I’m no Joe DiMaggio and, our nation, as lonely as she may seem at the moment, is not turning her eyes in my direction. But, perhaps some — family, friends, church members, and even internet strangers — might, from time to time, turn their eyes to my little corner of the blogosphere. That’s why I’m back. But, where had I gone, you might be wondering. After all, it’s been a little over four years — February 26, 2019 — since I published my last blog post (not including yesterday’s). Titled, “Democrats Embrace Infanticide & the Abortion god,” little did I know, that within a short, four-year span, the embrace of abortion up to — and even after birth — would be embraced and celebrated with a full-throated fervor that would make the Puritans at Salem blush. Alas, that’s definitely a post for another day.
A lot has changed in our culture — and in my own life — since 2019. After our first journey to New Mexico, where we spent nine wonderful years at Bethel Baptist Church in Alamogordo and, where I began blogging back in 2010 (you can check out my very first post here), the Lord called us back to Virginia for a second time. Prior to coming to Alamogordo, I pastored for 5 1/2 years at Grundy Baptist Church in Grundy, Virginia. It was a great experience for our young family (two young sons with one more on the way) with many fond memories.
The people in Grundy, a community in the far southwest part of Virginia, have experienced their fair share of heartache and tragedy, including major flooding, a law school shooting, and, after I left, the destruction by fire of the church building (not the church) where I was honored to serve as Pastor from 2002-2007. I can’t think of a more gracious and loving bunch of folks who cared for our family and who showed patience and kindness to a young preacher who was still learning how to deliver a message.
Our trip back to northern Virginia, about 50 miles south of Washington, D.C., turned out to be one of the most challenging ministry experiences that I have ever faced in my 25 years of full-time Christian service. Following a pastor who had resigned due to moral failure, I had no idea what — or why — the Lord was calling me to shepherd this 150-year-old congregation. With the benefit of hindsight, I have been able to discern at least some of the reasons why God placed me in Stafford during what turned out to be a very brief ministry detour. As I have always said and believed, “You and I are not where we are by accident or coincidence. We are here for a purpose and a reason. To hear God and to leave different, changed because we have been in His presence.”
For three years, God was teaching me to rely on Him, to find my strength in Christ, and to patiently wait while He was refining me — sometimes as through fire — and preparing me for His next assignment. That next assignment would take my family and me back to New Mexico, this time to Carlsbad. Known for Carlsbad Caverns National Park and its booming oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin, I would begin serving as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in October 2019. Less than six months later, the world would be turned upside down.
From a cultural perspective, the COVID-19 Pandemic, along with all of its catastrophic consequences — deaths, the devastation of our economy due to draconian lockdowns (especially in NM and other blue states), learning loss (to put it mildly) due to school closures, increased distrust of governmental institutions (churches locked down while big box stores remained open) — would forever change our culture, our country, and our everyday lives. Even as COVID-19 appears smaller in our rearview mirror, its impact looms large.
Perhaps nowhere has the pandemic’s impact been greater than in our nation’s political life. From changes made to election laws due to the pandemic, including universal mail-in ballots, drop-boxes, and extended voting to a still-contested 2020 Presidential election to January 6 to multiple impeachments (with no convictions) to a new President, our political fabric has been torn asunder, I’m not sure that it will ever be repaired. With AOC on the left and MTG on the right leading the way, civility and comity are in increasingly limited supply. The 2024 election shows no signs that the unity that President Biden promised (but has yet to deliver) will become a reality. If anything, next year’s election shows every sign that our cultural cold war will turn ever hotter.
As has been the case since the founding of our Republic and the Supreme Court’s accumulation of power in Marbury vs. Madison, we continue to witness major change and uncertainty in our legal/justice system. From the George Floyd protests/riots in major urban areas in the summer of 2020 to the Supreme Court’s judicial earthquake opinion last year overturning Roe vs. Wade to the ongoing legal/cultural conflict over sexuality (transgenderism, drag shows for children, biological men competing in women’s sports, etc.) in 2023 and beyond, we are experiencing an unprecedented era of lawlessness. No one is immune from the contagion of lawlessness that permeates every corner of our country — both red and blue states and communities alike.
From a personal perspective, my life and the life of my family have experienced our own share of turbulence. Even with our seatbelts securely fastened around our waist, the ride has been bumpy. After moving the entire family across the country at the end of March as our country was shutting down, we settled into life in the Land of Enchantment. My mother-in-law, who had been living with us since our first move to New Mexico in 2007, continued to experience health issues. In October 2021, she passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. Needless to say, her loss has left a sizeable hole that will never be filled.
But, after death, there is life. In February and May 2022 respectively, two of our sons, Stephen and Jacob, were married. As a family of boys, it was a blessing to welcome Megan and Courtney into our lives. With two weddings within three months of each other, it was also a blessing to be the parents of the grooms. As far as we know, Andrew, our youngest son who is still living at home, has no immediate plans of getting married. Although the way life has been going, you never know.
Now in my fourth year serving as Senior Pastor of FBC Carlsbad, I can truly say that this is the most joyful time that I have spent in ministry. Perhaps because the folks at FBC welcomed my family and me with open arms and allowed us to refresh and recharge or maybe because our bonds were forged in the fires of COVID-19, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Even with the ministry challenges that our church (and all churches across America) faced during the darkest days of the pandemic, I have been blessed by my church family here in Carlsbad. They have allowed me to be myself — warts and all — and have given me the freedom to lead. That includes leading through preaching, teaching, and speaking Biblical truth to the pressing issues that face our nation today.
With the relaunch of “From Law to Grace,” I once again add writing back into the mix. As I have from day one, I hope to use this forum to graciously communicate Biblical truth as it relates to the intersection of cultural, legal, political, and religious issues affecting our nation. Speaking THE truth has always been dangerous. Not only will speaking the truth get you canceled in our culture today, but in some countries, it can get you thrown into jail or even killed.
As a Christian Pastor, I believe followers of Christ are commanded to “love God and love people.” If we are to do that, we must be willing to speak the truth with grace, patience, and kindness, even when it costs us to do so. As a reader, you may or may not agree with my opinions, analysis, or conclusions. (I’m not sure that I still agree with some of my earlier posts, either.) I wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s what makes the United States of America the greatest country (always has been, always will be) on the face of the planet. As always, I welcome your feedback and opinions, even when those opinions differ from my own. I only ask that you respectfully address issues, not personalities. Keep it civil. Keep it clean. And, don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out.
Hey, hey, hey. Hey, hey, hey. Buckle up. It’s going to be an exciting and joltin’ ride.