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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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.

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