From 1996 until July of 2010 I was a member of Jesus People USA Covenant Church(JPUSA) in Chicago, IL where I served full time doing things like book publishing, custom sheet metal fabrication, cleaning and cooking. In July I moved back to work with my family at New Life Evangelistic Center in St. Louis, MO. I was ordained as a pastor at NLEC on July 21st and now serve along with my wife on full time staff. This has been my blog since 2003. I still find time to read and review books. Since I’ve mostly cut TV out of my life I have more time for that. I like working with my hands and expanding my mind. I find that the two are complimentary. Ideas without a strong back are devoid of any real intention. The best projects take time, with a long hopeful view of both the need and God’s provision.
I am a writer. Not the kind William Faulkner referred to with these words:
“The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.”
More the kind Thomas Merton was referring to with these words:
“If you write for God, you will reach many people and bring them joy. If you write for people, you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you will wish you were dead.”
I value writing above many other forms of communicating, but I know its limits, especially in this day and age. Words have power, but great weakness.They are subject to the whim of the reader. Words are never indelible. They communicate, but never completely.
Who do I write for? God. To claim to write for God is to subject my mind, my attention, my ability to the endless task of surrender. To prayer. To the humiliation of allowing all my energies to be transient, human, forgotten—like blowing bubbles in the wind for a child. What are my words to God? They are nothing he hasn’t heard or seen. They are gifts. They are my duty. They bear witness to my state as sinner, but I pray also to my state as redeemed. My words mock me even as they tempt me with praise. Thus, they must be surrendered.
I was born and raised in a Jesus Movement commune in St. Louis, Missouri (NLEC). In 1982 that ministry went on the air with a full power television station. I appeared on telethons singing the Amy Grant song “Angels Watching Over Me.” After countless hours of singing that one song, I managed to destroy the tape never to appear and sing it again on live TV. That was my beginning with music and I still love it. I learned on my mother’s guitar (the one I scribbled on with permanent marker as a child) and then bought myself a Martin years later. I took some classes at the illustrious Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.
My interests include the lives and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer , Karl Barth and Johnny Cash, most of what No Depression Magazine calls good Country music, and Recovery related material (dealing with the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of AA).
I have a beautiful wife and three wonderful children. I have lived, worked, grown up, and journeyed at Jesus People USA, a community on Wilson Ave., only blocks from Lake Michigan in Uptown Chicago. Now I’m continuing the journey back at my place of birth, New Life Evangelistic Center, among folks who are still serving the poor in Missouri as they have been for close to forty years. I have a huge group of friends who help keep me on the straight and narrow. I really I have nothing to complain about—ever.