Why I’m Looking Past the Blood Moons (and you should too)


CAUTION–Darren will rant in 3…2…1…

Fellow Christians, am I the only one a little tired of hearing about Shemitah, Blood Moons, Red Heifers, Pale Horses, Black Horses,Yellow Brick Roads, Little Green Men, Yellow Submarines, etc. (and of those making gobs of money on these things)? It doesn’t make you a prophet to say judgment is coming, and you don’t need signs in the heavens, Jewish dates, or troubling headlines to proclaim it. Yes, judgment is coming. Judgment has ALWAYS been coming. This is NOT brand new information!

If you’re a Christian, don’t get overly caught up in the headlines, or the stars, or the moons. Don’t rush out to buy the books that focus on these things. All we need is found in the book we already have–THE Word. Are all these things in that Word? Kind of, although Apocalyptic Literature is deliberately open to interpretation, which is why prophecy preachers can use the same scriptures over and over again for brand new headlines. But where they appear, they are just SIGNS. Continue Reading →

HOW I BOTCHED MY KIDS’ BAPTISM (and what I learned from it)

baptism 2I knew the moment was coming that Wednesday evening. My dad baptized me when I was little, and I was thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to do the same for all three of my children. I was moved to tears several times throughout the day as I thought about the upcoming moment. My children love Jesus, and this was a moment I knew I wouldn’t forget.

But when the opportunity finally presented itself, I was ill prepared. Although I had pictured it in my mind all day long, I had not planned out what I would say. And much to my wife’s chagrin (and my own), my default personality trait is wit and sarcasm.

So, because I had not thought through my words for the moment, I ended up being WAY more lighthearted than I had intended. I asked the kids questions like who their favorite parent was and how old Mommy was before getting to the more serious questions and, eventually, baptizing them.

After my first two children were baptized, the third walked into the pool. That’s when my mind began to whirl as I realized I had not said what I wanted to say. I quickly moved through the moment with my third child, and then stepped out of the pool in a dizzying fog of panic. I had taken it all too lightly and didn’t grasp the opportunity at hand.

I immediately realized it was a moment I’d never get back. My heart sank into my chest. I wanted to crawl under a rock.

My wife and friends did their very best to comfort me. But it’s something I’ll always regret. I had a prime spiritual moment to speak life over my children, and I replaced it instead with wit and sarcasm. As I’ve reflected on this botched opportunity, I’ve realized a few things.

1) My Wife Is Awesome

I already knew this, but she continually proves it to be true. She comforted me with gentle words of assurance. She said I was the Dad my kids knew, and by making them laugh, I likely made it more memorable for them. She helped me sleep that night.

2) I Can’t Live Up To Every Expectation

After working through my regret, I realized that one of the reasons I was immediately so stressed was because I was worried about what the people in the audience may have thought. I’m certain several probably didn’t approve of my lightheartedness during the baptism. I don’t blame them, but I can’t control everyone’s opinion. And if they choose to judge me based on one moment in the spotlight, I cannot control that, either. Not to mention the fact that it was all based on fear alone, since I never actually heard anything negative about the whole thing.

3) Friends Who Pray Are Friends You Should Keep

The day after the botching, I had to appear on two television shows in Atlanta. These on-the-spot interviews in front of a camera and a live television audience are daunting. They call for extreme mental concentration. And I woke up that morning unable to concentrate on anything, as I was filled with regret from the night before. I shared my struggle with a few praying friends, and they immediately chimed in with encouraging words. Over the next two hours, I felt the weight of my burden slowly lift. I know it was because they were praying. Although, on one of the shows that day, I admitted on camera that my Xbox gamertag is “wizardbeef,” so maybe they didn’t pray hard enough.

4) Cherish Every Opportunity

My son is 9, and my twin girls are 7. I can honestly say that up till this point, I haven’t had a major regret in parenting. But now I do. And this has made me appreciate more deeply the fact that I’ll only have these babies around once. They’ll soon grow up, and they’ll marry, and they’ll have kids of their own. But that hasn’t happened yet. So I’m going to more fully cherish every moment I have left with them. I’m going to hug them a little tighter tonight. I’m going to shut the TV and the phone and the computer off a little sooner. I’m going to linger at the foot of their beds a little longer when I tuck them in. I’m going to cut my meetings shorter and let the board games last longer. I may have missed one moment to speak into their lives, but I refuse to miss another.

5) One Botch Doesn’t Define You

I was reminded by many over the next couple days of the following truth: “Your kids won’t remember what you did once. They’ll remember what you did all the time.” I’m reminded of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Old Testament. Abraham lied twice about his wife being his sister out of fear. Isaac did the exact same thing. And Jacob stole his brother’s blessing and birthright. Yet, over and over and over again God is referred to as “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” These men had great moments of failure. They had flaws and shortcomings. They weren’t prefect, but they were FAITHFUL. One single act will never define us over the course of our lives. We’re not remembered for our one-time actions, but for our repeated actions. I won’t always get it right, but I’ll always try to get it right. In the end, I hope and pray this is what my kids will remember.

As Jim Henson once said, “The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them.  They don’t remember what you try to teach them.  They remember what you are.”

To be honest, I don’t really remember my baptism. I don’t know what my dad said or didn’t say, I just remember that he was there, and that’s all that mattered. I want my kids to remember me not as a good minister or writer or editor, I want them to remember me as a faithful dad. Thankfully I have a few more opportunities to successfully capture that title.

And no matter where you find yourself today, so do you.

Unless you’re a mom, in which case, you might not want the title “faithful dad.”

Are You Ministering or Performing?

Performer Minister

There are ministers and there are performers. And unfortunately, there are some ministers who act more like performers.

I hate unpreparedness. Nothing irks me more than when someone, particularly in a church service, gets up to do something without having prepared. I believe in doing everything with excellence, and when leading, I try not to let anything but the best occur under my watch and supervision. Anything less is inexcusable, although some things inevitably slip through the cracks.

But at the same time, there’s a fine line between excellence and perfection, or between preparedness and performance, particularly in church.

I’ve come to believe that when your goal is perfection, it can easily move from ministry to performance, and those are VERY different things. Continue Reading →

Should Your Church Euthanize Small Groups?

NOT small-groups

Someone recently pointed me to a blog post that said churches should “euthanize small groups.” You can read it here. I think it’s fairly old, but new to me. At first I feared the author might be an insane murderer, but as I read, I realized he didn’t mean it literally. When he said we should euthanize small groups, he simply meant the practice of such a thing in church, not the groups themselves (whew).

The author made several arguments, stating that small groups don’t really create disciples but, rather, they tend to create ineffective, half-hearted friendships that don’t truly fulfill the Great Commission.

Okay, I could buy into that to some extent. It’s certainly been true of many of the small groups I’ve tried to be a part of. But it’s not true of all of them. So it’s a highly over-generalized idea. I’ve been a part of some truly close-knit, spiritually effective small groups, as well.

I don’t think we need to kill our small groups. But, there certainly ARE some things we could euthanize Continue Reading →

How I Impressed My Toughest Critic


Several months ago I wrote a post called “What Makes God Laugh?” I came up with that question and really didn’t have a very hard time answering it. I can easily guess a few things that might make God laugh, so the blog was pretty easy to write.

But I’ve since come up with a similar question that’s been FAR harder to answer:

“What makes my wife laugh?”

I’ve found this to be a nearly impossible task. She is by far my toughest critic. Continue Reading →

Good Things From Strange Fire


John MacArthur recently held a conference called “Strange Fire” to tell as many people as would listen that the Charismatic movement is bad–very, very, very bad (but in a LOT more words than that).

I googled “strange fire” images for this post. Interestingly, I only found images of normal fire. So now the only thing I can ponder is what exactly “strange fire” might look like. Perhaps it looks like little drops of rain? That would certainly be strange. Or maybe it looks like duck-billed platypuses. No, that wouldn’t be strange; that would just be cute. So I’m left all verklempt!

Thanks MacArthur. You’ve ruined my day.

Not only do I think his title is kinda crazy, but I also think his conclusions are significantly flawed. After reading through many of the transcripts from the conference, I completely disagree with MacArthur’s broad, lumping generalizations. They lumped all of us together in sweeping generalizations and demonized the entire Pentecostal and Charismatic movements—literally.

But with that said, in hopes of not adding to the negativity of this whole thing, I pulled a few positive notes from what I’ve read. Here are three observations from MacArthur’s Strange-Fire-whatever-that-looks-like-conference that I think are worthwhile: Continue Reading →

35 and Contemplative


Today I turn 35. And for the first time in my life, I’m taking inventory of all my years. It’s quite an experience.

We have an opportunity to pray in our chapel every morning. I often go and spend time there in the mornings. My prayer time is typically filled with the usual requests for guidance, help, and protection over my family, along with many other needs. But this morning’s prayer was quite different.

Today, realizing my life could easily be halfway over, I began a contemplative sort of prayer. I looked at the storyline of my life. The ups and downs, the failures and successes, the good choices and the bad, and the emotional ride of it all.

I’ve experienced many things I always hoped to experience. I graduated high school and college. I got married, went into ministry, had kids. I had a goal of having a published book by age 35, and that goal will soon be fulfilled. I’ve achieved a lot on my bucket list.

But I’ve also experienced many things that weren’t on my to-do list. Continue Reading →

Turn Off The Screen, Turn On The Love

What would happen if we all turned off our screens for a few hours every night? What if we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, Lego Batman, Disney Channel, and Candy Crush for just a few hours? Would the world stop turning? Would our faces melt? Would we go into withdrawal? My family has been answering this question for a few months now.

I’m happy to say my face is still intact.

Off Switch

About 2 months ago we started a new rule at home: no screens from 5:00-8:00 every night. I thought this would be more akin to my childhood. We only had THREE channels back then (assuming we could dial them in on the tuner and rabbit ears). When I came home from school every afternoon, cartoons were on for one hour and G.I. Joe was a daily indulgence.

Once the afternoon hour of cartoons ended, TV was off my radar until Cosby, Silver Spoons, or Small Wonder graced the screen during Prime Time. I wasn’t interested in watching the evening news, so my brother and I did something that’s almost taboo these days… Continue Reading →

Newsflash: Xers are the Bridge from Boomers to Millennials

Kind of seems like a no-brainer, right–the generation between two generations acts as a bridge. But this one is different as the generational gap has so rapidly expanded with the advance of technology. I’m convinced my generation is crucial to this conversation.

June 9, 1997 Time Magazine Cover

June 9, 1997 Time Magazine Cover

I’m part of generation X. We were a big deal back in the day. I still find myself using terms like “da bomb” and the aforementioned “back in the day.” I’ve tight-rolled my pants a time or two. I grew up with 3 TV channels and cartoons on Saturday morning & for one hour every afternoon ONLY. Punishment for wrongdoing often involved not being able to play outside—or spankings (yes, plural). Sometimes I even got to choose between the two. Continue Reading →

Just Writing


Today I have no clue what to write about. So, I’m just writing, and we’ll see where we land. I think this is my first blog-o-nothing. You might wanna buckle your seatbelt.

I’m typing from an Embassy Suites in Atlanta tonight. I’m on a business trip for an executive board meeting. We made some big decisions like what to do with money and how to approach marketing and the biggest decision of all—which restaurant would provide our dinner. Makes a guy feel all warm and gushy inside.

And as I sit here typing at 8:30 while watching the X-Factor because I can’t seem to find the football game, I find that the older I get, the more boring I become. I remember when we had our first child. We were young and programmed to stay up late. But after a couple weeks of no sleep, our son fell asleep one night at about 7:00 and we both looked at each other and asked, “Is is too early to go to bed?” The answer then was yes. Now, it’s always no. In fact, a 7:00 bedtime would be heaven. Life with three kids can be exhausting. Continue Reading →