A Teasing Sense of Humor and How to Crucify It

Slowly becoming better at this. You might pray for me in this matter.

Brandon J. Adams

crucifyGrowing up and as a young man, I always had to be the guy in the room with the joke.

Always. Whenever anyone said something, my brain would immediately look for a way to turn it into a tease.

Combined with not being very good at it, this resulted in years without a lot of friends. As I grew older, I got better at it. At the teasing part, that is, unfortunately, not the “just knock it off already” part that people were no doubt wishing I’d master.

And then…I would wonder why I wasn’t getting anywhere socially.

Clueless, I tell you.

Then, for some reason, one day I started asking myself, “What do my role models do to engender such trust with people?”

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In Which I Do NOT Brag About My Pastor

joeyI’d like to consider myself marginally capable with words, but today they fail me like the Russian winter failed Napoleon. (I’m coming up…short.)

Yesterday was the 20th service anniversary for Joey, my church’s generations pastor and former youth pastor.

This is the guy (Joey, not Napoleon) who caught me after my family’s collapse and became a second father. The guy who drove two hours to watch my black belt test. The guy who taught me how to parallel park. The guy I rode shotgun with, for surreal errands, on 9/11. The guy who brought in our worship band (my favorite ministry) for my going-to-basic-training party. You get the picture.

As was aptly said at his celebration today, he has been there for thousands of young people, now scattered across the world, some now pastors themselves. The fruits of his labor are now in their third, even fourth, generation.


Knowing Joey as I do, I feel oddly hesitant to brag of him.

I could brag about his approachability, his way of listening and setting at ease those he speaks to…but I won’t.

I could brag about his passion for equipping, delegating, and developing those under his charge…but I won’t.

I could brag about his willingness to pick up a rake or shovel alongside any junior-higher he mentors, or dye his beard in loss of a bet to one…but I won’t.

I could brag about the near-unearthly wisdom he purveys to young people navigating the eddies and tangles of growing up…but I won’t.

I could brag about his ability to take what you dislike most about yourself and turn it into an asset and affirmation…but I won’t.

I could brag about the countless family nights he’s sacrificed to spend with a student or friend whose life has been violently upended…but I won’t.

I could brag about the spark you see in his wife and children, showing the life he’s speaking into them…but I won’t.

I could brag about his positive spirit, his cultivated fitness, or his infectious laugh…

…but I won’t.

For if he were all these things, but missed the most important lesson a pastor will ever teach, then he would have fallen short in his job after all.

But I am glad to say that in the matter of passing on this crowning lesson, he has not failed:

…that every good quality we see in him is a dozen times truer, a thousand times truer, a trillion times truer of God.

Soak that in for a moment, friends of Joey (and strangers). Everything you’ve come to admire and respect and aspire to in this man, is true of God in cosmic spades.

For many, a pastor is the introduction and entry point to the character of God. And because of Joey’s upholding of that office, I learned to come to God myself. Not because Joey ever turned me away in a moment of need, but because I came to thirst for the God I was glimpsing in him.

Hebrews 4:16 doesn’t say “So let us keep on coming boldly to your pastor’s office, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” It says to come to the throne of grace. Instead of always chasing down my pastor for words of life, I became someone who sought them from God. I don’t like the life I’d be living if I’d grown up under a stern, detached, too-busy pastor. Instead, I am coming to know God as he truly is.

Joey would have me brag of that.

And there’s no higher honor, I submit, that Joey could possibly be paid.

We Must Never Become Black Holes

Brandon J. Adams

holeI’m stoked. To convey this illustration, I get to be geeky – I get to explain the nature of a black hole, an exotic celestial object of great lifelong fascination to me.

Black hole are collapsed stars, grown so dense that their gravity, out to a certain distance, is strong enough to arrest their own light. Since an object is only seen by the light it sends to your eyeballs, a spherical region around a black hole appears, well, black to the outside observer. The star is still inside, but forever hidden because its light can’t escape.*

For a long time, I was a black hole. Sucking everything in, emitting little. God was working on my inside, but it was a process.

Several years ago, I chanced into a dating relationship. We had a good five months before she called it off. It happens. (She’s married now.) But it was a revealing…

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Satan and Bathwater Theology

Brandon J. Adams

hell.jpgRecently, I was emailed by a follower basically asking, “is Satan real, or an illusion?”

I can’t believe I’ve reached the stage of being asked questions – yeeeeeeeeeeee – but fortunately, there’s Scripture. I’ll just go there.

Satan is real. He is treated as a conscious being with intelligence and personality. And he is a (limited) threat.

This subject makes people sensitive. There’s a lot of (pardon the expression) heated opinion about Satan and his precise role in the Christian’s life. Good teachings, bad teachings, and bad teachings that spring off both the good and bad.

Personal conviction: I want Scripture, straight-up, as it truly is. I don’t want man’s “compensational” teachings. Np Scripture tossed aside or marginalized because “people will run the wrong way with it”, or because it frightens them, or because it diminishes God in their preferred system. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater, in other…

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Two Dates

In light of the sudden, young passing of Rachel Held Evans. Boy, are we not promised tomorrow.

Brandon J. Adams

dateIn what seems to me like a cosmic joke, a person’s life is often boiled down to a sequence of numbers – two dates with a dash between them.

The first is the date of our birth. Its arrival every year is an occasion for joy, gifts, or perhaps just a little extra attention. We write it on official documents. It’s a friend to us, right down to the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing – the further we get, the worse we feel.

The other, the day of our death, is unknown to us until it arrives. We will, by definition, never write it down. By the time it’s known, we can do nothing about it. It evokes loss, shadow, evaluation, the arranging of one’s affairs and moving on.

At least it does for “the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

But this…

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Don’t Let Satan Win Twice

Brandon J. Adams

desertI love the entire Scripture, but I’ve always been especially partial to the book of Hebrews. It’s partially because I long for a close, approachable relationship with the Father, and it’s (in part) the book of Hebrews that taught me to seek that, taught me that God himself seeks it.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way opened for us through the curtain of His body, and since we have a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold resolutely to the hope we confess, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)

Let us draw near.

And if you know God wants something, it’s…

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Being a Goody Two Shoes in a Wrong-Footed World

Brandon J. Adams

shoes“Hey, Brandon,” she said, bouncing up to the counter – not a coworker, but the girlfriend of one, whom I didn’t know from Adam – “Do you know the difference between a cheeseburger and a [sexual reference]?”

I groaned.

No. I don’t know the difference between those things, and I’ve as much desire to find out as to go dumpster-diving on Main Street during rush hour.

I looked at them with what I hoped was a world-weary half-grin.

“C’mon. Enough for one night,” I said.

They relented good-naturedly.

I’m trying to be gracious. I don’t want to be THAT Christian, the one who clutches his pearls because unbelievers act like unbelievers. You have to let this stuff slide off your back in environments like this.

Plus, I actually enjoy this particular coworker. He’s got solid character (albeit a one-track mind) and I consider him a friend. Burning bridges over this…

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