Tuesday, December 15, 2009


In my last blog I touched on prayer and I'd like to continue it...take it a step further (if that's possible). In Toby Mac's newest song, we get a sample of what true community should be 'on Earth as it is in Heaven.' I decided to use 'The Lord's Prayer' (the Message version) as my transition from prayer to getting serious...

Once you're done watching the lyrics and listening (I recommend you really absorb it-listen to it more than once), come back to my blog to finish reading some of my thoughts...

So what did you think? Did you like it? What kind of emotions did it invoke from deep within you? It's the beginning that kicked me in the face: 'if you gotta start somewhere, why not here?' and 'if you gotta start sometime why not now?' Thought provoking is it not? I mean, in today's world it's all about convenience and how there isn't enough time in our day-not just for God, but for others too, we only seem to find time for us or at least what 'maximizes' our time (with the mind thought of: what do I get out of it?).
I'm curious...how do you spell CHRISTIAN? I used all capital letters so that it wouldn't give away my thought process, but seriously...how do you spell it? When I spell it, it's like this: 'Christian'-not just to honor or emphasize Christ as the root of the word, but to emphasize something behind it all: 'commitment'.
When most think of Christianity, or what it means to be a Christian, people automatically run through a list of what it means to be that...forgetting that it really means to be committed to that 'list' because they truly believe it in their hearts. And for some, this is where we find a line between the 'sinners and the saints'-even among those in the church. I mean think about it, the Pharisees knew God's word like the back of their hands, but not in their hearts. And when Jesus got more attention than them and they found he was wiser and had humility, they didn't welcome him with open arms...they became jealous, prideful and condemned him!
In today's world...this still happens-people attaching labels to others based on their preconceived ideas of what a 'true' friend would do or not do in any given situation, or even in the work place...when we take it a step further, that's how many see it in the church (no different). Instead of focusing on what unifies us as Christians: Jesus, we have a nasty tendency to point out our differences which leaves me to think-especially this time of year...'where is the love?'
So this holiday season I challenge you to focus on Christ this Christmas. Don't forget your prayer life and don't neglect God's call upon your life. If you're unsure of what direction He has set for you, it's time to purge yourself of too much 'you'. Because I really do think Toby's onto something...if not me, then who, if not here, where, if not now, when??? If we keep putting His call off until tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year-especially when we know what we ought to do, then we only guarantee it doesn't get done until we're 'ready'. Is being a Christian about convenience? 

Monday, November 30, 2009


When was the last time you spent time with God in prayer? When was the last time you got away and had some 'me' time-just you and God? I only ask because I think it's important that we pray. Mike Yaconelli thought it curious when he realized that we could actually pray without ceasing. Curious indeed as it is hard to imagine praying continuously throughout the day...unless of course you don't take it too literal-as in, talking to yourself out loud. Perhaps we can achieve it in all that we say and do in our daily lives. Change comes from within and that what is within us is shown to others in our interactions, word, and deed.
If that were so, then I guess that would mean that we would actively live out the gospel and show no fear when it comes to colleagues or peers at school or work. We would have the confidence to approach someone in need when words aren't there (perhaps all they really need is someone to cry with or listen to them).
This of course, leads me to this scripture found in James 5:16 'Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.'
Now, in my previous blog I mentioned the freedom that God offers us and in reading James I find that I'm not righteous by any means. It's not that God hasn't blessed me, it's just that my frustrations from time to time could be of my own doing (which I alluded to in my previous blog). I've been kicking it around and I've come to realize that I don't pray nearly as much as I should. Oh I pray everyday, but I don't pray as long as I could and should...nor do I pray with the intent/reverence I should. It's easy to go through the motions when it comes to prayer, but prayer should be about humbling oneself and coming to God knowing there's nothing we could offer that would improve our chances of blessings (it's a gift) and that we shouldn't get bent out of shape when things don't go our way. Perhaps God wants us to remain 'stuck' until we learn what has already been revealed to us.
Forgive my randomness...I just thought I should share that God offers more than just freedom from our burdens, but power in the many blessings he gives us day to day-we just need to be truly grateful for that which we take for granted.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending one of Princeton Seminary's Certification Retreat and Forum in Hendersonville, NC (Kanuga Retreat Center). This was an amazing week filled with humbling insight and confirmation concerning that which I had been struggling with.
In Jeremiah 29 we read of God's people struggling with a situation...they were stuck. To be more precise: they were exiled into captivity and under Babylonian control. Ironically, this year's theme for the youth group is Jeremiah 29:11-13 and it's usually used like a 'Hallmark' greeting card...sounds good, so we use it, but in it's context...it's something hard to swallow.
Did you know that there are two ways to read the Bible? Traditionally it's either: literally or allegorically. However, I will refer to Francis Chan's definition: Exegesis is an attempt to discover the meaning of the text objectively, starting with the text and moving out form there. Eisegesis imports a subjective, preconceived meaning into the text.
I think we have a nasty tendency to 'import' our own 'preconceived' meaning into the scripture we read. While that's not exactly a bad thing, I do think it's a major contributor to twisted misinterpretations of what it was truly meant to say to us. Personally, I think it's best if we take a look at scripture from both perspectives-after reading a particular text or portion of scripture (if you don't know the reason for it or don't understand it, do some research-get yourself a Study Bible) and then ask yourself questions like: 'what struck me about what I just read?' or 'what does it have to do with me?' or 'what is it that God is trying to reveal to me through His Word?'
See, you and I get stuck and we tend to look for answers in all the wrong places from all the wrong people. Pride tends to get in the way of truth and sometimes we don't like what we hear. Which really leaves us with two options: pursue the truth or give up because it's too complicated, time consuming, or requires too much sacrifice.
If you were to read on in chapter 29 you'd find out that God warns the Israelites not to listen to or buy into 'false hope'. He tells them to get used to their situation because it's where they need to be (for 70 years) for all their short comings (sins). When we sin...we find ourselves in a 'stuck' situation. Until we either come clean and seek forgiveness or give up we won't find peace or happiness. And it won't be because God's denies us, but because we deny ourselves of the freedom He offers.
Again, there are two ways to read scripture, but there's two ways to 'read' a situation too...it's my fault or it's someone else. We either take responsibility or we place blame upon those who we deem are at fault for our own shortcomings.
So the question becomes: are you stuck? If so, why are you stuck? And if you know that you're stuck and the reason for your stuckness...then what are you doing about it? Read carefully Jeremiah 29:11-13 because I think there's something we can all learn here-the honest truth: we have failed to follow God with our whole heart.
My challenge to you is to continue the journey...to seek Him when it's inconvienent and hard. To do what it takes to find peace and happiness. Now, it may mean making some sacrifices, but didn't God make the ultimate sacrifice? Remember, 'for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also'.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Spirituality is home to those who don’t have life figured out, who don’t know the Bible as well as they could, and who don’t have their spiritual lives all together-the rest of us who thought there wasn’t a ‘rest of us,’ Christians who are trying to follow Jesus the best we can.

There is no room for pretending in the spiritual life.
There exists an unwritten rule in some religious circles: pretend.
Give the impression everything is okay in your life when it’s not.
Pretend you believe when you doubt; hide your imperfections; maintain the image and don’t admit you sin or struggle with temptations.

Honesty requires a huge investment of time and energy.
Pretending is the grease of all modern ‘non-relationships’.
Pretending perpetuates the illusion of relationships by connecting us on the basis of who we aren’t. Therefore, people who pretend have pretend relationships.
Being real and honest means our messiness is there for everyone to see.

None of us are who we appear to be.
We all have secrets we don’t want to share.
We all have issues we don’t want to admit.



Unfinished means incomplete, in progress, imperfect, under construction.
Spiritual describes someone who is incomplete, imperfectly living their life for God.

Until we give up and give in to the things we are not.

Jesus understood unfinishedness.
When He left the disciples they were confused, depressed, afraid, and doubtful.



According to Dictionary.com it's defined as 'the inability to distinguish right from wrong or to manage one's affairs.'

Spirituality is the humiliating recognition that I don’t know how to pray well.
Spirituality is recognition that I don’t understand God’s WORD or know how to navigate it properly.
Spirituality recognizes that I don’t know how to competently live out commitment to God.
*The messiness of our spirituality affirms our spiritual clumsiness.

Did you know that Jesus responded to desire?
He responded to those who interrupted Him, yelled at Him, touched Him, screamed obscenities at Him, barged in on Him, crashed through ceilings to get to Him.


‘Spirituality is home to those who don’t have life figured out, who don’t know the Bible as well as they could, and who don’t have their spiritual lives all together.’


There exists an unwritten rule in some religious circles: pretend.
Give the impression everything is okay in your life when it’s not.
Pretend you believe when you doubt; hide your imperfections; maintain the image and don’t admit you sin or struggle with temptations.


Pretending perpetuates the illusion of relationships by connecting us on the basis of who we aren’t. Therefore, people who pretend have pretend relationships.

Is it because ‘being real and honest means our messiness is there for everyone to see?’

When He left the disciples they were confused, depressed, afraid, and doubtful.

He responded to those who interrupted Him, yelled at Him, touched Him, screamed obscenities at Him, barged in on Him, crashed through ceilings to get to Him.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


What an interesting question: 'Is anything worth more than your soul?' I would venture to guess that there's nothing worth more than your soul, however, in today's culture we are often too busy to even consider asking such a thought-provoking question.
I've been bothered by this question because I know the answer. But in youth group when I get the 'knee-jerk' response of 'no' because it's such an easy question I am not satisfied. What's worse is that I know they're content with their answer.
Yesterday I went to the Dare2Share Youth Leader's Luncheon at Wilderness Lodge and Greg Stier (founder of D2S) asked a simple question: 'What if Jesus used Twitter?' He took it a step further by asking: 'What would Jesus 'tweet' about your church if He came to visit?' And then he shocked us all by asking: 'What would Jesus 'tweet' if He came to youth group'?
I have an idea as to what He might 'tweet' about concerning today's church: 'They're still lost and there's no reason for it'. Or maybe it's something closer to this: 'They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me' (Isaiah 29:13). Now, if He were to stop by youth group he might 'tweet': 'They are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm...how sad' (Rev. 3:16). And I like what Francis Chan wrote in Crazy Love, specifically in 'PROFILE OF THE LUKEWARM': 'Lukewarm People tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives'.
Is this you? Perhaps it's time to take your relationship further and deeper. You don't have to quote lots of scripture or know all of Jesus' miracles, you just need to be willing to go deeper and not be content with the 'ho-hum'/busy way of life.
While I could go on and on about today's culture and how too many have bought into it 'hook-line-and-sinker'...I won't. I'd rather leave you with this verse to look up and the question first asked: Matthew 16:24-26

Monday, September 28, 2009


I know it's been a while since I've actually written a post, but here's what you can look forward to. Each week-when there is Youth Group, I will be posting on Messy Spirituality, a book by Mike Yaconelli. Now, that's not to say that there won't be any blogs concerning scripture, recent events, or things I've been kicking around/thinking about. I just plan to share my notes and small group discussion questions with you-to give you something to chew on. *I suggest getting yourself a copy of the book. If you'd like a copy-ask me.

Who wants to live a godly life?

Our author, Mike Yaconelli had been trying to follow Jesus for over 45 years, but kept losing Him in the crowded busyness of his life. Here’s a quote: ‘I know Jesus is there, somewhere, but it’s difficult to make Him out in the haze of everyday life. Yet when I look at the yesterdays of my life, what I see, mostly, is a broken, irregular path littered with mistakes and failures.’ (pg. 10)

Does that sound like you?

Is the only consistency in your life your inconsistency?
Are who you want to be and who you are very different?
So what is spirituality?
What do you think of when you hear the word spirituality?
Do you think of monks, the disciples, saints, grandparents?
Generally speaking, most people who use the word spiritual describe it or attribute it to those who they think pray all day long, read their Bibles constantly, never get angry or rattled, have an ‘inside’ track to God, or have special powers.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with that kind of living, monks are able to experience, seek, and know God in ways we haven’t…but what about the rest of us?
What about those of us who are single, married, have kids, or go to school, have a job, have friends, have the scars of rejection upon their hearts, are lost, seeking understanding and acceptance?
Is there a spirituality for the rest of us who don’t have it all together and probably never will?
The idea that common, ordinary, broken, screwed-up people could be godly.
Jesus’ criticisms of the ‘perfect religious’ people and his acceptance of the imperfect non-religious people. (Luke 11:37-54)
Jesus basically said anyone can be spiritual.
The pages of the Bible are filled with messy people. Think of Old Testament and New Testament.
God chose a murder to free his people…
God chose a crazy and a drunk to build a boat…
God chose a person who was filled with lust, had an affair, killed her husband, then married her.

That’s just the Old Testament, just look at the failures those few alone had-those are ones we would all be embarrassed of. But why should we be surprised? All of God’s chosen in the Bible had moments of weakness and strength, courage and fear…but they were also murderers, adulterers. Yet, they were men and women who could be gentle, holy, defenders of the faith one minute and insecure, unbelieving, grudge-holding tyrants the next.




READ: Luke 11:37-54


‘You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness’
‘For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden.’







Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Safe and Fun?

Below is something I'd like to share with you. It has to do with what we all know too well about, but the question is, are we doing something about it? Parents, are you talking to your teens about this? Teens, are you talking to your friends about this?
It's a pretty intense video and I hope everyone is moved by this.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Since posting my review, I sought out my friends at David C Cook and checked out their website-they're the ones who gave me an advanced copy of his book to read.
And I think I have found something that may interest you-a word from the writer himself...Francis Chan. Please check out THE FORGOTTEN GOD by simply clicking on it and order your copy today!
Below is a portion straight from their website:

When is the last time someone used that word to describe you?

It doesn't make sense that Almighty God would have children characterized by fear and insecurity. He put His Spirit in us so we could be known for our power (Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:7). Sadly, most believers and churches are known for talent or intellect rather than supernatural power. What's worse is that we're okay with it.

Could it be that we've forgotten the One who distinguishes us from every religion and cult in the world?

Through scriptural support and compelling narrative, breakthrough author Francis Chan reminds us of the Holy Spirit as the Bible describes Him. He reminds us that we were not created and saved merely to survive our time on earth. Chan contends that we've ignored the Spirit and are reaping the disastrous results.

It's time for the beloved church of Jesus Christ to reverse the trend of neglect. Let's pursue the Spirit-filled life of effectiveness God desires and we desire.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


He has done it again! Not since Rob Bell's 'Velvet Elvis' or David Kinnaman's 'unChrstian' have I read a book that 'hits the nail on the head' for me. It's true that in today's church there's something wrong, but it isn't easy to identify because of our unwillingness to listen or even have the conversation.
I had the privilege of listening to Francis Chan at the National Youth Worker's Convention last year and I had a feeling he would be coming out with another book-he was so conflicted and convicted it was empowering. While I don't want to ruin the book-which is due to be released sometime next month, I do want to share some of the things he said at the Convention which should give you a pretty good idea as to what you can look forward to concerning the book.
Francis brought up a good point when he spoke to us youth leaders...he basically called out everyone in attendance really. It was when he said 'we spend too much time watering rocks' (this was after he got done reading about the parable of the sower and the seed: Matthew 13:3-23) that it hit me-he's right. It's one of the many things that frustrates those in ministry-the 'rocks' that are in our lives-friends, family members, and even those in leadership in the church who don't seem to listen....or those in a situation of power or influence who only indulge in what's beneficial for them in the here and now, rather than God's Kingdom.
Francis followed it up with something along the lines of: If Jesus was the pastor of a church...mine would be bigger, if Jesus was a youth pastor, my youth group would be bigger. Why? Because Jesus' words were too harsh.
If you read carefully in the parable it was the disciples who came to Him and sought out the meaning of the parable...everyone else left confused. I think that sometimes we get confused and choose to stay that way instead of asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We sometimes forget that God hears our grumblings and concerns for the things that only He can provide (patience in times of uncertainty and loss and guidance and strength in our times of great need).
READ: Romans 8:26-28
I don't want to ramble on too long, but when his book come out...get yourself a copy! See if you don't agree that the Holy Spirit has been neglected in today's church and in God's people. We have the power within us...it's just a matter of tapping into that never-ending flow of power and energy which enables us to do great things in His name.
My closing...a challenge: Go read the whole book of ACTS. Let me know what you think about the unstoppable church back then and the very stoppable church today (which argues over the color of paint or carpet, and even manages to keep talking about the way things were-basically talking about what God and the Holy Spirit were doing in the life of their church years ago while forgetting about what the Holy Spirit is trying to do in their midst). I'll get off my soap box, but be sure to check out Francis Chan's new book...

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Due to the nasty weather there is no youth group today. Please pass this on to others.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I have again picked up another book that I haven't read in a while. It's called UnChristian by David Kinnaman-if you haven't read it, I suggest you get yourself a copy. This isn't just for Youth Pastors or anyone else in a leadership position in the church...it's for everyone who calls themselves a Christian!
I can't seem to get over the fact that nearly 79% of our graduating high school seniors will walk away from the church during their college years. On the same token, I totally understand it...I mean look around. The culture around us has changed and our youth have begun to see through our facade.
It's not just because of our lifestyles as Christians but the way we convey the priorities of being a Christian. The common message they hear/get is that Christianity is a religion of rules and regulations. They think of us as hypocritical because they are measuring us by our own standards. Ironic huh?
Here's another nugget the book unveiled:
Christians are not defined by transparency but by adherence to rigid rules and strict standards.
So the question becomes: as a follower does your response to moral issues reflect complexcity? Are you honest with yourself about your own struggles? Do they motivate you to turn your heart-and that of others-towards God, seeking His ways to handle issues? Or are you too focused on maintaining the rules and regulations?
Now, there are those who would rather ignore the negative perception others have of us Christians-strugging it off saying 'it doesn't matter because outsiders just dont get it'. But what if God is revealing something to us in shift? I mean we can either get defensive about our image problem (that we are hypocritical), ignore it, or we could take culture's accusations of hypocrisy as God's wake up call to the overwhelming needs of others. What if He is using our culture to make us aware of our own hollow attempts and answers? Should we really ignore God's warning to us?
For example: Victoria left the church because of encounters with it's hypocritical churchgoers-they frustrated her and left her outside of the church.
Spirituality isn't measured by the number of sermons you hear, the piety of our lives, or the goodness of our actions. It's in the simple interactions and conversations we have with others in the hallways of our church, in the invitations we give (or don't give), the genuineness of concern, and how people respond to you and your child.
Victoria gave Christians a chance and found us hypocritical and judgmental. The way we react to people and to their life circumstances is also the measure of our spiritual maturity. Victoria didn't say we as Christians are hypocritical because she chose to reject kindhearted help that Christians offered her. Did she misunderstand the dozens of well-intentioned people? Was she oblivious to the men in the church who were trying to help, perhaps by taking her son fishing or to a basketball game? Nope! Instead she watched, waited, and listened for people like you and me to embrace her needs, to restore her life-and that of her son-to God's purposes. Did she make a mistake? Sure, but so did the Christians around her.
You see, the 'UnChristian' faith says it is important to remind Victoria that a single parent family is not as good as a married family. It tells us to keep giving her advice, without love or genuine interest, about how to raise her son. It leads us to believe we should know because we have it all together.
Chew on this for a challenge: Read Matthew 23:4 and think about the overwhelming perception young people have of us as Christians-as hypocrites. Does your life point people to a life in Christ that bursts with freedom to love, restoraiton, purity, and transparency? Or are you burying people-insiders and outsiders-under the weight of a self-righteous life?

Friday, June 19, 2009


Last night was another amazing night. It was an amazing last day too-we spent it out at the Lost Antler Ranch (the kids went swimming, kayaking, canoeing, bike riding, hung out and played various card games-including Apples to Apples).
I don't plan to have too long of a blog today, but I can tell you this...you need to talk to the youth about their experience-not just about the work that they did this week, but about the spiritual transformations and heart-tugging they felt this week.
Breakfast is at 7am and we plan to head out by 8am. Right now it's 6:45am and it's been a physically taxing week, but it's a week I wouldn't trade for the world! By our estimates we should be in town around 6pm-your time. Check our Facebook and twitter if things change as we're unable to update on our blogs-no internet on the bus. We can update on our mobile phones...
Pray for safe travels and we'll see you soon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Today was another beautiful day-we were blessed with sunshine and smiles! The youth had to projects today: MORNING WORK-trash clean up in downtown Estes and AFTERNOON WORK-fire mitigation at the YMCA.
This was their last day of work and we have successfully ended our work on a good note-minor scratches and sunburns. The youth have done an amazing job at all the work sites this week. They all deserve a pat on the back. So when they return please give them thanks and ask of their experiences (the physical labor and the spiritual labor).
Tonight's campfire looks to be another 'rock-your-face-off' night. Chris and I are excited about congratulating these youth on a job well done and plan to encourage them to take this beyond Estes. Stop me if you've heard this before...what happens in Estes, stays in Estes.
Considering what they've shared I pray that they will return to Lincoln on fire for God and continue to share their stories with one another...continue to grow and learn to appreciate God's blessings in their lives.
Last night, in closing campfire I gave them these parting words: life's a journey, life's a test, and may God bless you annoyingly. Basically-try not to complicate your life when God has a plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Tomorrow is going to be a relaxing day of fun at the ranch camp we worked at earlier this week. Pray that they might play hard and have fun-they deserve it!


Today was another jam-packed one: the youth worked at Lost Antler Ranch-a place where ministry happens. The owner of the ranch is also the same man who started Blockbuster and Boston Market (just to name the most popular)...and he's a Christian who uses his money for God's Kingdom. However, the recent economy has been devastating...he now charges groups to rent his facilities.
The youth pulled weeds, carried, and hauled portions of trees that had be infected with the Pine Beetle-(like last year) it takes one year before the tree start dying, it doesn't even know it's dying. After about three years the tree is gray and is 'dead' to everyone's eyes, but after a year, it's still green and unless you take a closer look you wouldn't know a beatle had buried there/infested the tree.
Now, unto the campfire:
We had more youth come to share-there wasn't any rain-so we had an un-interrupted campfire session. Chris and I talked about the 'so what' implications of life. We had them chew on the 'what if you do' and 'what if you don't' concerning God's call upon your life. We gave them scenarios such as: What if Moses, who protested God's request/call and never helped out...and what about Jesus, what would've happened had he not gone to the cross for us and decided that he needed to prepare the disciples more because they weren't ready???
We went over scenarios about our lives too (about Chris and I)-how had they made different choices in life, we wouldn't be here today. This trip to Estes Park may never have been possible and how we wouldn't have ever met as colleagues and how we wouldn't have gotten a chance to work with such a wonderful group of volunteers and young people.
It was a good night to say the least. Thank you all for the continued prayers concerning weather, safety, and transformations. Good night, I'm off to bed...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


While I realize that it's not an original title, it does seem fitting considering the last few nights of testimonies, stories, and sharing that the youth have done. As mentioned before, they are sharing out of their brokenness-they are finding out that they're not all that different and that they're all dealing with the same garbage and are more the same than different.
This gradual revelation has stirred in the hearts of many of our youth-you can see the Spirit working within them-convicting them to do more...to share. Some aren't there yet, but you know it's coming and I pray that throughout the week they might find freedom in their release-whether it be through a peer, youth leaders, or in front of everyone.
Pastor Jeff was here, he's the Pastor at Good Shepherd and he said that from what he witness-'I wouldn't have said anything like that when I was their age'. Amazing huh?
Well, it's off to breakfast and then to our main work site-we'll be there all day (until 3pm).
Keeping praying for the youth as they work, witness, and grow in this wonderful environment...

Monday, June 15, 2009


This morning the youth helped the YMCA with trash clean up. Afterward, we met in the meeting room to make our lunch and hang out for a bit. Once the bus arrived we headed to the Victim's Advocacy Center. We had helped out there before and some of the jobs were the same, but they planned ahead, knew we were coming and were prepared for our larger group. The youth did a lot of things:
stained the fence, painted the rails and trim, did some weedy-wacking, did spring cleaning inside the center-sanitized rooms, toys, threw away toys, boxed up toys for storage, organized rooms, vacuumed, cleaned windows, fixed signage, did some landscaping, and did it all within 2 1/2 hours!
In fact they ran out of stain and were only able to complete the outside of the fence...and interestingly enough, I chose 'stained' as my blog title because of it's application to us as Christians. As mentioned earlier, the youth have been given a chance at campfire to share...and many have shared out of their brokenness. Many have shared the 'stains', guilt, and sin that they've been dealing with or ignoring. This has been a very powerful and uplifting experience for many of the youth-some are uncomfortable, but in a good way...they feel convicted and conflicted about whether or not they should share. For example...some of the youth leaders said that some of the youth have said this: 'I know I should say something/I need to say something, but I can't'. (or something to that affect). The bottom line is these youth are sharing their stains (Romans 3:23) and are learning about the freedom of community and the stains of Christ's blood shed for us all (Matthew 20:28)
Again, keep these young people in your prayers as they dig deeper into His Word, His Will and His Plan for their lives...


Yesterday was a day of rest for the youth and the youth leaders. We had some hiccups concerning the campfire area we had booked for the week-last night we didn't have a campfire-we just met in our meeting room.
With that said, last night was still a good night. We read Exodus 3:1-5 and talked about holy ground. We talked about how we are on 'holy' ground all the time since God created the heavens and the earth. We also emphasized that we needed to take more than just our 'sandals' off-we need to peal away the various masks we wear-come clean to God in our brokenness.
After a brief introduction/some spiritual food to chew on...Chris and I opened it up to the youth-we had another six come up and share out of their brokenness.
Continue to pray for the youth as they experience each others pain and begin to open up to each other and God. They are taking steps here in Estes...we pray it will continue and never end!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Breakfast (7-9am)
Worship (10-11:15am) We worshiped at the chapel here at the YMCA Camp and we were regaled by the Estes Park Bell Choir.
Lunch (11:40-12:30pm)
Small Groups, Bible Studies (one in meeting room and one on the side of the mountain-youth led), basically-FREE TIME.
Keep you posted later...


We read Exodus 3:1-4 and talked about how Moses answered God's call. Last night we spoke a bit about how we're all like Moses-there are things in our lives that get our attention like the burning bush. We also talked about how there's a difference between accepting God's call and society's invitation...we become consumed by the fire of sin in our lives. When we buy into our culture's line of 'the grass is greener on the other side' we find ourselves compromising who we are. Sometimes we sacrifice character and integrity and gain very little.
Tonight, the youth had a very transforming experience. It all started with one youth who was brave enough to get up and share from his inner most self-he was spilling the beans about something he had been carrying (a huge burden that was actually many).
Let me just say this...the Spirit moved the hearts of all those gathered around the camp fire tonight. Even strangers who heard us singing came to see what we were about.
The long and short...thank you for the prayers-not only was their no rain today, we had clear skies! The stars were out for all to see and it was truly beautiful and amazing. Keep praying everyone...your prayers have been heard and will continue to be answered too!
Sunday is a day of rest. We have granted the youth and the youth leaders an opportunity to take time to get closer to God. To sleep in if they need, but really, the goal is for them to grow closer to Him and to learn more-whether that be talking to a youth leader, digging into scripture, or going for a walk with God.
Again, thanks for prayers. This has been amazing and it's only day 2!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


We just got done working at two locations for two different groups: Habitat for Humanity and Christian Church of Estes Park.

Habitat had an awesome opportunity for the youth who had an eye-opening experience as they helped lower-income families. Estes is often thought of as a vacation 'hot spot' and no one thinks of this area as a place in need of help.
Interesting tid-bit: When I spoke to Spider, the Mission Coordinator in Estes she said that while it's official city records say only 15-19% of families are registered for Federal Aide (the school lunch programs and or food stamps), it's closer to 60-63% due. Many don't register because of embarrassment and ethnicity. Estes does have something similar to our 'Back-Pack' program in Lincoln.
The place in which the youth worked at was definitely in need-they picked up garbage in area and in their yards. They saw fighting among the youth in the neighborhood (with rocks and baseball bats). While there was mostly verbal arguing happening, there was one who did get hit by a bat (some of the youth leaders went to their aide).
-Later the youth leaders and the youth had a discussion about the various differences in social and family dynamics. Parents were in their homes, playing loud music and ignoring what's happening in their own backyards...some were smoking, but did nothing.

The other group went to Christian Church of Estes Park to help with the recent vandalism they've experienced. Again, the youth were up to the task and did a wonderful job!
Some of the work included helping them repair their paintball course: cutting down trees and branches in the way, loading them up on a 16 ft. trailer, hauling it out to the dump. They also painted over portions of their forts that had been vandalized.
They also helped the church with other tasks: cleaning, vacuuming, and sanitizing rooms.
The group that finished up the work for Habitat later joined the other group at the church to help. We got done a little early (which is a testament to the youth and the youth leaders commitment to this trip).
Well, that's all I have concerning work projects today. Consider yourselves fortunate though-I actually had time to be more specific. As the week wears on, that will change.
Keep praying for these wonderful group of youth and youth leaders. They had displayed Christ in their words and deeds today.
*Also, pray for good weather. Prior to leaving it was supposed to rain everyday-all day! That didn't happen today :)


Well, we made it! That's not to say that we didn't have any 'hick-ups' today. However, in spite of it all attitudes-for the most part, are good. I think the bus ride was 'longer' for some or at least longer than they had hoped for. *It was no doubt a long day for everyone.
While, I won't go into details concerning the 'hick-ups', I will share something amazing. Shortly after camp fire many of the youth approached youth leaders for some time to chat. During that time a transformation began to take place in the hearts and minds of those on the trip. I know God has blessed this return to Estes...
If you'd like to follow along:
Exodus 3:1-3
Tagline: Go and see
Chris and I basically laid it out there-all of them (youth leaders included) were on this trip for a reason. Some have come to grow, some came to know they weren't alone, some came to make new friends and to help others, but they all came because they made a choice.
That's something we're going to dig deeper into-choices that we make. As the youth will learn, Moses had excuses, but they didn't hold water and God provided...and Moses did amazing things for God and His people.
Again, pray for the youth and the youth leaders on this trip. May this be an opportunity for growth and learning.
-Also, you can follow on Facebook (just add Jeff Vance and Chris Hansen) and Chris' blog too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Holly and I just got done packing! We're about 98% done really, I mean, there are somethings that we plan to use tomorrow and Friday before we leave...but we're pretty much packed.
I went to Facebook and wrote a little something and I thought I would share it:
I am excited for this upcoming experience with the young minds of the future...may God touch their hearts and they be changed for the better...because God cares too much to leave them as they are. JEREMIAH 18:1-6
I realized after I wrote it that I forgot something very important (I later changed in on Facebook too)...that it wasn't just the youth going on this Mission Trip that God wants to change-it's all of us. He cares too much to leave US where WE are in our lives. Some of us are content and have 'lost the fire' and motivation that we once had-in our relationship with God, our hobbies, our families, and our friends.
I think it's time that we all re-read Jeremiah 18:1-6 (heck, read the whole chapter!).
Please pray for us all going on this Mission Trip-pray that some might have that 'mountain top' experience and be changed, wanting to go deeper in their journey.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Do you like Youtube? Well I have a video I'd like to share. I won't elaborate on it or anything-just watch it! As always, comments are always appreciated.
*If you're a youth worker, paid or unpaid, or even a volunteer, then you'll understand.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Lets be honest: NO ONE IS THE SAME
There are only 3 views:
1. God’s View
2. Everyone Else’s View
3. Your View
So lets talk about some of these ‘vantage points’…
Start with God’s:
1 Samuel 16:7 says: ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’
The author of 1 Kings 8:39 says: ‘Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart.’
The prophet Samuel wrote in 1 Samuel 2:3: ‘Stop acting so proud and haughty! Don’t speak with such arrogance! For the LORD is a God who knows what you have done; he will judge your actions.’
John 2:23-25
‘Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. 24 But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. 25 No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.’
Everyone Else’s View…
There will always be labels associated with you that have been given or said about you by your peers. Such assessments are partially accurate and some opinions of us are greatly exaggerated.
Those in the ‘public eye’ and considered popular are sometimes idolized or envied and others are publicly given grief and made an ‘example’ of…and there are some who are somewhere in between. I mean even Jesus was given grief by the ‘know it alls’ of their day-those religious leaders (Pharisees). And even Jesus’ disciples, Paul, and the early founders got a lot of grief-even death threats!
Character assassination has been prevalent throughout history…
Your View:
Last, but certainly not least…is the appraisal one makes of themselves. Its no secret that we all struggle with honesty. Because honesty demands that we concede that our self-perception may be grossly inflated.
Romans 12:3 & 12:16
‘Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us’
‘Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.’
The struggle is not to be ‘high minded’ or think of ourselves as ‘wise’ when there is still much to learn. We also need to balance what is said of us and not take it to heart when it comes to things other than constructive criticism. Truth is, what other say, sometimes dictates what we do.
It is important, though, that we have a healthy view of ourselves.
Matthew 22:36-39
‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself’
The scripture implies having a good sound judgment and view of self. Now, sometimes the lines get blurred and we harbor the wrong kind of appreciation of ourselves-so much that it actually hinders our lives-sometimes even tormenting ourselves with unhappiness.
As mentioned before ‘BEHAVIOR FOLLOWS BELIEF’ and sometimes we have a nasty tendency not to believe-what God thinks about us, what our parents think about us or what we think about ourselves...instead believe too much of what others say about us. The scriptures are truth and God’s Word addresses our problems and offers hope to all who are in need-who seek knowledge and truth, support and confidence.
Jeremiah 29:11-13
"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."
Remember that He has plans for good and not for disaster…
Challenge: Give yourself an honest evaluation!
Remember ‘behavior follows belief’…you need to take some time, maybe starting tonight-ask some tough questions of yourself. Have you given yourself an honest assessment lately? Are you too hard on yourself? Do you live to impress your friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, or your parents? Are you following their plans for your life and have you lost your own identity and dreams? Are you pouring too much time and energy into things that don’t matter? Are you too materialistic or ego-driven that other things have suffered? Do you feel alone and lost?
This is life and it’s time that you challenge yourself in ways that make you smile-not cringe!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

You, Me, and Marley!

Have you seen the movie 'Marley and Me'? It's a movie that I knew would be a 'tear-jerker' and I wasn't wrong. I don't plan to ruin the movie, however, I do plan to give you a snapshot about the movie: it's about a dog and his name is Marley, but it's not just about the dog, it's about the family in which Marley is a part of-it catalogs their journey as a family.
Interestingly enough, it's the ending I'd like to share with you...and I think it transcends the owners words about dogs...I think it has a lot to do with us. Here's the quote: 'A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes, a water-logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb, givem' your heart and they'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare or pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?'
There's a portion of scripture that talks about how we are all 'LIKE GRASS' and will wither away-meaning our time here on Earth isn't very long.
So I think it's time that we chewed on the above quote...think about how God doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever, dull, smart or dumb and that if you give Him your heart, He will give you His. I mean yeah, there are those in our lives that have made us feel rare, pure, special, and even extraordinary, but even those very people have made us feel disappointment, hurt, angry, lost, and uncertain. While we cannot protect ourselves, just know that all things come to an end-even good things.
I'm just curious as to whether or not we have an appreciation for the time we have been given...are we truly doing enough-our part when it comes to truly 'loving one another' as God instructed us to do or are we still in denial and going through the motions?
So the challenge is...write a list of those who have made you feel like you're on top of the world and then cross out their name if they've ever let you down. Because friends come and go and trust can be broken, but God will give His heart to you if you're willing to give Him yours...

Friday, May 8, 2009


I apologize for the lack of consistency on my end...it's not fair to you the reader who's genuine thirst is halted because of my inability to make time for something I told myself I would commit to...which brings me to a song that I've been stuck on for the past few days. It's a song by Matthew West-someone I got to meet and chat with before he made it big, I was his bodyguard during a performance at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD-I even got a free autographed cd!
Anyway, off his new album is 'The Motions' which I think hits the nail on the head for all of us who claim to be Christians. If you click on 'The Motions' you will be taken to his website that is dedicated to explaining his motivation for the song- which also doubles as a place for anyone to 'recommit' or make a resolution not to continue down the path of 'going through the motions'. I think everyone should google search the lyrics to his song and listen carefully to his message...while it may not resonate with everyone, I know it will touch everyone who is in deed committed to their Christian walk.
I don't want to ruin the song for anyone, but I do plan to break down portions of his song and use it as a reference for this blog to get the ball rolling...
Right off the bat, he opens the song up with this: 'This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change'...the interesting thing here is that 'this might hurt' indicates that there has been time and thought given to this decision and that 'I've gotta make a change' means they've dedicated themselves to this tough decision-they have the resolve and intend to see it through.
Now, we all have this thing about pain...we don't like it. We tend to build up protective barriers to pain-to shield us from the bi-products of pain: confusion, indecision, emotional hurt, and vulnerability. The crazy part is, we convince ourselves we can prevent such things from happening...when in fact, it's not natural and it's not a part of life. You can a hint or two from scripture: Genesis 3 and The Parable of the Talents.
If we don't seek Him and thirst after Him then we're more or less bland and loose our saltiness as indicated in Matthew 5:13-16.
Too often we forget His promises to us and His plans for us...we sometimes choose to do things our own way. And in our brokenness when we pray, we don't really mean it and give it up to Him...we're merely going through the motions. And sometimes we do things because 'that's what a Christian would do' rather than because we actually adopted it as a way of life. You see, Jesus came to teach us how to think, not what to think and we have a tendency to get them confused.
The truth is, we've done it the easy way-our way has always been the path of least resistance, but I think in the tough times we're supposed to learn something, we're supposed to grow and take note of God's lesson. There's a reason why nearly 80% of teenagers leave the church after graduating high school or why over 50% of marriages end in divorce...because when it gets tough...we quit. And if you think the disciples had it easy...you might want to re-read your Bible. On the night of His betrayal His followers fled as He foretold and they were lost sheep...we sometimes get lost and if you're 'going through the motions'...it's time to make a decision. While it won't be easy you know it's the right thing to do. Remember, you've done easy and now it's time to stop going through the motions.
By the way, I made my resolution-to do a better job of digging into His Word and putting down my reflections on this blog which I believe is a tool for many besides me.

Monday, April 6, 2009


It is Holy Week this week and it's a time of reflection and careful consideration in regards to our daily lives. As I re-read of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, I began to think about a blog Marko wrote called 'The Grace Of Palm Sunday' and a sermon I heard yesterday. My hope is that you will read Marko's blog and read Matthew 12:1-17 and Matthew 27:11-31.
In Marko's blog he talks about how Jesus in spite of the fact He knew the very people who were praising Him now and giving thanks to God saying 'Praise God for the Son of David' would be the very same people who would later condemn Him and let a murder go free.
As I sat in the pew yesterday, I was blown away by a new concept-there were two crowds! In Maroko's blog he talks about one crowd appearing twice-at Jesus' entry and trial.
Since then I've been thinking about how I never thought of it in those terms before: that there were two different crowds. After some reflection I can see it now and you don't have to believe me, it's my two cents...
The crowd who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem were thirsting for God to deliver them which is why they said 'Praise God for the Son of David'-they were hoping for Jesus to throw out the corrupt religious rulers (as He did in the Temple-verse 12-17 of Chapter 21) and the Roman Empire. What I find interesting is that in the scriptures in the old testament, particularly Zechariah 9:9 it does state that He would be have a humble entry as He was riding the donkey. Jesus' ministry was about serving others and that's a major aspect of Christianity-having a 'servants heart' as Jesus did. As a matter of fact He commanded that we did in Mark 12:28-33.
Now, as I understand it the religious leaders were trying to corner Jesus and trick Him into saying something 'foolish' or blasphemous concerning the Law as they knew it. They weren't too happy with the things Jesus did that flew in the face of 'tradition'-like healing on the Sabbath and not doing things the 'proper' way according the 'Jewish custom'.
Once you take into account the various scripture passages provided perhaps you too will have a different view of Jesus' time in Jerusalem. While I'm not saying Marko has it wrong or that anyone else has it wrong...I merely think it's time to consider digging deeper and thinking outside the box when it comes to our current understanding of Jesus and His ministry. Grace is something we take for granted in today's culture and perhaps we can use both lines of thinking for growth as we enter Holy Week with a greater thirst and seek His will for our lives.
May God bless you all...

*Special Note: I apologize to those who have been waiting for a new message/blog from me for a long time. I will do my best this month to crank out more for your hearts to chew on. I thank you for your dedication and thirst for knowledge and truth as it is revealed to you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Crazy Love Revisted: Some Inconvenient Truths II

Before we get into what Francis Chan has to say concerning us 'Lukewarm People' please read some scripture: Matthew 13:1-23.
Now, the reason I had you read this was to put into perspective how we are to approach all that's been said concerning seeds and soil. How we need to look at our situation at hand and take an honest and hard look at where we're at spiritually. In his book, 'Crazy Love,' Francis Chan says multiple times: 'Do not assume you are good soil'. Wow, how true indeed. I mean, we're all distracted by the thorns of this life and it takes away from what God offers us-true life and true happiness. We have a nasty tendency to mess it up. Too often when we're broken, empty, and feel lost...it's because of our own doing. David Goetz writes, 'too much of a the good life ends up being toxic, deforming spirituality.' Good things by themselves are fine, but all of it together keeps us from being truly happy and filled.
The questions becomes...has your relationship changed the way you live? Or are you choking it out by spending too much time, energy, and money on things that don't matter? (Francis Chan)
It's just something to think about...now onto 'The Profile of the Lukewarm':

Lukewarm People say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives. Luke 9:57-62.
Lukewarm People love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn't really possible for the average person; it's only for pastors, missionaries, and radicals. Matt. 22:37-38.
Lukewarm People love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is especially focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back...their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached. Matt. 5:43-47.
Lukewarm People will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give. Luke 18:21-25.

I think that's enough for today. There's plenty more where that came from. Again, if you're interested in the book it's called: Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I was able to see him in person two years in a row at the National Youth Workers Convention. He's an amazing speaker with amazing insight.
He essentially called out over 6,200 youth workers to get serious about Jesus and to do our part in re-energizing the churches for God! So, I hope you get a lot out of this mini-blog series because there are plenty more scripture based truths out there for your to chew on...until next time: READ UP and PRAY UP!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Crazy Love Revisted: Some Inconvenient Truths

I've been re-reading books as of late and last night I was reading Francis Chan's book: Crazy Love, more specifically, the chapter which is called: 'Profile of the Lukewarm'. Of course, there's way too much information to share in one day, so I estimate that the next couple of blogs will contain 'Crazy Love' information.
So here's what you'll get: Francis Chan snippets for you to chew on. After his description he provides scripture, click on the scripture to be redirected to Biblegateway.com to read it-there will be no additions from me. Enjoy!
'Profile of the Lukewarm':
Lukewarm People attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe 'good Christians' do, so they go. Isaiah 29:13.
Lukewarm People give money to charity and to the church...as long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a 'cheerful giver,' right? Luke 21:1-4.
Lukewarm People tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) rather than what God thinks of their hearts and lives. Luke 6:26, Revelation 3:1, and Matthew 23:5-7.
Lukewarm People don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don't genuinely hate sin and aren't truly sorry for it; they're merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm People don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful life. John 10:10 and Romans 6:1-2.
Lukewarm People are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for 'extreme' Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm People call 'radical' what Jesus expected of all His followers. James 1:22, James 4:17, and Matthew 21:28-31.
Lukewarm People rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion. Matthew 10:32-33
Lukewarm People gauge their morality or 'goodness' by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren't as 'hard-core' for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. Luke 18:11-12.

In closing, I'd just like to say that our Christian journey to become more Christ-like is just that...a journey, a process of change, but we cannot and should not be so quick to give God the backseat when things get rough.
Hopefully, I'll have more for you this weekend. Until then, please meditate and pray on what Francis described...is that you? I think it's all of us because we all struggle, but if it is you, chew on God's Word in relationship to where you are currently at. There's always room to grow and if you buy the line about 'you can't teach old dogs new tricks'...then you've lost focus of what God can do.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Please read 1st Timothy 6:17-19
and Luke 9:58. Now, I prefer this translation: 'Teach those who are rich...' (NLT) because in today's culture anything that has any 'authority' behind it is often translated as 'blah, blah, blah,' but to teach requires more than just 'demands must be met' it's about walking along side that person and actually helping them to understand.
The assumption is that the scripture from Timothy is for ‘rich’ people-when in fact we are all rich and that’s it’s a matter of perspective. We are blessed by God in all that we have. Consider this: The US is only 6% of the world’s population but consumes 40% of the world’s resources. If you have a vehicle to drive: 92% of the world’s population doesn’t drive, which means you and I are a part of the 8% of the world’s population that has the luxury of personal transportation.
So the question becomes…what do we do with what God has given us? All that we have is God given. In Genesis He commanded us to be good stewards. He doesn’t condemn us for having any amount of wealth, but we should not forget all that He provides.
Each new day is a gift, the very roof over your head is a gift, the very clothes you wear is a gift...nothing you have should be considered 'mine' and done with the understanding/conviction of 'it was all me'.
Here's what Deuteronomy 8:17-19 has to say: ‘You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.'
So what other 'gods' do you worship? Well if you wake up every morning looking for your phone and the first thing you think about is who you text...then you're not thinking about God. If during the rest of your day, while at school or at work your phone is literally 'attached' to you...then you're worshiping the conversation machine-not a one-on-one experience. While I'm not knocking technology, I know for a fact it gets in the way of our continued growth as Christians.
I would be lying if I said I don't play video games...I do, but not nearly as much as I used to. In a way, I grew up and realized what was more important-doing chores around the house, doing my part instead of consuming and having someone clean up after me when it's my mess. Yeah, I did a lot of that when I was a teenager-I left a mess for my mom to clean up after...you know, when other friends call to go play some basketball.
Ahhh, friends...do they distract? Yeah, they can, but they can also help you in your journey too. What kind of friends you ask? The kind of friends that care about you as a person-who cares about you genuinely, not the kind that leave you when things get 'dicey' or hard and you actually need their time to talk about real issues you're struggling with. Yeah, you have friends like that...
SO CONSIDER THIS:There is more to this life than empty dreams, thoughts of 'what if' and 'why me'...you have a potential inside you that God said was worthy of saving and protecting. You see, you've done it the easy way, the lazy way and all that's brought you is pain and a sense of unfulfilledness.
You see, God knows your hopes and your dreams and he provides all that you need, it's just that you haven't been listening. When was the last time you prayed and honestly gave Him your heart and your commitment? In Jeremiah 29:11 we find out that God has plans for us and sometimes His plans are exactly what we wanted in the first place...we just never realized. So if you feel lost and life has you down...CONSIDER THIS: God has a plan for you...it's time to listen...because you are blessed and able to do more than you realize.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Today was a great day! While I was hanging out in Lemstone-checking out Bibles, I saw who I thought was Bryan from Vota. I kind of followed them around (Vota's lead singer and his wife) and when he had headphones on to check out the music area, I decided to ask the question...'hey, is that Bryan from Vota?' His wife had a huge smile on her face and said yes. The band is back in Lincoln for three days-a break from the tour.
So I gleefully went back to the Bible section grabbed the Bible I had been eying for like an hour and bought it with the intent of having Bryan sign it for me.
Of course, it didn't quite happen as smoothly as I thought I would, I found myself stumbling over some words-which they both smiled and brushed off, and we found ourselves in a conversation about the People's City Mission and how they played for them last year and how they plan to play again this year-of course, we all hoped it wasn't at the same location-the event center was very dusty and gritty pizza wasn't exactly appetizing.
So this is a special edition/blog. Vota made my day and I thought I'd share!

Friday, February 27, 2009


Many of us enjoy watching some TV and many have grown up watching classics and one that I remember all to well was called M*A*S*H (A 1970's hit). Now, here's a question for you-do you know what 'M.A.S.H' stands for? It's ACRONYM breakdown is: Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals. The show itself was based on a campaign of the Korean military in the early 1950's and served as an allegory for the Vietnam War.
Now, the things that all wars have in common are casualties. Some casualties are in the war zone where some lose their lives and others are scarred for life. But there are other losses suffered that both sides can relate to: families who feel abandoned, alone, and left hung out to dry always wondering and praying for answers during their uncertain times-will a loved one come home as expected or come home unexpectedly?
Truth is, we all are left wondering these same thoughts under the same circumstances...the only difference is 'perspective'. Don't be confused, because I'm still talking about a war, but it's not the kind you would normally think of in such ways. I'm talking about spiritual warfare-a struggle for identity, community, and belonging. A yearning we all have regardless of whether we're Christians or not. As mere human beings not judged on religious backgrounds or spiritual needs-we are very much social creatures and creatures of habit. The bottom line is-we all have needs.
Getting back to M*A*S*H-whenever the doctors heard 'incoming wounded' they would rush out to the landing zone-doctors and nurses included, to give each wounded person an initial assessment to give the appropriate level of medical attention: some went immediately to surgery in hopes of staving off a life-threatening wound; others, who were considered less severe were moved to a surgical staging area to wait their turn; the rest were declared dead or beyond help. This process was known as 'triage', from a French word that means to 'sort.'
Interestingly enough, we already perform such steps in our own lives. Each day we make decisions about what's important and what's not. As Christians we make decisions based on values we've already set-things that are hard or too much of a commitment are usually declared as 'beyond help' because it's too tough, things that we consider somewhat important are put on the back burner with the thought process of 'I'll get to that later' or when I have time, knowing full well we have little or no intention of fulfilling our 'self promise'-there just isn't enough time and it's just not important enough. Now, the things that are 'life-threatening': like relationships (boyfriends, girlfriends, and friends), sports, the latest and greatest cell phone, car, stereo, gaming system, or TV are important because it helps us climb the latter of popularity. It gives us the image of 'I have it all' and there's nothing I'm worried about-when in reality, we're lost-we ironically have no identity-we're too busy trying to become someone else and pleasing everyone that we have lost sight of meaning: who am I, why am I here? And when things fall apart and we find ourselves broken, we come back to the same selfish thoughts, but from a different perspective...who am I, why am I here-why am I trying so hard, why aren't things working out for me?
Now, in our search-our own personal and selfish search we have answered those very questions-we are no one yet we are so many different people around so many different friends. We think we are diversified, but really we are broken because we haven't really solidified ourselves or given ourselves any sort of security.
Our selfish journey takes us down roads that lead to brokenness because we've decided to go it alone. We've trusted the wrong types of people with our hearts, our thoughts, and our dreams. We have all lost sight of what's truly important-self in relationship to honoring God.
Sure, it's easier to throw in the towel, give up, and let the negative thoughts wrap around us and choke out the very dreams we hold so dear...to let it choke out the very thoughts of happiness we seek...let it choke out any hope for love or anything different than we've already gotten-what's the point! Right?
Instead of getting depressed and letting the devil take a foothold in your thoughts choose to pick yourself up off the floor-dust yourself off and make a choice, the right choice. Choose to live and I mean really live. Instead of trusting those who have lost your trust again, swallow your pride and reach out to those who have always been there-God, family, and true friends. Not friends that left you when it got tough and you needed them, but friends that were there even when you were wrong and perhaps friends that you even marginalized and shunned in your selfish search for greater things.
So how does this healing begin you ask? By realizing you're broken and that you've done it on your own and that you're sick of the emptiness you feel from the road everyone has taken. A great author and man of God, Henri Nouwen, said: 'the first and most important task of the healer is making the right diagnosis-a good diagnosis is the beginning.' So if you've given yourself an honest reflection and diagnosis the healing can begin. You can let go of your ball and chain. You can start to reach out to those who have your best interests at heart. While it won't be an easy process, it's the right process for you-you've already done 'easy'.
There's no time table for healing, but remember this is the season of Lent-a time of new beginnings. Lent is derived from the Middle English 'Lente' which means 'springtime'. So if there's anything you've learned from your journey, it's that there's always another day, but it doesn't have to be like it was the day before.
The choice is yours...carpediem! 'Go seize the day!'

Friday, February 20, 2009


Recently, I was able to attend an awesome concert which featured Vota (formerly known as: Casting Pearls) and the David Crowder Band. Vota has changed their name and has also changed their style-they've come a long ways from the punk band I remember from years back (when they opened for Toby Mac). One of their songs-'Honestly', struck a major cord with me. While there's no pun intended there, please go check out their song in the link provided above-click 'honestly' to watch the video.
I know I've talked about brokenness more than once, but again, I felt moved to share this with you. While we're now aware of Matthew 11:28-30 which says: 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.' Too often we forget what we're supposed to do when we are broken. In today's Church there's that unspoken rule of 'don't tell me how you're really doing, just lie'. Think about it next time you meet up with someone in the store-when they ask you 'how are you doing?' What's your knee-jerk response? Something along the lines of: good, good and yourself? or I'm fine and you? And of course, you usually get the same short confirming response that they're alright even though we're all broken.
This is an opportunity for a challenge-next time someone asks...say how it really is. See what their reaction is-do they want to get going and continuing shopping or do they want to take time to listen? Do they offer concern and ask to swap phone numbers or do they really want to sweep it under the rug?
If you listened to the song-do me a favor and look up the lyrics to it too. Read it and meditate on it and tell me what strikes you. I won't lie, there are times that I'm at fault for the very thing I just mentioned-for the sake of time and the sake of saving face, I have given the usual 'call and response' answer-but it's just not true. However, it's all about making a commitment to do better-to better oneself.
So honestly, is it any wonder why the church is so divided? Why there's a 'I'm right and your wrong' mentality? It's because we're all broken and unwilling to yield to the God of love and share our concerns in a truly Christian way that exemplifies Jesus' teachings of loving one another. You've read it in the letters Paul wrote to the people of Corinth-churches back then are no different from churches today. And what Jesus taught wasn't 'radical' or 'unpractical'...it was so simple that no one was willing to understand and see it from a perspective that wasn't clouded by the fear of loss or the fear of losing control of what shouldn't be controlled in the first place. Christianity is a movement of faith and it's foundation is on the hope that God's promises will come true.
While I won't get into any specifics concerning what God's church continues to argue about, just know that it isn't worth the time because it is merely a distraction that takes away the focus from the true issue-what is God's people doing for God's ministry and the fulfillment of His goals for His church? Is it our agenda or His agenda...what's the guiding principle? Is it based on scripture or is it based on a fear of loss?
So how can one know if their church is healthy? Well, first know that a healthy church isn't without struggle. However, what separates an unhealthy church and a healthy church is their ability to come together as a community of believers that is of the mind of 'if it's God's will, it will happen'-there's faith and prayer in their meeting (before and after) and nothing about it is radical, instead it is actually very practical. I would consider it 'Christianity 101'.
Brokenness unchecked can lead to bitterness and resentment-a thought process that ends up with too many 'knee-jerk' reactions and responses that aren't exactly God motivated. I am not downplaying our economic times or the struggles that many face-include family members who have recently lost jobs and those who face the uncertainty now...rather, I am saying that if we are faithful He will provide.
Jesus himself admitted He was torn, but in the end He said, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I think Jesus' ability to admit His brokenness and remain humble and open to God's will is what helped Him persevere in spite of His fear of death. Sometimes we know what kind of sacrifice is being asked of us and we have a tendency to turn back because it requires too much of us-more than we're willing to give, but if we remain faithful in Him then how can we fail?
In closing I'd like to offer up a reading from Romans 8:26-32.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


In my last blog I talked about 'The Rabbi's Yoke'. I thought I would take it a step further because I know we're all dealing with things in our lives that we don't speak of. Things that when no one is looking-we often forget that God does and that whatever isn't known to everyone else, it's known to us and to God.
I thought I would share an uplifting portion of scripture with you and it's from Matthew 11:25-30, right before Jesus was baptized by John and His ministry really exploded (not ending, but continuing like a ripple affect in history).
I use that word because we sometimes find ourselves ready to 'explode' into a fit of anger and frustration because of what we've ironically done and not done in regards to how we ought to live.
We cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary heartache and pain-we beat ourselves up when we fail and sometimes it's because of our overconfidence we fail. But the important thing to remember is that the disciples did too-heck, even 'the one' (who He will build His church upon-a foundation) spoke out against Jesus' predictions and made a bold claim of himself and failed because he wasn't listening to what He was told.
In closing, I'd like to challenge you to remember God's instructions and to come humbly to the God of all creation-come and knell at His feet and give away your burdens...and I mean truly give them away.
Now, that I've blabbed and shared the verses with you, I'd like to share one more thing. It's a song called 'Come All You Weary' by Thrice. Enjoy the song and be sure to leave me some comments on what you thought about the song and the verse. It was no accident.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Can you quote scripture? Me too! But so can the devil-he's the great deceiver. Confused? Don't be, I'm just about to say something you might not like.
Have you ever quoted scripture to make a point? Was it your point or God's? In whose honor were you defending-God's or your defensiveness or eagerness to defend a set of convictions you have?
Don't get me wrong, it's not bad to use scripture, but it does matter in regards to how you use it. Too often we find ourselves and others using scripture to back their own philosophies and arguments in hopes to prove themselves at the expense of totally missing the point of what God really intended.
Rob, in his book, said that when he hears people quote scripture like that he wants 'to throw up'. He's sick of people misusing and misrepresenting scripture to prove that they're right and someone else is wrong-God never intended it to be totally exclusionary or a tool for isolating others.
He gave an excellent example really-back when slavery was legal and even when it was on the downhill slide of acceptance or the norm...those who owned slaves used scripture to back their justifications or needs. Again, as mentioned in previous blogs, they were caught defending a wall of doctrines and only wanted to prove they were right.
He also went on to talk about the verse many denominations and males have misused from 1st Corinthians chapter 7-they often stop after verse three where it talks about how a woman must submit to their husband, but purposely leave out verse four which talks about how the husband should do likewise. Interesting huh? You can quote scripture for your own twisted use and leave out the true context for what it was used for.
Now, the Bible is meant to be interpreted because it's 'open-ended'. Here's a classic example and I've used it before: Jesus Heals On The Sabbath. The issue was that Jesus' definition of work was different from the definition and convictions of the religious leaders that were there to witness. He calls them out and asked a simple question-what do you think God would want us to do today...nothing (evil) or something (good)? Of course, I paraphrased there, but more or less that was the issue.
I mean who defines work and who defines rest? What if work to one person is considered rest to another or visa-versa? And what does it mean to make a day 'holy'? Interesting questions huh?
Jesus was called 'rabbi' which means teacher. And a rabbi was supposed to interpret the scripture-their role was to pray and study the Word and make decisions concerning what God was saying through the text and how to put it into action/application for everyday life.
Now, different rabbis had different sets of rules which basically outlined what was permitted and what wasn't. Now these rules were considered a rabbis 'yoke'. When you followed a rabbi, you followed him because you believed in his rules and his interpretations of God's Word.
The Rabbi and his student(s) would spend time discussing what it meant to live out a certain text and if a student made a suggestion and the rabbi thought they missed the point they would say 'you have abolished the Torah,' which basically meant in their opinion the student was way off in regards to what God really meant. If they felt the student got it right, they would say 'you have fulfilled Torah'.
So who calls you out in regards to your use of scripture? Do you study, pray, and mediate on God's Word in hopes that He might reveal to you the true nature of what it is meant to live out His commands?
When Jesus came He warned them not to misunderstand Him. So in closing I have one question for you...who's yoke are you representing day to day-yours or God's?