I grew up in Dothan, Alabama, home of both the National Peanut Festival and Conestoga Steakhouse. I miss south Alabama. I studied architecture for a bit at Auburn University (War Eagle!) before transferring to Lipscomb University in Nashville. Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Bible are from there. I really wanted an emphasis in missions for the latter, but in the end I walked away with more classes in Old Testament prophecy than any other area. Woe unto you.
I once was a missionary in Wuhan, China, for three years. And a lot of great things happened while I was there. The best was that I met my wife — though she wasn’t my wife when I met her — Christie. I fell in love with, among other things, her joy in knowing Christ. We’ve been married six years, and every day she is a picture of Christ in my life; most days I’m smart enough to see it. We have a baby daughter named Baylor Adelaide, so the beautiful women in the house outnumber me. If I’m going to be a minority, though, I want it to be with them.
Christie and I together have a great sense of adventure and enjoy learning languages and experiencing new cultures. We also like rock-climbing, playing soccer/football, and reading. I am an Ironman triathlete and Christie can run a few miles. Christie enjoys cooking, and I enjoy eating — a perfect match. Baylor likes to eat, sleep, and poop.
We live in Geita, Tanzania, where we are serving the local people. We intensely want them to know their creator, have a deep relationship with him, and give him all the glory he is due. We also want them to have more and healthier food to eat, better healthcare, improved marriages, and in general a higher standard of living. We are committed to assisting the people of Geita in these areas in a sustainable and reproducible way. Please pray for us.
I don’t believe salvation — or even justification — takes place at a single point in time, but is a rather lengthy and sometimes painful process. However the first day of April in 1990 will always stand out in my mind as one of the most important days of my life. On that day I was united in death with Jesus Christ, and began a new life as a citizen of an otherworldly kingdom. I then spent a long time stealing God’s glory and desperately trying to sit on his throne in my life –and if I’m honest I have to admit there were several attempted coups in the lives of others as well.
I’ve lived most of my life in the extremes. Many years were spent in legalistic religion; I believed it was my responsibility to find or create power from within myself to be obedient to God, and that I could somehow earn his love and even my salvation. I performed in order to receive God’s blessings, rather than living out of those blessings he was already giving. I thought I had found the solution to all this when I realized that no matter how often or how hard I tried, no matter the conviction with which I made promises, or the guilt that came with breaking them, I was never able to live into the realities of freedom from sin and a right relationship with God. Truth be told I was onto something.
But like any good extremist or poor theologian, I rode my pendulum too far in the other direction. I understood living as a loyal citizen in the kingdom of God would require God’s power in the form of the Holy Spirit, rather than any fleshly power I could muster. But in reaction to years of works-based religion, I resolved it was time to kick back in my new recliner of grace and flip the channels of watching God at work in my life. After all, I’d only made a catastrophic mess of things in the past. So I didn’t lift many fingers, judging it better to allow the God of transformation to roll up his sleeves, flex his muscles, and change my life. I read my Bible and prayed, but I refused to close doors to temptation. I declined to set goals in obedience. I failed to fully incorporate spiritual disciplines into my life. In essence I left satan many a foothold and still did not live into the reality of righteousness.
Today my life is better than it has ever been. And I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. I’m not stealing God’s glory, and I’m not a god in anyone’s book. I’m not saving myself, and I’m not performing in order to receive God’s love. The truth is I could never fail badly enough to make him love me any less than he has all along. I am disciplined these days in my walk, and I’ve shut a lot of doors. I realize worship is laying before God an obedient life, which is something I have to do and isn’t magically done for me. But the power to do be obedient is not my own, rather it is of the Holy Spirit God has placed inside me. I have not yet realized a life completely dead to sin, but I sinned less today than yesterday. My bearings are precise, and my direction is good. May God be glorified, and may I be a testament of his patience, mercy, and grace.