No Accelerant necessary.
The Story Behind “Burn”:
I grew up with the rule, “READ YOUR BIBLE, so God will be pleased with you!”, put in my face every Sunday. I felt dumb when I couldn’t memorize the weeks verse in Sunday school. I mean, I was the only one in class. There was massive pressure. I quickly began hating to read anything in any book, period. I was so far down the “screwed up” list, I didn’t think an ancient book would help me much anyway. I was looking at the Bible so wrong for so long. I never read it. Therefore, I never read it all the way through. As I got older, I realized I needed to learn the mega verses. I would finger through the pages to get the gist of the story I was interested in. That became so confusing to me. I truly thought I was starting to understand God’s Word. I was many, many miles away. As I began walking out of my addiction through the name and power of Jesus, I began to desire to really know God’s word. Unfortunately, my games with it left me confused and embarrassed at how very little I understood the Bible. A Jew? Sacrifice? Israel? A talking donkey? Was it Adam or Eve’s fault? Why was Judas let in the group if Jesus knew what he would do? Wow! Where in the world do I start?
Thank God there were friends at my church, Kenny and Julie Mills. They were starting a small group at church with a new bible app called Daily Audio Bible. Brian and Jill Hardin for 10 years had been reading the Bible on an app EVERY DAY! They would read 15 min of the Old Testament, 15 min of the new, a Psalm and a Proverb. You just listen!This dude’s voice is like butter too. Very easy to listen. As the Spirit led him, sometimes he would add incredible commentary at the end of the reading for clarity. I dove in! I was going to read through the Bible for the first time in my life! 3 or 4 months into this new and incredible journey, I was invited to a mens bonfire. We went out to the pasture by the church and I helped Mr. Harris gather the wood for an incredible fire he was about to build. I watched him carefully and purposefully stack and plan the construction and spacing of the firewood. Once he started the fire, he never stoked it, added accelerant or anything! It just consistently burned! It was impressive and curious. I’d never seen that before. As I watched the fire for the next few passing hours, I realized that God was doing the same in me. He was steady burning in my soul and spirit with His truth. No need to get emotional or crazy. No accelerant necessary. Just Him. His word changed my life. It was like I was eating it daily and becoming a very part of me. I stopped looking out the window at other people and started looking at the Bible as a mirror. This was MY story. Now I cannot and will not put it down. I’ll never be the same. I don’t want to be the same. Like I say, “Set me on fire, God! Burn in me and I will burn for You!”
It's Your Choice But You Have To
The Story Behind "Make Me":
Growing up under the care of Independent Baptist grandparents in the Texas country was sweet! It was also bitter. I never missed a meal. I always had a comfy bed all to myself. My brother, sister and I were all safe and sound. We had close to 40 acres of country living. Barns, a pond, cows, horses, fireflies, SNAKES and ...I forgot everything else after snakes. I had a dog named Tippy and decent walking shoes. We covered every square inch of that property. It was a good life.
When we were called to the table to eat, we were expected to be there, cleaned up and hungry! When my Grandpa started his repetitive prayer, “Alver gracious Heavenly Father..”, we were expected to bow our heads, close our eyes and do anything but laugh or talk. We had rules. There were consequences to breaking those rules. A little yelling here and there, maybe even an occasional belt to the gluteus maximus. Or the wooden paddle that hung on the wall like a trophy. If that wasn’t bad enough, we had all signed it like that was something worth bragging about! A bit weird to me.There were many names I didn’t even recognize. It must have been a very old paddle, passed down many generations. I’m surprised that pine of pain never got lost or accidentally thrown in a fire. The thought crossed my mind a few times.
As my siblings and I grew older, fewer and fewer things made sense. My sister was never allowed to wear pants. She could only wear dresses and koulots. We were never allowed to go to a school dance or event, have a Christmas tree, go Easter egg hunting or anything fun like that. We would listen to my Grandfather explain how alcohol was a sin, period! Rock n Roll was a weapon of the devil and kissing caused babies! Ok, I made that last one up. We never missed church. We were expected to be there and serve in our strengths. We were pretty much told what those strengths were. I can’t speak for my brother and sister but, rebellion started setting in solid with Terry McCoy!
When I started learning about Jesus, I once again felt like it was a rule. It felt like yet another hard expectation in our family. I was never interested in talking to anyone about that. Then I met a kid named Wally at church camp. It was our first time to ever go to a church camp. Our church was tiny and I had no friends. It kinda stunk at first. Then Wally and I found each other a few days into camp. He was nice. I was not. I have no idea why I was hard to get along with. Thank God, Wally pushed past that. Wally liked to talk a LOT! He loved to share how he became a Christian the year before. I had no desire to listen to the screaming camp preacher but I liked hearing Wally’s story. He truly helped me realize that it was my choice. I didn’t have to love God or live for God. But I wanted to. The last night at camp, I sat in the back of the tabernacle. My heart was beating out of my chest as I thought about Wally’s story. I WANTED THAT! I was choosing that. As soon as the cheesy music started playing, I shot out of my seat like a cannon and ran down to my cabin and told Jesus that I was all His. I was at the end of my bunk bed and after I prayed, there were fireworks! It was July 4th. I do believe Jesus may have shot off some awesome fireworks on my account in Heaven that night!
I completely had a choice and I chose to love Him. I chose to give my life to Him! He doesn’t make us love Him. He just won’t do that. It’s so attractive how He is all powerful yet leaves the most important choices up to us. That is love. No rules. No have to’s. Just love.
The First Step Is Always The Hardest Step:
It is June 15, 2018. It’s about 11:30 at night. I’m sitting in a chair, looking out of a huge window, staring at downtown Boston, MA. I’ve never been to Boston. I love the history, the food, the waterfronts, the night lights. Oddly, I’m not here for any of it. Yes, we will eat and take in some sites but make no mistake, the reason I’m here is the very best part.
The average distance from Columbia, TN to Middleborough, MA is 1,200 miles give or take. That also averages out to about 2.9 million steps. I have come here to reunite with my brother. We have been apart for 18 years. The last time I saw my brother was in East TX, June of 2000. He and I had to make a very difficult decision with our Grandma to let our Grandfather off of life support after suffering numerous heart attacks and a massive stroke leaving him in a vegetative state. It was a few days before Father’s Day. Our grandparents raised us. It was a tough day and an even tougher decision. After the funeral, I never once thought my brother and I were saying goodbye to each other for so long. We were not terribly close. I was actually surprised he came. Just like me, my brother had made many, many bad choices that pushed him away. He joined the Navy in the late 80’s. I’m pretty sure he joined to get away from everything. Choices were made that greatly affected both of us and he left. He left! I was so angry with him and decided to not care if he ever came back. Life was not at all like I was convinced it was. I had great and horrible memories. We both did. But I stayed.
Just like me, my brother has ran. He has ran into one major mistake after another. We both just dug the deepest hole we could possibly dig, trying to escape our reality. A few years ago, I had decided to forgive my brother and reach out to him. Humility found us both in a different place and it was sweet to reconnect with him. But we were too far away to see each other. Our circumstances have changed and my wife, Lisa and I scheduled a trip to come to Massachusetts to see my brother and his wife, Leah! We are going tomorrow and then going back on Father’s Day. I am stoked! I’m nervous but stoked!
I was thinking tonight. I could have walked here. 2.9 million steps. The hardest step will always be the first in forgiving and reaching out to my brother. That decision has set me on this amazing journey to see him again. It will be amazing! My brother and I are best friends (on the phone). To embrace him and hear his literal voice and meet each other’s families will be unforgettable. I probably won’t sleep tonight!
If you can relate to this, I know many will. Please forgive and live. God has 2.9 million plus steps of an amazing journey and life for you. Take the hardest step and never ever be the same! I did and I’d do it again and again and again.