An Interview with Dave

Here are three things you can count on.
        1. Somewhere right now a Georgia Tech fan is blaming a referee for his team’s annual embarrassing loss to the Georgia Bulldogs.

        2. Somewhere right now a Georgia Bulldog fan is still drinking a little bit too much and talking about how “we gonna beat LSU.”

        3. Your local contemporary Christian radio station is playing a song by Casting Crowns.

I don’t know how to prove my first two statements but the third one is easy. Find a radio and tune it to your local Christian station. It’ll likely be somewhere in the low 90s on your FM dial and it will also have a word like Joy, Fish or Love in the title. Okay, go do it.

I told you so.

Now wait two minutes and try again. This time they’re playing a song by Chris Tomlin. Go.

Jackpot.

Obviously, this isn’t a Casting Crowns or Chris Tomlin problem. It’s a radio problem. The same experiment works for your local hip-hop and R&B station. They’re playing a song by Drake right this second.

Bingo.

In 1993 I started a long conversation with my friend Dave about the state of Christian music. Our conversation still hasn’t ended. Over the last 20 years, Dave has published articles about Christian music and even has his own weekly radio show. That makes him an expert.

Christian music has changed in that time. Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin are successful and talented musicians with a sincere faith. When I was growing up, Christian artists were the ones who weren’t quite good enough to make it in the mainstream. Also, Christian music is seeing a bit of a resurgence of sound theology and commitment to the local church. Again, this is evident with artists like Tomlin and Casting Crowns.

Has the Christian music industry finally been reformed?

Are the days of sappy love songs to Jesus finally over?

Have we heard the last of bands like this?
Recently I got to ask Dave about all of this. It’s funny how a conversation that began in a college dorm room between two friends almost 20 years ago continues today on the blogosphere where millions will read it.

Okay thousands.

Hundreds?

Okay, my wife.

I love you honey! I’ll stop by the store on the way home.

Gimmie Five
Jay: Everybody that cares about Christian music has heard Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin. But Dave, give us five albums we should check out from bands we’ve probably never heard of and that are not currently played on 92.7 The Shepherd.

Dave:
Digging In
Jay: For most of the 80s and 90s a lot of Christian music seemed to be a poorly produced copy of what was popular in the mainstream two or three years earlier. Are those days fully gone?

Dave: I think a lot of progress has been made in that area but the Christian music industry definitely isn’t there yet. As long as there’s popular music, there’ll be someone to ape it and market it as a safe alternative to the church. Record companies are looking for what sells and not necessarily what’s pushing the envelope artistically. Safe pays the bills.

Having said that, I think quite a bit of progress has been made from a production standpoint. There’s no doubt that what you’re hearing coming from the Christian market is, in most cases, every bit as polished as what’s coming out of the mainstream and sometimes more so. So much so, that you get that “Christian music sheen” that permeates much of what’s considered popular or acceptable in the industry. Really, who can’t tell the difference between a “Christian” song and a “secular” song if they’ve been listening to the former for any length of time.

But great music doesn’t come from the production values. I just talked with Kevin Max, of dc Talk, last night about this very subject. Kevin referenced his favorite band, Queen, and how they broke the mold with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which came so far out of left field that it practically forced the listening audience to perk up and pay attention. As followers of the God of all creation, Christians should be doing just the same thing.

I think it comes down to authenticity and believability on the part of the artist. I recently read Michael Gungor’s blog, “Zombies, Wine, and Christian Music” on his band’s website. While there are parts of it that I don’t necessarily subscribe to, he’s spot on with most of the points he makes. The one that really struck a nerve with me was his comparison of most modern Christian music to a “musical zombie.” Here’s a quote. “There’s just something more believable about the whispery sexy voice that is singing about sex on the mainstream radio station than the voice that copies that style of singing while putting lyrics in about being in the arms of Jesus. And it’s really not even the style or the lyric that is the problem to me, it’s the fact that I don’t believe that the singer is feeling the kind of emotions in singing that lyric that would lead to that style of singing. It’s that same kind of creep out that you feel when somebody gives a really loud fake laugh. It’s just a weird and uncomfortable feeling.”

So to answer your question after all my rambling, I’d have to say no. There’s still a separation between music that’s considered acceptable and safe in Christian circles and music that’s artistically viable. Mainstream music doesn’t consult Christianity on trendsetting. They just do it. I wish the opposite was true.

Don’t get me wrong in thinking that I’m down on “Christian” music. I wouldn’t do what I do if I was. Bands and artists such as Switchfoot, Future Of Forestry, LeCrae, (as well as Kevin Max & Gungor) give me hope. Basically I encourage artists to be as evangelical or as parabolic as God has called them to be. There’s room for both. But whatever you do, be genuine.

Jay: Talk about the band Thrice. They’re a band that gets a lot of respect from mainstream audiences (as well as other bands like Linkin Park) but Dustin Kensrue, the lead singer, is legit in his faith and committed to the local church. Why do you think this is so hard for a lot of Christian artists to pull off?

Thrice is one of those bands that gets me excited from a spiritual, lyrical, and musical standpoint. I think the respect that they get goes back to the point I was making about doing whatever you do in an authentic manner. Dustin is a Christian and his lyrics absolutely reflect that. There’s no mistaking the message in the songs. But he makes the music he wants to make without regard to fitting into a format or being pigeon-holed into a genre. His band gets respect because first, they’re exceptional musicians and treat the music as equally as important as the lyrics. A lot of folks in Christian music miss the importance of that by treating music as if it’s of secondary value. My thought on that is this – if that’s your mindset, stop doing music and go preach. There’s your calling. You don’t honor Christ by putting out second rate music to an evangelical message. The musical gifts you’ve been given come from the same creator who gave you the words to speak. But I digress.

Funny enough, I actually think it’s gotten easier over the years for artists of Christian faith to gain ground in the mainstream. Remember back in the 80s when Amy Grant caused loads of controversy with “Find A Way?” That was considered a major breakthrough. Christian artists simply weren’t being played on the radio at that time. Now, bands like Thrice (and it should be said that not everyone in the band is a believer), Switchfoot, Needtobreathe, Red, and others are doing things that would’ve been almost impossible then. I think that it comes down to authenticity again. The world at large may not agree with the message but if they can find an artist or band that’s believable, they’ll latch on to that and respect it.

As a counterpoint it seems, sadly, that artists who got their start in the mainstream are now finding acceptance in the Christian market harder to come by. This is a reverse of how things used to be when Christian music was trying to gain a foothold back in the 80s. At that time it seemed that most anyone who came out of the mainstream music world and professed Christ (Mylon LeFevre, Kerry Livgren, Joe English, etc.) was embraced because they’re presence in the market validated the industry to a degree. 


I recently did an interview with Lou Gramm, the former lead singer of Foreigner, who came to Christ several years ago. Lou is an incredibly humble guy whose life was radically changed by that encounter but he’s had a hard time being accepted in the Christian music industry because there’s skepticism about his background. It’s almost like the industry now wants artists coming from those circumstances to prove themselves indefinitely before they’re given a chance. Here’s the kicker. Lou became a Christian in 1992. Another example is Ed Kowalczyk of the band Live. A couple of years ago, Ed sent an open letter to Christian radio detailing his salvation experience and his desire to do Christ-honoring music in the Christian music industry. Live, without a doubt, was one of the most thought provoking bands to come down the pike in the 90s and Ed was the driving creative force. Christian rock radio should’ve been all over this. Instead when Ed released his first solo single “Grace” from his debut CD “Alive” it was met with indifference and skepticism and peaked way below what it should have. I had Ed as a guest on Crossroad Radio and he was genuinely one of the most gracious and humble interview subjects I’ve ever had the privilege of talking to. No entitlement whatsoever. To be fair, most of the acts I interview within the industry have much the same demeanor but I’ve had several who also thought more highly of themselves than what we’re Biblically counseled to do. Not so with Ed.

Jay: What role does good theology play in Christian art and how are those artists who pursue the study of God set apart?

Dave: Good theology is absolutely essential to art created in Christ’s name. Understanding as much as we’re able to grasp of God’s character should lead us to want to produce art of the highest caliber. Bad theology is like a cancer and it comes out not just in lyrics but also in the form of substandard music. That being said, I think that we can become a bit Pharasaical in nit-picking songs to death. You have to let a song be a song and understand that artist A may be at an entirely different point in their walk with Christ than artist B. That doesn’t mean that we should put up with bad theology or misguided ideas. But we shouldn’t expect every song to be a theological treatise either.

I have to give major props here to the genre known as “Holy Hip Hop.” Whether or not you like rap music, artists such as LeCrae, Trip Lee, The Ambassador, Flame, etc. do a fantastic job of taking the urgency of the music and matching it with the urgency of the gospel. These guys strive to be sound in doctrine while completely engaging their culture. In other words, they’re doing what Christ did when he ate with the “tax collectors and sinners.” In doing so, they’re some of the best examples of the authenticity that I spoke of earlier. The music is a vehicle for the message but it isn’t JUST a vehicle. These are artists who love their God and their craft and it shows in the quality of their product. It should be that way whenever a follower of Christ puts pen to paper.

The Plug
Dave Bumgarner is a husband, Wake Forest fan (yeah, he’s the one), probably owns a Dell Curry Charlotte Hornets jersey and may be a distant relative of James Garner. For more information on his show, check out www.crossroadradio.com or www.wbfj.fm.

Like Jay Z: The Importance of Being There

3217 Creekwood Drive.

 

That was my first address that I can remember.  That’s the address where I learned how to play sports.  It’s where I was introduced to the Atari 2600.  It’s where I got into my first fight.  It’s where I was gripped by the gospel and repented of my sins.  Most of my childhood memories took place at 3217 Creekwood Drive.

 

But I hated the house that sat at 3217 Creekwood Drive.

 

I would sit at school all day and draw pictures of my dream house.  One where my mom wouldn’t have to work so hard and one where my room was big enough for a giant TV to hook up my Atari 2600 and my own personal swimming pool.  When my bus dropped me off right in front of my house I was brought back down to reality.

 

At one point it was a weird puple-ish color.  For a few years the panels on the garage door were knocked out because I ran into them with my big wheel so much.  On the inside, the brown carpet was stained with gum, pet deposits and Captain Crunch.

 

But the house at 3217 Creekwood Drive wasn’t really that bad.  The only bad part was that I, along with far too many other kids on my street, would get off the bus at the end of the day, reach into our pockets for a key and unlock the door to an empty house.

 

Our street was nicknamed Divorce Court.

 

What I wanted more than new carpet and a coat of paint that wasn’t purple was a complete family.  I wanted my mom not to have to work so hard to make ends meet.  I wanted my dad to come home at the end of the day, kiss my mom and tell me he loved me.  I wanted presence.

 

I was a lot like Jay Z.

 

Before Jay Z was a mega-rapper and part owner of the New Jersey Nets[1] he was an 11-year-old kid who was devastated by his father’s absence.  When Jay’s dad left, it impacted Jay enough to stick with him almost 30 years later when he would write a rap to his unborn son on the Watch the Throne album.

 

Promise to never leave him, even if his mama tweakin’

‘Cause my dad left me and I promise to never repeat him

Never repeat him

Never repeat him

 

Jay Z is the furthest thing from a Christian and he seems to have sampled every pleasure this world has to offer but he still knows the importance of a father being present for his kid.  Here’s an excerpt from a recent article on gq.com.

 

“He was rich enough to provide, years ago. But he wanted to be rich enough to be present—to leave rap alone for a while, if necessary, and not in a trumped-up pseudoretirement kind of way.”

‘Providing—that’s not love,’ he says. ‘Being there—that’s more important. I mean, we see that. We see that with all these rich socialites. They’re crying out for attention; they’re hurting for love. I’m not being judgmental—I’m just making an observation. They’re crying out for the love that maybe they didn’t get at home, and they got everything. All the material things that they need and want. So we know that’s not the key.’”

 

Could it be that Jay Z, the guy who drives a car worth more than the Pittsburgh Pirates, gets fatherhood better than a lot of dads who claim to be Christians?

 

Could it be that our attempts to say I love you by providing cars and phones are actually saying the exact opposite to our kids?  Could it be that even though they say what they want with their mouths their hearts and actions are saying something completely different?  Could it be that our kids could live without a car if it meant dad being around more?  Could it be that having parents who are intimately and romantically in love with each other is much better than simply having a joint business venture of two wage earners who share the same roof?

 

Eventually we would move from 3217 Creekwood Drive into an apartment where the carpet was clean and every unit looked the same from the outside.  Before we moved in my mom was showing me around the place.  As we moved from room to room I was making negative comments about our future living quarters.  Finally, we walked out of the front door and I noticed that the lock was a little loose.

 

“Oh, that’s real safe.”

 

My mom looked at me on the verge of tears.

 

“You know Jay, I’m trying the best I can here.”

 

I was crushed.

 

Looking back, I wish that I wasn’t such a jerk.

 

Looking back, I wish that my mom didn’t have to try her best just to keep our heads above water.

 

Men, maybe you haven’t abandoned your wife and kids like Jay Z’s dad did.  But maybe your abandonment is more covert.  Sure you still live under the same roof and you provide.  Oh but when deer season comes around or the fellas want to hang out or the gym is calling your name are your wife and kids left feeling just like the ones who saw their God-ordained leader walk out on them?

 

Men, providing for your wife and kids is important but it’s not enough.  Take it from a 42-year-old rapper from New York who’s all too familiar with what it feels like to be abandoned.

 

“Being there.  That’s most important.”

 

Men, being physically present is very important but it’s not the same as emotional presence.  The gospel calls you to both.  Take it from a withered old pastor/missionary.

 

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.  Colossians 3:19

 

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.  Colossians 3:21

 

Many of us know the pain of abandonment but through faith and repentance we can also know the joy of presence.  Take it from an apostle.

 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

 



[1] There once was a professional basketball league known as the NBA.  In that league there was a team from New Jersey called the Nets.


White Out Penn State

If ever there was a time for the NCAA to impose the death penalty on an institution, that time is now.

 

When a school cheats over a prolonged period of time and in such a way that the heads of that school are shown to be either complicit in that cheating or powerless to stop it, the NCAA reserves the right to drop a nuclear bomb of sanctions on that institution.  This kind of punishment is rare because of the devastation that it brings.

 

The last time a college football team was placed on the death penalty was the SMU teams of the late 80s.  After repeated violations and warnings, SMU’s football program was eliminated by the NCAA.  The punishment was so brutal that the school was forced to cancel even more games because they didn’t have enough players left to fill out a roster.  This happened over 20 years ago but it’s the reason why even today you never hear about SMU being in contention for a championship or even playing in a significant game for that matter.

 

Since SMU’s punishment the Kentucky and Baylor men’s basketball teams almost felt the wrath of the NCAA’s death penalty but they were saved by an administration that acted quickly and effectively to correct the problems.

 

And then there’s Penn State.

 

That jewel of a program that has managed to keep its nose relatively clean and remain reasonably competitive while other schools were covering up drug tests and paying players.  Penn State was the Duke of NCAA football only with fewer championships.

 

But this week we found out that the facilities at Penn State were repeatedly used by a member of the Penn State football coaching family to torture little boys.

 

We found out that at least two people witnessed these crimes on separate occassions.

 

And we found out that when these crimes were reported to school officials nothing was done.

 

We still don’t know how many other boys were raped in the showers of the Penn State football facilities after these crimes went unpunished.

 

As it looks now, Joe Paterno did the right legal thing by reporting this to his superiors a day or so after he found out about it.  But, as it looks now, Paterno did the wrong moral thing by not following up or even going to police on his own.

 

There is probably no other coach in college football with more power than Joe Paterno.  We hear a lot about how he has used that power for the better part of four decades to mold young men and run a clean program.  It’s just too bad that he didn’t use that power to protect young boys and remove the worst kind of filth from his program.

 

It is a sad commentary on our society that scores of students would stand outside of a man’s house and cheer for him because he managed to win over 400 games but couldn’t find it within himself to protect several boys who were repeatedly raped in his facilities by one of his men.  Are athletics more important than childhood innocence only in Happy Valley or is this a national phenomenon?  I don’t think I want to know the answer to that question.

 

Joe Paterno stepping aside at the end of this season is no kind of punishment or remedy to the situation.  Did anyone really expect him to return next year anyway?  It’s like George W. Bush getting caught committing some crazy crime and agreeing not to run for reelection after his second term as president is up.

 

SMU was given the death penalty because their administration played a part in the rampant cheating that was going on at that school and essentially thumbed its nose at the NCAA when they came to investigate.

 

The times and scenarios are different but the administration at Penn State has done virtually the same thing.  Oh, rest assured, there was no cheating going on in Happy Valley.  I’m sure no boosters bought suits for players or gave them big backs of cash under the table.  Not at a clean program like Penn State.  Instead, children were raped while the administration did nothing to stop it.  And of course, none of this helped Penn State win any games so don’t worry about Joe Paterno’s 400 plus wins ever being in question.

 

But ten years from now when you go back and look at the statistics just remember what was going on beneath the surface of that clean, successful program.

 

In a statement released today, Joe Paterno said, “I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university.”

 

Right now there are at least nine families that are wishing that Joe Paterno had done everything he could to help them.


You’re Not As Safe As You Think You Are

A year ago I spent 10 days training pastors and visiting orphans in Uganda. Before I left people treated me like it was 1968 and I dropped out of college to fight in Vietnam. One guy even told me that he was glad that I went so that he didn’t have to. I have no idea what that means.

This year my wife went to the same part of Uganda. You can imagine the increased concern on this one. If it’s crazy to sign up for something like this then it must be borderline criminal to let your wife do it.

My friend Keith hears all of this on an even higher level. My wife and I just went to Africa for a few days but he’s moving his entire family to the Czech Republic. This is no short-term missions trip. It’s an uprooting. My wife and I had to deal with passports and who would take care of our kids. Keith and his crew are more concerned with visas and permanent housing. And to make it even worse, they are taking their kids with them. Someone should contact DFACS.

There’s a lot to all of the strange looks and even stranger comments but I think a major driving force is fear.

People set off bombs in other countries.

Airplanes crash.

Al-qaeda might come after you.

These fears are silly but I understand them. I understand them because I have them. I spent most of my childhood living in this kind of fear.

When I was a kid my mom would load us up in the station wagon[1] every few months and we would all ride down to see my grandparents. This was before the days when children under the age of 32 were required to ride in a car seat so that meant that the back of the station wagon was all mine[2]. When that got old, I would just climb over into the backseat without the car ever stopping.

I lived on the edge.

After one visit, we were loading back up in the family wagon to head home. My mom and sister assumed their normal seats and I climbed back to my area in the back so I could give awkward stares to the drivers behind us on the interstate. But as I was making my way back to my area the sermon began.

My grandfather began a long story about some kid a few counties over that was riding back there and got killed when the car wrecked.

Thanks for the send-off, grandpa!

My area was now ruined. What was once my own miniature Chuck E. Cheese on wheels was now a deathtrap. I’ll bet there was even led paint and DDT somewhere back there.

Looking back, it’s interesting that the man who spent a few years fighting in the south Pacific during World War 2 and came back in one piece was concerned about my area of the station wagon. But the seeds were planted.

I was afraid of what might happen.

My default mode is to allow that same type of fear to keep me from obeying Jesus.

It really is safer over here so maybe I should leave international matters to others while I focus on my own nation.

But even our country is pretty crazy right now. Something could go terribly wrong so maybe I should just focus on my own community.

But the areas of our community that need the gospel the most are also the most dangerous. I’ll just focus on my own church.

But someone could walk into our sanctuary or even on stage while I’m preaching and do something terrible. Maybe I should just focus on my own family.

But then I’ll get really attached to them and what if something were to happen to them. I would be devastated.

So it looks like the only rational thing for me to do is to sit at home, isolated from everyone and watch the news where all of my fears can be reinforced.

I’m sure that Jesus is very pleased by that kind of “careful planning” and “alertness”.

Thankfully, there is another option and Jesus shared it with a church in a place called Sardis. This church had a great reputation but Jesus saw beyond that to their reality. What he saw was death that resulted from incomplete works (Revelation 3:1-2). To the few from this church who cared about obeying him, Jesus gives a great word of motivation for moving beyond the mediocre, phony discipleship that was on the rise.

“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” Revelation 3:5

Those who truly belong to Jesus Christ can go about fully obeying him in a very dangerous and unpredictable world knowing that though their bodies may be harmed, their hearts may be broken and their bank accounts emptied their souls cannot be touched.

“I will never blot his name out of the book of life.”

As it turns out, my wife made it back from Uganda unharmed. I asked her if she saw any riots in the streets where kids pushed police officers off of motorcycles and cops were called in wearing riot gear.

She said no.

I asked her if she saw any cars get run off the road by armed men demanding money.

She said no.

Just before she left and while she was away, those things happened here. Right here in our allegedly safe neck of the woods.

You’re not as safe as you think you are.

But if you’ve surrendered your life to Jesus, you’re more secure than you can possibly imagine.

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29


[1] Complete with wood panels and upholstery hanging down from the ceiling.

[2] Some people refer to this part of the car as “the back back” and others refer to it as “the way back”. In the interest of being fair and balanced I will refer to it as my “area”.

The Eleventh Day

I had been dreading the day for a week or so.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy and it wasn’t.  The whole thing was my idea and it was a good idea, just not an easy one.

 

My wife Marsha was getting in a car that would take her to a bus that would take her to a plane that would take her to Africa.  She would be helping to spread the gospel in villages all across Uganda.  I was really proud of her for going but I was also sad.  My oldest son took it even harder.  It’s weird how watching your kid cry for a legitimate reason is so much harder than watching him cry for something that doesn’t really matter.

 

My sons are a lot like their dad.  Saying goodbye doesn’t come easy.

 

I hated saying goodbye as a kid when my mom had to go away for another surgery or to see another specialist.

 

I hated the ten months of saying goodbye to Marsha while we were engaged and she lived 8 hours away.

 

She would always mail me these things that she called Countdown Calendars.  At the end of every day I could mark off another box and be reminded that I was a day closer to seeing her again.  The Countdown Calendar was a good reminder that time was headed somewhere.  I needed those daily reminders.

 

My sons are a lot like their dad.  They need a Countdown Calendar too.

 

Right now, on the side of our refrigerator, there’s a Countdown Calendar just low enough for my boys to reach and check off another box each day.  It reminds them that things are headed somewhere.  The separation will be over soon.

 

In Revelation 1-3, Jesus speaks to seven churches, some of which are enduring hardcore tribulation.  For churches like the one in Smyrna (2:8-11) it’s not just that they miss loved ones.  They were about to be missing loved ones who would be thrown into prison and perhaps even killed for their devotion to Jesus Christ.

 

After giving this warning, Jesus says something unusual to the Smyrnans.

 

“For ten days you will have tribulation.”

 

Because this phrase happens in the book of Revelation, the theories are limitless.

 

The ten days represent the ten pillars on the guy’s house that lived next to the temple in Jerusalem.  Each pillar was ten feet tall and the house was built in ten days.  So here we see very clear evidence that Jesus will come back on 10/10/10.  Wait.  10/10/12.  Hang on a minute….

 

The ten days represent ten of President Obama’s cabinet members thus proving that Obama is in fact the antichrist. 

 

We miss something big if we allow ourselves to get distracted by trying to decode the Bible.  The point here is that there will be an end to the tribulation these people are about to face.  They will know tribulation very intimately for some time but that time would end.  There will be an end to their tribulation.

 

There would be an eleventh day.

 

Jesus is saying to his people, “I’m at work here.  Things are going to get difficult but I’m still with you.  There’s an end to all of this.  Hang on to me.”

 

I am so thankful that my sons have been able to see both parents go halfway around the world to spread the gospel and care for orphans.  I pray that their experience will impact them in such a way that when they become men playing a part in international missions and orphan care will be a natural part of their lives.

 

But there’s another reason why I’m thankful for the tears and heavy hearts my boys have while their mother is away.  As they endure the difficulties of missing their mom, at the beginning of every day they get to walk over to the refrigerator and check off another box.  In a very real and personal way, they are being taught that time is moving towards something.  As difficult as the ten days apart from mom are, by God’s grace the eleventh day is coming.

 

A while back my oldest son was seeing how long he could hang from the top of a swing set.  His buddy had just made it for eight seconds and he wanted to go for nine.  I picked him up, let him get his grip and quickly started my watch as I backed away.

 

My son fell and looked up at me.  I could see in his eyes that he knew he didn’t make it.  He didn’t.  Three seconds short.

 

After calming him down and giving him a pep talk he was ready to try again.

 

This time I picked him up but after making sure he was holding on to the top bar good I didn’t back away as far when I started my watch.  My mouth was right beside his ear as he hung there by himself.

 

“Come on man, you got this.  Just nine seconds.”

 

“Just keep hanging.”

 

“Don’t let go yet.”

 

“You can do this, man.”

 

“If you want dinner tonight, you better keep hanging.”[1]

 

“Hang on, man.  You got this.”

 

He fell to the ground and looked up at me with that same disappointed expression.

 

I looked at my watch and looked back at him.

 

“Thirteen seconds.”

 

He was hyped.

 

As Christ-followers endure tribulations of varying degrees, we are told to hang on not by a father who simply whispers in our ear with his hands behind his back but by One who as been holding us all along (John 10:28-29).

 

And we are told to hang on, not for some earthly prize that will soon be forgotten but for the greater prize of dwelling with our Father who will, “wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

 



[1] Not really, DFACS.