The Hensley Plan

On my 30th birthday (a year and a half ago) I made a committed to pursue the dreams and talents that I have in a more focused way during the next 30 years of my life.

Since I was a kid I have wanted to teach and to write. I didn’t want to write books for the sake of books or write for the sake of proving the wealth of my intelligence. I wanted to write because I wanted to be like Thomas Paine. I want to write the pamphlet, or paper, that starts a revolution.

Even to this day it’s often on my mind. I have a stack of 30 notepads in my desk filled with ideas, stories, and musings birthed in times of prayer and studying the word. I pray, fast, seek God’s heart because I love Him, but with the added request that He use me as an instrument to prophecy His heart to this generation.

Stack of journals and notebooks

When I turned 30 I had some time to reflect. In reflection I realized that while I was putting forth the effort in dreaming, praying, and some study about being a teacher/ writer. I needed to implement some practical disciplines in order to make it happen. I was reminded of Thomas Jefferson and Jonathan Edwards’ plans. Jefferson would spend 12 hours a day studying and writing. He broke down each hour of the day by subject he would study, and the subjects were vast in genre. Edwards very similar. So I came up with a plan that I knew would take a few years to get going, but if I kept aiming for it I figured I could build the discipline by the time I was 35. Here is that plan:

1. Read a Book a week.

2. Write 3,000 words a day. (on anything. It can be journaling. But it has to be in a proper writing format.)

3. Write a book a year.

I share this for 2 reasons, both are selfish.

First reason, I know the more I talk about this online the more folks ask me about it, therefore the more I’m challenged to stay the course.

Second reason, I want to challenge other writers/ teachers/ leaders to take on the challenge. Not just because it’s a great discipline, but like the first, the more folks who are doing it and talking about it the less I am let off the hook.

At 31 years old I have 4 more years to nail this down. I’m probably at a book every 2 weeks and 3,000 every 3 days. While I have written an outline for a book, I have little hope of it being finished this year. The point isn’t to be perfect at it, the point is to aim for it. If this is always the aim, and I don’t quit after failing to do it the first year, I have a chance at living up to it.

So take the Hensley Challenge and let me know about it, so we can push each other to be excellent!

The Cure For “Post Christianity”

Below new research by the Barna group on the continued decline of Christianity in America. I was shocked and sobered to find that of the 100 cities listed every major area in New York ( save Binghampton) is in the top 21. My current city, Rochester New York, being at 21.

While I’m not that surprised as every church in my region seems to be in decline, it has strengthened my resolve to hold the line on the gospel.

Many respond to stats like this, and wonder what the church has to do to become relevant again. They lament at old church models, and point to new cooler ones as the answer to the question of our lost relevance. I want to assure you, that asking that question is in fact why we are where we are.

Jesus, the firstborn from the dead, who spoke creation into existence and formed Adam with his bare hands, who holds the church in His hands and upholds all things by the word of His power, will never lose relevance.

The church is in decline for a number of reasons, but the foremost being clear.  We as a church have worried too much about saying what people want to hear to keep them in the building, that we have forgotten to declare the needed relevance, though sometimes hard to swallow, truth of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. The Gospel is offensive to the world. The Gospel is like putting iodine on an open wound. It hurts and stings like crazy, but it kills the infection and seals the wound for rapid healing.

For me as a pastor of a church is western New York, this only strengthens my resolve. We need to preach Christ! We need to live Christ! We need to declare Him in his present love and in His future return. My life must represent His message of tender love and meekness He showed to beggars and prostitutes, while flashing His tremendous zeal for righteousness that He expressed in the temple to the money changers. My life must represent the understanding and patience He showed to Nicodemus, and the willingness to lose everything for the sake of love and the message of the coming kingdom.

Give me 50 pastors in Western New York to run with, that are known in Heaven for the time spent on their knees. Who tenderly, with genuine love, are unashamed to declare the truth of the Gospel without compromise. Who would rather build a legacy in the next age through prayer and fasting then books and accolades in this life. Give me those men and I promise we will see a habitation of the Holy Spirit in this region that is so tangible that the hearts of many will return back to the Lord at neck breaking speed.

As for me and my house at New Hope Fellowship, this is what we are contending for.

God give us grace to contend for a historic revival of the lost in this region. And if it’s your will to tarry, then give us the grace to contend until we die. That our lives would be wasted for your glory, because we’ve have touched your glory, and it’s all we desire.

Changing Our Stance On Homosexuality

This morning I watched the news feeds light up because of a few casual comments by the current Pope on not judging people who are gay. Besides the fact that I really truly am starting to like this Pontiff, I thought the reaction by people everywhere was very telling.

It’s been going on for months now. Last month we saw DOMA overturned and Exodus

Pope Francis saying: “Who am I to Judge Gay people?”

International president and founder Alan Chambers change his stance on homosexuality. Desmond Tutu coming out say God is not homophobic. The pressure is so intense on every side for the church both protestant and catholic to “change it’s stance” on homosexuality. Never before has there been such a drive by secular culture to infiltrate faith/ religion and change it’s meaning so the world can feel less judged.

The Pope’s comments from yesterday are sentiments that I echo. It is not for me or anyone to judge another person for who they are. We are all sinners. All are in need of grace. All are in need of transformation into the likeness of Christ, not the likeness of who we want to be. At the same time no man can change the “churches stance” on homosexuality, because no one can change God and His word.

I fear that we have done such a poor job at representing Christ to the world as believers that we have led them to believe that God is a moral idea that changes with time. That Christianity is simply a moral code to live up to and should evolve with culture and time. Which Christianity is not morality; it’s a man who is God.

God is a person. Doctrine is not a man crafted truth, but a God birthed truth to show us who we were meant to be in his infinite and beautiful imagination. It’s a road map to His heart where we can experience the love, joy and peace we were created for where sin has robbed us.  You can’t change His stance, no more than you can reorder the atoms in your hand.

That said, I have many gay friends. Guys I grew up with. Guys that used to serve with me in ministry. Girls who I consider friends who are now lesbians. I love them. When I see some of those guys I give them great big hugs. I listen to them. I don’t treat them any different then the other acquaintances I have. I do not change my beliefs on their lifestyle. However their lifestyle is between them and God.

We face a difficulty in the church, that wont go away or change. The Homosexual movement is only going to grow. The pressure is only going to increase. We as Christians can not give into the pressure to change God’s stance on Homosexuality. Because it’s His stance, not our own.

That said, In our resolve to stand firm with God and His word, we could use to love and accept the gay community as fellow humans. We don’t need to be constantly known for what we are against, but what we are for. We are for love. The love of Christ that saved our hearts, is available to homosexuals as well. They are brothers and sisters we want to see walk in the fullness of who they were created to be by God.

If there is someone who has genuine love for Jesus, who are we to question their salvation because they are presently gay? Lets encourage their faith. Encourage their reach for Christ. Encourage them in their journey with the Lord in the same way we would encourage those who love God but get drunk regularly and don’t want to admit they are alcoholics. To condemn anyone would be to curse them and assume that our words, not Christ’s, are the one’s that save them. To judge them is to declare that their story is over when it’s not.

It is entirely possible to love homosexuals with genuine affection and hold the line on homosexual acts being a sin without shaming and condemning people. My point is that we as a church need the grace of God to learn how. Not because the church will become irrelevant or because we’ll lose the culture. Those fears are silly. Jesus will always be relevant because he’s the creator God eternal, and to think we ever had a Godly culture in America in the first place is delusional. We need the grace to do this well because it’s the Gospel. It’s who Jesus was. It’s how He treats us.

If we want to see humanity walk in restoration, and have true transformation from sin (like homosexuality) we must remember that it’s God’s kindness and mercy that draws us to repentance. It’s true that sometimes kindness isn’t nice, but it’s always kind.

Romans 2: “… Don’t you know that it’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance.” 

Father show us your love that we may learn to love well.

An Open Letter To Our U.S. Elected Officials: End Abortion

Dear Elected Official,

Since 1776 this continent has been a beacon to the rest of humanity for the individual rights of every human being. Though it has struggled to produce freedom for every people, in the end liberty for all has prevailed no matter race or creed. Our country was founded on certain truths that though at times have been wanting in application, have ultimately remained the cornerstones that uphold the spirit of this nation. Specifically the Jeffersonian proclamation:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It is that credo that has driven this nation to the heights of glory and power it currently resides in.  The Constitution that governs this nation was founded on the belief that no man’s freedom can come at the cost of another, for all men deserve to live in liberty from tyranny, the fear of death and oppression.

In the History of this nation we have faced many challenges to this belief. At the risk of losing resources and stifling a growing economy, this nation took the necessary action and gave emancipation to those being enslaved on plantations throughout the South. The cost was hundreds of thousands of American lives but their blood was not in vain. The ultimate result was not a loss in economy but growth for a young nation torn apart. In the early 1900’s liberty was again challenged when children and orphans were being used for cheap labor to kick start a growing industrial revolution. Liberty for these children meant a drop in production and a loss in the Industrial age. The Children were freed, and instead of loss the industrial revolution grew, and 15 years later the nation would boast the largest profits the world had ever seen. Tyranny in Europe by Hitler, voting rights for women, Stalin in Russia, Vietnam, North Korea, Israel, Kuwait, and Iraq, our Nation has been dedicated to the democratic value that all men deserve the rights presented in the Jeffersonian mantra.

Today our nation has come to yet another paramount were the liberties of some have been cut off to supply liberty for another. The sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s has come at the loss of many. 50 million human beings have been murdered in the name of freedom. The right to live has been taken by the hands of doctors and parents around this country. Abortion has been granted as a right for a woman to choose, and lowered the value of life to a punishment on those wish to be free in their sexual lifestyles.

The liberties of countless human beings in our nation are in jeopardy. The leaders and decision makers in this nation, who serve at the leisure of the people, have failed those they serve. For 35 years they have stood idly by as a holocaust proportionate to that of Nazi Germany to have wiped out the lives of many. I petition those who hold office in congress to consider not the definition of life, but the definition of freedom. Many in government are in danger of the same type of hypocrisy that faced our nation during slavery, segregation, and manifest destiny. To take the life of a person, so as to allow another sexual freedom, is same type of injustice that inspired the actions of the continental congress 236 years ago.

To cease abortion would indeed be a risk. Federal dollars for foster care, and adoption are waning. Unwanted pregnancies or statistically higher in poorer urban areas, and the quality of life the baby would face is unknown. Yet no man should have the power to determine who lives and who dies. Such power is supposed to be protected and kept from governmental leaders by democracy. I ask amidst the consequences that come with the abolishment of abortion that you would consider the lives being lost. Would you consider the blood being spilt? Would you consider the advancement in social ethics our nation would take if life were valued higher than sexual freedom? Would you consider the cessation of government funds to organizations like Planned Parenthood, and instead redirect those funds to establish a better foster care and adoption system? You hold great power that has been rented to you by one who will one day return to reclaim it. On that day you will answer before Him, the author of life, for how you yielded that power. What will your legacy be before that throne? I pray that it’s one that will please the heart of God.

Our nation has lost its way in the fight for freedom. We have forgotten the “Eternal vigilance” that is required to maintain liberty. Our personal freedoms have come at a high price. For it’s not the blood of the unborn, but patriots that should be the refreshing streams of liberty. Knowing the high price of taking on this issue, I ask would you bleed and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. As long as it is still recited: “Liberty and Justice for ALL”.

Respectfully,

Zack Hensley

5 More Things Going Into 30

2 DAYS until I turn 30 (February 18th). The last month I’ve been reflecting on the last 30 years and gearing up for the next 30. Reflecting on the past 3 decades I have learned a couple of lessons that I pray to not re-learn going forward. Over the next couple of days I will have a sereis of lessons that I have learned and or am learning that I hope to share for the soul purpose of having them published so I never forget. So this is Things going into 30 part 3… in 5 parts. :)

1. Jesus is the bar.

Specifically as it relates to pursuing my faith, trying to define whether or not I’m radically pursuing Jesus based on how those around me has always led to narcism. Jesus is not an idea, or belief system, He’s a human man who is also God. Therefore loving Him requires solidarity in focus. When I’m comparing my walk with God to someone else’s my end becomes to be like them, and not like Jesus. In trying to be like other people you become obsessed with everything you do. You passionately try to make sure it appears as though you are meeting the standard that their life seems to have produced. Your walk with Christ becomes less about His glory and more about your glory. It becomes about gaining praise from those you are striving to emulate. If there is one lesson I’ve learned over the last 30 years, it’s that Jesus sees me. He sees everything I do. When I believe that He sees me, I don’t care who else see me. When I believe He sees me, He becomes the one I fight to be like. My pursuit is Him, not anyone or anything else.

2. Seek faithfulness not opportunity

It’s especially easy and in many scenarios wise to be looking ahead to see where you are going. In life the opportunity to step into your dreams, or the opportunity to do something great will come. When it comes there is nothing that stings more than letting it pass you by. However I’ve found that there is much wisdom in bearing that sting and watching opportunity slowly drift off over the horizon.

Over the last decade I’ve been offered jobs 8 times my current annual salary. (which isn’t that big consider my current anual salary :) ) Positions with influence, events with famous people, and jobs with ability to give me everything I could want. I’ve been blessed over the years, and I’ve been blessed to politely decline over the years as well. Why? Because of that man named Jesus on that throne in Heaven. When I close my eyes I see that throne, and I think about the account I will have to give to Him about my life one day. When I weigh how certain opportunities would distract from my pursuit of His heart, the maintaining of my wife and kids, the stability of a tender heart when I’m older, if it’s a threat, it’s out.

When I was a teenager I learned this concept from my ever wise mother. I was having the typical just turned 18 and have no idea what I’m going to do with my life existential crisis. One night I broke down in tears stressed out by the expectations I felt others had on my life, the expectations I had on my life and the perceived pressure to have it all figured out that very moment. I’ll never forget she sat me down on the couch and made me look into her eyes. She said, “Son I don’t care if you are a missionary or a business man. If you end up doing nothing else with your life and the sum of your accomplishments is working at McDonald’s. If you are in love with Jesus with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength- I will be the proudest mother a son could ever have.”

I’m sure many things will be said of my life, but may the theme and story of Zack Hensley be a man passionately pursuing the heart of Jesus and nothing else. It’s all that matters.

3. Be the little blue truck.

My daughter has this book about a little blue truck. It works hard everyday and always gets its work done.  He is intentional about stopping along the way to visit with all the animals around the farm and to help them out while getting his work done. Then a big “important” yellow truck comes plowing through the farm. He doesn’t have time to visit with the animals or help them with anything. Then one day the yellow truck plows through a mud puddle and gets his “big important wheels stuck”. He calls out to the animals and anyone who would hear to help him out of the puddle but “no one heard (or really cared)”. Then the little blue truck came along and tried to help him free, but he also got stuck. He called out for help and everyone came running to help him out of the mud. They pushed him and he pushed the big “important yellow truck”. The animals got him free and in turn the little blue truck gave them all a ride.

The moral? Often times I have been the “big important yellow truck” plowing through life, with no time to stop and visit or help anyone. My goal as I turn 30 is to be more like the little blue truck. To care just as much about building strong and lasting relationships with people as much as I care about the jobs that I have to do.

4. Cry often

There is nothing worse in this life then having a heart that is dull. A dull heart can’t love. It can’t empathize, serve well, or understand. A dull heart is the quickest way to a lifeless and loveless marriage. A dull heart turns well intentioned ambition into self serving promotion. A dull heart swings open the door to anxiety, depression, and bitterness. Worse of all a dull heart can’t love God.

Catching myself tearing up during worship, or when I tell my wife I love her is a suitable metric for the tenderness of my heart. If life seems hard, and my heart begins to feel dull there is a good chance that it’s been weeks since my eyes got a little misty. I don’t mean I need to find my self, head in hands, weeping on a regular basis. I just mean if my daughter sneaking across the room climbing onto my lap and saying “Dad,  I love you very much. you’re beautiful too!” doesn’t get my eye lids wet, something is wrong. If singing the old hymn “It is Well With My Soul” doesn’t get me teary by the time I get to the part “And Lord haste the day when my faith becomes sight” something is wrong. I pray that when I’m 60 have have a reputation for being a “cryer”.

5. Do things smaller

If I’ve learned anything it’s that you are never too busy. I mean it. Every time I think I’m too busy to do things like read a book, write a book, serve at a downtown soup kitchen, I look at my schedule realize in order to read a book I’m looking for 3 to 4 hours to sit and read. So instead of blocking out 4 hours to read I block out 30 minutes. If you focus, 30 minutes can be very productive.

I used to say I didn’t have the time to write a book, so I started watching entertainment less. Lo and behold I gained an hour each night. Instead of trying to find 2-3 hours at a time with friends I focus and have more meaningful conversations in an hour lunch then I ever did spending 3 hours at the movies. Instead of spending 2 hours a day e-mailing. I schedule 30 minute meetings, and spend 10-15 minutes before hand outlining the topic of conversation. That 30 minutes solves hours of e-mail back and forth for the next 2 weeks. This means being able to do the things important to you while increasing time in the two areas I care about most: Prayer and Family.

Doing things smaller and more focused means I get to be the man I hope I am when I’m 60: A lover of Jesus, A husband my wife thanks God for, and Father to my kids that makes the Lord smile.

The Fight For Hope: Reflecting On Loss One Year Later

An excerpt from chapter one of my book on the year anniversary of this story. God is good, therefore we never stop.
Tired but content I sat down at the dinner table with my ministry assistant, as “Ms Vicky” cooked us up some authentic New Orleans food. Ms. Vicky, as she liked to be called, was a wonderful southern belle. She and her husband were hosting us as I preached at a two day youth conference at her church Butte Louisiana just outside of New Orleans. Having traveled on quite a few ministry trips, I had yet to come in contact with someone as generous and accommodating as Ms. Vicky. We spent that night sharing stories about parenthood. Her kids were all grown up and moved out. I told her about my 2 kids; Natalie Sage who was the cutest 1 and a half-year-old you’d ever meet and my precious second who was still in the womb at that time. I told her about our hopes and dreams for that little one. How my wife Carrie and I had a vision of him or her being a confident, wise, yet gentle person. As we talked she unveiled the fruit of her culinary genius. She brought out a number of dishes, Shrimp Pasta Alfredo, southern cooked chili, and a “king cake” of Mardis Gras infamy. My assistant Dan and I slowly but effectively cleaned our plates, savoring every bite.
     With satisfied sighs and endless praise for our chef and host we headed up to our rooms. Generally I rarely sleep well on the road. However the combination Ms. Vicky’s home cooking, and an entire day of being in front of people preaching put me into an instant state of exhaustion. I texted Carrie the menu from dinner, that I loved her Natalie and that precious little one in her tummy. I told her that I couldn’t wait to see them tomorrow. I put my phone under my pillow just in case she needed to get a hold of me while I slept. My head hit the pillow and I was gone into the deepest sleep I’d have for the rest of that week.
     Maybe it’s different for you but when I’m in a deep sleep, sounds, smells, and feelings happening in the conscience world show up in my unconscious dream world. For instance I remember one very frustrating time years ago when I worked as a Concierge at a Phoenix hotel. I hadn’t slept in 2 days and had fallen into a deep sleep. I dreamn’t that I was a spy chasing an evil 7 fingered man in black gloves all around this old empty warehouse. I was about to catch him when he pulled the security alarm and vanished. The beeping of the security alarm was so loud a had to cover my ears as I chased after him. 10 to 15 minutes went by as I chased him around the known dream world trying to find a way to shut off the alarm he had pulled. Finally I woke up to find that I was late for work. The villain in my dream hadn’t pulled an alarm, but my alarm clock had been going off. Instead of it waking me from the unconscious world, my brain added its elements to the unconscious world. I rushed to work that day, and tried to get a laugh out of my boss concerning my tardiness. This same type of thing happened to me that night, only I didn’t chuckle at the result.
                I was dreaming that I was leading a group of sick people out of a ravine filled with bio toxins that was making them sick. As I led them out we kept encountering Earth quakes that sent many back into the canyon. Over and over I would run to the bottom, get the tumblers, and bring them back up to rejoin the group. At some point during this unconscious Sisyphean challenge I woke up to find my phone vibrating under my pillow.
                Looking at the clock without my glasses on I could barely see it was about 2am and I had a number of texts and missed calls from my wife. I read the texts first. “call me, I’m bleeding and think something bad might be happening with the baby, calling the doctor” next one “It won’t stop, called your mom she is taking me to the ER, your Dad is watching Natalie, I wish you were here or at least answered your phone!” last one “Please answer! I need you, this is so bad”. My body jumped out of bed as my stomach sank. “No!” I yelled, “Please don’t let this be what I think it is.”
Dialing so fast I dropped the phone two or three times before I could finish. My wife answered in tears. The bleeding from her uterus had increased. The doctor had just informed her that we, at that moment, were losing that precious little one in her tummy. Sobbing was all I could hear from my wife on the phone. She gave the phone over to my mom who was there with her and sobs were all she could hear as I hit the floor. I felt like someone had reached into my chest and ripped out my insides. The pain of losing this child, the pain of not being there to support the woman I vowed to always be there for during times like this, the pain of knowing I’d never get to see the face of the little one we just lost. My mom finished telling me that they would hold Carrie in the hospital until all the biological matter had passed out of her; our precious little one. They told me they’d call me back after the doctor fished talking to them. All I could do was put my head into my pillow sobbing, yelling and pleading with God for mercy not to take this one from us.
Once I had gathered myself a bit, the next call I made was to the airlines. I had to get back to Kansas City. I had to hold my wife and support her. I had to do something besides cry.
After 4 hours of negotiating, there was no way to change my flight. So I got up and got ready for the day. I still had to preach that morning at the local church. Ironically the subject I had already prepared was I Peter 1:3 on Hope. Rising to the occasion was out the window for me as I tearfully preached probably one of the most scattered sermons of my life. I felt like I was dreaming, and was waiting for Dan to shake me awake and tell me I was late for service. Since I seemed very awake, all I could focus on was getting back to my wife. After a long journey through layovers and delays that moment finally came. Instantly we fell into each other’s arms and wept together.
We talked about the dreams we had for that little one. Carrie shared how she felt God take our baby back to be with Him, and how she could feel His presence even in the middle of the pain of it all. We stayed up most of the night praying, talking and crying until we passed out from exhaustion.
Later the next day I was visiting with a friend who was checking in on how we were doing. I told him this was one of the most painful-sorrowful things I had ever experienced, but that both Carrie and I had this surprising peace or impossible joy on the inside despite the pain. There was a fight on the inside to resist the temptation of depression, or despair. Surprisingly, there was this solace in knowing who we were in the eyes of God and knowing where we are going ultimately that gave us the courage to fight for hope.
“Why so downcast O my soul? Why are you in turmoil within me? Put your Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him. Ps 42:5 (ESV)
            Hope. Often a sentiment to help us feel better during times of uncertainty is quite more than sentiment. The reality of Jesus, what He accomplished on the cross, in the resurrection, and in light of His soon coming, hope is a power greater than sentiment. Hope starts in the truth of knowing who we are in the eyes of our creator.
This knowledge is like a pilot light in our heart. Even when all fuel to keep going is gone, the understanding of who we are and where we are going is a flame that never dies. Once that flame is lit, no storm in life can blow it out and the slightest glimmer of hope is ignited into a roaring fire. Yet knowing who we are and where we are going because of Him who ordained it in creation and sealed it at the cross is not a subjective journey. We must reach outside of our short-sighted vision of ourselves to touch the vision of the one who created us. We are not the subjects of creation, but the objects of our creator and subjected to Him. This is good news because He is good.
                 Knowing is one thing, fighting through discouragement is another. We need an intentional act of our will to grasp the future we know God has ordained for us. Like the psalmist says when in turmoil, when we are downcast, we look to our soul and command it to action: “Hope in God!”
Today, exactly one year later, I remember our loss. But it’s not the pain and reliving the loss that I remember. It’s that in the pain of mourning and injustice the hand of God never left. My hope was not shaken because of pain, it was given courage to persevere because of the truth that pain has an appointed and eternal end.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Things Going into 30: Leave The Volume on Ten, Bob Your Head and Don’t Stop.

10 days until I turn 30 (February 18th).The last month I’ve been reflecting on the last 30 years and gearing up for the next 30. Reflecting on the past 3 decades I have learned a couple of lessons that I pray to not re-learn going forward. Over the next couple of days I will have a sereis of lessons that I have learned and or am learning that I hope to share for the soul purpose of having them published so I never forget. So this is Things going into 30 part 2.

Lesson 2: Leave The Volume on Ten, Bob Your Head and Don’t Stop.

My whole life I’ve loved rap music. In 7th grade I won breakdancing contests. When
walking the 2 and a half miles home from school I’d often practice freestyling. “Walking home from school these suckas with cars think I’m a fool, but it’s ok because I’m no tool, if they really wanna hate, they’d better step up and duel.” Stuff like that over and over, I’d practice a wide variety of subjects from “I wish I had a car to take me real far” to “Jesus blood never fails me, its crimson flood cleans me, frees me, and forever feeds and satisfies my soul so if you want to find me on my knees I’ll be”. I listened to but could never really get into Tupac, Bones Thugs, Nas, DMX etc. Every time I did I felt my heart dry up. So I stuck with Christian rap, T-Bone, Cross Movements, Grits, The Ambassador etc. Most people gave me a hard time for listening to cheesy Christian rap. So I would never admit to it, or let anyone catch me listening to them. I would force myself to know just enough about Tupac, Jay-Z and the rest of the motley collection of up and coming rappers of the nineties. I wanted to be able to act like they were my favorite at school, when at home I was head bobb’n to T-Bone’s “Street Preacha”.

If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that being a chameleon to what people think you should be or want you to be is the worst kind of bondage. Too often my heart wanted to radically pursue God. I wanted to turn off movies and TV, tune out anything not of God and seek after Him with my whole heart. Yet too often I would give up that dream because the people around me felt like that was religious or that it in some way alienated them. So I would cave. I would dial down. I would pursue my faith to the measure of intensity those around me did. In essence I would sell out, and I hated it.

Looking around me now, many of my peers are dialing down. Prayer goes from hours a day, to a few hours a week, to a few minutes a day, to worship on Sunday and try to blend in with the culture the rest of the week. I don’t judge them for this. I love them and hope to stay in their lives. But as for me, I want something more. As I approach the next 30 years I want to be going harder after God when I’m 60. I want to be sold out and unashamed about my desire to live a life of prayer and fasting. I want to be water to a thirsty world ignorant of the gospel. I want to cultivate a flame on the inside that keeps me next to the relevant flame of God’s heart that I may be useful to my friend Jesus in minstring the gospel the next 30 years. I want to live my life in such a way that He receives the greatest amount of glory from my days and nights. For no other reason except that Jesus is worthy. I want their to be oil in my lamp when He comes.

Since high school Christian rap has come a long way. Cross Movements are still going strong, and in 2005 the greatest thing to happen to Christian music happened. Reach Records presented a fiery group of gospel preaching rappers called the 116 clique. Lecrae, Tedashii, Trip Lee, Sho Baraka, D.A. T.R.U.T.H., and others were not only some of the sickest rappers I’d ever heard, their content caused my heart to worship and eyes to cry with love for Jesus. Today I’m no longer a teenager. I’m a Father of two, married, and a home owner. I wear collar shirts, sport coats, and some would call me ethnically challenged to love rap music the way I do, but I’ve learned from the years past. Who cares what people think. Turn that junk up to ten and let your head bob long into your 80′s.

Your money your singleness marriage talent and time 
They were loaned to you to show the world that Christ is Divine 
That’s why it’s Christ in my rhymes 
That’s why it’s Christ all the time
See my whole world is built around him He’s the life in my lines 
I refused to waste my life 
He’s too true to chase that ice 
Here’s my gifts and time cause I’m constantly trying to be used to praise the Christ 
If he’s truly raised to life
Then this news should change your life 
And by his grace you can put your faith in place that rules your days and nights.

-Lecrae Song: “I Don’t Wanna Waste My Life”