“One cannot encounter Him without being
transformed, He is the absolute reality. The
visible image of the invisible God. He is the
King of glory.”
~ Drake Charles
Drake was heavily involved in the community investing his time not just locally at the school he worked at, but also around the world. From river rafting trips to Mexico house builds, Drake was constantly spreading God’s love and proclaiming His name everywhere he went.
In this video, Drake Charles, head of school at Linfield Christian, tells of his story of being diagnosed with an incurable disease, and WHY he is not afraid. An epic clash between reality and truth, living in a world where Christianity is both hypocritical and judgmental, Drake reveals what it truly means to be transformed by faith and to walk from Christianity and into the Kingdom.
Dear Linfield Faculty & Staff,
I am writing to you with the hope of glory from a borrowed tomb in the valley of the shadow of death.
Wow. How was that for an opening line? Those words will either make you want to read on in wonder or quickly delete this message in dread. So let me unpack that first sentence in reverse order.
There is a physical reality at work in my body, one that looks and feels like darkness. My arms and legs are weak, shriveled, and mostly paralyzed. My breathing has grown shallower. My speech is slower. I chew my food a little longer, and I swallow more carefully. It’s enough to make the outside observer cluck their tongue, wag their head, and say, “shame, shame.” But if you dare to read on, you may discover, as I have, truth that is brighter than the shadow of reality, and it will make you wipe your eyes, bow your head, and say, “glory, glory.”
My borrowed tomb is at the Browns’ home, where Betsy and I have been living and receiving extraordinary care and support from Dave and Carol. We entered the tomb on July 1st, and it has been a sacred place of silence, solitude, prayer, and worship. We call it “the tomb” because that’s what Jesus called it when He first brought me here. This is a marvelous and mysterious story unto itself, and it is better told by Melissa Blades. To those of you who are intrigued, I encourage you to ask her about it. Suffice it to say, my tomb is not a place of dying but of living, not a place of death but of rebirth.
Do you feel the grip of my opening sentence beginning to lose its dread? Though I am in the valley of the shadow of death, it’s only a shadow. And though I’m in a tomb, it’s more like a womb.
Now let me try to find the words to tell you about the hope of glory.
For nearly two years, God has walked with me on a journey of love, one that has taken me further in and farther up into His presence, and I am beginning to learn how to move within the glorious sacred dance of the triune God. When I last met with you in the spring to announce my resignation, I told you the story of how I was brought to the foot of the cross, and at the time, that seemed like the intended destination. But with God, there’s always more. The intent of the Holy Spirit is not only to draw us to Christ, but in, up, through, and with Christ into the heart of the Father. There’s a place that’s higher and deeper than the foot of the cross, a fortress of love whose doorway is smeared with Lamb’s blood and into which we are invited to dwell. And here language falls short, so let me tell you a story of something that happened last week, a moment in which Betsy and I were caught up in the triune dance with the Father of Love, the King of glory, and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
I woke up from a night in the tomb last Wednesday with the impression that I should go before the Son and plead the love of the Father. This was a surprising reversal of a prayer that had been squeezed out of me nearly eight months ago in Texas when I went before the Father and pled the blood of the Son. Yet here I was, dwelling from a different place within the divine Kingdom. I was no longer at the door but inside the heart of the Father where I was beginning to believe that although the Word is the creative force through which all things are made and although the Blood is the redemptive force through which all things are saved, behind both there exists a greater force still.
Love. Holy love.
The eternal, infinite, and invincible holy love of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And now the Spirit was encouraging me to plead the Father’s love to the King of Glory for my deliverance.
And so I did. That evening I stood up, with assistance and flanked by Dave and Carol Brown, and pled the love of the Father before King Jesus. The prayer was simple and honest and without reply. Later around midnight, I was compelled to pray again, standing again, this time to the Father, to tell Him that I had pled His love before the Son as grounds and basis for my deliverance. In reply the Father nodded, and Heaven moved.
I encounter the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit differently now, and I’m learning to appreciate the differences in how they communicate. The indwelling Holy Spirit is a Whisperer, a still small voice that rises from within. Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God, speaks the words of God to me in English; it sounds more like the brightness of a trumpet or the glory of church bells. But the Father…Oh, the Father…I have not heard Him whisper or speak. I have only felt Him move. What does it mean to feel something or Someone move? Imagine the vibration from the hooves of a herd of wild mustangs as they thunder across the prairie. Or imagine the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tide as it swells and breaks upon the shoreline. There is a weight and a gravity in the movements of the Father, and in some way that I do not need to understand but only receive, I felt the Father nod. Slowly, deliberately, and approvingly. The Father of Love nodded, and Heaven moved.
I fell asleep that night in peace and wonder and did not stir for several hours. When I did stir, it was because of the indwelling Whisperer. Betsy and I often play worship songs from Spotify while we sleep; the volume is barely audible, and the lyrics are indiscernible. Yet somehow, we both sleep better with worship faintly playing through the night. On this night, the Spirit stirred me from a dream and whispered, “You need this song.” I forced myself to wake up fully and listen, but I couldn’t discern or hear the lyrics, only the tune, and even that was faint. I didn’t know how to get the song without waking Betsy, which I was reluctant to do since she had just returned from a trip and was dog-tired. So I let it go and slipped back to sleep. Sometime later, Betsy woke up to use the bathroom, and on her way back to bed, I asked her to go back seven songs on the Spotify playlist and save the song. She was confused, as was I, and I did not even know how I knew that the song was seven songs back. We then proceeded to forget about the curious incident of the song in the nighttime until around noon the next day. Even then, the memory was foggy, and we were a bit bewildered. Nevertheless, we decided to fetch the mystery song and give it a listen. And here’s what we heard that afternoon:
Out of the shadows
Bound for the gallows
A dead man walking
Till love came calling
Rise up (rise up)
Rise up (rise up)
Six feet under
I thought it was over
An answer to prayer
The voice of a Savior
Rise up (rise up)
Rise up (rise up)
All at once I came alive
This beating heart, these open eyes
The grave let go
The darkness should have known
(You’re still rolling rolling, you’re still rolling rolling oh)
You’re still rolling stones
(You’re still rolling rolling oh)
You’re still rolling stones
And in this way, we were lifted up with tears of joy in the glory of the sacred dance. The Father nods, and the Spirit whispers, and Christ is exalted. Glory. Glory. Glory.
The song is by Lauren Daigle and was just released on August 10. Neither Betsy nor I had heard of it before, but it’s called “Still Rolling Stones.” I can not imagine a better song title for someone who is currently in a tomb.
What do you do with that? There was a time when Betsy and I would hold it at a distance or examine it under a microscope. But no longer. We’re learning to trust the dance, and so our spirits leap to life with a joyful whoop as we receive the hope of glory deep into the marrow of our souls. In the Spirit, we stomp our feet, clap our hands, and join the celebration. We believe. Not because we have acquired faith as a virtue, but because we have received faith as a gift.
So we wait as prisoners of hope.
And now you understand a little bit of what it means to live with the hope of glory from a borrowed tomb in the valley of the shadow of death. Do with it what you will and please know that I love you, and I miss you all very much.
Dear Linfield Family,
This Easter I want to give you the gift of a better question, and by using the word “better,” I’m also implying that there are some Easter questions that are “unbetter.” This is true not only of Easter but of life, and often times being equipped with the right question is necessary in order to discover a true answer.
So let’s first begin with the “unbetter” question, the one most churches ask on Easter Sunday. After spending 30-40 minutes presenting evidence about the Resurrection, many pastors will attempt to provoke a response from their listeners this weekend by asking something like this at the end of their message: What is your decision?
The Resurrection is the central and essential miracle of Christianity. The good news of the gospel certainly depends upon the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from death, not just metaphorically, symbolically, or spiritually, but bodily. The apostle Paul said it this way: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Truly, the reality of the Resurrection is something we should wrestle with in order that we may grasp its significance.
But I don’t believe “what is your decision?” is the best question to ask in response to hearing the gospel because the question itself is limited in its ability to evoke an answer from the soul. It only inquires of the rational mind. In other words, based on historical facts, Biblical record, and eyewitness reports, this question asks if your rational mind is or is not convinced that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead.
However, this is not the quality of question Jesus Himself used in His own teaching, and He was the master question-asker. We see in Scripture how the questions He asked provoked responses not only from the rational mind; they provoked responses from the heart, soul, and spirit. Think about it. If Jesus’s purpose was simply to convince His listeners of some theological facts about God, He would have spoken primarily and repeatedly about doctrine. He would have presented evidence, data, and information with which the rational mind could either agree or disagree. But that’s not how He lived, spoke, and moved. Through storytelling and provocative questions, Jesus’s aim was to get past the linear, logical nature of the rational mind and down into the deeper mystery and mess of the human soul.
And so we would do well this Easter to embrace a Jesus-like question that, when we look at the Resurrection, has the capacity to take us beyond the linear and into that deeper mystery. So here’s the question I propose:
What do you see?
At first that question may not sound particularly provocative or powerful, and you may be experiencing a transient moment of disappointment as you’re reading this e-mail, but stay with me. There’s more here than immediately meets the eye.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the glory of the grace of God revealed to humanity. Its aim is to display the majesty, goodness, mercy, and love of the Creator. For the believer, looking at the Resurrection is to behold beauty, and when one is faced with beauty, you don’t ask, “what is your decision?” This is true of anything and all that is beautiful. You don’t watch a sunset over the Pacific Ocean in all its grandeur and ask, “what’s your decision?” You don’t study Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and ask, “what’s your decision?” Nor do you watch a wild herd of Mustangs thunder across an open prairie and ask, “what’s your decision?”
When confronted with beauty, you don’t decide. You behold. You either see it as beautiful or as boring, as majestic or mundane. When confronted with glory, your soul either shouts in delight or shrugs in indifference.
So as we look at the Resurrection this Easter and ask ourselves what we see, the true condition of our souls and our faith is revealed. Do we see Christ as our all-satisfying supreme treasure in life or is He merely a historical or legendary figure of antiquity? Do we see Christ as living water from Heaven or tap water from the kitchen faucet? Is the cross of Calvary a majestic and mysterious bridge to the eternal Father who has bent low to redeem us from sin? Or is it a religious symbol to which we nod respectfully on the holidays?
Jesus didn’t come, live, die, and rise so that we could respect Him from afar with our rational minds while shrugging indifferently in the way we live our lives. He gave all of Himself in order to win all of us to all of Him. The journey farther in and further up in faith should be marked by increasing wonder and worship because to the eye of the believer, His beauty becomes brighter and brighter as it dawns over the life of our souls.
So this Easter my encouragement to us is to pause from the hustle and bustle of Easter egg hunts, family gatherings, and church services and allow God to pierce us with a question: what do you see? And my hope is that in that moment, the beauty of Heaven breaks through and we are able to behold the goodness of the grace of God in the face of Christ.
Head of School
Linfield Christian School
I am writing to let you know that I have tendered my resignation as Head of School and will be transitioning out of my role between now and June 30. Although my love for Linfield runs true and deep, it has become increasingly difficult for me to fulfill my responsibilities while also learning to manage my diminishing physical capacities. Consequently, I believe it is in Linfield’s best interest for me to make this choice at this moment.
The essence of my role as Head of School is to protect and advance the mission of Linfield Christian School, and our team has been magnificent in the ways in which they have stepped into the gaps, shared the workload, and supported me in this endeavor throughout the past year. In fact, it is this magnificence that gives me confidence that the mission will continue to advance with tremendous life and strength even in my absence. In publicly declaring my resignation now, I will be able to work with the board, leadership team, faculty, and staff in order to ensure a smooth transition and safeguard the stability, vitality, and spirit of this community.
In America, we live in a culture oriented towards power and fame, and through that lens we could mistakenly think that the Head of School is the most important position at Linfield. But it’s not. Just ask the kindergarten parents. I can guarantee you that if a kindergarten teacher went on a forty day sabbatical, it would create much more of a crisis than the trip I took to Texas did.
The truth is that the mission of Linfield is delivered at the teacher level. It has and always will be this way. I have not taught one student to read, to write, or to do arithmetic. I’m not the one who teaches students to embrace the beauty, cadence, and linguistic complexity of a Shakespearean sonnet. Neither am I the one who quickens the minds of Geometry students to help them appreciate the elegance of the Pythagorean Theorem. I’m not the one who awakens curiosity in the minds of young scientists as they grapple with photosynthesis, genetics, and plate tectonics. But Linfield’s teachers do these things every single day. They’re the ones who know your students’ faces and names. They’re the ones who deliver the education, the experience, and the mission. So in a very real sense, a change in the Head of School is way less disruptive than the change of a kindergarten teacher. Or any other teacher for that matter.
Furthermore, the top of our leadership pyramid has always been pretty flat. We usually think of an org chart as a top-down structure with the most powerful people at the peak and the least powerful at the base, but I have chosen to lead Linfield by flattening the top of the pyramid so that the mantle of leadership is shared by Holly Wilson, Bret Underwood, Carrie Washburn, Casey Bell, Terry Cutter, and Ruth Young. It’s never been about me; it’s been about we.
And even that may be misleading because it’s really been about the mission. For this reason, Linfield will not suffer a hard right, a hard left, or a sudden dip in my absence. The integrity of our organization is held together by a relational steel that will not bend or break under the load of my resignation.
I’ve paused here in my writing for a long time, not knowing what to write next.
There is a collision of agony and hope inside that feels like a clash between Godzilla and King Kong in my chest. It has been a joy to be a member of this community for the past eleven years and an honor to serve as the Head of School for the last four years. My suffering this year has only increased my convictions regarding the weight and worth of Linfield’s mission, and though it is and has always been my desire to rise in health and continue the journey with you, the time has come for me to pass the torch. Much earlier than I was expecting.
And yet, right there next to the disappointment, there is also a rising hope, perhaps even a conviction, that my surrender will be a catalyst for glory.
Let me be clear, my hope is not in Linfield but rather in the One I’ve come to know and love more deeply, the One who rules and reigns over Linfield. Since the first day Mabel Culter swung wide the doors of a borrowed living room and proclaimed the grand opening of Culter Academy, this school has always belonged to Jesus Christ. We’ve had seasons of drift, but we’ve never gotten beyond His grip. He’s always delivering, always protecting, always reminding, and always restoring Linfield back to His original purposes.
Linfield has always been a strange blend of college prep, community, and Christ-centeredness. It is within that triangulation that the hand of God has blessed us and sustained us, and He is faithful even now. Especially now. I love 2 Chronicles 16:9, a verse which tells us that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on the behalf of him whose heart is perfect toward him.” I believe that what is true of an individual can also be true of a community, and therefore, I believe that God is looking for a school that is wholehearted toward Him and where He can show Himself strong.
And here’s what I mean: There’s a difference between being an organization and being an organism. There’s a difference between being religious and being alive. The world doesn’t need more religious schools. But I do believe the world needs a community of people who have both the courage and the vision to cultivate a love for God within the next generation. We need students to become alive in the aliveness of God. To learn biology in the aliveness of God. To make robots in the aliveness of God. To score touchdowns in the aliveness of God. To change their world in the aliveness of God.
And the pathway into the life of God is Jesus Christ. Not Jesus as a concept or a doctrine or merely a historical figure, but Him. Alive. Now. Leaning forward from the Kingdom of Heaven with a heart of love for this next generation, for us and for our kids.
I believe there is an opportunity for our Linfield community to respond to the invitation from God through Christ. This doesn’t mean we become more religious, stuffy, or churchy. In fact, it’s just the opposite. When the Author and Creator of life pours Himself into a person or a people, it washes away all that is false, contrived, and superficial, and it awakens all that is true, authentic, and profound. I believe Linfield is poised and ready to become this type of school, a school that goes beyond the sum of its parts – beyond college prep, beyond athletics, beyond fine arts, and beyond education.
I believe Linfield is poised to become a school marked by love.
And this is my encouragement to you moving forward: You have an important part and an essential role to play in what Linfield becomes. Our heritage and leadership define boundaries and set missional trajectories, but it’s up to those who populate the space to actually live into the possibilities. You cannot program love, nor can you put it into the curriculum, nor can you demand it. Love, if it’s true, must flow from God through all of us to all of our students. And this isn’t the kind of squishy, wimpy, or romantic love that has been so cheapened by Hollywood; it’s a deep and true love that is sacrificial, costly, and relentless as it cultivates what is good, true, and beautiful in the hearts and minds of our students. It comes from somewhere and is meant to do something.
More accurately, it comes from Someone and is meant to accomplish a purpose of eternal weight in us for His pleasure and glory.
This is what I pray for Linfield, that the One who so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life will, in some mysterious and yet true way, choose to love this school at this time, and that in response to His presence, grace, and goodness, hope, faith, and love will rise.
My confidence is in Him. My peace is in Him. And because of that, I believe that bright days lie ahead for Linfield. So let us all press on together towards the hope of glory.
Over the next four months, I’ll be working with the Board of Trustees and the leadership team on a set of leadership initiatives for next year. At the same time, the Board will be engaged in the process of searching for someone to fill my shoes (FYI, they’re a size 15). You’ll receive an e-mail next week that will provide more information about the process, including details on how you can help.
I’m committed to finishing strong. I hope you will join me in our effort to make this a great year for our students, even as we begin to pray for next year and this transition.
In the hope of glory,
Head of School