New Writing Gig – For Me And You (Maybe…)

I’ve recently joined a local website as a featured blogger – don’t worry, I’ll still post here – but I wanted to put the website’s name and URL out there, as well as link you to my blog page there.

The site is The Patch ( and it is run by Sharon Swanepoel. If you’re in the Loganville/Grayson area and have the itch to write/blog for a publishing credit, you can submit a blog proposal for consideration here. Just stay off the parenting thing – that’s my angle.

I also want to recommend my Patch post from today, about an extraordinary young woman my family met last night: Courtney Hinesley. Courtney’s story is well worth reading, and sharing, if you have a daughter.

So now, you can get twice as much of me as you’ve ever wanted…which may or may not be a good thing.

You’re Not As Weird As You Think

You’re not as weird as you think you are.

How do I know this? Simple statistics.

  • 84% of people like the smell of their feet.
  • 23% of people eat their own boogers.
  • 36% of people consistently misspell the word “misspell.”
  • 1 out of every 3 Americans has a stopwatch that doesn’t work.
  • At least 100 people pass gas in public every hour.
  • Lady Gaga.
  • Right now, the person next to you is probably feeling silly.
  • Muppets, Smurfs, and Snorks all came from someone’s imagination.
  • 58% of all women think about shoes at least once an hour.
  • 1% of men do.
  • There has been a 300% increase in the amount of email traffic directed towards Santa by adults.
  • 17.3% of all high school students have a plan for life after college.
  • 12.6% of all married adults remember their anniversary.
  • 93.9% of those who remember are female.
  • 100% of these statistics are made up.

See? Now don’t you feel better?

The High School Lunchroom (Or, Social Darwinism At Its Apex)

I went and ate lunch with some high school students today (I was invited by one of the students from my church). I blogged about the entire adventure here, but there was one particular aspect that I felt worthy of exploring in more depth here on my personal blog.

After 17 years of post-high school life, and several trips back into the belly of the beast over those 17 years, today was the first time that I actually felt safe in a high school cafeteria.

Pathetic, I know. But true.

I stood in the midst of the typical chaos that is a high school lunch (which has changed a bit since I was last in school) and felt completely secure, completely at ease, and not the least bit intimidated. It was liberating.

Now, I’m sure you’re nothing like me; you’re probably well-adjusted and socially secure, and have never battled the powerful forces of Social Darwinism on its home turf. But for me, today was quite an achievement, as I believe with all my heart that one of the most socially destructive (and perversely formative) places in the universe is the high school lunchroom.

It begins as soon as the bell rings: who are you going to eat with today? Where will you sit? What will you eat? What will you drink? Will you have dessert? What will you talk about? With whom will you talk? The average high schooler has to have these and other questions answered in the five minutes it takes to get from your classroom to the lunchroom, because once you walk through those double doors, you’d dang well better have a plan in place or else you become the wounded gazelle in a field full of ravenous lions, hyenas and other predators.

I hated the lunchroom in high school so much that I eventually quit eating there. We mercifully had a drama teacher that allowed her students to eat in the theater lobbies, a sanctuary just off the dreaded killing floor strewn with green beans and crushed egos. It was a perfect haven – only people like me would even think of eating there, and no self-respecting jock or popular would even think of stepping inside the doors. Thinking about it now, it was a strange inversion of the actual lunchroom – a place where the unpopular ruled and the popular feared to tread.

So powerful was the lunchroom that it forged the social destinies of many people; all it took was one bad day and your entire life could become an endless joke for the amusement of others. But there were the occasional fairy tale endings where a jock or a popular would actually sit next to one of the great unwashed and discover something interesting or attractive about their unpopular classmate and begin a relationship that crossed lines more stringently drawn than those of race or creed. Indeed, the lunchroom was the place where only the fittest survived, though most came away wounded.

So, when I stood in that lunchroom today, liberated as an adult from the need to please others, the need to be perceived as cool or interesting, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I looked at the kids surrounding me and wondered how many of them felt the way I did as a student: hating the fact that no one seemed to notice me, but scared to death that I would do something stupid that would live in infamy. And with thoughts like that rattling around in my mind, I sat down with very interesting group of kids and enjoyed myself. I realized that if I can feel that way in a high school lunchroom, I can feel that way anywhere in the world.

And that’s a pretty great feeling – but that’s just me. What do you remember from your high school lunch days?

The Call: Musings on Ravi Zacharias, C.S. Lewis, and Moving On

For the past three years, I’ve worked for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in two capacities: first, as the writer and producer of the Ministry’s two radio programs, “Let My People Think” and “Just Thinking” and secondly as the Project Manager for the Training and Special Projects Division. It has been, without question, three of the most formative years of my life.

I can say that because as of March 4th, I will no longer work for RZIM. I will move on to my new job, which is really my old job, which is as the Youth Minister for Chestnut Grove Baptist Church in Grayson, GA. As Yogi Berra put it, “Deja vu all over again.” I’m so excited for the chance to go back to CGBC, which is my spiritual home, and minister to the students and families of our church and community.

But, as with all changes, there are some bittersweet realizations that come with this decision. There are things that I will dearly miss about being part of the world’s finest apologetics ministry. If you are a Christian and have never heard of RZIM, quit reading this right now and check out the website, or go listen to a podcast, or go view one of our YouTube videos. I promise you, you’ll love it.

And that’s the major bittersweet note in my departure–I deeply believe, and have been influenced by, the mission and passion of RZIM, which is helping people understand what Christianity is and why it makes the most sense of the universe we live in. I believe in it so deeply that I’ve changed my whole approach to preaching and teaching, my approach to the grand questions of life.

A second bittersweet note, and truthfully the major heartbreak of my decision, is the people I leave behind. I have been privileged to meet and work with some of the best and brightest minds of our time, and I’m not just talking about the people who trot out on-stage for the Ministry. I’m talking about the support staff in the Norcross office, people whose musings on faith and life and love and everything under the sun have been so important to my own development as a person and minister. I could name names, but really there’s no way to separate one or two from the collective. It’s the whole that makes the Ministry work.

I will name one name, and that’s the fella you see to your left. You may never have heard of him. His name is Stuart McAllister, and he’s been my boss for the last two years. I’ve only had one other boss that has meant more to me, or taught me as much, as Stuart. He has one dominant quality that makes him stand out: his commitment to living in Christ. That singlemindedness runs through everything else that makes up the man; it hones his intellect, sharpens his insights, multiplies his talents, and magnifies his grace. It has made him a blessing to work for. I have enjoyed almost all of our conversations (performance reviews included) to the point of committing much of what he’s said to memory (and what I can’t remember, I’ve printed out and filed away).

I don’t want to elevate him as if he were a god, A) because it would be unfair, and B) because if he found out about it, it would drive him crazy. But he’s been a blessing to work for and is a dear friend.

(Click on the link below for the next page.)

We Should’ve Cloned Ronald Reagan

If he had lived, Ronald Reagan would’ve turned 100 years old today. I’ve been looking at the various Facebook statuses, Tweets, blog posts and articles dedicated to the late president, and I gotta tell you: we should’ve cloned Ronald Reagan when we had the chance.

I mean, the stuff I’ve been reading – no disrespect to FDR or Washington – tells me that Reagan was our greatest president. He promised to cut taxes in ’81, and he did – the single largest tax cut in U.S. history (of course, he also raised taxes seven times after that initial cut so that in the end, the tax rate was exactly the same as it had been prior to the ’81 slash). He promised to spend the Soviet Union into bankruptcy and collapse, and he did. He promised to give the American people someone they could believe in, and he did. With Reagan, we knew exactly where we stood: with a man capable of getting things done, of reading the political climate and adjusting accordingly so that the American people bought in to his ideas. And he did all of this with the same calm and good looks that made him such a Hollywood figure.

In short, Reagan was a heckuva president. One of the best.

So we should’ve cloned him. I mean, could you imagine how he’d have handled Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden? How about the economic crisis of the last few years? I would have been mesmerized by his response to 9/11 – guarantee you he wouldn’t have been reading “Goodnight Moon” to a bunch of first graders.

I mean, it’s not like we didn’t develop the technology before his passing. We could’ve collected a grade-DNA genetic sample from Ronnie and been able to cook something up in the lab tout de suite. Imagine a world where Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama were never president. I can hear the combination sobs of joy and regret from the G.O.P. even now.

This is firmly tongue-in-cheek, folks – lest any of you think that I’m either serious or being disrespectful of Mr. Reagan’s legacy, let me say that I do have an admiration for what he was able to accomplish and the singular strength of his presidency. He’s the last president I really remember making me feel truly safeguarded by his administration. But he wasn’t a saint, and the people on the conservative right who want to make him out to be Jesus 2.0 need a heavy dose of oxygen. He had his faults (astrology, anyone?) and the 80s were the Me Decade, the Trickle Down/Reaganomics era, a fact best summed up in the character of Gordon Gekko, whose infamous motto was, after all, “Greed is good.”

That rings a little hollow now, don’t it?

I celebrate the centenary of Ronald Reagan and fondly remember his accomplishments and his legacy. But forgive me if I stop short of immortalizing him as our greatest president. For all he did, he can’t claim that title.

That Lincoln fella kind of stands in his way…