The Worst Part About Being in a Military Town

When I moved to Columbus, I was told Mt Vernon had a large Air Force community, pulling from Columbus Air Force base nearby. Our base is is a flight training base dominated by student pilots (here for a year and a half) and instructor pilots (here for three to four years).

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They’re an amazing group of people. Student pilots are a bunch of post-college kids and newlyweds fresh into the Air Force. They move in packs of 12, are full of fire and life, and bring down the average age of a church by at least a decade. Love them! The instructor pilots and their families are here for three years and are a force of nature. They show up with a ready made family of at least two kids. Many times we’ll help them add 2 more while they’re here (Columbus is a small town, mind you. No other forms of entertainment). When a pilot tells you he/she can do something, they’re understating it. Pilots aren’t mediocre at anything. Some of our best musicians are pilots. Many of the instructor pilots that come looking for a church are solid Christians, already discipled, just looking for a place to plug in and serve. You take those families all day long! You can tell who their kids are: just look for the well-behaved ones that have a majority of the New Testament memorized. They’re that amazing (especially when you line them up next to preacher’s kids or deacon’s kids)! In short, we love our Air Force family and our church wouldn’t be the same without them.

Now I was duly warned when I got here that it would be tough getting attached to military families only to see them move away. My initial thoughts: “that’s three years away, that’s a lifetime!” Well, next month I’ll have been in Columbus for three years, and we’ve seen more than our share of military families transfer out to their next assignment. That’s the worst part about being in a military town: seeing your friends and family move away. You can’t help but get attached to them and love them as your own. And then they leave. Early this morning I got a Facebook message from an instructor pilot and his family moving out of state, wanting to thank me and Mt Vernon for our role in their lives.

It’s heartbreaking and bittersweet. We trust that for one season in their lives we were able to minster to them and they to us. The rest is in God’s hands.

Add a Little Crazy to Your Life

This past Sunday at Mt Vernon I told the church to “add a little crazy to your life.” Looking at John 2when Jesus cleared the temple, I talked about how Jesus was so fanatical about his Father’s name and his Father’s honor that when he saw his Father’s house being desecrated, he went off.

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:13-17

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To the world he looked a little crazy, but a true fanatic will always look crazy to the world.

As Jesus fanatics, we’re always going to look a little crazy to the world. It’s unavoidable. And that’s okay. Rather than trying to conform and fit in, I think we should be intentional about “adding a little crazy” to our lives. Let the world know how much we love Jesus. Make our devotion to Jesus blatantly obvious to all we encounter.

I asked the question at the end: how specifically can you “add a little crazy” to your life? Through the YouVersion Bible app, our members were able to answer the question personally and submit their answers anonymously. Here are a few of their responses. Here’s how my folks from my church can “add a little crazy” to their lives:

  • Get up with my wife at 5am to study the Word together.
  • Stop drinking and partying and spend more time in the book.
  • Go on a mission trip out of the country. Start a private protective recovery home for girls and women rescued out of the sex trafficking trade.

That’s my kind of crazy!

QUESTION: How can you “add a little crazy” to your life?

The Weirdest Way I Ever Saved a Church Member $700

200294162-001I’ve got a guy in my church named Kenny. I wish every church had a Kenny. This guy is great! Super faithful, naturally evangelistic, always looking to bring the least and the lost to church. One of our core values at Mt Vernon is that we “embrace the messes.” Kenny is one of the guys that leads that charge. He works in “the mess.” He’s a bail bondsman.

Kenny is constantly using his platform as a bail bondsman to tell people about Jesus and Mt Vernon Church. He figures that if he’s bailing them out of jail, they’re definitely looking for something more. Almost every week Kenny has someone new with him that he introduces me to. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Kenny: Josh, I want you to meet Chris* and Brandon*.

Me: Great to meet you! Is this your first time to Mt Vernon? (The deer in the headlights look tells me this is the first time they’ve stepped into a church in years, but I give them the benefit of the doubt)

Chris and Brandon: Yes. 

(at this point I’ll make small talk, find some commonalities and make a few light-hearted jokes, usually at Kenny’s expense. But the conversation usually finishes like this):

Me: Let me guess. Did Kenny bail you out of jail?

Chris and Brandon (looking at each other like I’m a clairvoyant): As a matter of fact he did!

I love the fact that Kenny is so enthusiastic about inviting everyone to church. So here’s how I saved Kenny some money this past week. On Sunday, as usual, Kenny’s got two new guys with him. I introduce myself, make some small talk and welcome them to church. Later  on that day Kenny catches up with me and tells me this:

Kenny: You saved me some money today!

Me: How did I do that?

Kenny: Those two gentlemen who were with me today I met when I bailed them out of jail. And I made a deal with them to get them to come to church with me. I told them, “If you don’t like church on Sunday, you don’t have to pay me any of the money you owe me (their remaining bail).” 

After the service, they told me, “I wish we could lie and say we didn’t have a good experience, but we loved it! Don’t be surprised if you see us again next week!”

Kenny finished by telling me, “Thanks for helping me out today! They owe me $700!”

Welcome to a day in the life at Mt Vernon. I love it!