The good news is, hey! You actually read what I write!

I wish I could say that I whip out the devotions in 5 – 10 minutes.

Sometimes they flow easily, other times it takes a long time for the words to come to life on a screen. Thus, there are times I wonder if it matters if I write them, and do they bring value to anyone/anything.

This week’s devotion where I talk about mental health elicited many responses from you. THANK YOU for writing me and I will be replying to each of you individually.

Honestly, whether you agree with what I write/say or not, I am glad we are having a dialogue. Isn’t that something that causes us to grow on our journeys? Dialogue?

And just a small point, you aren’t the only ones growing. I am too. I do not ever think I am the holder of all insight and information.  Frankly, I believe I have a lot I can learn from you!

The bad news . . .

I wish I had taken a little more time to think through all the perspectives of the article written on Wednesday. After the shooting, I did a complete shift in what I had intended to write about.

This is what I had intended to say . . . .

What does a “new heaven and new earth” look like for us as West Church?  Last week, in my interview with author Brian McLaren, he asked why I shy away from talking about money when West clearly is leading in a new way and providing people a safe space to explore spirituality, faith, and Christianity. He gave me courage to say to you, “Hey, the pandemic hit us pretty hard and inflation has brought its own challenges. And we are struggling a bit financially. Yet, we are doing powerful ministries – producing two episodes a month on faith development and fun for 80+ children, nurturing 70 – 80 20 year old people in their faith journey, feeding the hungry, providing faith opportunities for people in Kigumba, Uganda, and a lot more. In order to continue doing these things, we need to increase our financial revenue. Would you join with me in committing a percentage of your income in a regular manner and give to West? Take a step in giving. Maybe commit to giving 1x a month in an ongoing manner or look at what you are giving now and increase it by 1%. It REALLY will make a difference!!!

That was what I had prepared to write about. It had been in and on my mind all week.

However, to talk about that the morning after a mass shooting where so many children were killed, would have been, in my opinion, very cold-hearted and inappropriate. I hesitate to even put it now but look, the weeks keep coming, and we have some powerful, exciting things happening this summer with our children and youth, so the ask needed (and needs) to be made.

Yet, I made a mistake in making the shift of the content so quickly. Because of the sudden need for words around the shooting, I did not think through all the points and perspectives that needed to be made in that article. It takes me a while to think about and process things.

I really, really, really, really, really just wanted to make the point about the need for mental health.

In doing so, however, there were a few things that I did not take into account. What would you, moms and dads, teachers, politicians, concerned grandparents, and citizens, think, feel and need to hear about a mass shooting of children in an elementary school. Please know, that just because I didn’t mention guns in the article more specifically doesn’t mean my personal stance on that issue has changed.

A few points . . .

I respect the use of guns for sport. However, to conquer Bambi, don’t you think an AK-47 is a bit much? And why do you and I need guns that are used in the military for war? Sport is one thing, but as in all things, things are taken to the extreme. And sometimes, our entertainment and pleasure need to take a back seat to a greater cause. That cause being stopping providing weaponry that can do mass damage to the mass population, knowing that so many in our midst battle demons inside that are given voice by bringing harm to others through the use of weaponry.

Also, it is disheartening, and frankly, scary that I can purchase a firearm INFINITELY easier than I can buy a bottle of Benadryl.

Yes, we have the “right to bear arms” – but what kind of arms do we really need?

Some of you have asked this week about our “safety plan” as a church. Do we have one?

The answer is yes. After a previous mass shooting (and isn’t it sad that there are so many I can’t remember which one), we had several people attend training the city of Mooresville offered. We came up with a plan of action if someone were to begin to wreak havoc at the high school. We are revisiting that plan again now.

I know this is a lot of words. These articles are never this long, but a lot is needed and still needs to be said.

At the end of the day, I’m just grateful you choose West. To read, to grow, to challenge myself, to explore faith. We are in this together. Thank you for being a part of the journey! Together, we strive towards a new heaven and a new earth.

Grace and Peace,


P.S. The ask for you to invest in our future as a movement that brings about life transformation is real. Would you consider financially supporting West?

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