Kristi and I to have an undetermined amount of time during which “ministry” as a profession was completely off of the table.

This led Kristi and I to prayerfully resign from ministry in January, 2015. After of eight months out of ministry as a profession, I have begun to miss parts of my former life as a pastor. Though I do not see myself returning to vocational ministry at the moment, I do feel like God has gifted and compelled me to publicly share God’s Word with others.  And, honestly, after eight months, I miss preaching.

Since Kristi and I are in a time of transition, it’s a perfect time to make myself available for pulpit-supply.

If you are a pastor: Would you like a pulpit breakDo you have a Sunday on your calendar you just can’t fill (I’m better than nothing!)? Would you like your congregation to hear the same thing you’ve been saying but from someone else?

If you are not a pastorDo you know a pastor who might like to have someone preach one Sunday?

Contrary to popular opinion, I am not too much of a loony. For proof, you can hear some of my former sermons here.

I am also available to speak at conferences, camps, quinceaneras. I also do weddings, vow renewals, (and funerals).

To schedule a speaking engagement, please e-mail me to schedule a speaking engagement.

If you’re interested in booking the Thomas Ten to promote foster care/adoption at your event, please e-mail us to schedule a speaking engagement.