Category Archives: Spiritual Fathers and Mothers

The Courage of a Young Lion


Watercolor artwork by Dylan Pierce (another one of my young lions!)


Over the past few years I’ve featured a “lion’s share” segment on my blog, providing a platform for the ‘young lions’ I’ve been privileged to mentor and father spiritually.

Today I share with you, my beloved readers, one of the great young men of his generation. Shawn Buck has been with me in the pride for a bit over a year and will soon be moving on from the den as God has called him away from us. Lord willing, Shawn will be leaving for Cape Town, South Africa for a two-year (or life-long?) commitment with the Ubuntu Football Academy.

I’m honored to serve on Shawn’s board but even more blessed to call him a son of the faith. This dude is as real as they come! In this post, Shawn bravely shares his greatest fight and offers hope in overcoming addiction to pornography. As the guys and I have discussed on numerous occasions, we don’t affix the slang “porn” too often because that has become a designation that makes it a culturally acceptable norm. To call it what it is – pornography – paints it in a more ‘graphic’ light, relegating it to it’s more insidious and self-destructive nature.

Thank you, Shawn, my son, for listening to Wisdom’s call and learning to pass by the “forbidden woman’s” house on the other side (Proverbs 7:4,5). I love you, courageous lion of God.



When I was 13 years old, I came across pornography for the first time. It led me down a destructive road of getting deeper and deeper into the world of porn, of continuously lusting after girls and after self-gratification. It led to incredible shame, gut-wrenching guilt, and loss of self worth. It destroyed relationships and it built a dependence on something that doesn’t satisfy. It led me to lie constantly to cover my tracks. It consistently brought me into a world I never dreamt I would be a part of.

It changed my life.

Lust and porn is a cruel drug. That isn’t just some saying. It acts the same way as cocaine by releasing large amounts of dopamine into your brain. The fact that it is so easy to get can make it more dangerous than cocaine, because you can keep your brain doped up for hours ( It truly is one of the most dangerous things on this earth.

Have you ever heard of a healthy marriage where either the husband or wife wishes they would have slept with more people or watched more porn?


Lust and porn are damaging to our future relationships. There will be images you can’t get out of your mind, unfair expectations you will put on your spouse and even damage done to your own confidence.

I pray that people realize just how destructive lust and porn are. This isn’t just some harmless thing that everybody does. One, it is so degrading to women. Women are amazing and deserve to be held up and shown so much more respect than porn. It truly does alter your view of them subconsciously and starts to paint them as objects in your mind. Two, it plays a large role in human trafficking. Chuck Norris actually wrote an incredible article about that here ( And three, it ultimately hurts you by making you think that that’s what it should be like: by bringing down your confidence, and by taking something so beautiful as sex and making it a cheap, non-committal and perverse action between two random people.

I say all of this not to judge you, be pessimistic or throw hatred on you, but to convince some of you that this is not some cute pet to keep around and play with. It is a dangerous destructive lion just waiting to destroy you completely.

I wish so badly that I could sit here today and tell you that it is something that I’m free of and have victory over, but it’s not. I still have a sexual addiction that I struggle with daily. I have seen significant, positive change in my life with this sexual addiction, though, and that is the only reason I am able to open up enough to write this blog and share my story with you.

I want you to know that you aren’t the only one dealing with this. You haven’t gone too far and or done something too awful. You aren’t defined by your addiction and you can see freedom from it. I have tried every cure/fix there is: accountability partners, Internet filters, multi-step programs, books, and everything else under the sun, and can I tell you the only thing that has made a lick of change in my life? Honestly, Jesus.

I know that is going to turn someone off and I hope you continue to read because I’m going to tell you the difference between all of the things I’ve tried and Him.

He knows you’re going to mess up. He doesn’t guarantee that everything will be fixed after 5 easy payments. He understands exactly, let me say again, exactly what you are going through. Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t happy you are failing like this, and yet he takes you back anyways. You will never go too far, mess up too much or be too unworthy of his acceptance. He loves you and delights when you realize that you can do nothing but lean on HIM. That’s called dependence, and when you start to depend on something that can truly satisfy instead of the false hope of pornography, that is when you will start to see change.

That is my story. Here it is for the world to see and know about. I hope that one day you can open up about your struggles and share your story with people.

If you don’t know whom you can tell, my email is I would love to listen and help in anyway I can.

Thank you so much for listening to my story!

H/T to Karlye – one of our lionesses! – over at flower Her layout is way better than mine anyhow. And more pictures.

A Chosen Generation

Psalms 24:6
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Miley has her Wrecking Ball, but the Almighty is wrecking a set-apart generation for the beautiful sake of His Son, Jesus.


They are of Jacob’s generation: they are seeking the fullness of the LORD

They are of Joshua’s generation: they will boldly take possession of the land

They are of John’s generation: they are forerunners and make way for the Coming of the LORD


You haven’t lived until you’ve filled your living room with worshipping millennials, letting them find the Father’s heart, and adding theirs to the infinite symphony of redeemed creation. This is what God is doing in the earth: He’s making His Name a praise among the nations through this amazing generation.

Sandy and I are HONORED to sit close enough to sense the stirring of this divine phenomenon week in and week out through the beautiful souls that make up our extended family.

I caught this video and, though these are not the faces of our kids in the faith, they could easily be superimposed over these. My wife and I love them beyond words and affirm their favored standing before their Father of creation.

We’re praying huge things over them; we’re asking God to receive for Himself His inheritance in them and that the Lamb of God would receive the reward of His suffering in their forever-ruined-for-Jesus testimonies.

Yes, Lord. Amen.

Sleep Sweet In Jesus, Baby Boy (cont.)


Each and every evening, Sandy prayed over her baby boy – even into his young adult years – the words “Sleep sweet in Jesus…” Night was never Gra-Gra’s favorite time, alas he didn’t sleep through the night until he was 11 years old. These were his most vulnerable hours, those pre-nighty-night moments. Before drifting off to sleep it was mommy and son time and that is when our son often opened up about the things that either bothered or mattered to him. So, Sandy would climb into bed with her beautiful baby boy (at whatever age) and listen to his dreams, fears, burdens, day’s recaps and tomorrow’s plans. I can still hear Sandy call out in her same sing-songy way, “Gra-Gra, time to go night-night!” and our little man reply, “I don’t want to mommy.” But then, knowing he so disliked the night, would help him ease into it by indulging their sweet ritual. I wish for just one more night I could hear the soft murmurings through the bedroom walls of my son’s meaningful conversations with his mommy.


I edged my wheelchair closer to the edge of the platform. My innards fluttered but it wasn’t because hundreds upon hundreds were pressing into the auditorium. It wasn’t because the eminent Greek scholar, Spiros Zodhiates, was seating himself near the front, right under my nose, or the fact that I was sharing the pulpit of a venerable pastor whose flock was in my care for the next hour. My belly dipped because Sandy was crying.

Oh no. What’s this?

Did I say something wrong in the young adult assembly? Was Sandy taking the heat for some blunder of mine? Did I offend that young girl Sandy was talking to as they whisked me away?

Sandy climbed the platform steps. Her eyes weren’t just damp, they were shimmering pools.

“Did you see that girl I was talking to just now?” Her whisper modulated and seemed strained.

I nodded carefully, dread and fear seizing me.

She choked back a sob. “Do you know what she told me?”

Here it comes.

“She said…she said…” Her head dropped as she collected herself.

Oh, dear Jesus…

“She told me she wants us to have…to have…(more soft sobs)…she said she wants us to have her baby!”

You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.

That petite young vessel with the large blue eyes was the answer to our heart’s petitions. In one single morning, a condensed moment in time, the sovereign will of God broke into the narrative of our lives via an obedient stranger, expelling our beaten-down, shot-through hopes, and breathing an Emmanuel into the aching void.

Our ‘savior’ with a cute round belly was seven months along and appeared as excited about the prospect as we were. She had been eyeing another couple for her baby but couldn’t get a fixed peace in her spirit and when she heard one statement in the young adult class that morning she knew why. During the Q&A, someone asked us about children. Perhaps it was the way the query was framed, but I thought the inquirer wanted to know if children’s ministry was included in our calling. I said no.

“No,” they elaborated, “I mean, do you have any kids?”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I apologized. “No, unfortunately, we don’t have children…”

Sandy broke in. “Do we want children? Oh yes. We’ve been praying for over six years and we’re still hoping for a miracle –”

I interrupted her, chuckling: ” — because, well, we’re not getting any younger!”

My handlers were already moving in my direction so that would have to be the final question. Someone prayed a quick benediction and hands gripped my chair’s push handles and another was clearing a path. I turned toward Sandy and started to mouth something to her when I noticed a girl swoop in and pull my wife aside. Obviously with child, I first noticed her red-rimmed eyes and a countenance that broadcasted a need to talk to my bride right away.

I caught Sandy’s attention to let her know I’d see her in the main auditorium…which catches you up to the opening of my post today.


Friday, September 29, 1989
Rocky Mount, NC

The phone rang in our hotel room.

One, two, three pushes on my wheels and I covered the ground to the nightstand and answered a call that would change our lives permanently.


“Jill? Is everything all right?”

“As a matter of fact, it is. Congratulations. You’re a Dad.”

And there it was. In three monosyllabic words my entire resume changed. I wasn’t just a preacher. I was a Dad. And Sandy wasn’t just married to a paralyzed man, she was a mommy. How beautiful of God to accent His breathtaking plans by having our messenger be the very vessel who bore our son. Such gilded grace still leaves me bowed down with praise.

As our gift’s bearer broke the news, Sandy sagged to the floor. Her mouth flew open, covered with a shaking hand, and remained so throughout the call. We hadn’t expected our little guy/girl for another three weeks. What’s this? We’re potential parents already?!? He’s here???


I’m not sure I was hearing everything from that point on. I know I heard something about how beautifully delivery went, that he was ready, wanted out, needed to see the world, etc. I did hear he was healthy. All ten digits. A tiny little peanut. Six pounds, 9 ounces (if memory serves), 19 inches small.

Sandy is waving. She’s jumping up and down, stifling yelps. I’m watching her, grinning from ear to ear. Stunned. My bride is listening as I’m relaying every word, hugging herself, mouthing questions, dancing a quiet jig in the corner. Our baby is here, nine hours away.

I’m saying stupid things like, “uh, well, Jill, Sandy and I will leave first thing in the morning…”

She’s waving me down.


Her head is on a high-speed swivel, ranging back and forth, almost violently. She’s frowning.


“Ummm, Jill, check that. We’re leaving tonight. (I pause) As soon as we get packed.”

I look at my lovely to see if it’s okay that I said that. I mean, at this point, the clothes on our backs might be sufficient for her. She nods her head vociferously.

I told her we’d see her around seven a.m. and ended the conversation. I stared at my wife who wanted to hear everything again. She said there’s no way in, well, that place, that we’re staying another night (no, she didn’t say it, but I knew she thought it). She knew I was drained from our 6 days’ ministry in nearby Tarboro, that I didn’t have it in me to drive, that she would sit in the pilot’s seat and “fly” to Chattanooga. I said I was more than fine with the arrangement. I’d better be, or she was determined to be a single parent.

I don’t remember the trip. I think all four tires gripped the expressway once or twice, but the journey from childlessness to parental bliss was a blur and blaze and we arrived at Erlanger Hospital just after dawn. As we neared Jill’s – and our baby’s – room my heart was caught inside my throat and Sandy’s was pounding in her chest and we paused a tick and breathed deeply before entering the room where we hoped Graham (not yet named) would be.

As we entered, Jill saw us and smiled. Her room was arranged so that her son was in a crib behind her headboard. She explained it was precautionary as she didn’t want to go through the pain of looking at him constantly, lest she change her mind.

Thank you, Jill, for bravely following the Lord’s heart. I don’t understand such letting-go love but will never question it.

My first look at Graham is a snapshot in my memory. His beautiful blue eyes were wide open and alert. He was following sounds and looking for all the world like a veteran at this living thing. He was gorgeous. His skin creamy and soft, reddish-blond hair light and wispy. Small as a peanut.

The next hours were a mist. I remember our dressing him the next morning for the first time. Our plans were to take our baby to a relative’s house in Chattanooga as we had not yet secured legal permission to take our baby across the state line into Georgia. We were going to get him all squared away in Sandy’s sister’s place then fly like the wind to meet with child services in Marietta and get the okay to bring our baby all the way home.

The hospital didn’t permit the hand-off on the premises, so Graham’s birth mommy had to hand him to us in the parking garage. Oh, the pregnant drama of that moment! In her shoes, I don’t know how there’s grace for such a thing, only that there is because I was witness to it.

As Sandy retrieved our Taurus, Jill and I waited by her family’s car. She began to climb into the front passenger seat of their car with baby in hand. My heart seized. Is she changing her mind? She has every right to…but…please, God…

And then, as when a dreamlike spell is broken, her eyes blinked. “Oh,” she said, “I think he’s yours to take home…” She handed the tiny bundle to my waiting arms as Sandy drove up. With some very hasty good-byes (understandable), she disappeared into her front seat and the car sped from the garage. Sandy and I stood, baby in arms, and watched the tail lights move out of sight.

The would-be parents carried their blessing to the rear passenger side and set him in his car seat, missing one very important detail. As we sighed, smiled and giggled, I put the car in drive and lurched forward, a brand new family pointed toward home. Only, as the car started forward, the car seat, baby and all, surged and our baby nearly went bottom-up as the seat was not clipped to the back seat.

He was fine; no harm, no foul, except to our confidence levels. Only when our hearts stopped rabbit-beating could we laugh and snort. Graham seemed oblivious. Never even whimpered.

With that and a sound recheck of everything, we moved out onto the street with our baby. In that moment, we were the oblivious ones, not at all aware that in a matter of hours our bundle might be lost to us for good.

The first time.