Those who know me on most any level know that laughter is a sizable part of my DNA. Due to the loss of my son (and how we lost him), there hasn’t been much to laugh about the past year. Then,….i came across these ridiculous photos. (Two of them were taken a few years ago, the other one when I was in college.) They made me smile. And the Lord said to me, “You will laugh again. A lot.” David wrote, “weeping may last for the night,but joy comes in the morning.” Jesus said, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Ps. 30:5; Luke 6:21)
For those who’ve struggled to find laughter in your lives, trust Christ and His Word – that’s what I’m doing. It’s all I know to do.
PHOTO #1: I woke up one morning and discovered that my hair had been awake all night, partying. PHOTO #2: Uh…it appears i found some snacks at the office, and….well, I don’t know…. PHOTO #3: around 1983; my fraternity at HSU in Abilene; Fall Homecoming Parade; Kazoo Marching Band; I’m the leader; Yes, I’m wearing a space helmet. (Our mascot was the “rebel”, hence the Rebel Flag. This was way before the era of political correctness.)
For 30 years, I’ve been sharing my story with teenagers of how “a boy who grew up in a violent, alcoholic home wound up serving the Lord in full-time, vocational ministry.” The story always includes the following:
1. A friend of mine invited me to go to church with him.
2. The people at his church were the most loving people I’d ever met. That church was the embodiment of love. I wanted to live there.
3. After watching how much hope, truth, and purpose Christ was giving to me and everyone around me, I told my Youth Pastor (Jim Hardwicke) I felt like God was calling me to surrender my life to Him in ministry – whatever that may look like.
4. On July 15, 1980, at Youth Camp, I surrendered my life to the gospel ministry. My Music Pastor (Bob Griffin) told me, “Nick, if you can be happy doing anything else, God’s not called you.”
5. I can honestly say, even after 30 years, I don’t believe I could be truly happy doing anything else.
That entire story began with an invitation from a friend who loved me enough to invite me to go to church with him. That friend, who lived directly across the street from me, was Curtis Simpson. I mention his name every single time I tell this story because Jesus started this story by using the simple, loving invitation of Curtis. I always finish my story by telling students, “You never know the impact a simple invitation to church may have on a person. For me – it set in motion a lifetime of adventure with the risen Christ.”
I haven’t seen Curtis since 2000. This afternoon, guess who dropped by to see me. The mountain of a man in the photo here is my friend & brother, Curtis Simpson. I’ll never be able to thank him enough for inviting me to go to church with him. nw
The following was sent to me by a Youth Pastor friend of mine in the DFW area:
Hi Nick, I came across the statement below in a parenthetical paragraph about doctrine being passed down through hymns (a practice you know stems from the NT). The book is written for High School grads & college freshmen. As a side note, they challenged students to read a hymnal and look at how each song presented the gospel in capsule. Here’s the quote: “Did you know, by the way, that the hymns of the church throughout history were intended primarily for that purpose — to teach and reinforce sound doctrine? … These songs weren’t just to dance to. They were to learn from.”
In a Christian Worship Music world flooded with “new”, don’t be quick to abandoned the “old.”
British philosopher, Antony Flew, was the 20th century’s champion of atheism. When atheists couldn’t answer an argument, or felt they were losing ground, they would call on Flew.
But then Flew, a genuine and honest thinker, made a decision that shocked the atheistic world – he changed his mind. The evidence for the existence of God, Flew discovered, was not only overwhelming, but indefensible.
Flew died in 2010. But, in 2007, he published his story of what made him change his mind. It’s fascinating (and a very hard read – I’ve had to read some pages three times.) The man was absolutely brilliant. His story provides invaluable insight into the mind of a true thinker, and former atheist.
Flew held to the the wise Socratic maxim, “You must go where the argument/evidence leads.” The Bereans, as recorded in Acts 17, held to this maxim as well for Luke recorded that they, “examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was teaching was true.”
Should you be interested, his book is entitled, “There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.” Harper One Publishing; 2007.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick