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.

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Strange Fire…

John MacArthur is one of my favorite Bible teachers. I find his books insightful and compelling.

However he is holding a conference in October called “Strange Fire” calling out the dangers of the Charismatic movement, and it seems to be more of a personal vendetta than a helpful dialog about the activity of the Holy Spirit in our present age. From the videos, and based on his books and previous teachings on the subject, it is being heralded as a stage to blast the “Charismatic church/ movement” as heretical, a false doctrine, and a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. He even goes on to call it a “work of Satan”. Which I personally believe is dangerous and quite a loaded and scary accusation to make at fellow believers.

(site is here: http://www.tmstrangefire.org/)

His 3 main points:

1. The charismatic church has emphasized the third person of the trinity over the second. The Holy Spirit is meant to testify of Christ and not have attention drawn to him.

2. That the Charismatic movement has emphasized prophecy as equal to or greater than the canonized scripture.

3. That Speaking in tongues and the Holy spirit gifts were for establishing the cannon, and not for today. and can jeopardize the cannon.

As one who not only grew up in the Charismatic movement, was a leader at the International House of Prayer and served under Mike Bickle and Lou Engle, and now pastor a Charismatic church in upstate New York, I must say that most of his conjectures are more accusatory then based on fact.

Sure the Charismatic movement has it’s quirks. It has guys like John Crowder, Todd Bentley, Patricia King and others whom I pray for, consider them brothers to the extent I’m required to by scripture, but wouldn’t want to be known as “affiliated” with them. Not anymore then MacArthur would want to be known as “Affiliated” to Brian McLaren. The Charismatic movement has had strange “revivals” where interesting things have transpired that cause even this charismatic to tilt his head side ways and wonder at times. But it’s had it’s necessary breakthroughs as well.

The streams of the Charismatic river I’ve been apart of, especially IHOP, have taught me the opposite of what John claims they teach.

To MacArthur’s first point. I have only ever heard that the Holy Spirit is the witness of Christ and is important and not to be devalued because His job is to reveal Christ to our hearts. I’ve never heard a message (aside from some of the more wacky folks I mentioned) where the Holy Spirit was to be exalted higher than Jesus, or even equal to Jesus.

I believe there was a season in the last thousand years where an emphasis, or reminder of the Holy Spirit’s ministry was and is important to remember in our living, teaching, and talking about the Gospel.

To Mac Arthur’s second point. In 20 years of Charismatic Christianity, 11 years at the International House of Prayer, I never heard that prophecy was equal to or greater than scripture. In fact it was at IHOP I learned about the 5 “Solas of the reformation” and specifically MacArthur’s favorite “Sola Scriptura”.

I have watched people get rebuked tenderly for trying to hijack meetings with un-biblical prophecies. I have only ever heard that prophecy is to testify of Jesus and the person of Jesus embodied by Scripture and taught about through scripture. I’ve only ever heard that the Bible is the living, active word of God, and is to be defended and protected at all costs. On that note I can at least appreciate MacArthur’s energy to defend the word. I think he’s misguided here.

To his third point. It’s true, we are called the “charismatic” Christians. We aren’t cessasionists. Meaning we believe in the present activity of the Holy Spirit and the gifts. However I don’t believe that is a heresy, in the way he would like it to be. Nor do I see the Bible either condemning the gifts after the cannon. Nor do I see it causes them to cease after the cannon. In fact cessasionism is a hard Biblical argument to make. Which is why it’s usually made through church history and subjective experience. Also why Reformed Calvinist teachers such as Wayne Grudem, Mark Driscoll, etc are not cessastionists.

I’ll state again. I love MacArthur for his zeal for the integrity of the word. It’s needed. However, he seems to be barking up the wrong tree here and making enemies out of friends. To call Charismatics “debased”, “unbiblical” and “a work of Satan”.

Well them’s is strong Words.

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

My Confrontation With Westboro Baptist Church

For years I’ve heard of the terrible and notorious antics of the folks just up the highway at Westboro Baptist church.  I have on many occasions been left with my head in my hands in disbelief whenever the stories of Westboro Baptist’s protests are told. Disbelief was usually followed by anger as I’d hear about them protesting a soldier’s funeral, or a gay kid who was beaten to death by his hateful peers. Anger would then lead to sorrow as I began thinking about the poor families being screamed at in their time of great grief. Sorrow also when I thought about the level of deception the people from Westborro must be under to justify screaming hatred. Following the progression of emotions, I began to grow bitter toward Westboro Baptist. Eventually that bitterness turned to hate. Hate turned into slandering them whenever I saw them on the news or heard about the legitimately horrible things they would do.

Most would find my hatred of Westboro Baptist completely justified as they are justifiably doing things to munger hate. However their was one person who wanted me to change my heart and attitude toward the infamous church. Jesus tells us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, and give to those who harm us. I often teach these things, but just like anyone, have to follow through with what I teach. When I would go to pray after having talked trash about how much I hated Westbrro Baptist, I could feel that subtle prick from Heaven asking me to change my heart. No matter the sin they were in, nothing justifies joining them in sin, nor gives me the power judge them with slander. We don’t have to condone or stay silent in our calling them out in their error, but we have to do it from a place of love least we only continue the cycle of hate. In December at our annual Onething conference I was blessed with a chance to face my hatred head on.

Last year, for whatever reason, Westborro Baptist had decided to target our conference and stand outside in protest of it. The theme of the conference was “Jesus: Our Magnificent Obsession”. Every message, song and exhortation was centered around the theme of Christology, the person and work of Christ. Not even our Calvinist/ Cessastionists friends could have taken issue with this conference. Yet for what ever reason outside was Westborro Baptist with their notorious multi-colored signs, t-shirts and mega phones. I debated going down to talk to them for about 10 minutes, until I decided to just pull the bandaid off and confront them head on. Seeing them in the distance as I approached, I began to pray. “Jesus keep me tender, Jesus keep me tender, help me confront them in love, help me confront them in love.” I kept saying those two phrases over and over under my breath until I reached them.

Their message was confusing. Some signs said “God Hates Fags”, “Your Pastor is a Whore to $$”, others said “God Hates America”, “Stop Lying, God Hates You”, I couldn’t get a handle of what exactly they were protesting. Walking straight up to the leader he began screaming in my face “God hates you! God hates you!” over and over incidentally spitting on my face a few times. I suddenly felt a little foolhardy. Like I had decided to jump into the Hyena cage in hopes of taming them while they prepared to devour me. However I felt the need to persevere. I starred at the leader square in the eyes, calmly and patiently asking him if I could have 5 minutes of his time. The notorious founder Fred Phelps was not present, however his daughter and grandson were. His grandson was the one presently screaming in my face as I solicited a moment of conversation. After about 10 minutes he ran out of breath. Which to be honest was quite impressive in context. Screaming slander on the top of your lungs for 10 minutes without pause takes some serious pipes. He finally dialed down a notch or two and asked “what do you want?”

Trying to diffuse his energy rather than add to it, I asked calmly and quietly “What is it that you are protesting? You seem to be aiming in every direction.” Expectedly he launched into a tirade. “What are we protesting?! How about the fact that your church is taking millions of people’s money at this conference and whoring out the Bible. How about the fact that right now the leaders of this church are making money hand over fist from people without telling them about the coming judgement. How about the fact that you publicly support fags in ministry. How about that!” Genuinely, though not wisely, I snickered. My snickering only fueled another ten minutes of titration. I waited until he was done then I asked him the obvious question: “So you really have no idea what you are protesting or who we are do you? Because we are public about homosexuality being a sin, we are public about our belief in judgement, our conference is free, and we barely break even on it. So obviously you’ve been misinformed.” He stepped back and paused. He pondered another angle to come at us, then launched, “Well the leaders at this church are still living large while everyone else starves!” I snickered again and looked at him square in the eyes, “Sir I am one of the leaders here, and these are my only pair of jeans. If we are making a ton of money here it’s news to me.” I then proceded to laugh, honestly hoping to dial him down a even more. I coxed him along a bit, “Bro, you gota laugh a little bit. You gathered up about 30 people, printed signs and drove an hour to get here from Topeka only to find out you kinda wasted your time.” He snapped back, “But that’s not enough! You have to hate and publicly denounce gays or you’re going to burn with them.” I asked him, “What about those that lie on their resume’s, drink too much alcohol, or cheat on their taxes sometimes. Those are sins also, do those people need to be hated too?” “Yes!!” He yelled. “America is going to hell! God hates them!” Curiously, and with genuine compassion I asked him, “By that notion how do you plan to make it without going to hell?” This question struck his heart. For the first time in the conversation his face looked human. The tention and angst he was wearing disappeared. He hung his head and dropped his signs and mega phone to the ground. “I don’t know.” We stepped away from his still screaming crew and he began to open up a bit.

It was extraordinary. He told me that they simply go where they are told, that he actually never knows much about who they are protesting. He told me that they believe God is going to judge America with fire for it’s sins. He said they protest because they are terrified of being judged because of other people’s sin. He said he often lays awake in bed at night tormented by the idea that he is going to burn at the hand of God’s judgement. He felt that protesting is his way of screaming to heaven that he is not one of the sinners. He said it was a way of saying, “God don’t judge me! I’m not one of them!” Still not liking or remotely condoning anything they do, however for the first time I saw these hateful people for who they really were: broken. I offered to pray for him, and wanted to talk to him more, but he was teary-eyed and a little embarrassed about it. He gathered up his crew, they packed up their signs and left.

I wanted to feel victorious as I had taken on the most notorious protesters in the world and won. I wanted to walk triumphantly back into the conference and pump my fists bragging that I had gotten them to leave. Instead I was burdened for them. Having confronted my hatred I saw them for the lost and broken people they were. It doesn’t change my attitude toward their actions, but now when I see them on the news in a tirade of hatred I pity them. I pity them because they are trying to serve and represent a God they know nothing of. They are unknowingly agreeing with the voice of the darkness over the people they are protesting. And Sadly, they may even be headed for the very fate they are striving so hard to avoid.

They are still the object of God’s affections, the dream of his heart, and still have a chance at redemption. I pray for them regularly and I hope to run into them again.

Holy Spirit, enlighten the eyes of their understanding, that they may have their eyes opened to the truth and love of Christ.

“So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you towardrepentance?” Rom. 2:3-4

Summer 2012 Turn Signal: Transition on the Way

For my wife Carrie and I the summer of 2012 will go down as one of the greatest we’ve ever had. In my 4th year directing Awakening Teen Camp we saw thousands of teenagers from 27 different countries come through Kansas City for our camps and conferences. We saw hundreds get saved, nearly a thousand commit to, and were commissioned as missionaries to their high school campuses. We saw a counselor team of 50 pour out their lives on behalf of the next generation. In turn they emerged from the 8 week marathon of camp with transformed hearts and appetites wetted to preach the gospel and make disciples. We saw a 40 person camp staff pull off the logistics and content of camp tirelessly and emerge with hearts alive. 8 weeks of non stop ministry, 5 camps and retreats, 2 conferences, 1 intensive, all of it fruitful. God made a significant impact this summer, and we are already hearing stories of teens rallying large numbers of their peers at their churches, homes, and schools to go hard after the Lord. It’s incredible!

This summer was also especially unique, because it was our last.

At the beginning of 2012 my heart began to ache for the state of our nation, and state of my city; Kansas City. The “ache” was primarily felt as a National conference speaker and organizer. I was meeting so many in the church whose hearts were legitimately sparked by the initial messages, but were so lost a month later because there was a lack of leadership where they were to lead them. Different friends and leaders floated the idea of my wife and I one day planting a church. At the time I thought it was a great idea… in 10 years. As things started to pick up for me nationally in conference ministry, the ache only grew. Conference ministry has a true and needed function, however for me I was longing to pick a region and labor with a group of people for a decade or two and make a lasting impact somewhere.

To make a long story very short: (As I plan on writing other posts about this journey)

In March Carrie and I talked with some different pastors, leaders, and heads of church networks, and they offered us the option to take over a church in Kansas City that is needing a a pastor. The truth is, today many churches are without pastors as many, among other things, are quitting at an alarming rate.

Since March, Carrie and I have been on the slow journey of transitioning to becoming senior pastors of a church here in Kansas City. As a result, we took the crazy leap of making this summer our final summer directing Awakening Teen Camp. A role I plan on blogging more about, but a role I have been so privileged to have held as I’ve gotten to see thousands of teens’ hearts and lives transformed by the grace and power of God.

So for those that follow here, pray for us in this transition. I’m being intentionally ambiguous on the details as they are still in a liquid state. I’ll share more when things solidify, which is why this is merely “the turn signal”, and not yet the turn.

Until things become final, we are still on staff at the International House of Prayer serving in leadership and in many various functions including teaching at the Bible School, and in the Prayer Room. We love IHOPKC. We love ATC. And we are excited to see where this journey takes us, and I’ll be sure to let you know when it starts! 😉

 

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.