12.16.2014

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

12.10.2014

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..."









11.18.2014

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...

11.05.2014

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.

10.10.2014

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. ??


10.05.2014

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 live 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
hanging
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.


9.17.2014

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!

Love.



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.

Love.

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!" 

Love.

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.


9.12.2014

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.



8.22.2014

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.

7.19.2014

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...

7.11.2014

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.


6.28.2014

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.

6.25.2014

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.


6.05.2014

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.


5.17.2014

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.

4.23.2014

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.

4.08.2014

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?"

3.13.2014

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."



2.21.2014

Ashlyn's Brain Surgery (Recovery and Hope)

It is a helpless feeling to see your daughter crying in pain. I would have given anything to trade places with her, and all I could do was cry. Jamie and I have been through the hard times, but the laughter of our girls has given us all of the strength we need to endure, and share God's unconditional love with everyone we meet!

Thanks to the medical community at Duke Children's Hospital, Ashlyn's Chiari Malformation has been addressed, and reversed! We celebrate every waking moment with this little princess!

Under Construction

The more I learn, the less I know. After the education and culmination of degrees earned, books read, and sermons given, what remains is the mystery of amazing grace.

I am not as certain as I once was. I do not talk as loud, or walk as proud as I once did. There was a time that I had the answers to questions that weren't even being asked.

But all that remains is the love of my wife, and our three little girls. They know that I'm far from perfect, and I never claimed to have been...  But with each new day, I care more deeply for their joy, and the safety of their hearts. I can hear their laughter, and their innocence - and I am resolved to pursue a deeper level of sacrificial love than ever before.

2.13.2014

letters unsent, and promises unkept

remind me to tell you about the time i suffocated
beneath the purple sky and still you waited
for the trembling to stop as the tears dried midway down my face
somehow we both knew, this would be your last embrace

and all the promises broken between yesterday and tomorrow
have jaded the glass half empty in celebration of sorrow
your words remain bleeding like a wound unbound
the audible implosion of snow covering the ground

frozen, your footprints linger in the photograph, a voice
unreasonable in the river of your whispering voice
a familiar chorus rewritten for us, and a bridge
connecting the hope from the balancing ledge

remind me to feel sorry, for the times i ignored you
and the unconquerable anger directed toward you
creating holes in your story unholy
fragments melting truly, slowly

whatever happened to the promise of january
and new beginnings and fading february
into a spring of regret and resurrection
inching forward with no sense of direction

remind me to tell you that i loved you
less than words and more than i meant to
but the heart reaches for the inevitable
lines in a song that are now forgettable


2.01.2014

"Willing the One Thing"





"Distracted people get distracted by people who don't get distracted."



Exodus Church

Jay DePoy

1.26.2014

Blessed Are the Spiritually Bankrupt


        Daylight was fading, and the rural highway seemed to be mocking me at every mile marker. My fuel was registering fumes, with no relief in sight. Each exit seemed to present the same absent hospitality that a traveling motorist searches for. And then, all hell broke loose…
From beneath the hood of my Volkswagen Jetta, glorious smoke began to interrupt the broadcast, invading my personal space. Without clear visibility, I put the car in neutral and drifted to the shoulder of the road until the car rolled to a complete stop. Opening the hood released the floodgates of hopelessness, a blown engine! In the middle of nowhere, as the October sun began to fade into the South Carolina west. I was frozen in the epiphany of helplessness.
No signal on my cell phone, and nothing but a lonely road surrounded by swamplands; have you ever been there? If you listen closely, you can hear banjo music and squealing pigs… What was meant to be a simple road trip from our new home in Asheville to the Atlantic coast had turned out to be a nightmare. My route home had been compromised, and my ideal surf trip would turn out to cost a fortune…a fortune that I did not have.
Bubba Gump stopped and gave me a lift to the nearest exit, where I set out on foot to the nearest gas station. Of course, they were closed! I found a payphone and dialed my wife… “Umm Jamie, I’m in a bad place. I hear banjo music. Have you ever seen Deliverance?”
Having recently transplanted from Michigan, we did not have very many contacts in our new hometown. So she buckled our two daughters into the minivan, and set out for the four-hour drive to rescue me. And after what seemed like forever, I called her back from the payphone. As it turns out, while she was in route to my rescue, the transmission on her van was blown. She was now the one stranded on the side of the highway with two little girls crying…

            “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”

If you have ever found yourself to be stranded on the side of the road, with daylight fading – you know the feeling of helplessness. If you have ever had your car repossessed for lack of payments, or your checks bounced for insufficient funds…If you have ever been forgiven 70 x 7 but then fallen off the wagon again, or completed twelve steps only to reach the top of the stairs for an epic crash all over again…If you have ever looked in the rear-view and saw the billows of smoke from bridges burned and relationships destroyed… If you have ever sat in the back of the church with arms crossed and fists clenched and tears of anger washing blood-stained hands… Jesus says, “You are blessed!” Perhaps a better translation of the original language is “happy” or “satisfied”. Because it is only in the posture of brokenness that grace is revealed to be all-sufficient.
Jesus talks about the poverty of spirit. He’s talking spiritual bankruptcy. The problem with the word “bankruptcy” and the concept of bankruptcy is that you’re not really broke at all. Currently, American Airlines is losing money, but the reason they talk about filing for bankruptcy is to protect their assets. That’s not spiritual bankruptcy. When we declare spiritual bankruptcy, there is nothing left in the bank.

Bend Your Knees

The opening lines of the Kingdom Manifesto do not begin with a call to arms, or a declaration of war. Jesus does not rally Israel to an emphatic battle cry against the Roman Empire. There is no Zealot flag waiving or palm branch parade… Instead Jesus interrupts the broadcast with a pregnant pause, followed by a description of what the Kingdom of Heaven on earth looks like. And it is NOT what they were taught to believe in Sunday school, with flannel-graph depictions of a white Jesus surrounded by the vineyard grapes of Zion. It is not a political delivery of God’s Fury on the Roman Empire.
Instead it is a hyper-exaggeration of the least of these; A characature description of a homeless, powerless, vulnerable beggar. Quite literally, the words chosen by Jesus to visually illustrate the coming of the Kingdom included “P’tochos” which means “to crouch or bend low, to beg.”
Happy and satisfied is the man who is broken so low that he has to crawl his way to the communion table. Because it is only the hungry that can enjoy the euphoria of the Body broken, and the Wine poured out… Content is the man who is spiritually bankrupt, for in his crawling in the dirt he has stumbled into a lottery ticket. And his subsequent inheritance is the immanent explosion of grace.
Jesus would exemplify this reality throughout his life and ministry. To the shock and awe of the professional religious establishment, it would be the self-righteous Pharisees who were often left standing outside the Kingdom Party, while ‘the least of these’ were embraced at the epic feast. On one particular occasion an unnamed woman ‘who had lived a sinful life’ had crashed the dinner party of a select audience. Her uphill clawing through the gatekeepers, past the hospitality team, around the host, and directly to the Guest of Honor – would provide the delicate platform from which Jesus would visually illustrate: This is what grace looks like - A woman of ill-repute clutching the dusty feet of a homeless, itinerant Rabbi, and finding the scandalous embrace of a God who crouches low to sit in the dirt with those who crouch low.
On another occasion, Jesus tells the story of two men who sat side-by-side in the front pew of the Temple Baptist Church. One of them lifted his King James Bible from the interior pocket of his three-piece suit, and waived it in the air as he praised himself for not being a dirty, filthy, sinner -> winking toward the alcoholic sitting beside him. Simultaneously, the spiritually bankrupt heathen had crashed on the altar during the last stanza of “Just As I Am”, and knocked with bloody knuckles on the door of heaven, for God’s mercy to expunge a criminal record that had made the front page of the Muskegon Chronicle.
Every chapter of the New Testament is drenched in the bloody blanket of God’s forgiveness toward the unforgivable. Blind men crying out against the insistence of the liturgical police, contaminated lepers reaching in faith for the Holy Touch of the Great Physician. Jesus had come to illustrate the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven by signing His Name next to those who have dismal credit history! He stoops to write in the sand beside a spiritually-bankrupt prostitute, the finger of God carving out a New Covenant!
This is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant, foreshadowed through the window of Rahab (the prostitute of ancient Jericho), as she was rescued from the immanent destruction. Her scarlet red cord was the fleshing out of her faith in the God of Israel who had come to set the captives free. So she imitated the exodus pattern: a sign of blood redemption over the doorway of her house… Blessed is the prostitute who is hanging on by a thread, to the hope of deliverance! Rahab would be rescued and redeemed by the God of Israel, and brought back to join the Royal Family. She had been lost, but now she was found.
            One day, Rahab caught the eye of Salmon the Prince of Judah. He saw through the shame of her previous occupation and found her to be gloriously redeemed! He got down on one knee and wrote in the sand, “Marry Me?” History records that a prostitute would marry a prince. And Rahab would give birth to Boaz, who married Ruth. And Ruth gave birth to Obed, the father of Jesse. And Jesse would be the father of David, the King of Israel… And the ancestry of Jesus begins with a lineage traced back to a prostitute.
            Unless you have ever been hanging on by a scarlet thread to the hope of a rescue, you would never fully appreciate the coming of the Mercy King. It’s not until you have considered robbing a bank to feed your children that you learn to appreciate the desperate times that call for desperate measures. And the journey from the cradle to the cross would paint a portrait of the scandalous grace that inaugurated the heavenly Kingdom.
Grace. Scandalous grace. Mysterious grace. Amazing grace. Bang my head against the wall grace. Knock me off my feet grace. Incomprehensible grace. Violent grace. Furious grace. Bloody grace. Terrible grace. Awful grace. Inexplicable grace. Stand up and sing grace. Sit down and cry grace. Gospel grace. New World Disorder grace. Upside down grace. Inside out grace. Crucified grace. Resurrected grace. The last chapter is still being written about grace. Redeeming grace. Whore-turned-virgin grace. Prostitute-turned-Princess grace. Body broken, blood poured out grace. Welcome to the Table of grace. Pull up a chair grace. Light a candle grace. Burn down your religious castle grace. Beautiful ashes of grace.

Incomprehensible Grace

A friend of a friend heard from a friend who knew a guy who had a flatbed trailer. After what seemed like an eternity on the side of a barren road in South Carolina, my rescue had come. As the morning daylight was chasing the darkness, I could not lift a finger to save myself. Instead the rescue mission interrupted the noise of distant banjos and squealing pigs; I emerged from the bushes with self-inflicted camoflage and a mild case of night tremors.
I stood helpless beside the pick-up truck, as the Rescuer lifted my lifeless vehicle from the grave of hopelessness. I climbed into the passenger seat and began to take an inventory of the mileage on the dashboard. I started to calculate the cost of my rescue, and made mental notes as we began to drive away. Thank you is not sufficient! In a moment of clarity, I realize the ginormity of this occasion, and the visible picture of the heavenly invasion to a broken world.
The Rescuer was a man of few words. We did not speak for most of the ride home. He enquired about the safety of my wife, whom as it turned out, had made it home safely. He had come for one reason, to bring me home. He was committed to the mission, and I was strapped in as a passenger on a tour from a distant land; a prodigal who had filed for spiritual bankruptcy and had holy jeans, dirty hands, and a bit of a temper.
We stopped to pick up a meal at a fast food restaurant, and at the drive through I reached in my pocket for what was left of quarters and dimes and… he ordered a full meal for both of us. At that moment, I felt so unworthy, so helpless! After my first bite, I reminded him about my insistence to retain all receipts for gasoline and meals. After all, I explained, this was all going to be repaid! The Rescuer turned his face toward mine with a Southern grin, as if to say, “Bless your heart.” But instead of agreeing, he interrupted my insistence with an abruption; “You don’t understand grace, do you?”
And the truth is, I do not.
Grace is an unsolved mystery that has taunted me in the midnight hours. I don’t understand the reverse psychology that lovingly responds to hate, and turns the other cheek. I can’t comprehend praying for my enemies or giving my jacket to a thief. I can’t wrap my mind around offering to lay down my life for those who would relish the opportunity to take it. No, I do not understand grace.

Blood On Your Khakis

A few years ago my friends and I started a church. Downtown Asheville, North Carolina is a bubble in the bathtub of the Southern Baptist Bible Belt. This vacation destination in the center of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a home to an eclectic community of train kids, neo-hippies, trustafarians (suburban kids that are living off the grid, but frequent the ATM to access their Trust Fund), and one of the largest populations of the Gay and Lesbian community in the Southern United States. The ideal climate is an invitation for countless homeless individuals who are looking for a place to belong, and southern hospitality will bless your little heart…
One day I met a homeless man named Chris. He had once been a scholarship student at a private college, where he thrived as an athlete on campus. But Chris had an injury that led him to painkillers, and alcohol followed. Within a year he had lost his scholarship, dropped out of school, and was a homeless, drug addict. He burned bridges in nearly every relationship he had, and found himself in jail. The day I met him, Chris had been recently released from incarceration, and had hopes for a new beginning.
I began to meet with Chris for weekly bible studies and discipleship. He was learning to follow the Way of Jesus, and he seemed hungry to learn more about the Path of Descent and the journey of the cross. After a few months of intentional devotion, I baptized Chris in the Swannanoa River, behind one of the shelters that housed homeless veterans in our community.
      Two weeks later, Chris disappeared. He had all but vanished from the grid, and no one had seen him in weeks. On the night before Halloween, I finally found him. He was standing behind a tree in a park, hiding. His hat was pulled down over his face, and he was literally trembling in fear… When I approached him he immediately confessed, “I relapsed, man. I need help!” As it turned out, Chris had gone on a crack-cocaine binge, and ran up a debt to a local dealer. “This guy is going to kill me if I don’t pay him immediately; Jay can you cover me?” Chris was looking over his shoulders and fearing that at any moment he was going to be physically attacked.
      After a quick inventory of my seminary notes, I couldn’t find anything about how to deal with this situation… The answer might not be as obvious as one would imagine. Is the Church in the habit of paying off drug dealers to secure the release of a homeless addict? And after all, isn’t that kind of like the Ransom Theory of the Atonement - That Christ paid a debt to purchase our freedom? I labored over this question, but the answer came inevitably through practicum, no. Because we don’t have the money anyway!
            Two days later, the Exodus Lovelution gathered for our weekly Church Service “Family Reunion” inside the Community Theatre. As the call of the tribe was swelling, the smell of coffee filled the auditorium. The drums began to pound, and the natives assembled together to sing and celebrate and explore the Love Letter… Hands were lifted in the air in adoration to the Mercy King, “and heaven meets earth like a sloppy, wet kiss…”
            And then it happened. Through the back door, a shadow emerged… stumbling down the isle came the prodigal. During the third song of our worship set, Chris crashed down to the front of the church. As he neared the stage, the lights captured a profusely bleeding forehead. His fingers had been literally ripped from his hands, dangling by a thread to the hope of redemption. The Worship Leader looked at me, and I looked at the bulletin: “This isn’t calculated in our order of worship!”
            The music stopped, and the hush of the Family allowed for the audible evidence of a broken heart. I approached Chris, as he wept. He just kept repeating, “I’m so sorry God! I am so sorry… I abandoned you, Jesus have mercy on me!” The blood pouring from his head, mixed with his tears. His snot spread down his shirt, and he clutched my khaki pants at the foot of the stage, just sobbing. What a mess… blood, sweat, tears, snot, and a strung-out addict who was desperate for a pill to kill the pain.
            P’tochos. Blessed are the spiritually bankrupted, homeless drug addicts, for they shall receive the sloppy, wet kiss of heaven – crashing into earth!

1.24.2014

Tell Us A Story, Daddy

Every night as the girls are settling into bed, the routine is familiar. Mariah climbs to the top bunk, and Ambria claims the bottom bed, while Ashlyn sits on my lap. We turn down the lights, turn on the fan, and of course, the night light. And from the shadows they ask, "Will you tell us a story?"

The stories have varied from bed-time readings through the Children's bible, or impromptu-makebelieveonthespot stories about Billy the Bear and his ninja sidekick, Timmy the Turtle.

But lately they insist on a story from my own childhood experiences… The sit up in their beds and lean in to hear the hilarious details of my unfortunate adolescence. How awkward and humiliating were those middle-school years? The legend of my Great Aunt Hazel - whom lived with us when I was in high school, and at 96 years of age she enjoyed dementia, requiring a re-introduction every morning.

I could tell them stories of getting lost in the woods, and the panic attacks when I could not find my way home… The setting sun, and the wonder if I would ever see my eighth birthday. I avoid the painful memories of my grandfather calling my dad a failure as we all sat at the kitchen table. I dare not explain to them the wretched tales of getting beat up physically and spiritually in the basement of the Bible Baptist Temple, about how the Fehler boys used to beat me up after Sunday school, and my teacher used to psychological torture me with heretical notions of a God who hates me.

Instead I tell them stories about a mother's love, and how she endlessly served the full house. I can't remember a time she was able to enjoy a hot meal, because by the time she sat down to eat her food was cold, and we were finished. And nobody seemed to notice her exhaustion… until now. I tell them stories about my dad who used to take us camping in the winter blizzards, and our home-schooling allowed for the freedom of schedule to go sledding down the Sugar Bowl hills behind Lake Harbor Park. I choose to tell them stories of hilarity and sentimentality, of the time a burglar broke into our home on Christmas Eve and stole all of the gifts under the tree… And the time the neighbors came together to make sure we had plenty of toys to unwrap.

And we have a tradition. If ever in a crowded room, to mouth the words "Olive Juice" to each other, and from a distance the lips read - "I love you". And in the morning as they walk out to the long school bus waiting at the edge of the driveway, Jamie has taught them to repeat the phrase: "CHOOSE JOY!"

Because at the end of the day, it's a choice. You can choose to live in the darkness of the past, or the light of the future sunlight. You can dwell on the negative stories that shape your life, or you can focus on the ones that make you laugh, as you reminisce on good friends, and the love of family. You can choose pessimism, that's easy. Or you can choose joy.

Choose joy.

1.03.2014

Impact Church, Lowell, Michigan (A Reunion)

I had the privilege of preaching at Impact Church in Lowell, Michigan last week. Returning home to Michigan is always bittersweet, and in this message I share from the pain of personal hope…

Click here to watch the video.

In All Honesty


I am choosing to rest in the presence of God's unfailing mercy.
The Hebrew Psalms speak of "Khe-sed" which is the everlasting love of Yahweh.

There are no limits to His love. There is not category where His love for me is absent. There is nothing I can ever do, or ever not do that could dismantle this covenant.

And God's punishment is that I will be forced to accept the violence of His love. Every morning, his mercy greets me with the sun rise. Every breath is a forceful invasion of His grace. I am beloved of the Abba Father, and there is nothing I can do about it.

Thank you God, for creating within me a clean heart. Wash me thoroughly in the everlasting Khe-sed of your everlasting love. Cover me with the blood of Christ, and protect me from the lies that I had chosen to believe. Break the chains that have held me captive for thirty years. Crush the serpent under the heal of the Resurrected One. Smash the enemy with the power of your Chebod.

I am nothing. You are everything.


12.16.2013

Thoughts on Life and Death


Lately I've been thinking about my own funeral.

No, I don't have plans to end my life, and I do not have a death wish. Whatever discouraging thoughts of depression or self-harm I may have wrestled with are usually chased away by the morning sunrise. I used to dwell on the fatalism of death by exposure, or I had this fantasy of going out to Montana and handcuffing myself to a tree at the top of a lonely mountain and throwing the key just outside of reach… and waiting to die.

But these days, I have a life wish. I want to experience all of the voltage of breathing and laughter and music and chasing my dreams! I want to feel the blood in my veins pumping adrenaline as I clap with the Exodus Family in the Rock of Ages. I want to melt with my daughters as we sip hot cocoa on a wintry day, and reminisce on the sledding hill behind the house. I want to lean into the laughter of their innocence, and remember…

Remember the time my cousin Daniel Cook and I were sledding in the Michigan snow. We were both young boys finding our way...There was a collision with a tree and knot on his forehead; and we sat together in the snow and cried until my mom came out to see what was wrong.

Remember the time I almost drowned in Lake Michigan, after an autumn storm. Waves crashed into the pier and I tried to rescue my puppy, a purebred Black Labrador who had been swept off into the waves. I thought I was going to die, but I could not watch my puppy drown without a doing something to help! We both eventually collapsed on the beach, exhausted. But it was the best. feeling. ever.

Remember sitting with my dad at a coffee shop in North Carolina, and hearing him share about the mistakes he's made along his journey. To see how time has humbled him, and after reconstructive knee surgery he hobbles around in a slower pace… reflective of things he would have done differently if he had the opportunity. He would have worked harder to develop a culture of grace, not law. He would have been more aggressive to help, and slower to judge. He would have leaned into the mercy of the cross, and less on the legalism of man.

Remember the time I laid behind the curtain at the Asheville Community Theatre, as the auditorium was filling up with Exodus Revolutionaries, and I took off my shoes and socks before the holy ground. I cried uncontrollably in recognition of the sacredness of the moment: restoration and redemption has reached into the brokenness of my heart. So when I stand to preach about hope and forgiveness and the God of 2nd Chances - it's coming from a place of personal experience.

I can't help but to wonder what my funeral will be like. How will I be remembered? The truth is, funerals have a way of immortalizing the man in the casket. Our culture tends to deify the dead. I hope that doesn't happen at my funeral. I want honesty to prevail in the eulogy. I want those who know me the best to say, "He was a very broken and flawed man, who clawed his way toward the cross. He was more likely to let his ego get in the way of relationships, and he carried bitterness in his heart. But that is why he was so desperate for Jesus, and so passionate about preaching this gospel! He was often lonely and discouraged, but he was also the first to reach out to help his friends, and he would have taken a bullet for his family."

I want to be remembered as a loving daddy to my girls, and a flawed but faithful husband to Jamie. I want to leave a legacy of gospel proclamation and a life of sacrificial love. At the end of the day, nothing else matters…


12.09.2013

there are few things i don't like to talk about


there are few things i don't like to talk about
like the transition from being the happy child
who knew no strangers
to the jaded prophet
who assumes the worst

and the way the roads turn from north to south
like a subversive smile on a familiar mouth
leading me away from trees lining byron road
with leaves falling from the immanent cold

there are few things i don't like to talk about
like the tiny casket of my infant brother
and the day the clock stopped short of another day
hands circling the oak tree in the lakeside cemetery

and the weight of the whispers in a crowded room
her hand in a fist shaking immanent doom
the collapse of innocence and the candle burns
eighty-nine more days to live and learn

there are a few things i don't like to talk about
like the ever present absence of Immanuel
and the assumption of grace in a world lacking
delicate winter weather advisories
and the wonder of forgiveness, when i feel none

and the laughter of three little girls
who will always believe in their daddy
no matter the speculation and circulation
unashamed affection without hesitation
this is true, of this i'm sure…
i love you.

12.03.2013

An Open Letter To My Younger Self

Forgive me, please. I've been meaning to connect with you for quite some time. Days became months, and months became years... I got busy, and distant. The space created was intentional and forced and in our best interest, trust me.

The truth is, I have harbored hatred in my heart toward you. On many occasions I wanted to cut you to pieces, and shatter the mirror that reminded me of your depravity! I have had dreams of killing you, and pushing you off a towering ledge ~ and I imagined what your funeral would be like. I have torn apart your pictures, and mocked your crooked teethe and poor posture.

I know you! I know the way you habitually pick at your fingers when you're lost in thought. I know your secrets and your shame. I know you've said too much. Yes, I know about that closet addiction and the bible verse you quote to tell yourself that it will be okay. I know you blame everyone else for the ecclesiastical trauma you limped away from. But the truth is, you were never more true than the moment you plead guilty.

And in your confession, things have begun to change internally.
Now therefore, there is no condemnation.

If I could have your complete attention, I would put you in a choke hold until you are ready to surrender to my counsel... There are a few things I want to tell you:

1. Guard Your Heart

Be careful. In your desire to love and be loved, you will be tempted to trust the wrong people with the most sacred of your possessions. Your heart is a vessel that pumps royally-transfused blood into veins that run fervently toward mercy. You stay awake at night dreaming of changing the world and making a difference and zeal for the Father's House will consume you.

Don't trust the applause of men. They will hail you in one breath, and crucify you in the next. Don't trust the shallow nature of momentum and the ever-illusive amens. Don't trust the pinches on the cheek or the words of affirmation from fair-weather friends. Don't give your heart away to the lethal drug of the stage. The addiction is a virus that will eat your soul, and rape your innocence.

After you've had your heart torn asunder, you will find yourself more likely to random overreactions of sudden panic and noisy retreat. You'll see the worst in people. You'll avoid conflict because you will be afraid of being abandoned. You will prefer to hide under the covers and pray that the clouds roll away.

And it will take years to heal from the destructive lies that you've believed; Years to uproot the weeds from the garden you've planted... the garden of regret.

2. Love Your Wife

After the smoke clears and the haters leave anonymous comments, she will be the anchor of hope that wakes up beside you every morning. Her quiet strength roars in a decibel one octave too high for cognitive evaluation, but her faith in action will restore your confidence that all will be well.

She is the shy freshmen in a canoe that left you speechless. She wore the fire out of those birkenstocks, and met you everyday at the clock tower on campus. She will bring you three adorable daughters, and you will find in her a resilience that silences the enemy. She can rock a hoola-hoop like a Puerto-Rican diva, and her maternal instincts know no boundaries.

At the end of your life, she will be there until the last breath is taken. Every decision you make will be an investment in your covenant, and the outpouring of grace will be the remedy to the moody blues. Waking up next to her is evidence that the Lord's mercies are new every morning...

3. Have Faith in Grace

All of those elementary Sunday School lessons are true.
"Jesus loves you, this you know... For the Bible tells you so. Little ones to him belong, we are weak but He is strong." From your infancy, you have been raised to believe in the promises of Scripture; God is good and Jesus died on the cross for your sins and his blood covers your guilty plea.

Don't ever stop believing in the beautiful Story of Amazing Grace! Place your confidence in the promise that God's grace is enough to sustain you. One day, you will be tempted to dismiss it all as unknowable and uncertain... In that moment, remember the time you were baptized in a river in Montana, beside the waterfall. Remember the feeling of resurrection when you came up from out of the water. Remember breathing in the abundance of scandalous grace, and never forget the freedom you embraced.

Grace is a dance that you will learn to embrace. Your first attempts will be awkward and out of sync with the rest of the world. You will be tempted to retreat to the corner and sulk in your loneliness. But the magnetism of the Dance will woo you back to the movement of yes and wait and surrender. And your natural inclination will collide with the spiritual insistence that the song is familiar.

Grace will squeeze the hate from your mirror,
and wipe the tears from your eyes.

She will seduce you with her relentless invitation.

Her violence is an incoming Tide, washing away your castles of sand.

You will learn to inhale the surrender, and drown in her mystery.