Hello. My name is Jonathan Martin.

A couple of months ago, I was having coffee with my friend Andrew Smith, who pastors a great church here in Charlotte called the Gathering.  Running a couple of minutes behind, I walked in and he was already seated.  After exchanging quick pleasantries, I told him I wouldgrab a drink myself and be right back. As soon as I was seated, this is what he asked me:

“So first things, first.  What’s happened to you?”

“Happened to me—what do you mean?”

“The way you carry yourself—the way you walk, the way you speak, it’s all different from when I saw you last.  I want to know what happened.”

He had sized me up correctly, and we hadn’t talked for 2 minutes.  So I proceeded to tell the long story of this last season of my life—what has happened, what is happening.  The journey from being Clark Kent to being the piece of work I am now.  That is another story for another time.  But the point was, Andrew felt like he was being reintroduced to his friend, and he was not wrong.

That was after 6 months.  And as for you, dear reader, I don’t know when we spoke last.  I would anticipate a lot of you know something about Renovatus Church and may therefore know something about where I’ve been and what God has been doing.  But then again, perhaps you just happened to Google some combination of “RenovatusPentecostalComicBooksStanleyHauerwasStephenKingLargeHairyManToeFungusOrthodoxy” and you were led here. God bless Google, and God bless you, however you arrived.

Wherever you come from or however you heard, I’m glad you are here.  The great Caleb Loffer did this beautiful redesign of my blog a couple of months ago, and with the intense season I’ve been in (leading a church through opening a new worship experience just out of town, going to Africa and Lebanon in less than 2 months, etc.), I’ve been a little tied up.  There has also been the matter of being infatuated with Jesus and my wife and going around the city and the world with angels in my eyes and butterflies in my stomach, learning to receive the gift of every moment (which my friend Aaron Yancey says is what it is to “walk in the Spirit.”)  I’ve had a lot of creative things brewing, including some new projects I hope I can share with you soon, but I’ve been having too much fun living the adventure to write about the adventure.

But at long last, I’m settling in with much to share in the coming days, so I hope you will check back (stuff like leadership lessons from the Miami Heat, music to write sermons by, and my perspective on the event I dubbed RobBellGate).  But in case we aren’t well acquainted, or in case you were acquainted with my counterpart who might schmooze you just a little or at least pull a punch or two, I thought it would only be polite to tell you a little bit about myself.  It might make you a little less likely to be disappointed or bothered by something that might come out later.  I prefer to minimize surprises on both of our parts.

I would say that I hope it doesn’t come off narcissistic, but then again both preaching and blogging are narcissistic activities and I do them both.  Besides, when you plant a church and call it something Latin, there is no point in hoping you don’t come off pretentious.  That ship sailed long ago.

So in the spirit of making friends…hello.  My name is Jonathan Martin.

I am a lover of God.  I don’t cry at almost anything tragic or sad, but the faithfulness of God reduces me tears easily.  He has been inexplicably good to me.

I love a woman named Amanda.  She is more interesting than anybody I’ve ever known, and I know a lot of interesting people.  I prefer her company to anyone else’s.

We do not have kids.  We have a dog that I love more than most people except my family.

I love the people at Renovatus Church.  They got me saved and taught me how to be a Christian.

100% of my identity and value is wrapped up in my identity in Christ—nothing else, nobody else.

I read a lot.  About anything and everything that interests me.  If you try to peg me by what I read, you will probably be confused.  Thankfully, I am not confused, so no matter.

My belief in the Trinity in general and the Holy Spirit in particular shapes me in a particular way that people often call Pentecostal, thought technically the whole Church is Pentecostal because the Spirit is given to the whole Church.

I disdain fear-mongers, no matter what adjective you put in front of the term.

I am prone to quote church fathers and hip-hop, but I’m not a hipster.  You know this because I defuse hipster accusations so easily with self-deprecating charm and rapier wit.

I hope to hug Bono.  I am much bigger than Bono, so I think it would make a cool picture.

I would like to evangelize the Beastie Boys, because anybody capable of such beats has to be salvageable and saveable.

I lost 40 pounds not long ago.

I love being able to help create a community that is safe for liars, dreamer and misfits.

I believe that God has a plan for Arab/Palestinian people just as much as he does Jewish people/Israeli people, and He loves them the same.  And that the Church should be in the process of peacemaking and not mere side-taking.

I don’t believe that many of the most verbose and authoritative “theologians” on the internet have read any books beyond 70 pages or would be competent to put together a 15-piece jigsaw puzzle.

I believe women are empowered to preach the gospel and lead because the Spirit of God upset the order of the world in the resurrection of Jesus.

Because of that resurrection, I am utterly 100% unafraid to die, unafraid to live, unafraid to fail, unafraid to succeed, unafraid to be rejected, unafraid to be loved, unafraid of anybody or anything. I am indestrucitible.

As a pastor I love people promiscuously in that I love a lot of people really intensely. That also makes me a bad friend sometimes, because I easily love beyond my capacity to maintain relationship.

But I love people purely because my love is not based on need.

As a matter of fact, I love you—with no strings attached.  I am capable of loving you because I don’t need you or need you too much or need you to like me.  I love you enough, dear reader, to not care too much about what you think.  And thus I am free to tell you the truth as I see it.

My name is Jonathan Martin.  It’s a pleasure to meet you even though its felt a little one-way so far.  I hope you’ll stop in tomorrow.  Bring me some milk and cookies, and I’ll be happy to dispense more information.