Happy Yaga Day

I’m declaring September 25th to forever more be Yaga Day.  First, maybe you should know a bit about what Yaga is:

In 1986, a small retail store on Galveston Island, off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico, set the stage for an original t-shirt line that was spawned from the influence of the Caribbean West Indies. Founder Joe Flores, a native Galvestonian, was also inspired by an island vagrant who always greeted people with the word, “yaga.” (Yaga is a Jamaican slang term used as a greeting or a way to attract attention. The community came to associate the word with a mo’ bettah feeling.) Yaga blends cultures and lifestyles into a collection that is relaxed, fun, and stylish.

Not limited to a sport, season, or locale, Yaga embraces the vast visual imagery of different people and cultures. Yaga incorporates natural earth influences through classic cotton fabrics with weathered colorations to perpetuate dat’ timeless, relaxed island livin’.


You can read the rest of the story how the Galveston-based clothing store came to be on Galveston’s website.  More than clothes, though, yaga is about hearing the message of hope, peace and love for all people.  That’s not unlike anything you would hear me preach any given Sunday.  But we’ll let Yaga Day be a little more easy going so that we can also learn to take it easy.

There is an island life.  I’m not sure how to explain it, but it’s different.  You’re oblivious to the salt that is constantly on your lips.  Often it feels like you have hurricane water flowing through your veins–surely you have a hurricane story or two.  The gulf breeze has often reminded me of the Spirit of God that hovered over the waters at creation.

So, what I would like for you to celebrate every September 25th is that easy, laid-back lifestyle.  Forget how busy you are.  Make it a point to relax and enjoy the day God gave you.  Jesus reminded us that tomorrow will worry about itself.  You only have today to live, and you should do all in your power to make each day count.  Let Yaga Day be a time to start over, to recharge yourself so that you’re ready to face your life again.  By the time most of us realize how short life truly is, we’ve already let much of it slip away.

Get to celebrating!

Throw an island-themed party.  Wear a Yaga shirt.  Play reggae music in your cubicle.  Learn to appreciate peace and serenity.  Search for hope and love.  Ask God to calm your chaotic life.  That’s what I’ll be doing.  It’s what I need to do for my own well being, and it’s going to be a way I remember my sister.  She loved living.  She loved her island.  She even loved Yaga.

Mark your mental calendar: Thursday, September 25, 2014 is the first annual Yaga Day.  I’ll hope you’ll celebrate it with me.

Stay blessed…john


+photo credits: moregue file; freeskateboardsticker.com+

He made it

I’ve been listening to Lecrae since day one.  That was some ten years ago.  Last week, he made some history.

What I appreciate most about his music is that it is real hip hop.  Real hip hop stemmed from a people whose voice wasn’t being heard.   It was supposed to be real talk, and music that lifted a generation.  Unfortunately, it morphed into something else.  In so many ways, it’s diminished the potential of another generation.

That’s why we can thank God for those who do hip hop right.

Here’s probably my favorite song from Lecrae, not including anything from the new album:

++If you’re reading by email or reader, click here to listen.++

Stay blessed…john

It’s not an underdog story

If it were at all possible to fall asleep during your own sermon, anyone at my church would have found out this past weekend.  Our family celebrated a birthday with a big party Saturday night, and I was beyond beat by Sunday morning.  Still, I preach, therefore, I am.  So, tired eyes and all, I preached.

This was a great Sunday for our church.  For one thing, we had 100 people in attendance, which is a big deal for us.  Our young people led us in singing praises to God.  All that and we even finished seconds before noon.  There is a God!

Our sermon reminded us that neither Moses or the people of God are at the center of the Exodus story. Certainly, Pharaoh was not the central figure either.  No, this is God’s story and it’s about what God will do for and through his people.

++If you’re reading by email, click here to listen to the sermon.++

Stay blessed…john




Don’t be boring

Remember when it was suggested teachers shouldn’t use red ink to grade students’ work?  According to the idea, red creates nervousness and may even contribute to poor grades.  Even though everyone knows a teacher means business like nobody’s business when the red comes out, I’m not quite sure what I think about that.  I mean how powerful would Jesus’ words have been if he spoke in purple letters?

Here’s my red ink story.

It was group time during a typical 2nd grade day.  We had just finished an assignment to show off our skills at writing complete sentences.  Now, it was time to see what Mrs. Anderson thought of our work.  Our words stretched from the bottom red line, through the dotted green line and up to the top blue line, and even beyond.  Thankfully, we weren’t being graded on penmanship–that dreadful day would come later.  No, this day we were just asked to write sentences.

It takes all of 5 seconds to read a second grader’s work.  So, everyone knew their grade pretty quickly.  A few of us heard “good job” or “excellent.”  No one seemed terrified by red check marks.  One student, however, was about to receive the red ink special.

He wrote:

  • I went to the store.
  • I saw a dragon.
  • I am 8.
  • I like Cocoa Pebbles.
  • I live in a house.
  • I want a Nintendo.
  • I am Mad Max.
  • I play football.
  • I watch Moonlighting. 

Complete sentences.  Nothing wrong here.

Truthfully, I don’t remember at all what he wrote.  I only recall that each sentence began with the word “I.”  That’s when the Bic hit the fan.  Our teacher readily underlined every I -filled sentence with an angry sigh and a lead-heavy stroke of her pen.  She finished off her red masterpiece by making a billboard across the page, in all caps writing the word: B-O-R-I-N-G.

If the red-ink theory is true, we should pray for that boy. He may or may not be emotional stable today.  All I know is that Mrs. Anderson didn’t like boring sentences, even if they had a main clause and good verb construction.  What our teacher found boring was that the young boy had not learned to incorporate others into his writing.  Every sentence was about himself.  Granted, I can’t recall that the assignment indicated we couldn’t write all about ourselves, but with so much I, his assignment was boring to listen to and boring to read.

And I guess that’s true for life, too.  Too much I makes life boring.

I need to admit that often I’m stuck in 2nd grade.  Sure, my sentence-writing skills have improved, but I’m in the habit of keeping I in front way too much.  Something tells me you might know someone like that, too.  We have that tendency to look out for Numero Uno.  We like us and we like thinking about us.  Don’t agree?  Some have estimated that 1 million self-I-es are taken everyday.  That may or may not speak for itself.  Still, it’s easy to see that what’s important to us seems to often take center stage and our concern for including others gets dragged in only as long as it is good for us.


Don’t get me wrong.  You are important; I am important.  Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  That implies a little love our direction.  But life is better spent with a great concern for others.

Jesus said:

 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…

How ya feeling about that red stuff?

When God is our first priority, a concern for others is an expected result.  We think less of I and begin to pray more for someone else.  We begin to find ways to express Christian love to others, even if it means I might be uncomfortable or inconvenienced.  So, think about the way you write your sentences, or really how you think about each day.  What places can you move the I around to make sure there’s room for others to fill your life.

Well, that’s my red ink story.  It didn’t scar me.  Then again, it wasn’t my paper, or my feelings.

Stay blessed…john


++While there is no I in team, “there’s also no ‘selfish hypocrisy’ in team either.”++


 +picture credits: morgue file & flickr