Karen and I are excited to announce that we are moving back to Texas! Not to Houston, as much as we love that city, but to Dallas! Dallas has always been a city that intrigued us for many reasons. Not the least of which being that two of our good friends, Eric and Jill Curtis, live there. Well about a month ago my friend Eric was serving on jury duty for a murder trial. Every day he was steeped in the details of the streets and faced with the knowledge that this chaos was taking place just a few minutes from where he works. Every day, when the trial would end, he would return to his home in the suburbs and wonder what he could do to help people trapped in that world. Eric and I began having conversations about what it would look like for Karen and I to come out there and be a part of an intentional community with a focus on helping people in the city. At first it was just a kind of, “what would this look like” conversation but it quickly escalated into something we both got excited about. Our wives were equally excited and the four of us started skyping regularly. The plan was for us to finish our lease here in Alabama and come to Dallas in January. However, things rarely go as planned. Karen and I fell on hard times financially and began to realize that I just was not going to be able to make the money to continue paying our bills here in Alabama. Eric made an offer to us to come to Dallas early, and in the end we realized that was exactly what we needed to do. So we will be moving to Dallas at the end of September. This may come as a shock to some of you but not only do we feel it is what God is leading us to do, but it is kind of our only option right now. We are excited for this new season and to get back to being on the streets and involved in many different types of ministry again. My plan is to find a way to get back into college and at least get a bachelor’s degree while doing ministry full time. This last season in Alabama has taught Karen and I that we actually thrive more in a fast pace than when we do not have a lot going on.
That brings us to this last season. Seven months ago Karen, Joshua and I moved to the town I grew up in. The town of Foley, Alabama. I had a lot of big ideas about changing the world from this small town when we came here. The thought was that we would start a church and draw on the wealth of friends we have made around the world over the last several years to bring a global perspective to this small town. I hoped to be able to have good conversations with my Christian friends about faith and theology and God’s goodness. I thought we would be a safe haven for those who were interested in God but wanted nothing to do with mainstream Christianity. But Proverbs 16:9 has proven to be so true for our time here, “In his heart a man plans his steps, but the Lord directs his way.” It would be easy for me to look at our time here in Alabama as a failure. But when I step back and take inventory of these last seven months, I recognize that I have grown exponentially and I have learned a ton. I think we have made a difference in some people’s lives and we’ve had this amazing opportunity to be close to family even if it was a short season.
To those who have walked with us in this season, thank you. From the bottom of our hearts. Your friendship to us is more valuable than we could ever express. I can tell you without a doubt that your support kept us going many times when we would have thrown in the towel. You know who you are and I wish I could find the words to tell you all individually how much you mean to us, and I will try, but for now I will just say thank you for surrounding us with your unconditional love, acceptance and encouragement. God has used many of you to breathe life into our weary souls at various times.
To those friends and mentors that I have lost in this season, and I do hope you read this at some point, I love you. Thank you for what you have been in my life in the past and I sincerely apologize for my part in the fracturing of our relationships in this season. I believe wholeheartedly in the things I preach and write about and I understand that for some of you that makes me a threat to the work you are trying to do. I get it. I do pray that one day we can all be at a place where our doctrinal differences no longer divide us and we can be friends again under the banner of God’s great love for us all. Jesus Christ is Lord can be the phrase which unites us all. I apologize for whatever role I have played in our division. My desire is unity. I pray that the peace of Christ would reign in your hearts and in your ministries. My hope for you is only that you continue to encounter Jesus, Holy Spirit and Abba on a regular basis and that they lead everything you do. Be blessed.
To my home town, honestly, truly, I wept for you this morning. It has been well over a month since the last day that I did not see some giant confederate flag waving along highway 59. I pray that Baldwin County, Alabama would become a place where people begin to care more about their neighbor than their heritage. I truly believe there are seeds here in southern Alabama for God to do a great move and for a true enlightenment to take place. God. Is. Love. Remember that. He is not Janus faced or multifaceted, He is love. Everything about God flows out of love. Jesus is the full revelation of God. Anything that contradicts the person of Jesus Christ also contradicts the heart of God. Growing up down here we learn to fight, we learn to be passionate, we learn to stand for what we believe in. I am forever grateful for that, because I believe those very things have enabled me to stand on some convictions when many people are telling me I am wrong. As a people we must learn to choose compassion over conviction. In fact, our convictions must BECOME compassion, if we are to bring God’s kingdom to Baldwin County, Alabama as it is in heaven. I hope that I have introduced a new perspective to some of you, even if you disagree with me. I do hope that compassion and mercy would become the guiding light that lead us as we seek to walk out our faith.
Finally, I just want to say it has been an amazing 7 months. I am so grateful to have had this time to reconnect with some old friends, spend extra time with my family and even make some new friends. I love you guys. Thank you for being a part of our journey.