Newsletter – Volume 34


Newsletter – Volume 34

February 20, 2024

This Week

Confessions From the Back of the Pen
Meet Otto...

Otto Hernandez was one of the first people I met after moving to Austin, and we have been fast friends ever since. He is one of those guys who I can call at 2:00am and he will pick up. He has more than a few times driven Carol and I to the airport at 4:30am. We are accountability partners with our health/fitness routines. We have ridden through the Texas hill country on motorcycles together. But more than anything we are brothers; brothers in Christ. We have similar back stories. And beyond our friendship we are most notably fellow black sheep messengers. Here is a bit of his story.

I was born in Puerto Rico, and lived there until I was about 5 years old. Then we moved to the Bronx, NY. Truth is I was a bit of a wild child from the start. The family I grew up in had a lot of moving parts, my parents were married and divorced several times and so I just got in the habit of doing what I wanted when I wanted. I got involved with the wrong crowd and made the mistakes that are common when you have friends like that.

In my early teenage years, we moved to the beltway outside Washington DC. My mom got her life sorted out with God and everything changed in our house. We started going to church. There were new house rules. I was not a fan. But my mom convinced the youth pastor to take an interest in me. And he did. He was kinda cool, he was the chaplain of an NFL football team and he allowed me to hang with him. Later a second youth pastor encouraged me to join the youth choir, and it was during that season that I began to open my heart to God. But after high school I strayed again.

I will spare you the up and down years I had after that, but the catalytic transition moment came when my wife and I were sitting in front of a pastor in his office. I had seen a lot of church shenanigans over the years. So, I stopped going. I wasn’t interested in returning. I was about making money and being a worldly success. So, my defenses were up in the pastor’s office. I remember saying, “I am not interested in what you are selling.” And I will never forget his response, I can still tear up when I think about it. He said, “Well Otto, what is the world selling you?” I felt such conviction. In that moment, I rededicated myself to following after God, and I haven’t looked back.

Word of the Week


Verb: pay particular attention to

One of the cool things about the brain is that it can choose its point of focus.  Of all the various inputs we receive, our consciousness can decide what attracts and holds our attention. That said, there are influences that attempt to divert our gaze and consideration to things that are empty, meaningless, dull, and uninspired – often with explicitly sinister intent. However, I do not have to capitulate.  I can choose other; the beautiful, the miraculous, the hopeful, and the soul-enriching.  May it be so for me in the week ahead – care to join me?

A Book I Really Enjoyed

Politics For People Who Hate Politics

Theme Sentiment: As citizens of heaven, with access to the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and power, we can engage in politics God’s way: with the countercultural love, integrity, and unity that will heal our land. ~Denise Grace-Gitsham

Last week, I noted that this is a book I was excited about reading. I’m about ¾ of the way through, and thought the book was compelling enough to give it a second mention. One of the things I appreciated about it was the way the author weaved her own personal experiences into the story and how those experiences (along with her Christian values) helped shape her convictions about how Christians should be thinking about and espousing their political convictions. In this upcoming political season – which is already contentious – I cannot think of a more timely read. Highly recommend!

A Personal Request

My Niece’s Healing Physically and Emotionally

Promise worth holding on to: I am leaving you with a gift – peace of heart and mind (John 14:27)

I have a niece named Wilna. She was adopted (from Haiti) by my sister, and she now lives in Colorado Springs. This gal is an amazing soul. She is athletic, beautiful and smart – such amazing potential. Unfortunately, she was recently in a car accident and has hurt her knee badly. She is now out of her cast and in rehab. This is her senior year, and she really wants to play in her last season. Please join me in praying for a quick and complete recovery. She is also at the age where the things that she had to deal with early in life are taking their toll on her soul. She was rescued out of a poor situation in her home country and that trauma can understandably wreak havoc on one’s soul. So, we are praying for complete healing, both physical and emotional. May the Lord graciously touch her heart and her mind.

The Pocket Prayer Serendipity

A Strategic Give-Away

While on our anniversary trip, I brought several devotionals with me, and asked the Lord to lead me to the right people (should he want me to give any away). But I wanted him to create the opportunity. I didn’t want it to be about my ‘pushing’ my religious book upon unsuspecting subjects. I was given one of those opportunities. Our resort was a popular place for destinations weddings. One day while sitting on the beach we saw a wedding and I snapped a couple pics. I felt a prompting to get the couple a book. I prayed, “Lord you will have to arrange.” On our last night there, we ran into the couple at dinner. I hesitated, but eventually told them the story. I left a copy at their door that night. As we were leaving the next day, I ran into them again. I didn’t get the sense that they were believers, but they expressed great appreciation for the devotional and said they plan on reading it. Pray for Tyler and Ali, that God would use the book to draw them to himself!

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