The Business of Hope

A few years ago I was sitting inside a coffee shop in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. It was a cold December, and the year had culminated in a series of inexplicable hardships that can only be remembered with profound sadness. The World Coffee CafĂ© was unusually crowded on this blistery morning, as the costumers lined up to receive their steaming mugs of overpriced caffeine. 

Two men began a conversation as the line shuffled toward the counter. The first man commented to the older gentleman behind him about a book in his hand. He began a preemptive self-endorsement about his expansive collection of books, his recently acquired law degree, and his (apparently) successful career. 

The brief conversation was mostly one-sided, loaded with personal pronouns and vain humility. After a few nods and a kind smile, the older gentleman was finally asked, “And what kind of business are you in?” 

The two men probably didn’t mean to hijack the crowded room, but a diverse audience absorbed the small talk like a sponge. The older gentlemen responded with a quiet confidence, “I’m in the business of giving people hope.”

And everyone leaned in to hear more…


The Healing Work of Anonymity

Find me here, in the last row of a broken circle. This new family, a worshipping community of African-Americans, has adopted me into the fire of hugs as I sway back and forth to the music. Clapping, standing, sitting, bleeding; my Hosanna was born in a furnace of doubt. My hallelujah is cold and broken. 

They do not know me here. Nobody knows my story. They must wonder about the white guy crying in the last row, wiping at tears with bleeding fingers from incessantly picking during sermons that make me nervous and hopeful. I run on like a sentence with a dangling gerund and hanging participle and 

One day I'm going to tell them my story. All of it. About me and you and the space between and the distance between confession and repentance and crucifixion and resurrection. One day I'm going to answer all of your questions. But not today.

Today I'm going to sway with the rhythm of the "ya'll come" choir, and sing about the some glad morning and the unbroken circle and the do lord oh do lord or do remember me... 


This Little Light - Jay DePoy

When my dad was a little boy, he used to wet the bed. One day he came home from school and the bus stopped in front of his house, and all of kids on the bus looked out the window and saw soiled bedsheets hanging from the clothesline, drying in the breeze.

This is my story. Click HERE.


This Little Light

After laboring for two years, the Light has finally come. This is my open heart to the world, a love story about shame and forgiveness and the grace [Karis] that brings us home...

Click HERE to read my novel, "This Little Light" by Jay DePoy


Genesis: An Endless Beginning

The genesis of your life is the revelation that dying to self gives birth to the soul. In the intentional destruction of your temporary satisfaction, a new Kingdom is born within. When you crash from atop the ladder of human achievement, and you set fire to the blueprints of your American Dream, a seed is planted in your heart.

Once this seed takes root, the cultivation of your new life will announce the invasion of another Kingdom – Heaven on earth, from the upside down. When you choose to let go from the end of your rope, you find yourself caught in the all-consuming embrace of mercy.
And once mercy catches you, there is no escape.

It is only in this chosen unraveling, that you are truly whole. Self preservation has come through self destruction. In the glorious unbecoming, the objects in the rearview mirror will grow ‘strangely dim’, and in the eternal light of resurrection Hope, the shadows of death are chased away. The last has become first, and weak is the new strong. The lamb has returned as a Lion. The anguish of hate has been replaced by the deafening roar of Love.

Do you feel as if your life is a puzzle, with a missing peace? Have you ever conducted an inventory of your possessions and found your purpose to be missing? Are you surrounded by acquaintances, yet tormented by a cancerous loneliness? Perhaps you have pledged allegiance to the kingdom of accumulation, yet your heart feels empty.

Imagine standing outside the gate of a new world. The aroma of acceptance transcends the city from the Table of Grace within. The citizens of this new world, are anxious to greet you, and welcome you home. In this new reality, your broken heart will be intricately woven back together by a Great Physician, and your loneliness will dissipate into the oblivion of unconditional love.

-  Jay DePoy


Holding On and Letting Go

At the center of The Story is a paradox that cuts and heals simultaneously. It is the collision of justice and mercy, where pain meets pleasure, and shame becomes glory. Throughout the Scriptures is a tension of a called-out people of faith, who are living with doubt. And a God who is described as both the Holy Terror and the Abba Father. And a Son who is both fully God and fully human. And a Spirit who brings comfort and conviction to my heart that is both screaming and silent.

This God is absent and present. He is hanging on an beautiful execution stake, mocking the mockers, destroying destruction, and killing death.

And it is no wonder that I am learning to rest in the paradox of holding on and letting go. "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." 
I love you. I don't love you. 
I believe you. I doubt you. 
I surrender. I keep fighting.
I'm swimming. I'm sinking. 
I'm living. I'm dying. 
I'm squeezing with my hands open. 

I am burying my mustard seed in the soil of insecurity. I'm singing of the Resurrection and the Life, while wearing sackcloth and ashes and grieving the death of my hope. I am starting a new chapter and it begins with I don't know. 
Always never. 


I Believe

I believe that I've lost belief 
in promises and choruses and confessions of faith and doubt
that flannel graph stories of redemption can be recapitulated 
and monday follows a blood red sky and sunday never comes.

I believe in angels in blue jeans.

I believe in Ambria's promises and Ashlyn's nail polish and Mariah's runaway tears. 

I believe in bonfires and purple skies and cartwheels in the front yard
as Bruce Springsteen croons, 'Hey little girl is your daddy home?'
and Ambria answers, "Yes."

I believe doves land on the porch when you least expect it. And that grace sneaks up on you from behind, and in the dark. And regret grows at the speed of a five o'clock shadow. And the suitcase of shame is the One Constant reminder that if people really knew how deep the roots have grown, they will suddenly become too busy to return phone calls. 

I believe in thick, green grass beneath bare feet and the North Carolina mountains will always, never be the same. And home is her, and I am less. 

I believe that I've lost belief
in my own confessions and repentance and that, under a microscope, tears induced by an onion look tragically different than tears induced by a broken heart and the carpet at Grace Life International Counseling feels more like concrete. I believe that truck stops in South Carolina  are a good place to contemplate the apocalypse, (but the Counting Crows are not exactly helpful). I believe in turning off your cell phone to disconnect from the inquiring minds that have called too late. I believe in returning to where it all started, and putting an end to it. 

I believe in irrational, illogical, unscientific, scandalous, [borderline heretical] mercy. 

And that self-preservation feels a lot like self-destruction, but in the end - the world is forfeited in the acquisition of a soul restored. 
I believe I am more loved than I can comprehend, and less deserving than a crucified thief beside an innocent savior. I believe that love does not always win, and that sometimes the scars have the last word. I believe that Spring comes late to the epicenter of regressive culture, and though the waves are seductive, Lake Michigan is still too cold to engage. 

But if I could swim from here to there and back again, I'd take a mulligan to the foul balls and truly be like a tree, planted beside the rivers of water - with leaves that do not wither or fall in the autumn or freeze in the winter but shimmer in the infinite sun. 

If I could swim from here to there and back again, I would have been more content to love you from the shadows of anonymity, and be held together by the unity candle, burning into my conscience like an avalanche of hope. yes, hope. 

I believe in uncontrollable laughter and sarcastic renditions of the holy ghost shakes. I believe in circling around the table to ask Mariah, Ashlyn, Jamie, Ambria, (then myself) "What made you mad, sad, and glad today?" And the best part of each day is this moment, when the unbroken circle is like a ring with no beginning and no ending, forged in the fire of precious metals, and shining in the light of no other option. 

I believe that my actions have indicated otherwise, but I believe in Jesus. I believe in the blood of the cross that covers my shame, and the implications of the resurrection hold me captive in the back row. I believe in the ineffable Name that freezes my speech and seals my wandering heart to the heavenly courts, and that when all else fails, grace remains. 

I believe that perfect love casts out fear, and that terrifies me. 

I believe in sitting on the porch with your dad, to talk about the time he videotaped a proposal from the bushes and captured a moment of a ring given at the end of a trail of roses. 'But who knows how long this could last, now we've come so far so fast, but somewhere back there in the dust, is that same small town in each of us...'


Spring Walk, Asheville, North Carolina

Who would have believed that this little miracle would recover so beautifully from brain surgery? Her Chiari Malformation has not slowed her down, and every morning is a gift of mercy.


Advice To My Daughters

When I was a little boy we used to have a pet mutt named Binky. She was, without a doubt, the best friend a lonely, home-schooled kid could ever have. Although she was part feline and 1/8th sloth, my love for her was unconditional! She used to snore beneath my bed, as I’d lay awake in our A-framed house on Byron Road.

Something suffocated my palpating heart the afternoon of her premature exodus. An unsuspecting motorist had collided with Binky, and the screeches of halting tires in front of our house had interrupted an otherwise captivating episode of Little House on the Prairie. We all ran outside to scrape her from the pavement…

I watched my dad bury her in the wooded lot behind our house. A concrete brick was left to serve as a headstone, and that was her farewell. Life was assumed to have resumed. I remember retreating to the basement where I was reunited with the Ingalls family via a black & white television. In the privacy of an otherwise empty room, I cried my little eyes out.

Where does this come from? How does a seven year-old boy clutch so fiercely to the solace of security and attachment? And whatever happened to this elemental dis-ease of innocence? There was a time in the life of a young child when statistics had names and faces had stories, news broadcasting injustice was incomprehensible to the cognition of a second grader on the playground! As the mind “matured” through the evolution of experience, it also became desensitized to the Spirit’s conviction against the murder of hope.

As I watch the expression on your faces when the thunder roars and the lightning shatters, I wonder what happened to my heart. Have the wounds received and the lessons learned somehow hijacked my youthful exuberance? Why don’t I tremble at the foot of the storm or blink in the eye of the hurricane? I am envious of your emotional connectedness to the groaning of all creation.

My prayer for you, my daughters, is that you will guard your hearts in such a way that you will never lose sensitivity. I beg of you three resolutions:

May you pledge allegiance to a Hope that springs eternal

This hope is born in a furnace of doubt, and experienced when everything else has been torn asunder. It is the practice of resurrection in the spirit that is depleted. This hope is in a Divine Movement, not a temporary boyfriend. This hope is the fuel that powers the engine of your heart, and keeps you going when you have nothing left to give.

May you establish concrete boundaries around your heart

This fortress is not to prevent you from getting out, but to protect the enemy from invading your castle with his lies and counterfeit promises. In the building and maintaining of a fortress, you will recognize the fleeting kisses of betrayal, the empty choruses of the crowd, and the shallow contracts offered by popular culture. Do not invite this poison in to your life! Do not open the door to the knocking of foreign invaders; they will tear down your gates and plunder your savings.

May you become a flood of blessing to those around you

As your heart remains pure, it erupts as a fountain of water within. It is “the wellspring of life”, and a thirsty world is waiting for a drink of the hope that is within you. May your heart rise like an ocean’s tidewater, bringing refreshing encouragement to those who are within your reach. And as you pour out love, mercy, and forgiveness – may God replenish your reserves in due season.

“…above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

- Proverbs 4:23

the color of the sunset

she asked,”what color is the sunset, daddy?'”
it's a fusion of orange and purple and black and blue.
it's the color of my heart as we speak
the breath hanging in the air
like a question unanswered.

what color is the sunset, daddy?

to be exact, i'm not sure of much of anything these days. but of this, i am confident: this snowbank is our couch. and i'd rather sit here with you. right now. this moment. than to do anything else in the world.

it's the color of tears; salty
down my face an ocean on the carpet where i am fully present fully somewhere else. i am tired of repression. suppression. depression. and the self-hatred.
i am numb to the words of affirmation that used to fuel me like a drug.

it's the color of dry heaving and the ejaculation of hopelessness into porcelain toilets and a locked bathroom door. it's the color of prescription medication. anti-everything. it's the color of trust in circles of tears and prayers and battle cries for deliverance. it's the color of a God who is counting down the hours until my groaning will be no more.

she asked, "what color is the sunset, daddy?"

it's the color of melting snow in a blistered fever. it's the color of doubt and wonder and phone calls avoided and endless pacing around the living room and wilting and starving love sick hope starved sleepless. three days without food or water.

it's the color of whisper and gossip and a blood stained napkin. it's the color of distance and transcendence like a runaway labrador retriever who will not respond to my calling. it's the color of a leaking roof as sibbald points out the inevitable future and i can't help but see my own reflection in the mirror of each splash. it's the color of rocks thrown from unexpected people in unexpected ways. it's the color of the breath that leaves my lungs at the last email received.

It’s the color of tree swings from here to there and back again and underdog pushes as ashlyn rolls around in the leaves and ambria is confused why mariah is erupting in the gravity of this sunset conversation.

It’s the color of love that does not win, and broken promises and purple eye shadows falling on purple scarves falling on compliments falling on deaf ears and eyes turned away. it's the color of blame and manipulation and control and false motives.

what color is the sunset, daddy?

It’s the color of birthday parties and suicidal thoughts and unwritten letters to explain the absence of hope and wonder and it’s the color of the confession that i am a sinner and a liar and a murderer and an adulterer and a thief and i manipulate and control people for my own selfish desires and i do not deserve grace so i plead for mercy and hope for a gospel that is scandalous enough to be true for my own redemption story but in the end, all hope is lost and i am giving up.

what color is the sunset, daddy?

It’s the color of michigan in february, and the ever-present absence of recapitulation. it’s the color of an unbroken circle and repeated patterns of yes and no and never again and yes and no and never again. it’s the color of one day at a time and the recognition that tomorrow never comes.


Downtown Asheville Reflections, by Jay DePoy

A few days ago I took a walk through downtown Asheville. The winter rain left a visible fog, and although the temperature wasn't comforting, my love for this city kept me warm.

I stopped and talked to Happy, who greeted me with his usual hug. He's lost weight, but the cancer can't take away his smile! He seems to know each passerby personally, and they linger to hear about his latest adventure with the police department. We sat together and talked about where we've been and where we're going. He told me stories about running wild as a boy, setting Asheville on fire. And now, in his later years, he's doing the same...

I walked past the red bus, where I first saw the Light.

There was Pritchard Park, where I first saw the Love. I remember our first Friday night, the Drum Circle gathered the freak show, and the pulse of a desperate city vibrated for several blocks. I noticed a gathering of bullhorns and neon signs across the street, spreading the Good News of God's Hate. My three daughters were confused, obviously, because they have always heard about God's Love... So the next week we made some signs of our own, and handed out free water, and free hugs "in Jesus' Name".

I walked past Scully's, a downtown bar where on any given Monday evening you will find an eclectic gathering of atheists, agnostics, pagans, orthodox Christians, and post-labeled  "other". These evenings were filled with passionate dialogue around an Open Table between racial, religious, and political ideologies. And I used to sit and listen to the stories, and share my own... about how God radically rescued me from me, and took me from the basement of the Muskegon County Jail. I shared with them about the shame and hate and grace and forgiveness. To this day, I have retained many friends from this season... And I still get midnight phone calls, asking me to talk them down off the ledge.

And in the distance is the ABCCM Veteran's Quarters, housing over two hundred homeless veterans. I will never forget Bill, who had lost everything. He once had a six-figure salary and a big home in Wilmington. But when he was laid off, he spiraled into a depression that ate him alive, literally. The last time I saw him, we were standing on the sidewalk talking about God and heaven and hell. He asked me about the eternal destiny of those who commit suicide. After some silence, he put his hand into the shape of a gun and said, "Soon." A few days later, he went down to the Swannanoa River with a pistol and never came back.

The French Broad Chocolate Lounge, where Jamie and I used to linger over mocha and wine, telling jokes with no punch line, and playing footsies under the table. She used to order too much chocolate and then insist that I finish her dessert. And sometimes the live music was too loud for conversation, so we just looked at each other, and knew.

After collecting my thoughts, I sat on a park bench and gave thanks. For all of the ups and downs and lefts and rights and closed doors and opened windows and friends and enemies and concerned brothers and runaway rumors and baptisms and hugs and questions and doubts and the all-consumming hope that buries my heart, here.


Running with Scissors

A close friend of mine took his own life a few months ago.
For some reason, I continue to ache for his family… searching for answers and feeling so helpless. Suicide, after all, makes everyone feel guilty; I wish I would have could have should have…The other day I was talking to his father on the phone, as he described my friend’s final few weeks. Some of the missing pieces of the puzzle began to sink into place, as the mystery of his spiral downward came to light. Through sentence fragments and tears, I listened as his father shared about a certain hopelessness that tormented my friend. As it turned out, he had committed a serious crime and had been living with the guilt and shame of his decision.
In broken chapters, I listened to the tragic descriptions of his final days: he had stopped eating, and had become sickly thin. At night, my friend would walk to a nearby wooded park, and lay under the moonlight. He would lay his head in the cold grass and claw at the cancer of his own self-hatred. My friend would cry rivers of salty tears, begging God for the mercy of divine forgiveness.
And in his final hours, my friend took a pair of scissors and plunged them through his own heart.
What if…
this were the end of my blog entry.
What if…
the credits were rolling
and the tragedy was over
and this was the conclusion
ashes to ashes and dust to dust?
Every night as I drive home, north on highway 26 – there in the distant western horizon is a white cross. It reaches higher than all of the surrounding trees, and stretches to the sky overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tonight as I was driving home, I began to think about the weight of shame. I brushed away tears as I imagined my friend collapsing in despair, and knocking on the doors of heaven for the ever-illusive mercy of spiritual::emotional::mental f r e e d o m from guilt and shame.
I remembered the heavy weight of my own depravity, the secret sins that only God knows. I considered the options of this world and found them to be shallow. I know what it’s like to contemplate what my funeral would be like… or the intoxication of ending it all.
But it’s there that I see a cross. An instrument of death has become a scandal of hope! An execution stake leads to resurrected life. I am graciously reminded of the God who wrapped Himself in flesh, and walked a mile in our shoes. Jesus knew what it was like to sweat drops of blood beneath the moonlight, with His face buried in the grass; He knew the weight of separation, there as His Spirit was being pressed like the olives in Gethsemane.
I love Jesus. The more I learn, the less I understand. The mystery of the cross remains the center of my surrender. Following (even at a guilty distance) is a spiritual journey, not a guilt trip! I love Jesus because He meets us in that moment of despair, with a nail-scarred hand of forgiveness. When we think all is lost, He shows up in the morning and invites us to breakfast. When we have been disqualified, He reinstates, recreates, mediates, and stands as our defense.
I believe that I will see my friend again. And it’s not some cliche happy Christian sub-plot to a Sunday school lesson. I believe that one day we will be reunited in the Kingdom of Freedom, a place that transcends time and space. I believe that we will live in delicate harmony with all of creation’s song: in the presence of all that is, love.


The Inexplicable Itch for Redemption

I have looked into the eyes of evil. A reflection of a broken man, wiping away the tears of self-hatred and my finger is on the trigger of a cosmic cannon. There is an eternal depth to these roots. The juices of forbidden fruit dripping from failed frown, swallowed by shattered teeth hidden by shattered glass; the mirror reminds me of holy ordinance of which I have fallen incalculably short.

I have tasted the hate of apathy, ignored the cries of the innocent, and blurred the lines that separate neighbor from enemy. I have set fire to the Garden of Shalom, and run for the shelter of fig leaves and invisible bushes. I have touched, with blood-stained hands, the Holy Mountain.

This then is my confession: A guilty plea to a Righteous Judge. There is no defense offered, and no retention fee for a Counselor in this heavenly court. I have murdered the innocent, plundered the poor, pillaged the powerless, and built for myself a castle of sand.

How broken is this universe? Even the natural world is imploding with a virus expressed in the whole earth convulsing with shockwaves registering on the richter scale; emanating salty Tsunami tears flushing out toxic chemicals from the inside out. The whole earth is groaning for redemption...

Redemption. This is what every man, woman, and child is thirsting for. Redemption is the inexplicable itch that fuels the human engine toward achievement and success. The unholy Kingdoms of Accumulation have proven unsatisfactory; the itch remains. Success is an uncatchable wind, and our hands are blood-stained. Redemption is the ineffable hope for which there is no vocabulary. Words fail. Language limits. The inexplicable itch is spreading...

Which brings me to the Table. 

I have come here starving for grace. Emaciated in deprivation, wrinkles around eyes swollen with tears. How many times have we been through this, God? Still, Your mercies are new every morning! I am crawling toward the First and the Last Supper, only to collapse at the feet of the One whom I have betrayed. I lay here motionless, save the dry heaving admissions of sincere sorrow. This repentance is borne in a furnace of regret. My tears fall like rain on the dusty feet of the Mercy King.

A tap on my shoulder... a nail-scarred hand is extended. I look up to receive His assistance to be transported to the empty seat [saved] for me, beside Him. He then takes the Bread and breaks it apart... dipping into the Cup of Wine. "Taste and see", He says. "I have loved you with an everlasting love."

Selah. The curse is reversed. The Story is re-written. The Garden is now a City, and leaves once used for hiding have now become the healing of the Nations! The slaughtered Lamb has now become the sanctifying Lion. The image reflected in the mirror is no longer mine, but His own.

I have looked into the eyes of love. A reflection of the Mercy King, who wipes away my tears of self-hatred and absorbs the bullets of my betrayal. There is an infinite width to this embrace. The cup of suffering now spills over with the Living Water.

I have tasted the hope of empathy, implored the octave of the heavenly choir. I sing of the power of life after death; the anthem of the children of the rising up again! I have run to the shelter of an old-rugged cross, and hidden my past in His future!

This then is my admission: I've been set free, released, forgiven, declared righteous by the One True King! My Kinsman Redeemer lives to make intercession for me in the trembling face of the Accuser. Death has lost, and love has won. The mallet of the Righteous Judge slams into the jugular vein of Prosecuting Attorney; and the local media has a new evangelion: "Good News!" The removal of sin has become the restoration of Shalom!

Which bring me back to the Table...

- Jay DePoy


Out of Hiding (Father's Song)

This morning I sat with my girls on the couch while they waited for the elementary school bus to pick them up and take them away down the winding, mountain road. I couldn't help but see each of them through the lens of my own childhood.

Mariah is in 5th grade now. She is my twin spirit, and everything about her reminds me of growing up in that A-frame home, built by the hands of my dad. As she was talking to me, I couldn't help but absorb the animated facial expressions, the enthusiastic story-telling, and the way she wears her emotions on the outside, whatever they may be.

Her propensity to run and hide when she is being confronted, is possibly the greatest evidence of her bloodline to a broken man whom has always struggled to come out from behind the fig leaves.

The other day we found her dresser drawer full of candy bar wrappers, which she insisted had miraculously appeared. She went ballistic in denial, throwing a tantrum that could register on the richter scale. She looked in my face and lied to me. Repeatedly. And the more she lied and scrambled and denied and dressed in leaves of figs, the more I loved her.

Because I know this fear.

I just sat with her, quietly on the floor. Her arms were folded (yes, I know I should prepare myself for many more years of this, times three!) and she refused to look at me. Her punishment would be in place until she was willing to own up to her unbecoming. And I didn't get mad, and I wasn't even hurt by her... I was hurting  f o r  her.

Because I know this fear. 

And once you've invested in a denial... once you've run for the border... once you've lit the match to the bridge, you feel you're trapped. The fear of abandonment and loss and unbalanced punishment and whatwouldtheythink? begins to torment you to the point of researching the nearest mental hospital.

My heart broke for her. I just kept repeating to her, a piece of counsel given to me (when I was once hiding in toxic shame): "You don't have to live like this." 

I love this girl. And at times she can light up a room with charisma and charm. And other times she can burn the castle to the ground in her rage and self-hatred. I love her when she shines, and I love her when she gives me the proverbial finger. I love her when she is on the top of a pyramid full of cheerleaders in front of a huge crowd. And I love her when she locks the door and won't let me in.

I want her to live in freedom. I want her to live free from fear, free from the anxiety that she'll be dismissed. I want her to live in complete confidence that her Father loves her, and he'll always leave the Light on for her. And if she locks me out of her bedroom, I'll stand at the door and knock. And if she chooses to hide under an electric blanket of shame, I'll be wooing her out from her hiding.

"And know, as you're running
that what hindered love
will only become
part of the story..."


Grace Comes To Us With Blistered Feet

I once heard a story about an old missionary. He had been afflicted with such a spiritual dis-ease that keeping the Grace of Christ to himself was no longer an option. He set out on foot to reach the unreached people groups of the desolate African landscapes.

But in each village, his message of grace and forgiveness fell on deaf ears and hard hearts. He met rejection and loneliness at every corner. So he would walk in a circle from village to village to village before succumbing to exhaustion. He collapsed in the desert heat and waited to die.

A few days later he was stirred to awaken, in a bed provided by caretakers. He was nourished back to physical health, and noticed the disposition of the locals: they were receptive, curious, and eager to listen to his message. 

The missionary was curious as to why they had now a change of reception. 

The locals pointed to his blistered feet. "When we found you, we noticed the blisters on your dirty feet. We realized that anyone who would walk this relentlessly must have something to share, worth listening to."

When I think about all of the ways that I have rejected God's love for me, I often wonder why He hasn't given up! All those times I insisted to have my own way, He waited. In my absolute defiance of His Spirit's leading, the grace He has offered me is flushed away in rebellion.

Grace comes to us with blistered feet. 

When we least expect it, like a stray dog - grace shows up again at our front door, barking. Incessantly. Relentlessly. Annoying. 

Grace comes to us with blistered feet.

When we least deserve it, like a Christmas present unopened; postmarked from heaven - traveling through hell, grace knocks exhaustively on the door of our hardened heart. With blood-stained, nail-scarred hands, offering forgiveness and Monday-morning hope.

Grace comes to us with blistered feet.

When we ignore, reject, and dismiss this gift, we find one constant seat available at the Table, body broken, blood poured out. Grace has come, and remains the unfinished story...


These Things I Believe...

I believe in fresh water waves crashing into the Grand Haven Pier at Sunset, overlooking Lake Michigan. I believe in the Indian Summer extensions of another afternoon nap on a cloudy day, and the sound of a lawnmower in the distance.

I believe in the smell of a lawn freshly cut, and the feel of soft grass beneath bare feet. I believe in awkward first kisses and the inevitable voltage of love exploding in the veins. I believe in holding hands while roller skating, and building snow forts and snow men and snow angels and hot cocoa to melt away frostbitten fingers.

I believe in town hall meetings, to discuss differences. I believe in the smell of a cigar burning from a mile away, and the old man fishing in the salty sea, and the waves that brought me nearer for another smell of that aroma. I believe in teaching your daughters how to surf. I believe in sunburns and sandcastles and seashells and the sound of crashing surf into a pounding heart beating for one more frozen moment.

I believe in sleeping outside under the stars, and the snuggle of your children on a cold night. I believe in electric blankets on a cozy couch, with Jamie's homemade pizza and our favorite shows. I believe that after all the laughter and heartbreak and the ups and downs and in-betweens, we are going to be just fine.

I believe that she still captivates me, after all these years. With her brown eyes and unpredictable emotions and her luscious lips... she was nineteen years old, when we first met. And she is still the only one who can launch me into a sea of loneliness just by leaving the room! I believe in fighting to learn, and arguing to understand, and never going to be angry. I believe in standing in the doorway to embrace trembling hugs, and uncontrollable tears. I believe in forgiveness and redemption and beginning again, again. I believe in love, love, love held in the grip of grace, grace, grace. I believe in covenants of separation only by death, and even then a reunion in the everlasting.

I believe in outdated choirs singing ancient hymns of an old, rugged cross. I believe in flannel graph stories of runaway sheep, missing coins, and a prodigal son. I believe in miraculous healing from the inside out and the upside, down. I believe in tearing the roof apart to lower your friends to the Great Physician. I believe in sacred songs of Just As I Am Without One Plea and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and I believe there is Power, Power, Wonder-Working Power in the Blood!

I believe in betting on the underdog, and that Cinderella was a shepherd boy with a sling shot. I believe that lions can be made submissive and walls can crumble and earthquakes can tear a veil and break open a tomb and roll a stone.

I believe in resurrection hope... the kind of hope that inspires saints to suffer and martyrs to bleed euphoric resistance. I believe a mustard seed can dismantle an empire. I believe the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth. And in His only Son, Jesus who killed death and broke brokenness. I believe He poured out His Spirit to invade and recapitulate the shattered pieces of my heart.


DePoy Family Lip Sync (2013)

An Excerpt From My Book...

"What is it about tears that serve as an outward expression of an inner pain? Grief looks like an intimate enemy in a world of friends and lovers, terrorists and angels, sinners and saints… we all bleed from a common vein, and if time is a band-aid, then agnosticism is a failing tourniquet. We know the familiar sting of betrayal. We can hear the chorus of a familiar song, and though the lyrics get blurred (subject to interpretation), the anthem of a broken humanity is to cry out to a God who seems to be hiding behind a door, “locked and double shut.”[1]

The unanswered questions inevitably lead toward agnosticism, which is the godfather of hopelessness. Heaven’s silence to our greatest questions leaves an unanchored ship in a tsunami-infested ocean of despair. To what can we anchor our deepest convictions? To whom can we turn to in the wake of the Great Depression?"

[1] Philip Yancey, “Reaching For the Invisible God”. P. ??


writer's block

i feel like i've lost my voice
and my pen has lost its fire
and i'm not good at expressing comprehensive thoughts

but i've become an expert at staring at walls
and losing myself in the wonder of
august heat
country roads
and ashlyn's tears

i've been attempting to write about the rhythm of birth and life and death
and rebirth and life and death and rebirth and...

but it all comes out like a schizophrenic flood
of nonsensical psycho-pseudo babble
in fragmented sentences
gerunds and dang
ling participles

i feel like a traveling salesman
distracted by a garage sale
with an armload of seconhands
baffled at their rejection of my personal credit card
spitting on my palms, extending my handshake
pinky swearing that i'm good for the payback

what i'm trying to say is
i miss the old me.


Love. Only Love.

It's five thirteen am, and I'm driving into Asheville. Somewhere on I-26, listening to NPR and I'm paralyzed by a news report that has me gripping the wheel in anger, and tears begin to fall...

The poorest people group in the world, a rural village outside the Sierra Leone on the West Coast of Africa, has become decimated by a vicious virus now known as Ebola. The origin is unknown, and the transmission is lethal. People are dying by the thousands, after reports of bleeding from the eyes and ears, and internal corruption. There is no known cure, and the Western World is rushing to the chalkboard to examine the evidence and find aggressive ways to treat this virus.

The portrait was painted on the news this morning of the children... Imagine you are a small child who is watching your mother cough up blood, until her eyes bulge out of her head. After a few days of this exhaustion, a van rolls up and several aliens with hazmat suits march in and abduct your ailing mother, loading her into a van with other disease-infected villagers. All you know is that this strange scene is burned into your conscience and after several days of no report, you realize your mom is not coming home. And now you (and your two baby siblings) are orphans.

As the broadcast continued, children are being reported to be walking aimlessly through the streets and villages, traumatized by the recent events, and literally starving. These newly-orphaned children have no idea what happened, only that strange men in hazmat suits came in and took their mother away, and now - the widespread panic has seized the rest of the nation, and  n o b o d y  will allow you to come near. These children are being stigmatized as the orphans of the Ebola outbreak, and fear of transmission has suffocated the region. As they wander, searching for the lowest pyramid of Maslow's Hierarchy, food and water are not available. And answers to the questions unspoken prevent these children from acquiring sleep, or peace.

---  and while I was watching the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains, my heart literally broke for these children! The next news report came from Lebanon where Syrian refugees are being forced to find shelter from the ISIS (Muslim Extremists), and the bloodshed is flowing like the Ebola virus through the veins of humanity like the rivers of the Tigris and Euphrates from a bleeding Eden.

Here is a picture of a little girl named Reem. She is recently orphaned after her entire family was massacred in this senseless [un]holy war. Reem was reportedly stationed in a refugee camp in Northern Lebanon, and a media journalist in passing captured this image: Her green eyes piercing into the camera, and her 9 year-old conviction sought a marker and wrote the word "Love." in both English and Arabic.

Oh the power of that word!


If only the Kingdom of Heaven on earth would come, even now in this moment.

Dear God, invade us with your tears. Tear down these empires of sand and greed and oil and blood and religion and money and hate and self and the American Dream and all of the lies upon which these self-evident truths were established, to conquer and destroy and infiltrate and assimilate and incorporate. Burn down our accumulating collections of self-preservation, until we see the Rescuer with scars on His hands and feet and tears in His eyes for an unwilling Jerusalem to be gathered... May the glory of Jesus detonate the United Nations into an oblivion of fragmented revelations that there is only One Hope for this broken planet.


The inexplicable mystery from the ineffable Name, poured out at the cross as a ransom for the captives. Love so exhaustive, so intoxicating that the blind see men as trees and stumble in the morning light into angels announcing, "He is not here, for He is risen!" 


The kind of love that causes knees to tremble in the collapse, with bowed heads and confessing tongues that there is One Lord, and all of creation is growing for the redemption of His blood.


That You May Be Healed...

The earliest followers of Jesus believed that sharing life together was the only way to live out the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. It was never meant to be a privatized theory, or a romantic intuition of personal feelings. The unity revolved around what was held in common, sacred songs and meals and prayers and faith.

James (the half-brother of Jesus) led an underground revolution in the city of Ephesus. He was known for outlandish behavior, violent love, and an incomprehensible devotion to prayer. In one of his letters to the followers of the Way, he encouraged the Church to "... confess your sins one to another, that you may be healed."

Because somewhere in the gasp of unholy revelations, chains were dismantled! A mysterious phenomenon had begun to surface whenever the Family came together for worship: in the sacramental act of walking in the Light of confession and repentance, healings (both internal and external) were being made manifest. Headaches were alleviated, chest pain subsided, blind eyes were being made to see the deaf ears now leaning in to hear horrible confessions of sin.

And in the process of opening up about personal sin, individuals who dared to be fully transparent were liberated and healed! They would gather and sing and share and laugh and cry and break bread and drink the cup and remember the One who has come to the rescue of the cosmos.

But however romantic these notions remain, they have not been my experience in the Church today. Instead, my journey has led me to a reinforced belief that it's safer to remain hidden. Or at least, it feels that way. It's as if the ancient tradition has been crossed out and rewritten:

"Confess your sins one to another, that you might be healed abandoned."

In a recent debate on an video series called The Elephant Room, several evangelical church leaders met to discuss the issue of church discipline and the restoration of a fallen brother. Most of the voices of revered pulpiteers had collectively agreed that a fallen sinner can experience restoration (after confession and repentance) but that they would systematically be forced from future positions of leadership, and removed (another word for banished) from the Church Family, permanently. They would be recommended to another church, but not the Family in which they had previously been engaged.

And while the rest of the congregation watches our exhaustive hypocrisy, the image is reinforced in the public shaming of a fellow sinner being sent into exile (even after confessing the sin and repenting of the same!). Heck no, if this is what happens when you are discovered to be immoral, addicted, impure, or broken - this is not a safe place to walk in the light!

I dream of the day when all will be restored and reconciled in the healing of the Nations, the healing of my country, the healing of my city, the healing of my church, and the healing of my own heart.

Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.


Living to Serve, Dying to Save

My friend died a few days ago. News reports trickled in with various accounts and all of which centered around Matt Auten, a modern hero. He was a man of quiet faith, deep conviction, and selfless dedication. He was a talented artist, and could have made a lot of money outside of his chosen profession: to provide care for the facilities at a Group Home serving autistic and Intellectually Disabled people in Asheville.

Last week Matt took his wife and two small boys to the Ocean for a family vacation. The incoming tide left his boys (6,9) stranded on a sandbar. The riptide caught him while rescuing them.. and although he was able to get his boys and wife to the safety of shore, he was too fatigued to keep paddling himself. He drowned in the middle of the afternoon, in the visible presence of his family.

Two things stay with me: living with a passion to serve others, and dying with a passion to save others. These two ingredients exemplify the life and teaching of my Rabbi, Jesus. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. My Rabbi was the epitome of a Servant King; washing the feet of the least is not exactly the powerful image that Kings are remembered for.

And in the end, it would be the ultimate sacrifice. Greater love has no man this, than to lay down his life for his friends...

I want to live serving others. And when I die, I can only hope it is glorious in the glimmer of exhaustive love.


Tragicomedic Fiction (Based on Actual Events)

Have you ever had the tragicomedic misfortune of overhearing a conversation about a series of rumors, and as it turns out, the gossip was about yourself? You try to close your eyes and plug your ears, but then you lean in more to hear what the latest speculation is...

So. Inaccurate.

But instead of correcting the unsuspecting voices, you nod and leave them to their contribution to the wildfire of runaway tongues set on the course of hell. (And we all know who is behind the fictitious names and anonymous comments, so the cosmic laughter applauds your plotting). 

I've heard a lot of rumors about what has become of me, but here is what you need to know: I remain the Lead Pastor of thriving House Church. I am outrageously loved by a Puerto-Rican Beauty, and honored by three little girls who envelope their middle names (grace, faith, and hope). I am deliriously content to take a step away from the brokenness and the addictions and the homelessness and the midnight calls threatening suicide and the infinite requests and the need to meet unrealistic demands and the exhaustion of keeping everyone happy. I would much rather wash dishes for minimum wage than get lost in the pursuit of gaining the whole world. 

Maybe someday I'll tell you the rest of the story, but as for now I'll let you keep perpetuating the rumors and the "have you heard?"s and the triangulation that suffocates the Kingdom in the name of Pharisaical self-righteousness. Carry on...


In Praise of Slow

For as long as I can remember, I've been in a hurry. The windshield displayed a forecast of urgency toward the immanent horizon, future endeavors and mountains to climb. For those who have ever spent time in my company, collective testimonies confirm my restlessness: I pick at my fingers, chew on the interior of my cheek, grind my teeth, tap my foot... unsettled. I am forever a pilgrim wanderer, excited to see what's over the next ridge.

What if this season of my life is God's invitation to  s t o p ?

Shhhhh. Listen, not to the gossip and speculation and voices.
Shhhh, listen. Hear the whispers of the July wind, and the distant growl of afternoon thunder.
Listen to the infinite chorus of songbirds, and crickets and bullfrogs and wildflowers groaning for redemption. Listen to the laughter of three little girls doing cartwheels in the front yard, and listen to the silence of the heavenly amen.

Oh God, I need to hear from you! Please be near to me in this season of still, and let me warm my thoughts beside the aching, eternal flame of a bush unconsumed. May I become like this desert bush in the Midian heat: available and burnable. And may I also be like this Exodus Bush --- undestroyed in the eternal flame of your revelation.


Deeper Than Wide

From a hill overlooking the great divide
Is a river flowing deeper than wide
To a tomorrow further than forever
And a chorus of happily after never
I called you to tell you I’m sorry
For unspoken words and unwritten letters
I’m almost home now, don’t worry
Or this is the endless for worse or for better
Deafening the quiet these thoughts silent
Something inherent to the verbally violent
Erasing the promises on castles of sand
Permanent whispers with invisible crayon
I need you more than lungs need air.


Summer in Michigan

I've always felt "outside the circle" looking in. But lately I've realized that there is one circle that matters, and it will not be broken. This is my family. This is my church. This is my life.


Rain or Shine

For the past four years, I've had the joy of becoming close friends with a young man who is blessed with the gift of autism. Rain or shine, Jer-Bear is always happy, and he has a thousand reasons to celebrate each new morning.

Whenever I am feeling discouraged, lonely, or hopeless, I pick up Jeremiah and we drive into the city of Asheville. He has a fascination with matchbox cars, so you'll find him holding at least one car in his right hand, and several more stuffed in each pocket. Although he lives out in the far-out country, he prefers that we listen to Gangsta Rap, and he admits that he rolls like a true gangsta from Madison County!

Last month he received an award at the Salvation Army in Asheville, for his years of dedication and volunteer service in the name of love. He was so proud to sit at the award table, and I was so proud to sit beside my good friend.


leaking vs distillation

in a confession to a true friend
i told him that i have changed significantly over the past few years.

how so, he asked.

i explained to him that i seemed to have lost expressive passion; it seems to have leaked out of me, slowly but surely.

he told me that i have confused "leaking" with "distillation".
in other words
my passion remains
as energetic and volatile as ever,
but it has become fermented with time
and the distillation process has cultivated a deeper understanding of time, energy, and the appropriate contexts from which to leap into full transparency.


The Delicate Fade

"... after all, it's better to burn out than fade away." - Kurt Cobain (suicide letter written 20 years ago, today).
Once upon a time, I used to charge the gates of hell with a squirt gun. I would give a call to arms and a declaration of war. There was no demon in hell that could stop the avalanche of the invading Kingdom! I used to be the guy who would spit all over the first three rows while preaching about the implications of the resurrection. The tomb is empty! Let's take this city for Jesus. "Imagine addictions being broken, marriages being restored, crack houses becoming house churches, and the Kingdom of God invading every inch of our city!"
I used to knock on the door of the front office, anxious to enlist. I was the Rudy of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary! "Put me in coach, I want to charge the enemy!" I had so much confidence that God was going to use me to touch lives with biblical teaching, and I would be the kind of friend that would never let people down. I was available. Accessible. Here is my phone number. Here is my house. Here are my keys. Here is my heart. Here is my family. Here are the answers.
But that energy has turned against me. The internal fortitude to wreck the world has revolted to my own ruin. The eros fire has not been well-stewarded, and the greatest of intentions have drowned in the endless current of resistance. You can't swim against the current forever, eventually you surrender to the counter attack.
So here I drift. I am burned out. Exhausted. It is time to recharge the batteries and get some rest. I just want to love Jamie and our girls. I don't give a crap if I ever see another microphone again. All that matters is my family, and the rest is history.


When All Else Fails...

Sometimes you just need to sit on the porch with a good friend, watching the North Carolina sunrise. And sometimes the conversations need to be vulnerable, with a hint of exhaustion and a visible frustration. And as Chris Night sings about the back roads that lead to his mother's house, we both know you can't go back.
I would give anything to do it all over again...
Sometimes when I can't sleep, I imagine that I am 18 and I have my whole life in front of me. I would have gone to Cornerstone and Mars Hill and North Park or maybe Fuller but in the end, I would have been a prodigy. I would have learned from all of the best, and become even better. I would have been the catalyst for a revolution in a city of spiritual pollution, I would have been the voice of a generation, seeking the Way, Truth, and Life.
But the personal pronouns have hijacked the glory of the One I have tried so hard to hide behind. And the illumination of the stage lights have demanded an exit, stage-right. And the curtain can't hide the shame and the internal bleeding is one octave too high for the oppositional defiant disorder that refuses to conclude a run-on sentence like a train without breaks and a fist in the dark swinging at the voices of damn and erasers against flesh and we both know this won't end well but you said you'd never leave me and yet this basement is hollow and I can't bring myself to pick up the pieces of the church planters' tool kit complete with twelve cassette tapes and a thousand pages hurled violently against the brick wall and my knuckles bleeding and then he asked, are you having any thoughts about self-harm?
I wish I could go back to Byron Road and standing in the driveway, the first time I kissed Jamie. It was October of '99, and in those days the Oak Trees used to shimmer like the sun melting into Lake Michigan. I would have told her to wait for me, I'll catch up to the man she needs me to become. And then maybe I would tell her to run away because I'm only capable of bringing pain to those who love me. Or maybe I would just hold her in a Kairos moment, and surrender to the freeze of a photograph in front of the Bible Baptist Temple when all we knew was true and there was no ceiling, only the expanse of an open sky - blue to her, grey to me. I wish I could go back to the hope and wonder and the optimism and the glass have full.
Sometimes you just need to exit the highway, and pull into an abandoned parking lot. Sit in the drivers seat hovering over weeds beneath the shade tree on Highway 40 - and put on some Bon Iver and crack the windows while you fall asleep. The exhaustion has finally caught up, and I can not go any further...
"Come on skinny love just last the year,
Pour a little salt - we were never here...
Who will love you?
Who will fight?
And who will fall far behind?"


DePoy Family [Home Team]

I love my family. Jamie Jo. Mariah Grace. Ambria Faith. Ashlyn Hope.

- Jay DePoy

the liberation project

"...Or it will continue on as the undeniable chain reaction that was born in the basement of a farmhouse in Mars Hill, under a shimmering sky that still makes me ache for home, wherever that might be."