Empty (Home)

It’s Wednesday.  I sit alone in an empty church sanctuary.  The clock, hung high on the balcony, that (usually) keeps the preacher from causing us all to miss lunch on Sunday mornings glows bright blue in the darkness.  It reads 6:41; that’s PM.

In the nearly empty building I can hear the youth pastor upstairs tuning his guitar and singing solo into a cold room.  He is preparing for youth worship just as he does every Wednesday night.  Alone, cold, singing his praise songs to only God and his beat up Peavy amp. His hours of sermon prep are finished… he’s just brushing the rust off of the guitar to warm up.  I think youth pastors might get a little more respect if folks saw them this way. Working for hours on end because they love the kids.  Working odd hours, working nights and weekends.  Working for almost no pay and dealing with more drama than… well… more drama than a room full of teenagers.

Downstairs another of our members rattles around the kitchen making coffee for everyone.

In a very few minutes people will begin to file into the fellowship hall downstairs to join in a weekly bible study.  Children will go to the nursery and youth will go upstairs for our worship service. After bible study many of the people here tonight will move into the sanctuary for choir practice.  It’ll be warm by then.  It’s the same as last week and the same as next week.   It’s routine… it’s home.

For now, though, I am alone.  I sit on a padded pew in the mostly dark.  Light from a security light in the parking lot fades through the stained glass windows.  I see the brass cross in the baptistery behind the choir loft.  It looms large and cold, its brightness dulled by the darkness.

I pray.  Not because God is in this place more than any other but just because He is here.  It’s cool and dark and large.  The space seats over 200 people on most Sundays and is filled with song and worship and preaching.  There are people coughing, more so this time of year, and babies gurgling and teens whispering when they shouldn’t be.  But not this night.  This night it is just me and God.  I pray for our youth pastor and our pastor and our worship pastor and his mom who’s been sick.  I pray for Mr. Jimmy downstairs and for my wife.  I pray for our members and for our secretary.  I pray for the folks that will go to Salvation Army to feed the homeless this weekend and I pray for the block party that we’ll be throwing next weekend for the folks on the “west” side of town.  I pray for me. I pray that we, all of us, glorify God.  I asked, He answered… the same as He always does.  It’s anything but routine… it’s Home.

Test Drive

My F250 cost $52,000.00 and is pretty new. It IS one SEXY truck. Yesterday the neighbors kid asked me if he could borrow it. Should I loan it to him?

He says he makes good grades but I have my doubts.

He says he’s responsible and I can trust him but I don’t really know the kid.

He says he’ll have it back right on time but he doesn’t even own a watch.

He says that he’ll respect it but while we were talking he left hand prints on the paint.

He says he loves Jesus but he can’t list 3 of the 10 commandments.

He seems nice enough but, really, tossing the keys to a $50,000 truck to a 16 year old that I don’t know?

That’s moronic, right?

Who’s the kid taking your daughter for a test drive at prom?

How much is she worth to you?



Surely you understand why I refuse to answer you. 

I see you when you mock my God. 

I see you when you chuckle at my religion like its nothing more than a set of archaic rites.

I see you when you ask why the whole world has gone mad.  

"What is WRONG with people" you cry and I just smile quietly and read the next post.

I’m not ignoring you. Really I’m not.  I just don’t think you want the answer that I have for you.

Ask me what I believe and I will tell you. 

Ask me if God is true and fair and just and I’ll cry yes, yes and yes.

Ask me if Jesus died for you too and I’ll whisper quietly to you, "yes, of course."

You see, I know that man has not “gone” mad. 

The world has been mad since the first two sinners thought themselves larger than God.  Jesus died for our sins.  All you have to do is believe in him.  If you believe in Jesus you follow the law because you love Him. 

The law says thou shalt not do murder

If you don’t believe in God then you don’t believe in Jesus. 

If you don’t believe in Jesus then you don’t believe in the law.  If you don’t believe in the law then you can do any damned thing you want. 

Many hang on to a halfway morality with nothing to compel them but it is a farce and they know it deep in their hearts and some… some do not hang on. 

You call those people “sick” or “mad” and yet you stare riveted to their handiwork. 

You watch hour after hour of “as it happens” news. 

You follow the path of every bullet.  Understand the pooling of every puddle of blood.  You count every casing and catalog them by type. 

And slowly, slowly, another follows the path of evil.  The path of social glorification that means everyone in the country knows your name. You move closer to that sickness and, eventually, become it.

I have the answer you seek. It’s an easy one. Do you want it?

It is this: All of the blood that ever needed to be spilled was spilled on a hill named Golgotha where a King and a thief died on the same day.

And it is this: One of them walked away from it.



A few thoughts tonight:
Before you cry for Christ in Christmas; invite Him into your home.
Before you ask for God in schools; teach scripture to your children.
Before you carve the 10 commandments onto buildings; live them… all of them.
Before you curse someone as an unbeliever; show them what belief looks like.
Before you claim martyrdom; learn the name of at least one Martyr.
Before you rail

, cry and scream; be silent and pray.
Before you scold the unfaithful; be faithful.
Before you hit; hold.
Before you hate; Love.
Before you despair; hope.
Before you think to teach Christianity; learn the Gospel.
After your heart breaks; always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect

Because it aint Chicago…

Mrs. Jinksto and I lived in Chicago for about 10 years or so.  Moving back to the south took a little getting used to but… in a good way.

Reasons I like living in North Carolina:
  • Friends know that it’s perfectly acceptable to just sit down at your table in a restaurant for a quick chat about Vacation Bible School.
  • When people wave to you on the road they (mostly) use all of their fingers instead of just the one.
  • If you don’t want people showing up at your house with food don’t tell them that you’re sick.
  • If I miss a day of church Mrs Katherine will mention that she “missed seeing you today!”.
  • If I miss two days of church the pastor will show up at the house.
  • If I miss three days of church folks will stop by with food to find out when the funeral is.
  • People pull into the gas station behind you so that you’ll have someone to talk to while you fill up.
  • Sunday morning church traffic is worse than Monday morning rush hour.
  • Two Words:  Sweet Tea
  • If the door’s unlocked it’s ok to stick your head in and shout, “Hey!  Where ya’ll at?”
  • You can tell how soon the next Nascar race is by the number of people swerving back and forth on the on-ramp to “warm up the tires” before getting on the interstate.
  • The guy blowing his horn behind me in traffic is most likely someone I know just wanting to say hello.
  • The nuclear weapon for dealing with rude teenagers are the words, “Tell your daddy I said hi!”  … “Yes sir!”

An evening prayer…

I walked across the yard and sat on the cinderblock behind my tiny little garden where I sit to watch our beehive.  It’s peaceful there.  The bees were slowing down for the night and were calm as the last few stragglers zoomed in.  Tonight the world is washed clean from two days of heavy rain. Big oak trees loom over the shady spot and thick undergrowth makes the it feel close, secure.  As the day slowly twisted into darkness I prayed this prayer…

Lord, thank you for giving me the first half of this day so that I could understand how perfect the second half was. Thank you for the love, peace and happiness that you give me so that I might share them with others.  Thank you for the chores that you give me so that I will know rest when you give it to me.  Thank you for the ability to come to you bearing only thanks; no wants; no needs; asking no favors.  Thank you for your Son through whom I present my gratitude and without whom I would be lost.

Oh and God?  Thanks for her too.  She rocks. 


Life is good… thanks to the friend that reminded me to post more often.  I shall endeavor to comply… Smile



Mrs. Jinksto and I got our first hive of bees on Monday.  We’ve been having a blast watching them.  I’ll probably write another post about the bees but for now I wanted to share a few pics.

Bees filling up on water in our little “water feature” fountain. 




A bee on a Purple Pincushion flower



A Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly on Lantana



A clearwing hummingbird moth on dianthus!



And yeah… photo credit to Mrs. Jinksto for all… these were taken in our yard by my awesome wife.  Pretty cool.

Who? Me?


Life is a whole.  The individual parts of “you” pull together into a great big wad of wiggly coolness. 

I’ve said before that if you profess to believe something in one part of your life you should be exhibiting that in every other part of your life.  That’s called a consistent worldview but the problem is that life is big. Really big.  From work, to play, to church… tying those things together can be hard.  In order to do it, I have to know who, or what, I am. 

I am friends.  Hanging out late at night around a fire under a billion stars. 

I am moonshine in a jar passed to friends as we talk about God; all sipping from the same jar.  Not getting drunk as much as enjoying the gifts that He has granted us.  I am community.

I am early mornings with the sun rising through the trees; the dew thick and wet on the grass.

I am country music cranked all the way to MAX VOL in a truck speeding down a two lane road with all of the windows down; the smell of wild wisteria and dog wood trees surrounding me. 

I am Jesus working in this world. I am following Him and proclaiming it loudly.  I am the charity of Gods hand.

I am the most beautiful woman in the world.  Clinging to my husband with respect, love and devotion. She is the standard by which I measure other women. I am a husband loving my wife as myself and trying to lead with care. 

I am failure; I am success.

I am Rock and Roll playing from someone’s cell phone in a tinny rendition of a song that we heard together at a Black Crows concert twenty years ago.

I am a truck; Hub deep in mud.  Laughing and bragging with friends as we work to pull each other out of mud holes that normal people would avoid or parked under the trees ten miles from pavement with the tailgate down and fried chicken spread across it for lunch.

I am a boat.  Cooler stacked full.  Lines in the water.  Not catching… just fishing.  I am a boat running at half speed with an inner tube full of kids splashing along behind it. I am a jetski streaking across the water at fifty miles an hour with screaming teenagers holding on for all they’re worth.

I am Sunday morning.  Listening to the pastor as I hold my wife’s hand.  I am hymns sung by those like me who can’t sing.  I am prayer; reverent, whole, complete.

I am a ballcap turned backwards.

I am a middle of the night run to rescue your truck and girlfriend off the side of the road. I am bailing you out of jail for your idiocy.

I am red plastic cups rattling with ice and sweet tea on a patio covered with friends.

I am a child playing quietly in the dirt or running, screaming, through the trees.  I am the image of God in this world.

I am computer code written at 2AM through a haze of cigarette smoke and caffeine. 

I am a garden planted in the spring and slowly, slowly creating food for my family.  I am a man, praying fervently for the weather that will make my garden grow.

I am bills stacked high and falling off of the desk.  I am figuring out what to pay and when.  I am making sure that God gets his share and I am making sure that the folks down the road have clothes to wear and food to eat.

I am fixing a widows roof and holding an orphans hand.

I am a pretty good right hook.

I am a computer processing millions of transactions per second buried in a room with thousands of others just like it.  Wall to wall and stacked to the ceiling.  Lights blinking in the carefully conditioned air.

I am a bank that cares about America, taking a beating from the greedy as I continue, every day, to do the right thing.

I am poor grammar and country contractions. I am strange enunciation and beautiful drawls.

I am rain on a New York City street. I am someone slipping a twenty to a homeless guy along with a prayer for a dry place for him to sleep.

I am friend to the waiter, the cashier, the CTO,  the preacher and the sinner. 

I am a hunter deep in the woods with my brothers and friends.

I am the tickle monster.

I am jeans and boots stained and broken from work. I am scarred knuckles and scratched arms and broken ankles.

I am suits and ties.

I am a tractor crawling across a field throwing up dust into the hot summer air.

I am dropping everything to help a friend in need.

I am the smell of a church late at night in the middle of the week after most have left.

I am a strong handshake and a gentle caress.

I am “In God We Trust”.

I am a shotgun wielded with skill and care as I turn skeet into dust.  I am friends joking, taunting, teasing, challenging, celebrating.

I am a dirt road that goes nowhere and everywhere I want to be.

I am a small town and a massive city.

I am breakfast at Waffle House.

I am a kid, sitting with mama on the porch, shelling peas through a long evening as she tells me stories; her fingers stained purple from the hulls.

I am a warrior.  Scarred and healed by the same memories.

I am honor, and faith, and ethics.

I am a flag that doesn’t run. 

I am hate and fear.

I am the morning sun filtered through stained glass windows.

I am a writer but not very good at it. 

I am all of these things and more rolled up and squished together in a gooey ugly mess.  These are the things that I do and the things that I believe but they are also, at almost every level, who I am.  It’s probably a lot like who you are. 

Tying all of those things together into a consistent story isn’t ain’t easy.


Of Angels and Men

My first cousin lost her life to a drunk driver about a month ago. I didn’t know her well — we’ve always lived far apart — but I know many who did and those folks are in real pain. They’ve created a MADD team for a 5k in Nashville in June. You can support the team here.

My friend Jonna is dealing with the imminent death of a parent. She writes about it beautifully here.

There is so much that we misunderstand about death. It is painful to dwell on it. Husbands and wives refuse to do estate planning the way they should because of it. My concerns are more immediate though: How do I comfort my friends and family when they are in need but, more importantly, how do I comfort them correctly?

I am frustrated when I see people trying to provide comfort but doing it incorrectly. They say things like, “There’s another angel in heaven today” which makes me immediately want to correct them but I’m not really sure how. I’m fairly certain that just blurting out, “Nuh Uh!” isn’t the right approach. I’m equally certain the correct way to deal with this is not a theological exposition on the fact that Angels and Man are completely different creations and that transformation into an “angel” isn’t promised biblically.

Mostly, like most, I just ignore these things. I dunno, maybe for some it does provide comfort of sorts and maybe that’s okay. They’re not intentionally teaching heresy by saying these things (I hope) and I’ll admit that it’s a very sparkly “feel good” thing to say but at the same time it sort of horrifies me. Angels are beautiful warriors for God, they are His messengers, and that’s pretty cool but at the same time, it IS heresy and the Truth is even more beautiful. Why do we do that? Why do we pass over the beauty that is the Gospel to provide a little comfort in heresy… in a fantasy? Do Christians really believe this? Why do they believe it? If they don’t believe it; if they know the truth, why do they say these things? Why hasn’t anyone corrected them? It drives me nuts to know that in not providing reproof when it’s due I am part of the problem.

Jonna’s description of heaven in the link above is awesome. She knows that it is created out of her fantasy but knows that nothing discounts her fantasy. She imagines things that are beautiful and that might, maybe, fit into a correct description of Heaven. However, she also knows that no matter how perfect her fantasy it can’t match the glory that is Heaven. She knows (and admits) that she’s painting Picasso’s with crayons here and that’s ok. It’s beautiful and it’s one of the ways that she is dealing with her pain.

I dream of being with my mother again; of hearing her reproofs for my failures and of talking about her views on the few things that I’ve managed to get right. When I have the chance to sit with her and talk about our lives, maybe at a kitchen table much like the one that Jonna describes, I want to talk with my mom. The Glorified, Sanctified woman, not the fanciful cherubic angel which is, itself, a mixed up juxtaposition of two different creatures.


For an excellent read on Heaven check out the appropriately named book Heaven by Randy Alcorn.  It discusses much of this and answers a lot of questions not discussed here.  I haven’t read it but many folks that I trust continue to tell me how awesome it is and that I should. 



Time: 6PM
Date: 3/17/2012
Speed: 63
Speed Limit: 45
Environment: Two lane paved back road… no traffic. Fantastic weather.

Blue Lights.

“Good Evening sir.  Can I see your license and registration please”

“Yes sir. I have a concealed carry permit and a weapon in the vehicle… I’ll have to go into the glove box to get the registration.”

“You have a gun?  In the vehicle?”

“Yes sir.  Beside the drivers seat.”

“Ok. Get your documentation and don’t go near the gun.”

I do as the nice man in blue asks and smile hugely at him as I hand him the documents".

“Sir, the reason that I pulled you over is that you were going a little fast.”

“Yes sir” I reply.

“Do you know how fast you were going?”

“Yes sir.  I looked when I saw you.”

He looks a little surprised and says, “I clocked you doing 63 in a 45.”

I nod and agree, “I thought it looked more like 64 but 63 is close enough”

The young officer looks a little more surprised and asks, “Uh..  any particular reason that you were speeding sir?”

I grin and say, “It’s sort of a long story.”

This puts him on more familiar ground and he frowns a bit as he says, “I’ve got time.”

I nod and explain, “Well, I spent all morning in the woods on my deer lease hanging out with a good buddy of mine.  When we got back I went by another friends house and all of my nieces and nephews gave me big hugs.  Then I helped him get ready for a crawfish boil tomorrow.  We’re boiling about 100 pounds of crawfish.   After that, I was driving home.  I had all four windows down and the radio turned up way too loud.   Basically, I’m just having an awesome day so far.”

He kind of half chuckles and says, “Crawfish?”

“Yes sir.  We FedExed them from Louisiana.  They’re in my buddy’s garage in about six kiddie pools… we’re cooking them tomorrow after church.  You should come!”

He smiles and sort of shakes his head and asks me, “Ok, so you’re having a good day.  Why were you speeding?”

I look surprised and respond, “Oh!  Well, I’m having an _awesome_ day” I correct him, “and I’m on the way home to…”.  I pause.

He raises his eyebrow at me so I finish “… to kiss my wife!”

He laughed loudly as he handed me my documents back and said, “Just slow down and have a great day.”

“Yes sir!  You too!”

As I pulled away, I watched in my rearview mirror as he walked back to his car shaking his head.

God Bless America!


… and yeah, I got my kiss.

True story.

I love my life.