About Me

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New Orleans, LA, United States
Family from South Africa, Born in New Orleans, Lived in South Carolina. Married to Annabeth since May 2004. We have three boys (Bolt, Mack, and Birk). Currently living in Uptown NOLA and serving as Lead Pastor of Vintage Church and Camp Pastor of Student MissionLab.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lent Lesson #3

By no means did God only teach me three lessons through Lent. My notebook is filled with nuggets of wisdom that I received through discussions, experiences, Scripture, my family, etc. However, these three stick out the most. To review, Lent Lesson #1 was “God is so good”. Lent Lesson #2 was “listen to Jesus and do what He says”. Here is the 3rd:


Now this might seem a little strange to you because of my second lesson. Why would God teach me to get control of my life when He has called us to listen and surrender to what He has called us to do? Lent Lesson #2 is the preface to #3.

This world is not our home. This life is not our own. For those who have been saved by Christ, the only reason why Christ has saved you is that you might glorify Him with your life.

I Peter 2:9 is by far one of my favorite verses in God’s Word.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

This is such a great reminder of God’s call upon my life as a believer.

With this truth established, God began to convict me of the fact that I wasn’t being a good steward of what He had called me to be. Every believer has two primary callings in this world. One is to “go and make disciples of all nations”. This isn’t an option. All have been called to reach all. That definitely includes the unreached people groups around the world. The second call is a specific call. Paul was called to the nations, but he specifically served as an apostle traveling the world planting churches. Jesus certainly was called to the nations, but focused on 12 regular dudes. You and I have certainly been called to the nations, but what has God called you to specifically? These two are intertwined.

As I began to ponder that question, I first reflected on what God has placed in my life. I don’t like segmenting my Christ-life, my personal-life, and my work-life. Christ is primary and interwoven throughout my life. Understanding this, here is my specific calling from top priority down:
• To be a husband to the most beautiful woman in the world.

• To be a dad to (NOW) 3 little dudes who are the absolute joy of my life.
• To be a son and brother and grandson to an incredible family.
• To be a pastor to a new church plant called Vintage in the heart of New Orleans. This involves being a leader to an incredible staff, being an influencer to a devoted vision team and community group leaders, and being a faithful servant to a loving church family as we together love God and people.
• To be a preacher of God’s Word each week at Vintage, during camp seasons at MissionLab, and whenever God gives me other opportunities.
• To be a friend to those in my life who care more about me and my family than what I do or don’t do. They just love me and I love them.
• And lastly, to be a student at NOBTS even though I feel like I deserve an honorary MDiv for all the time I have spent on that campus. Hopefully I will done this fall.

That’s my list. As I looked at this list, God convicted that I wasn’t being a good steward of the LIFE THAT HE HAD GIVEN ME. As I shared in the first Lent Lesson post, the last two years have been crazy awesome. But the unpredictable schedules, the lack of definitive office hours, the full access from everyone without boundaries has begun to lead me away from what God has called me to do. Annabeth pleaded with me this spring to put some structure into our lives. I started to receive visions of my sons growing up hating Jesus & the church because daddy cared more about church than them. I NEEDED TO TAKE ACTION.

Let me share what this looks like in my life. During Lent I came across a blog somewhere that talked about “Reclaiming the 9-5”. I wish I could find it. Anyways, this pastor talked about how he hates segmentation and that he loves serving with completely schedule freedom. However, this freedom had begun to spin his life out of control. He wrote about the importance of working, playing, resting, and dating at certain set-aside times. He wrote about reclaiming the 9-5 so that his kids could enjoy daddy time and that he could truly focus on what God had called him to do.

As I read, God smacked me in the face with this third lesson, “GET CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.” He said, “Rob, I have blessed you with the responsibility of being a husband, dad, son, brother, grandson, preacher, friend, and student in accordance with my plans for my glory.” This isn’t about you; this is about my sovereign plan for this world.

For me taking action looked like this:

• I put together a time budget and weekly schedule where I assessed and planned work, sleep, study, meetings, family time, Sabbath, workout, etc. I also set up an accountability system for sticking with it.
• I led our church in finding a solid office space for us to work. Sure, its ghetto, but that’s how Vintage rolls.
• I set aside a week to go on vacation with my family and worked hard before we left so that I didn’t have to work while I was away.
• I started rejecting meetings and opportunities that didn’t fall under the category of what Christ has called me to do.

Now anyone in ministry knows that ministry isn’t that clean and neat. I completely agree. Ministry should look a lot sloppier than the institutional business-like expressions that we find all over our country. However, if my schedule leads me to neglect my family, cheat on my wife, go into depression, and even kill myself…how effective will that be? Getting control of your life isn’t about making life easier, getting control of your life is about being faithful to God’s call.

I pastor a church filled with young adults. For the most part I am counseling one person after another that is being controlled by their life. From work obligations, to parties, to church duties, to new babies…the busyness of life is killing them. The question that I had to answer is the same question that we all need to answer, “What has God called me to do?” When clarity comes from God, DO IT! That means that you might have to get rid of some things. That means that you might have to say NO to some (even good) things. Prioritize your life around what Christ has called you to do. He wants to use you in a mighty way for His glory!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lent Lesson #2

As we have planted Vintage Church over the past two years, I have cut-back significantly on my speaking gigs outside of New Orleans. I have strategically focused on preaching in NOLA with Vintage and MissionLab. Occasionally, God leads me to accept one. I traveled over Lent with the Andrew Ogea Band to TN and SC. On the way to these events we went to the Unleash Conference at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC. This one-day conference was perfect timing for me as I was at a point of exhaustion and even a little confusion. Perry and the NewSpring story is crazy phenomenal. I first met Perry when I was being recruited to play ball at Anderson University. Perry at that time was an RA for one of the dorms and led a bible study on campus. I remember him coming up to my dad to ask advice about God calling him to plant a new church in Anderson. Perry was crazy excited as he shared with us what God had placed in his life. 10 years later, Perry now pastors a church of over 10,000 people. NewSpring puts on this conference once a year to pour into church leaders. It was during this conference that God gave me a second lesson.

Perry got up and reflected about the journey over the past 10 years. Whether controversial or not, risky or not, loud or not; Perry summed up what he had learned over this journey.


For some this might seem elementary. Even for me, I wasn’t exactly shocked by this truth. But at the moment, Jesus laid the smack down on me. As a new church planter I have been overwhelmed by the amount of resources. Google any subject and you will find thousands of blogs, books, etc. At one conference people are talking about being organic, at another people are talking about being missional, and at another people are talking about being multi-site. Honestly, I am not finding anything out there that has been crazy successful in New Orleans. I believe that I live in one of the most difficult places to plant a church in the world. For those who aren’t from NOLA, you won’t understand.

This simple word of wisdom was exactly what I needed to hear. The most fruitful times of ministry have been times when we least expected it. Vintage isn’t my idea, I didn’t launch Vintage, and I’m ultimately not responsible for Vintage. Jesus is Lord, King, and Senior Pastor of Vintage. True success isn’t what American evangelicals have deemed to be success. True success happens when we are faithful to what Christ has called us to do…even if that means being a persecuted, poor, and unpopular Christ-follower.

There are two keys to this phrase:

LISTEN TO JESUS. If Jesus calls the shots, if Jesus runs the show, if Jesus rules your life…why do you spend more time reading tweets & blogs, watching TV shows, and reading books than listening to Jesus. How do we hear from Jesus? Through prayer and Scripture. As lead pastor I am completely overwhelmed by my responsibility to represent the very Words of Christ to our church. This truth should lead me to read more tweets, it should compel me to my knees in humility to Christ and His Word.

DO WHAT HE SAYS. Now this is where it gets tough. We have been fed an inaccurate picture of what it means to follow Jesus. Somehow we have bought the lie that to follow Jesus means that we will receive all the prosperity we could imagine. In fact, if you are a “full-time” minister you can even become a “superstar” traveling the country signing books or playing an instrument on stage pimping Jesus along the way.

It is true that some followers of Christ have received great wealth and prosperity. But the only reason why they have been blessed is because God intended them to use it for His glory. Period. A true picture of what it means to do what Christ says is found in Matthew 10. Spend some time walking through this passage. I got to preach through this text a couple of weeks ago at Vintage.

Thank you Jesus for this lesson. Give me the strength to listen to you and do what you say.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lent Lesson #1

New Orleans is filled with traditions. Some good and some not so good. Over the spring, I decided to participate in the Catholic tradition called Lent.

Here is a basic summary of Lent:

Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count).
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ - his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.

Taken from http://christianity.about.com/od/holidaytips/qt/whatislent.htm

I have never been one to depend upon pragmatic religious ritual. The grace of Christ has set me free from those chains. But in my preparation over our LIFE SERIES I came across a quote in John Stott’s commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. He presents an old Puritan quote:

The Law sends us to Christ to be Justified. Christ send us to the Law to be Sanctified.

I am at a crazy exciting and unpredictable place in my life. One day I have enough time to take Bolt to the park, play ball at Tulane, and enjoy dinner with Annabeth. The next day I barely have time to use the bathroom. I wouldn’t trade the last two years of planting Vintage Church for anything, but at times it has almost ended me.

Over the spring, Annabeth and I found out that we are expecting identical twins boys in August. When the nurse told us I immediately teared up in silence, but on the inside I was freaking out. How in the world am I going to handle this? I barely have control over the load that I am carrying right now. Some things have got to change. I needed to hear from God for this answer.

As I launched into the Lent Season, I committed to remove and abstain from certain foods and technology in order to spend time with God in preparation for Easter. Any religious practice or accomplishment that doesn’t have this focus as the forefront is (as Paul writes in Philippians 3) trash. Of course I have been praying for God to move in such a way that only He gets the glory in my home, church, and city. However, we don’t fast in order to get something from God, we fast to be with God. He is enough. He is the prize. As I walked with God, he taught me three major lessons. Here is what I learned:


Over these forty days I was able to experience a lot. Vintage and my own family continued to grow, we moved into a building that houses our Vintage kids and offices, and I got to preach at a number of really cool places (one being the NOBTS Chapel - which is by far the most intimidating pulpit I have ever preached in). Of course it is easy to recognize the goodness of God during these experiences. But I wasn’t reminded of God’s goodness during these big events. I was reminded in the smaller things. Whether it was through a passage of Scripture in my 1-yr journey, whether it was through witnessing someone’s life being transformed by the Gospel, whether it was through recognizing the simple blessing of food on my table, whether it was feeling the comfort of the Holy Spirit through a rough time…God reminded me of His goodness.

In particular, I was reminded of God’s goodness through two specific times. The first was through the life of a Tulane student named Liz. Instead of writing about this I will share the video that we shot for our Vintage family.

You can find the video online at http://vimeo.com/10463914

God is so good!

The second happened to my family. One Saturday night Annabeth woke up in a panic. Without going into details we thought that she had a miscarriage. I have never felt so helpless in all my life. On the way to the doctor we prayed, quoted Scripture, and listened to some music. After going to the doctor, we found out that the twins boys were okay but that Annabeth had something called “placenta previa”. The doctor told us that her placenta was in a dangerous place and that if it didn’t move we might have to terminate the pregnancy or Annabeth would lose her life.

During this time of uncertainty, we were crazy blessed by our church family. By the time I finished preaching that Sunday morning on 2 hours sleep, meals and prayer meetings had already been lined up. The love and support that we received from Vintage was a total confirmation of the goodness of God. I could have never imagined 5 years ago when Annabeth and I came back to NOLA that I would have the privilege of loving and being loved by such an incredible church. It was honestly through this love that Annabeth and I remained focused on God’s plan and purpose. We thanked God and trusted Him to work out His plan for our lives and these babies. No matter what, we were going to praise Him!

Over the next few weeks we prayed and prayed and prayed. God answered our prayers by moving Annabeth’s placenta. Mama and our twins boys are doing fine. The twins have a thing called Twin-on-Twin Syndrome where one steals from the other. We have to get an ultra-sound every two weeks and still have a long way to go, but God is so good.