Monday, December 27, 2010


In an attempt to make myself feel better-in relation to posts from last year, I'm writing another blog to at least tie the amount of 'blog posts' from last year. Sad, I know...but I had to-especially considering this years goal was to post at least one blog a week. To date: I have failed!
Now, onto the blog that I wouldn't normally write...I have decided to write about my favorite NFL team: Da Saints! While I know we've had our issues this season concerning injuries, I know each team deals with that throughout a regular season. We've also had some issues with consistancy too-but again, what team doesn't deal with that throughout the season? It would seem that we've hit our stride here late in the season, with exception to the dropped game/opportunity against the Ravens last week. Like many of the loses this season we were in everyone of those games-including the loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Which brings me to the 'meat' of my blog...tonight we play the Atlanta Falcons and it could determine who wins the NFC Conference title. Of course, there's another game after tonight's match up, but I think tonight's game will really determine who reigns supreme in the NFC. This has been one of those seasons with close games and teams that aren't budging a whole lot concerning the 'Win Column' of things...but right now, these two teams sit atop of the NFC.
I obviously have a bias concerning tonight's game-I would like to see my Saints win and eventually go to the Super Bowl. I'd like to see them mop up throughout the Playoffs and show everyone that repeating isn't as hard as everyone says it is. So far we've overcome some adversity-concerning the above mentioned, but I truly believe a teams edge come from within themselves. A recent game I'd like to submit for such a thought is last weeks Giants and Eagles game. Just as you thought the Eagles were about to lose...they come away with a win inspite of a 'seemingly insurmountable lead' held by the Giants. *That quote is one from Bill Walton an NBA guy who annoys me to no end.
Anyway, I submit my blog post for a Saints Repeat! I have hope that they might do it again, but given this season, there's no clear cut winner or favorite heading into the playoffs. The playoff picture isn't a clear one, but it looks to be a good one. I look forward to the playoffs with the same hopes I had earlier this year as the Saints and the Colts played in the Super Bowl.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


While I didn't talk about an actual throw down between Santa and Jesus, I did share about how I felt that the spirit of Christmas was truly lacking and that we've become too distracted. Now, I want to turn the page...I want to turn the focus to a challenge for next year.
I've become saddened by my own lack of Christmas awareness and loss. I have found msyelf guilty of over indulging in Christmas for way too many years. I have been wanting the past churches I've worked for and Grace UMC-the church I currently work for, to get involved in the 'Advent Conspiracy'. However, I've decided to stop wishing and finally doing!
This year marked a change for Holly and I...on more levels than one, but one of the things we've recommitted ourselves to is the 'envelope system' that Dave Ramsey. Yeah, we depleted our funds for the big move from Lincoln, NE to N. Sioux City, SD, and  to cover bills while Holly searched for a job...but we've decided that next year we won't be buying lots of gifts for our friends and family members. Instead of multiple gifts for everyone on our lists...they get one and it might be a gift card from one of their favorite stores-which takes the stress out of guessing whether or not they might like something I pick. *Everyone knows I have poor taste and no fashion sense.
Anyway, it's amazing how much money you actually save in a month and throughout a year when you prioritize and only spend money in the areas that you really need-not want. Again, we live in a consumeristic culture, but that doesn't mean I have to keep buying things that don't bring me or anyone else any true happiness. Enter 'Challenge 2011' a conspiracy against consumerism and thoughts of just 'me, me, me'. Holly and I, in addition to sponoring a child through Compassion and tithing to the church, will begin saving up money and donating to Yellow Ribbon and Advent Conspiracy-which is about providing clean drinking water to areas that need it.
I would like to challenge you to do the same. Take a step back and evaluate the year gone by and think of the day to day things you do that could benefit what areas can you give up some spending?
Now, you don't have to give to Yellow Ribbon or Advent Conspiracy, but I would encourage you to trim up your finances-stop going out to eat as often or pass on that morning cup of joe at Starbucks. You'd be amazed at how much money you could be saving by passing on the little things you don't need. When you sacrifice the things you don't need in order to meet the needs of're not only investing in the future of others, but yours as well-treasure in heaven.
*Yellow Ribbon is about teen suicide awareness, education and training-something that goes overlooked all over the United States and in our local communities...Advent Conspiracy is about providing a basic need to those who don't have clean drinking water-something we take for granted everyday.
Below is a video I wanted to share with you-it was simple and profound at the same time. It made me stop and think. It eventually convicted me to make a change concerning how I prepare and treat Christmas-along with the rest of the year too. Again, the challenge is to challenge yourself. Move beyond self and see if you can't find it in your heart to sacrifice a little more for someone else this upcoming year.
Blessings to you all as you take on this challenge...a journey to search inward in order to reach outward. That is truly what it means to be a Christian.


'The responsibilities and pressures of this world clamor for our attention and tend to squeeze out our inner lives and starve our souls. When this happens, we lose sight of the things that really matter and focus on the things that are passing away. Our value systems become confused when we invest more of our thought and concern in things that are doomed to disappear than in that which will endure forever.'

-Ken Boa

'Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever'

-1 John 2:15-17

Merry Christmas! Have you gotten all your shopping done? Did you remember everyone on your list-did you check it twice? Did you purchase multiple presents for each person-or did you get them one gift each? I'm going to tell you something that won't shock you...the average family spends over $750 on Christmas gifts each year. Now, when you think about that, when you've got a family, gifts add up quickly-you've got mom, dad, siblings, friends, and maybe even co-workers.
Christmas has become a stressful time of year and the true meaning of Christmas has become lost in this consumeristic culture that we live in. Many of us are consumed with the thoughts of 'who did I forget' or 'are you sure they're going to like this'? Our thoughts aren't on Christ, but presents. Usually, those gifts aren't useful either-they're gifts that lose their meaning within months of receiving. I recall watching NCIS: Los Angeles recently in which the teams boss gives them gift-ironically, their boss regifts the gifts the team had given in previous years. Of course, Hetty, their boss, doesn't give them the gifts they gave, she gives their gifts to other members-once everyone begins opening their gifts-shocked that she gave them any gifts at all, they begin to realize that the gifts they opened were gifts each other gave to Hetty.
My point? Well, we spend time purchasing gifts we think our friends and family members want-sometimes we're fortunate to get a list of things they wanted, but sometimes we do our own thing too. In the end, many of the things on their list-including mine isn't a good investment. The one that hit me up-side the face was movies...I like movies a lot and I have been dubbed 'the mini-blockbuster' by friends and family. When I think of all the movies I have, it's sad takes up space and I don't find myself watching them over and over again-just every once in a while. I don't need them, I wanted them and I think that truth is what's been misguiding the Christmas season all together...which is why I picked 'Santa vs. Jesus' for this blog post.
Henri Nouwen wrote: 'Being busy has become a status symbol' and that 'we are inclined to become so restless and tense that we welcome anything that will distract us again'. Now, I'm inclined to agree with him-I think we've become too distracted and have missed the true meaning of Christmas. The celebration of Christ coming into the world as not a king, but as one of ordinary child with an ordinary up-bringing and a gift beyond measure...
How sad is it that we've forgotten that Christ was God among us and that he was born in a stable...I still think there's something wrong with this picture-he should've been staying at the Double Tree! Christmas has become deluted into spend, spend, spend and stress, stress, stress. Yet, how often do we find peace and find deep meaning in the company of our families? It's pretty rare when we find ourselves preparing for family to either arrive or pack-up the gifts cuz you're on your way to the in-laws! There's plenty of stress to go around during Christmas, but I don't think that's what Christmas was intended for. When you see movies with Santa, you find a unifying theme-usually it's Santa worried about Christmas. How sad is that?
Anyway, I will get off my soap box, but I promise to be back with something else the mean time check out this video:
Click Here

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


One of my biggest fears has to do with my relationship with God…my biggest fear is complacency concerning my faith journey. You see, I know many youth pastors, student ministry directors, and even pastors in churches that are going through the motion. When I’ve confronted them, I was told that it’s merely a byproduct of ‘knowing too much’-at the very least I think it’s pride.
Why am I telling you this? Because I know it’s something that many Christians struggle with. In our busy world we have obligations and for some of us God is just another obligation. We often find ourselves with little time and energy for others-whether they’re friends or family members and God is no different.
Now, you don’t have to agree with me, but over the years I’ve discovered that we all need healthy boundaries. This idea isn’t my own, in fact, Jesus himself withdrew from the everyday tasks of life to reconnect with God (Luke 5:15-16 & Mark 1:35). I feel that opportunities such as the Leadership Institute and the National Youth Workers Convention are a time to reconnect and grow in my understanding of who I am, where I am, and why.
These two events help me think outside of the box concerning the ever changing ministry landscape that is Christianity. In order to reach people outside of the church one needs to ReThink what’s been done, how it was done and why. We as God’s people can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. It isn’t healthy and we need to constantly reconnect with our creator and learn to stay connected with one another-that is true community-connectedness.
So, how are you staying connected? With family, friends, and with our God? Are you where you know you need to be or just where you can be when you can be? What do you need and what is needed of you from family, friends, and God? Do you hear God's call upon your heart to do more? If so, you need to take some time to reconnect and search out his direction-what does he require of you?
These are all tough questions and may lead you to a place you may find uncomfortable. But I truly believe that God doesn't call us to comfort, but to work! We are each called to pick up our cross for Jesus and blaze the trail-changing the way the world thinks about us as Christians. And if you don't already know what those from the outside looking in think-pick up unChristian and When Christians Get It Wrong.
There are way too many who think we're hypocritical, judgmental, and too political.
Join me on this journey inward as we honestly reconnect with relationships that bring true life. Stop going through the motion, humble yourself, and truly become open to God's direction for you and His church universal-not just your church home.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.”
-Acts 17:19-20

'There is nothing wrong with Christians sharing their faith. The problem is when Christians share their faith in ways that are arrogant, disrespectful, hurtful, insulting, and insensitive.'
-Adam Hamilton: When Christians Get It Wrong

I have read Adam Hamilton's book: When Christians Get It Wrong and I recommend it to everyone! Adam wrote the book after reading unChristian and various intense interviews with young adults-he wanted to learn more about why young adults have left the church. It's an insiteful book and think everyone should read it-regardless of denomination or faith tradition. I think this book will stretch you spiritually and touch you deeply.
Anyway, if a person were to read all of Acts 17 they would find Paul attempting to connect with the people of Athens. Paul chooses to find common with them in regards to a starting point-a reference he knows will get the attention of those among the crowd. He starts by addressing the 'unknown' God...he goes further to talk about this God they know nothing of. By the end of his sermon, there are those who walk away laughing and thinking he's got a screw loose and then there are those who are so intriqued they have to know more-in fact some even become followers.
When you look at today's church-regardless of denomination, it's no wonder why there are books like unChristian or When Christians Get It Wrong. We as a church have failed to connect and stay connected with those who were once inside and or currently outside of the church-whether its arrogancy or not, we lack connectedness with those outside the walls of our church building. It's nice to have a church website, but we have to have substance beyond our external invitation (the website)...
FACT: 80-85% of seekers (mostly young adults and young couples) go online and search for church websites that resonate with them-whether it's a nursery, Bible Study group, or young adult ministry...they are giving you a 'test drive' before they actually hop into their vehicles and go for the physical visit.
That fact further proves the idea that we live in a market based culture/society. An older generation may call technology a nuisance but it's essential to stay connected and reach out with invitation that meets the needs and curiosities of today's youth and young adults.
So why do I focus on connectedness? Because I believe it's essential to the future of the faith. Too often we find differences in regards to other denominations and those around us-by what they wear, what they think, or how they vote. I agree with Adam, I don't think Jesus could be a democrat or republican-why? Because 'you have a moral and spiritual responsibility not to slander or send out inflammatory e-mails about the opposing party or its candidates.' Everyone gets it wrong when we too closely associate our faith with a political party and lay aside Christian ethics and Christ's call to love-even our enemies. No longer do generations within congregations need to be at odds-we aren't called to judge, we're called to love, we aren't called to point fingers, we're called to love...
So knowing we're called to love and use that as our basis for common and mutual connectedness why isn't every church in the country busting at the seems? Because they're missing something...I mean what keeps people in church these days? Connectedness! Yet, too often there's a focus of 'who did me wrong' or 'you changed the worship time' and continue down the path of divisiveness.
My prayer is that we might remember that it isn't about us, it's about relationships-not just with others, but with our God. So take a step back and take a deep breath. Is there something that's been eating away at you? Don't give up and give in...relationships are hard, but if you truly love, you realize that we all fall in and out of love-it doesn't mean we don't love, it means that we aren't always as close as we should or want to be. How do we create an environment for ourselves and others to begin the healing process? Perhaps you need a personal retreat-time away from everyone and time with God. Or perhaps you need to seek forgiveness and that's hard too.
Whatever you decide may you find the peace that you seek.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father."
-Jesus of Nazareth

"Without a personal commitment to inward change, believers will be dominated, motivated, and manipulated by the cultural network of their society".
-Kenneth Boa (Conformed to His Image)

Have you ever wanted a new car? If you watch any tv, you may have come across the new 2011 Jetta commercial. It depicts a young man who sees a billboard for the new vehicle while at work in a hospital-doing his daily job of cleaning up after others and I don't mean janitorial work either. Anyway, he realizes he isn't able to get the new vehicle-he's short on cash. So the rest of the commercial shows him taking on other jobs in order to up his income and save money. At the end, he's back at the hospital and glances at the billboard and an addition is being put on the ad-the price...come to find out, he earned enough to purchase two!
Why did I mention this example or story? Because it illustrates exactly what it takes to be a Christian-it requires sacrifice! The young man in the commercial knew that in order to achieve his goal of owning this new vehicle he would need to work his tail off to earn enough money to buy it. Yet, interestingly enough, that isn't the kind of world we live in...we live in an instant gratification kind of world-where we demand results now. What he did illustrates discipline, patience, and sacrifice...and what's prevailant in today's society is anything but that. Sure, it sounds good, but it's not really lived out among everyone we run into on a day to day basis.
We live in a world that at times seem to either 'overemphasizes our role and minimizes God's role' or 'overemphasizes God's role and minimizes our role'-the two extremes leave us exhausted, confused, and irritable when it comes to living as we have been called to. Too often we are lost in can't have it both ways and there must be a balance.
So what's missing? An acknowledgement of dependence and lack of discipline. As already mentioned in the scripture above-Christ is a the 'true vine' and our ability to live Christ-like lives is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:19; 3:16; 5:18; Galatians 5:16-18; 25-26; John 6:57; 14:10). We also need to recognize that 'there is no growth in the Christian life apart from discipline and self-control' (1 Timothy 4:7). We don't become good at it overnight-it requires sacrifice and constant self-refinement. What it really requires is a choice and commitment to follow through.
You and I need to mature in our faith and that takes sacrifice and discipline. Kenneth Boa hits the nail on the head: 'without a personal commitment to inward change' we will forever be dominated by those around us who aren't as close or committed to growth, sacrifice, and discipline. The Apostle Paul calls us to train ourselves and to prepare.
The bottom line is that our thirst and hunger for wisdom, understanding and discernment comes at a price. And begs the question: are you willing to pay the price? If you truly yearn to know Him more intimately-it requires that you give up certain things...just like anything else in your life. If you want to improve a relationship-you work at it...even when you might not like it. Want better grades? Stop spending 6 hours on Facebook! Want a better relationship with him or her? Stop cheating or investing in things that really don't matter!
I leave you with this: if you wanted to play the piano, what would it require of you? If you didn't already know how to read music-that would be a good place to start, but it might also be a good idea to find someone who could teach you too-this will cost you more than just money. When our 'cravings' and goals aren't matched with a willingness to invest time, energy, and discipline to make it will never happen!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Below is a video I wanted to share with friends and family across the U.S. and the world. I hope that you enjoy it and that the message speaks to you-regardless of age.

*Don't forget to leave comments!

"Do Hard Things" Jeff Lathrop, July 25, 2010 from Art Allen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
-Jesus of Nazareth

Afterwards, it says that 'When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.' How interesting, the crowds 'were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority'...I wonder...who has authority in your life?
In my previous blog I more or less illuded to the fact that there is a major difference between knowing about Jesus' teachings academically-just in the head and knowing him in your heart. David would be a good example of this-for the prophet speaks of 'a man after God's own heart.' Now, that's not to say that David didn't have any issues concerning his faith journey-as you might recall his relationship with Bathsheba and the hardships that followed him when he strayed away from God's commands.
Now, lets get back to the above scripture...Jesus himself says there's a huge difference-those who put his words into practice is like a wise man and those who hear his words, but don't put them into practice is foolish. Which brings me to another warning Jesus gave us in Matthew 23: 'The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.' Jesus warns of those who abuse their authority-those who talk a lot about righteous living, but do little to show it or live it among God's people.
When you think about it, it's rather interesting really. What Jesus was warning us about is the same thing we struggle with today-except that the power of 'authority' has been blurred and divided up amongst the things that take priority in our lives. And when you look at today's culture, not much has changed-there's still greed among us and not just when it comes to money either, there's still drugs and alcohol, there's still death and loss, and there isn't much hope in today's world. Our focus isn't on hopefulness or hope in a better tomorrow, it's in a here and now kind of hope-I hope I can get enough done today to leave early so I can do...or I hope so and so doesn't ask me...or I hope that I have enough money to pay for my bills. Fill in the blanks-what are the things you hope for each day?
Kenneth Boa shares this about hope: 'As children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we are called to a lifestyle of growing others-centeredness and diminishing self-centeredness as Christ increases and we decrease.' And that 'while we are aware that in a sinful world such a lifestyle makes us more vulnerable to the pains of rejection, indifference, demands, misunderstanding, and betrayal, we also realize that a wise person finds more joy in serving other than pursuing posessions, power, performance, or prestige.' (Conformed to His Image)
So, do you remember what I first asked? Who has authority in your life? I asked it for a reason. I asked it so that you might begin to think about your own life-think about your day to day tasks and duties. Ask yourself this: are things crumbling around me like the foolishing builder?
Take it a little further...what aspects of your life aren't you happy with? Once you've written them down, your next task is to indentify why. Remember, this is a process and will take some time...but take time to prayerfully consider and discern God's message to you in your situation-your life right now. Is he calling you to something more or asking you to give up on something in order to focus more time and energy where it's needed?
I will leave you with this-'That which is highly esteemed by among men is detestable in the sight of God'. (Luke 16:15)

*As always, don't be shy. Leave your comments and ask any questions you might have. We'll continue next week and dig further into the 'woes'.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself." "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
-Luke 10:25-28

Why do you suppose Jesus answered his question with another question? And why would Jesus ask an expert 'how do you read it'? Do you remember what Jesus talked about after that little exchange? The expert went further to ask 'who is my neighbor' and Jesus segued into a story about the Good Samaritan. The story itself struck at the heart of the matter-you may know what is expected of you, but will you do it?
God gave us freewill-the ability to make decisions on our own...good or bad. It's one of the many characteristics/abilities God gave us when He made us in 'His' image and also led to our eventual boot from the Garden-God told Adam and Eve to NOT to do.
Anyway, over the past 75-some years there's been this great disconnect concerning our relationship to God. We currently live in a 'consumer-based' culture, which has led to the gradual deteriation of relationships, but the bottom line is that we don't know God as we should. In an age of 'information' where it's at your very finger tips-sometimes daily and literally, we may know 'stats' about God, but we really don't have a vested interest in growing deeper in our understanding of God.
Again, lets go back to the above scripture-the expert knew what was written about God, but Jesus really asked him what he thought God was trying to say. Interestingly enough, the expert had to feel 'justified' and asked Jesus 'who is my neighbor' if he didn't know who his neighbor was...but I think this story fits well with what we see in today's culure. There's a reason why books like 'unChristian' by David Kinnaman, 'The Christian Atheist' by Craig Groeschel, or 'Loving God When You Don't Love the Church' by Chris Jackson. There is a broken world because of this disconnect-this lack of understanding what a true relationship is and not just between friends or loved ones, but with God.
So how do we open the door for understanding and healing? I think it starts by recognizing that there are those of us who learn differently-some of us are a sponge and information works fine, but there are those of us who learn by watching and doing. We also need to be mindful that each of us are in a different place concerning our spiritual journey-some of us carry scars left by Christians and are broken or lost, some of us have found the path of mercy and forgiveness, but some of us who are doing pretty well in our walk aren't doing enough to help those among us who aren't in such a good place. Hence the parable of the Good Samaritan...even the priest passed by on the otherside of the road-sure he would have taken pity on the man, but he didn't.
So what's better? To know merely information about God or to have a relationship with God?
Now, remember...this is only Part I of this series. I don't know how many there will be, but I do plan to share more. I hope to share more and even upload something based on 'A Circle of Sensibility'. So stay tuned!
*Don't forget to share your thoughts and comment...

Thursday, September 16, 2010


'No man is rich enough to buy back his past.'
-Oscar Wilde

'Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.'
-Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 12:13-21)

In the above we have two thought provoking quotes-both speak truth and deal with something we constantly struggle with: greed. However, one assumes that it's all about money, when in fact, I think it's so much more than that-'life is not measured by how much you own'. It's pretty clear it's more than just money, it's about what we buy with our money, do with our money, and how money affects us.
People who generally have money, wish they had more money. Those who have more money tend to worry about losing money and the only people who think about more money than those with money are those without money to pay for the things we take for granted-like shelter, clothes, and food.
When Jesus began His illustration the goal was to talk about something beyond money-He used a 'hot button/ talking point' as we might call it today, to open our eyes to our foolishness and misplaced anxiety. There are some of us who are living paycheck to paycheck, just hoping we have enough to have a little extra until the next wave of bills. And there are also those of us who are one emergency away from bankruptcy-whether it's an accident or a diagnosis beyond our control. But there are also those among us who have the money and aren't very good stewards of it. *Now, that's not to say that everyone fits into one of those categories, but I think the average person struggles with one of the above mentioned, has struggled with one of the above mentioned or is delusional.
While there is some truth that money is important, it shouldn't be our only focus. If we were to seriously take a step back and ask ourselves how we got to this place-we would find out it was because of decisions we made. Perhaps some decisions seemed good at time and not much prayerful consideration was given to how it might affect the future...and others were just flat out poor. The bottom line, regardless, is that there is no one else to blame but ourselves. 
Now, it may seem that there's an inherently big contradiction in my posting-concerning how foolish it is to plan for a store up your treasures here on earth when you don't know when your time will come-when your time is up and to 'prayerfully consider' how a decision that will affect your future-for better or worse. Let me assure you there isn't one. 
You see, when our focus is on us, our own abilities, what we feel we've earned and is rightfully ours-we forget that it isn't ours, and we forget that life isn't fair and that this world is often cruel and unforgiving. Why are we shocked when something bad 'catches' up on us?'s because we weren't paying attention to our future-at least not in a serious way. 
When we lose sight of God's many blessings in our lives-like health, which enables you to earn money, and in turn more money that helps you purchase a vehicle to get you to and from work, and even more money to put food in your stomach, clothes on your back, shelter for rest, and gas to fuel your vehicle. If we forget that God fuels our lives, like gas fuels a vehicle...if we neglect to pay attention to the signs-blinking fuel gauge or squeaky breaks, then it serves us right to have a wake up call in our lives. God tries to get our attention, but we choose to not listen and ignore His warnings-keep 'this up' and you'll go broke, keep 'this up' you might die, keep 'this up' and you might find yourself without a fill in the blank...
You and I are richly blessed and forget that what He gives...He can also take away (Job 1:21). Don't let life 'sneak up' on you or 'catch' you off guard. Be mindful of what you have been given because you may not be here tomorrow. Work on relationships you know are suffering and remember that it first starts with you. Sometimes we're unable to see it because of our stop looking to the past, it has no future, it has come and gone...what was done can't be undone.
Take some time away. Go on a personal retreat-maybe not for a day, but at least a good chunk of the day (4-6 hours), to work through the things in your life that you know are getting in the way of true relationships. What in your past has ruined the future? Identify, those negative triggers in your life and find away back towards a path that leads you to a better life.
*The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Enjoy this video by Switchfoot:

Monday, August 30, 2010


“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

-Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 5:43-48) NLT

"Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasinly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family."

-Henri Nouwen
Jesus was 'tested' by an 'expert' in the law when asked: 'teacher was is the greatest commandment of the law?' In the end Jesus summariezed that it was love- at the core of the answer and at the core of the law should be love. Now, that's an interested concept considering we all have a tough time with love-especially when it comes those who have betrayed us. There are those who have hurt us physically, emotionally, and whole-heartedly. But Jesus tells us to pray for them and He takes it a step further...He calls us to love them. In fact we are told that if we are to be true children of God we are to love.
So why is it that we love ourselves more than we love others? What is the reason that we push away those we love and who truly love us to seek an empty love instead? I think it's found in a fundamental change concerning our society and culture. When you look at television ads they give us a false sence of the world-if we party, we are 'social' and we have friends (most beer and cigarette commercials). If we have the latest and greatest cell phone or computer, we are 'connected' and cool-we can show our friends we're keeping up with the times and demands (think Verizon and BestBuy). 
I mean seriously, did you see the last BestBuy commercial? The guy is talking about a tv and blu-ray player combo/deal going on and it has the latest technology! In fact, they make it a point to show that you can 'tweet' while on the couch. Really? I thought that if I had a phone with the twitter application I could do that already...honestly, do we need this stuff?
In Henri Nouwen's book: 'Reaching Out' he talks about how we actually don't deal with our fear of loneliness. Instead, we choose to busy ourselves by clinging to other things that change our focus away from such an anxious thought. In fact, we cling to relationships in hopes that it will make things better and that we have convinced ourselves that this will be better.
When was the last time you took some time to be alone? When was the last time you took a step back, took a deep breath, and took some time to really search yourself? It's no wonder most of us keep asking ourselves: 'is there more to this life'? Nothing is filling us up anymore! We move from one relationship to another and often ruin relationships and ourselves in the process. 
There are those of us who have in the past and still continue put ourselves out there for the enjoyment of others-debasing ourselves in hopes of finding a common ground, when we know there's a difference between those who laugh at us and those who laugh with us. 
So, what is your definition of 'neighbor'? I think we have taken a step or two back concerning our definition. In fact, I think the Old Testament definition of neighbor is our definition today. Would you like to know what it meant back then? Back then, your 'neighbor' was someone who merely held the same believes and convictions as you-it was a click. When I think back on what neighbor means to means someone outside of my usual group of friends. Someone outside my comfort-zone.
When you look at what Jesus said in the above passage, He's trying to broaden the minds of those around Him. He's trying to get everyone to think outside the box-to see that 'our neighbor' has a much broader meaning. Yes, it can be someone whom we don't know or never met, but it is also someone who we no longer associate with because of past differences.
Lets be clear though, Jesus didn't say that we won't have enemies, He merely points out the core issue-that we're still bound by love. You see, Jesus changed the game! Just as the sun rises on those who are evil and those who are too did He die for all us-the just and unjust alike.
I know you've heard a lot of things in your life, but I challenge you to remember that we're all children of God and that we're all loved and called to love. While some have gone astray (and that may have been you or may be you now), that doesn't mean we are to stop praying for them. We may not like what they do, but we are still called to love (and that can be tough and downright hard)...always remember that you are loved and that you're called to love.

Monday, August 2, 2010


'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.'
-Marianne Williamson

'For my yoke is easy and my burden is light'.
-Jesus (Matt. 11:30)

Many of us know what it's like to live in darkness-feeling separated from God. We can all relate to feeling alone, broken, afraid, and lost. We can also feel deep down within us a yearning for more in this life. Many of us have searched to fill that void with careless relationships-giving more and compromising everything to attain and eventually keep it. Whatever we choose to chase to fulfill our need at that time only reflects our need feed the 'me' in life.
Think about it...if we 'follow our heart' in every situation, we will continue to fail if we don't seek God first. Our heart isn't His heart and he wants so much more for you and I, but we have to let Him in...we have to give up our control. You and I know what lies down the road when we do things our way-it leads us into more failed relationships, half-hearted attempts, and a more 'righteous' anger towards God. The funny thing is...we're not righteous in our anger towards Him. In fact, He is the one who has a right to be angery with us.
You and I continually squander the blessings God has given us and we've become so blinded by our own pursuits and goals that we expect God to bless us. *Below is a video of Jad Dean. He talks about this very thing, but he also talks about how God spoke to him through the 'dark' time in his life...
So lets dig in deep here...we need to recognize that sin separates us from God-which means it also keeps us from thinking or seeing things clearly. We've all blamed someone else for something we did or didn't do-whether it's our brother or sister, our co-worker, or family member. The reason we did such a thing was because we had convinced ourselves we weren't to blame-that we had no part in the act.
David writes in Psalm 51:5-17 about sin and how God wants us to be broken and how He doesn't reject a broken spirit. In the last blog post I mentioned how interesting it was that we blame or give God credit for all the nasty things that happen...that during times that are good-He's often forgotten. Lets not forget God in our daily lives.
I think that onces you and I are willing to accept our situation-sometimes our own delusional thoughts we can move on and see things clearer. In 1st John 1:5-10 we find out that God is light and that nothing is hidden from Him. When we convince ourselves as Christians that God doesn't know...we're only lying to ourselves. In fact, if we say we have no blame or better yet, no sin...we are liars and the truth is not in us. How does that make you feel? *Knowing that you're a liar and that when it comes to your relationship, your situation, what you claim isn't true at all.
So what darkness are you walking in right now? What secret are you hiding from your friends, family, and co-workers? What is holding you back from accepting it, letting go of it, and being free from it? God doesn't want us to walk in darkness anymore and we don't have to.
My prayer is that you take up His invitation...for His yoke is easy and his burden is light...lay down your crown-that one you bestowed upon yourself and see just how far you can go-how much you can achieve with God's true blessing.
Enjoy the video below...I hope it changes the way you view the lie to 'follow your heart'-choose to follow God's heart.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


'No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.'
-Jesus (Matt. 6:24)

'The church doesn’t want something from you; the church wants something better for you.'
-Perry Noble

When was the last time you went to the fridge...looked inside of it and said 'there's nothing to eat'? When was the last time you went to your closet and said 'there's nothing to wear'? When was the last time you went to Best Buy and saw the coolest flat panel tv...starred at it, maybe drooled a little bit, and thought to yourself, I NEED it?

I'm continuing on with my thoughts on Perry Noble's series on the '5 Lies of the Devil'  and you can watch the message he gives by clicking on the link. Anyway, tell me if the above didn't ressonate with you on some level? I'm sure the Best Buy one clicked more for the guys than the girls, but I don't want to assume anything...

The main scripture he focus' on is from 2nd Kings 4: 1-7 (please open your Bible). It's about a widow who comes to Elisha asking for help because her husband is dead and his creditors are about to come and claim their children as payment. Interestingly enough, the title of this section in the Bible is usally titled 'Elisha helps a poor woman'...or something to that affect. Now, today we still have creditors and if we're unable to pay, they come to collect-make phone calls and write letters to seek payment. Back in Biblical times, they took your children or family as payment (check out Matt. 18:23-34). Today...if we continue our current path our children will pay for our mistakes-our debt.

Anyway, the nuts and bolts of this story is more about the 'irrational jumps' you and I make concerning our God. For example: when you become a part of a church body, you assume that the church wants your money-often forgetting that they don't want you money, they want something better for you in this life. Too often we associate the church and money in a negative way, when really it's not about the church, it's about our worship of God.


Again, it isn't about the church wanting your money it's more about whether or not you're following Jesus with your money. And the real issue is whether or not you can be trusted with what God has already provided you (Luke 16: 10-14). Let me be the first to admit that I too haven't fully followed Jesus with my money...I've usually had the philosophy that since I don't have much money anyway (life in unordained ministry-like a youth pastor), the giving of my time and energy in other areas makes up for my lack of financial commitment. I am wrong and I have begun a deep converstation with my wife about some changes we need to make.

Now the question about you?

You and I have a nasty tendency to focus on what we don't have instead of what we do have. We have overlooked God's blessings in our lives and have decided we don't have enough money, a big enough house, a new enough car, or the latest and greatest cell phone! You and I are addicted...and if we don't 'handle our desire to acquire' then we're doomed to forever be unhappy-in this life and the next.

I love you, but go to hell!
Jesus I love you, but keep your fingers off my money!

I guess at the heart of this is a fundamental question: Are you ever happy with what you have? Do you see the blessings in your life or do you only see what you don't have? Is your focus on this world or the next? Because the answer to many of our problems isn't whether or not God could give us more, but whether or not we can manage what God has already given us. Whatever the situation, whether it's financial or not, do you accept the situation you're in and know the way out? Sometimes it's not easy to do what needs to be done-it's always 'easier said than done', but what needs to be done is what's important.

Isn’t it amazing how we wonder or even blame God for ‘bad things’ that happen in our lives? Why is it that we don’t give Him enough credit, honor, and praise when things are going well? Why is it that we only turn to Him in the midst of our problems?

At the core of all this we need to ask ourselves this: Are we ever happy with what we have? Why do we feel the ‘need’ for more? And who placed that desire there? You and I need to stop conforming to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:1-3), stop serving the many masters of this world (money, fame, and pride) and follow the one that truly loves us-God.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


' might be in a valley, be coming out a valley, or about to enter a valley...'
-Perry Noble

'Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you...Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'
-Spirit of the Lord (2nd Chronicles 20)

Perry Noble did a 5 week series a while back called the 'Five Lies of the Devil'. In the first week he talks about the first lie: 'God will never put more on us than we can handle'. He points out that most well-meaning people and even pastors will use that very phrase to offer some sort of hope-I know I have, and that they got it wrong-he admits he had it wrong too.
The scripture that is often refered to and used is from 1st Corinthians 10:13 which reads: 'No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.'
Now, the question becomes...where did we go wrong in our interpretation of the verse itself. I personally think it comes from how we were brought up to think-you and I have been conditioned by today's society and culture to shrug off our need for God's help. It comes back to how we rationalize and justify things in our mind and how we try to convince others and ourselves that we're still 'in control'.
So Perry is covering 5 lies that Christians believe and the first one deals with the contextual issue of the above scripture verse. If you re-read it, the verse doesn't say that you won't have to deal with temptation-we all know we do and will, rather, it says 'tempted beyond what you can bear'. Meaning, there's a choice that has yet to be made concerning the temptation-whether it be to cheat on a test in school, call in sick to work so you can sleep in, or make change in the offering plate as it's passed.
The verse is simply saying that you will be tempted, but you have options.
Too often we use this verse or reference it to give comfort to someone who is in the midst of a crisis or to give comfort to ourselves-forgetting that the choice has already been made and the situation we find ourselves in is a direct reflection of the choice we may have made or haven't made. Confused? Don't be. Re-read the scripture again and tell me if you agree. *It's okay if you don't, you won't hurt my feelings. This is merely my thoughts and opinions-I just happen to agree with Perry on this one.
One last time, it doesn't say that we won't face problems in our lives, but it does say that we have choices and options that will either make our lives more complicated or easier-by what we decide to do and decide not to do. It can be confusing at times and I will be the first to admit I misused the above scripture to give others comfort-not knowing I too was spreading the lie around.
A bad situation, though tragic, doesn't have to remain that way or get worse. If we give up the thought that we're 'in control' and realize our dependence on God- things become clearer. Maybe not easier at first, but once we trust in Him and get out of our rut we can begin to see things in a whole new way (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)
So the challenge here is to give up and give into God (Matthew 11:30). God may put more on our plate than we can actually handle (2nd Chronicles 20), but perhaps it's because God is trying to get our attention-perhaps our relationship has suffered and we no longer rely on Him.
Perhaps He is using your situation to break you down...He may be trying to bring you to your knees or even face down in order to bring you back to where you should be. If  this is you, know that 'the battle is not yours, but God's' (2nd Chronicles 20:15).  *Remember: Phil. 4:13

Thursday, July 22, 2010


'If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.'

'If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.'
-1st Cor. 13: 1-3

Most of us have fallen in and out of love with someone or something in our lives-whether it's a relationship with the opposite sex, a job, or our personal journey with God. We have struggled with loving others and even ourselves, but there's still someone we really struggle with...GOD. One needs only to pick up the Bible to find stories of mere mortals struggling to find their purpose or reason for living-seeking direction and in the midst of their brokenness find a feeling they cannot escape...the warmth of love, grace, and forgiveness.

Since the O.T. when Moses was about to reveal God to the Isrealites we've been trying to wrap our heads around this God who claims to be the great 'I AM' (Exodus 3:13). And there have been many who have been angry with God too-we need only look at the prophet Jonah...he thought the people of Nineveh deserved God's wrath, but God gave them mercy and it made Jonah a bit grumpy.

Sometimes we just don't understand what God's trying to say to us. It's not that he doesn't answer prayer, it's just we have a tough time listening and accepting His answers. Sometimes we're asked to give up our desires to meet the needs of others-friends, family, or complete strangers and that's hard sometimes.
So how do you define love? I provided the 13th Chapter of 1st Corinthians, but we have our own words and ideas's what's commonly described as love:
-An emotion of strong affection and personal attachment.
-A virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection.
*Interesting how similar that is to what is described in the 13th Chapter.

Change isn't easy, but if we're committed to this relationship we know it will have it's ups and downs. Love isn't some obligation to someone or something. Love is merely something that is in our nature. If we force it, it's fake and loses it's flavor (Matt. 5:13-16)-we no longer become interested and we are no longer interesting. Think about it...what is it about us that attracks others? Sure, we can be funny and humorous, but when friends are in need they aren't looking for your humor...they're looking for your comfort, time, and compassion. When we are broken and lost we seek out those we trust most in our lives for direction and advice. I pray that we don't forget that God is a part of this equation too-the equation to happiness and life.

*Below is a link to a couple videos-more importantly they are songs by Jason Gray called 'More Like Falling In Love' and Jars of Clay's 'Love Song For A Savior'. I think both are fitting for this blog. Listen to the words and see if they don't speak to you from deep within.

I challenge you to ask yourself the following questions:
-What areas of my life do I not care about that I know I should care about?
-In what areas have I fallen short of God's standards and my own potential?
-In what areas have I settled for just getting by when I know I could do better if I really tried?
-In what areas have I decided that things 'will always be this way' without ever putting the kind of effort that really changes things?

We should recognize that our relationships are always in flux-changes need to be made. It's like a dance and sometimes we get out of step with God and distance ourselves...we only need to realize that we need Him and that if we seek Him in all that we do, He will make our paths straight. No one said it would be easy because it isn' requires us to be flexible (Romans 12:1-2).

CLICK HERE for Jason Gray's video

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I recently picked up a book called 'The Christian Atheist: Believing in God, but living as if He doesn't exist'. I didn't just pick this up because the title was catchy, but because it reminded me of something another book taught me-that there are more than two types of people out there. In fact, there are three types of people out there: 1. those who are saved, 2. those who are unsaved, and 3. those who are saved but unspiritual. Of course, the book I'm referring to is older and considered out of date, but this book brings it new life and meaning. Not because it's repackaged, but because it speaks truth about today's culture and society-taking a more dynamic look at this phenomenon.
While a majority of today's population (95% of the U.S.) say they believe in God I would say that it doesn't look like our country reflects that Christ-like character or behavior. Where's the grace, patience, and forgiveness (1st Cor. 13) in senseless acts violence-I don't see the 'Goldren Rule' (Matt. 7:12 or Luke 6:27-31) lived out in the pages I read in the paper or on the internet.
Back in the day, 'my word is my bond' used to mean something, but is cheap. You may talk a good game, but can you deliever? And if you don't deliver or fall short (Romans 3:23) you're ruined-just ask Tiger Woods about the judgement he recieved. I know I've used this before, but I'm going to use it again because we have a nasty tendency to 'judge others by their behavior (our preception) and judge ourselves on our good intentions'. Too often we're the ones asking for some 'slack' when the heat is turned up on us and we're too quick to throw someone under the bus or place blame-when it falls on us alone.
So where am I going with this...simple...if 95% of Americans claim to believe in God-why isn't there enough love in our communities? There are many who go hungry in our very backyard, and many who go un-noticed in our own church pews on Sundays. I really think there are too many of us out there who are truly Christian Atheists-by the words we speak and the things we do...they will know IF we are Christians.
My challenge to you is to 'DO HARD THINGS' and stop just talking about it and starting doing something about it. God has put you here for a reason and it isn't to just see things pass you by or for you to hear of needs, but to meet the needs of others and do see a need and take action!
-Questions to ponder:
Are you a Christian Atheist?
Do you know someone who is?
Do you know someone who glows with the love of Christ?
What is getting in the way of you taking that next step?
*Prayerfully consider asking Jesus to take over...for real this time-no passenger seat.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Last night was another great night for the youth and the youth leaders. During campfire Chris and I talked a little more about what it might look like to go back home and actually do hard things-making hard choices, but the right choices-even if it might be an unpopular one to make. We asked them, 'what might it look like or require of you' to go back home and do what is right?
Our scripture came from Ester 5:1, where Ester is standing in front of the thrown room entrance, dressed in all her royal guard-knowing that what she's about to do next could cost her-her life. You see, Ester was a 'no body' by today's standards-and even back then too, but God moved her away from all that and moved her into a situation in which she had great power and influence.
Nuts and Bolts:When her cousin Mordecai 'disrespected' Haman-someone who was more or less the 'right hand man' of the king, he was enraged and upset and decided to plot against the Jewish people in all of Persia. When Mordecai wouldn't bow down to Haman, he decided to form a plot against the Jewish people-using and abusing his favor with the king to make himself feel justified (thinking 'I'll  teach him a lesson). Well, Mordecai went to Esther and told her to talk to the king and save her people. She wasn't quite sure she could do it and when the time came...she stood before the entrance knowing it could cost her everything-her very life.
When Chris presented it to the youth...the spirit worked from within. Because when he was done, we had quote a few come up and talk about the 'hard things' they're scared to face when they go home and the 'hard things' they are struggling with this week-knowing they have to do something, but are afraid.
This week has been an awesome week and we have one last campfire to go-where we will bring it full circle! Pray that those who haven't shared and those who feel they should-will indeed stop denying their call and share what God has put upon their heart this week (maybe not at campfire, but in small groups, or during their quiet time with God alone). Our goal is to have them be honest with themselves, others, and their creator. I know not all of them will share at campfire, but I know they will sometime down the line...maybe not this week, but the next.
Again, continue to pray for growth in the lives of  these young people. And throw one or two up there for the bus drive and the youth leaders as we journey back to Lincoln, NE.


Today was the final work day for the youth! They completed over 600 hours of work this week and managed to impress all that they helped.Our final project was at a Christian Dude Ranch called 'Wind River Ranch'. For a summary that's already done, click and read Chris' blog post called: FINAL WORK DAY

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The youth worked at one site today and it was also the site for the 'Cow Creek Fire' Headquarters. The youth did some work cleaning up the Middle School and High School-whiped down counters, tables, desks, chairs, vacuumed, and other manual labor like washing windows.
After lunch the youth were able to get a tour of the headquarters and find out what's happening. They got to see the many classrooms that were retro-fitted to be offices for various logistical aspects of this emergency: like medical, communications, maps and imagery, lodging, food/catering, and even a place to shop for more fire-retardent clothing and whatever else they might need.
We found out that sometimes the firefighters are on the mountain for three days at a time-they go in shifts and even go daily for 10 hours, ,when it isn't a three day rotation.
Be sure to check out the article link above and find out what's been happening here to the community.


Last night was another God-filled campfire. As usual, Josh did an amazing job getting us into the mood by singing our praises to God as the sun went down and the fire began to take focus. After a heartfelt song of 'how he loves us' by David Crowder, Chris and I hit it hard! We opened with prayer, scripture, and a story about training elephants-you will have to talk to the youth about more details about their thoughts and reaction.
Did you know that elephants are used in some regions of Asia for labor? For hard labor too-like uprooting trees! They're so useful and powerful...yet at the end of the day of hard work, the owner merely secures their elephant with a rope (twine for them-if that) tied to the their right back leg...which is then tied to a wood post (or stake for them-if that). The interesting thing here is...if an animal that can do great things-like uproot huge trees with deep roots, surely it wouldn't be there in the morning...but they are. The next day, they untie their elephant for another hard days work-fascinating huh? It blew away the youth when we told them, but we weren't done...
We followed it up by talking about 'low expectations' that we have for ourselves and low expectations that society holds for us too. Specifically, concerning teens-they're only expected to get into trouble and not be trusted. A few years ago when a couple of teens wrote a book called 'Do Hard Things' (Alex and Brett Harris) they did a lot of research and found that even Google has low expectations...a few years back, the top search results were: teens and alcohol abuse, teens and drugs, teens and smoking, teens and drinking...just to name a few.
We also mentioned that 'expectations are a self-fulfilling prophecy-whether you think you can or think you're right!' (paraphrased from the book) and that we live in a culture that wants to tell us how to act, how to think, how to look, and how to talk.
Now, I bet you're curious how an elephant stays put-tethered only by something we would consider a stick and some twine. Well, when the elephant is very young the owner trains them-they chain them (their back right leg) to a huge tree (more or less) and when they try to escape, they can't...and the more they try, the chain begins to hurt their foot...after a while, they give up and stop trying. When they're older, they no longer struggle because they have put it out of their mind to try and can be kept by simply tying them with some simple rope to a stake in the ground.
I many of us can relate to this story/analogy? I know it was a powerful one for me and I hope that you will also consider what's holding you back in your relationships-more specifically with God. Are you and I unable to do things because we've been conditioned into a certain way of thinking or have we really maxed our growth? I guess it could come back to the issues of control and sacrifice we all struggle with-change isn't easy because it's uncomfortable and leaves us vulnerable.
Continue to pray for the youth and their 'mountain' experience here at Estes Park.

CLICK HERE to watch the David Crowder Video called 'How He Loves Us'.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


This is my 100th blog post and I'm excited to share something outside of the Mission Trip. Today is our day of rest-our Sabbeth, time with God. I've been reading two books lately: 'The Christian Atheist' by Craig Groeschel and 'Relationships Unfiltered' by Andrew Root. I have been using some of their insight and sharing it with the youth at campfire-I think God ordained this really...why else would it work so well with our goal, theme, and message for the youth? So this won't be a total step away from the Mission Trip itself-rather a 'behind the scene' type of blog post.
Anyway, for our purposes I'm going to share a story and then give the bullet points about influence. Enjoy!
The story begins with a young lady starting her first month of her sophomore year-she's reflecting on how things are so much better...her grades are up and she likes her roommates. Last year was a mess, but no one would've known by the facade she played. Since 8th grade she knew things were different at home-her mom and dad's relationship went from a playful and flirty kind of love to a coldness that was evident to everyone.
While she was worried, she kept herself busy so that she wouldn't focus on the worry and stress-the low boil the existed among them...but a few weeks into her freshman year she got a phone call from her mother-they were getting a divorce.
She found out that her mom and dad were having an affair for over 4 years with people...and the more she found out, the more her world came crashing down around her. There was a coping mechanism she found though-parties and lots of them. However, when her grades started to slip she decided this wasn't working-she needed to make a change. She began studying again, got her grades up and started hanging out with peers and friends that were 'outwardly committed' to their faith. They became her roommates...however, not all is well in her world...
As she walked into her apartment, she realized all of her roommates were waiting for her...they told her 'we need to talk' and that 'we've been talking and don't think you should room with us anymore'. After the bomb was dropped she asked why...the proceeded to tell her 'because you're a bad influence on us. You used to party a lot not too long ago and you're not helping us grow closer to Jesus. We all have been trying to grow in our relationship-our faith and you're just bringing us down. We thought that by rooming with you we could be a good witness and Christian influence upon you, but you're jeopardizing our faith'.
What sad about this story is that it happens a lot in college...while there are good intentions, people get hurt, but it isn't because they may have tried and gave up, but because of their goal-to influence someone as a means to an end, in this case...having her become a better Christian.
-There's a big difference between relational ministry and plain ol' influence.
Below are some of the reasons why influence isn't the same as relational:
1. it would use the relationship as a means to an end (check out the video below from 'The Big Kahuna').
2. the person isn't important; only that person's decision (or will) is.
3. the incarnation of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with influence.
4. the fellowship of the Trinity is not about influence.

*Perhaps later I will explain more about each point, but maybe I won't have to. Given the story/situation above were the roommates effective in their goal of helping their 'imperfect'-so-so Christian roommate that had made some bad decisions? Nope. Instead, they crippled her-shot her down just as she was gaining momentum, on the outside things looked like it was on the up and up, instead, there were assumptions made and when she failed to pick up on their cues (influence)-they cut her off out of fear they may slip far beyond recovery in their own faith journey. They weren't concerned with her well-being, they were more concerned about theirs. Is that Christ-like?
Thhis is already a longer post than I had intended, but I think it's a good one! Enjoy the video down below. *I apologize for the brieft strong language, but there's something of substance I'd like everyone to marinade on. Ask yourself...are you merely a marketing rep trying to steer a conversation or relationship? Or are you someone who has a real interest in what the other person has to offer-to you and others (on a deeper level than just getting them involved in something)?


All I can say is wow...what an amazing response to God's word and message. Tonight's scripture was Proverbs 3:5-6 and Romans 12:1-2. The message itself was about being too 'busy' and the risk of missing out-when your goal isn't to miss out on anything (hence being overly busy). Personally, I think we're all a little too busy and Rob Bell thinks that many are addicted to the drug called 'busy'. *Shells-20 Nooma
Throughout the week-in our small groups and at campfires Chris and I have tied our overall theme (Micah 6:8) to encompass some important aspects of the scripture...Day 1: Act Justly, Day 2: Love Mercy, and Day 3: Walk Humbly with your God. So far we have asked them to dig deep-to think about what each of those things might look like in their everyday lives.
For tonight, we interwove an analogy of a dashboard-specifically three things that light up, that all alone say one thing, but if put together mean something even more. We recognized that the fuel in our lives (the fuel gauge) isn't always God's fuel, we recognized that living in the 'red zone' or at full throttle (rpms/tacometer) isn't always good, and asked about whether or not the engine was running too hot or too cold (temp).
The reaction from the youth was amazing-with stories ranging from personal faith struggles (where I am isn't where I want to be...and I feel lost), an outside source (someone has done me wrong), and I have a secret that's been eating away at me. *I guess all of those are considered personal struggles...
Anyway, continue to pray for these young people. Not only have they done great work, but they've also begun working on their personal lives and relationships (family, friends, and God). Last year I mentioned a term I've grown to enjoy...'they shared out of their brokenness'. The reason why I've enjoyed it is because it's such a vulnerable yet authentic-spirit-filled moment which touches all who hear. I would be lying if I said I wasn't moved by some of the 'confessions'...I just wanted to run up to them and hold them as they cried and struggled to find the words-I wanted to take away their pain.
Well, tomorrow there won't be any work sites, only 'God time'. During the usual time of work (usually 9-3pm) the youth will be enjoying a day of rest. During that time they're not to do anything 'fun' with their friend-unless it involves an intense conversation about scripture they've just read. We have encouraged them to take some time alone and to even seek out a youth leader or peer who could help them wrestle or just talk about the theme for this week (and the scripture we've used thus far).
So again, keep praying for the youth...many have come a long way-not just in physical distance (from Lincoln to Estes Park), but spriritually...many feel far from God and seek His face in a serious way. Pray for rest and peace as they enter into a day of 'Sabbeth'.
Thanks for reading and praying!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Today's worksite wasn't one that we're used to...we helped out at the fairgrounds. There were some grumbles amongs the youth and even the youth leaders concerning the 'nature' of the work-after some discussion we all agreed (youth leaders) that this wasn't really something that fit into our missional goals.
Regardless, the youth continued on with little complaints-they recognized the oddity, if that's even a word and finished the work. Again, there weren't enough tools to do the job or even complete it. We also didn't have enough projects for the youth-they did some painting, cleaned out horse stalls-there were a lot, and cleaned the grandstands for their grand re-opening (on Wednesday).
All in all, the work got done and they're back at the YMCA enjoying their free time. We changed things up though-after their done with free time we will all have supper, small groups, evening activity-ultimate frisbee, and then camp fire. There's a lot left to the day huh?
Continue to pray for the fire fighters, the youth, and the youth leaders. We pray that tonight's campfire will continue to move the youth in the direction God has ordained for their lives.
*If the internet is still working...more to come.


The spirit was present tonight as it moved the hearts of those yearning for more. A good portion of them came forth tonight to either re-affirm a committment they know they've lost or let go of and to learn more about this awesome God in their lives. I won't name names, but there were youth present from each church.
The long and short-it was all a 'God thing'. Chris and I threw out the script! The spirit led us in a different direction-yet kept us on course concerning our core message. There were tears tonight and I pray that they will continue to be pliable (not sure on spelling) to God's calling in their lives. Be sure to check out Facebook for some updates and pictures throughout the day...there isn't much time for Chris and I to get online and blab on and on...but know we give it the 'ol college try.
Thank you all for your feed back...I will be sure to send the messages onto them. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as the week goes on for I know there is more in store for us here in Estes-this is only day 2. I'm looking forward to what God has planned for day three.
-Oh and on a special note: we ended up having our campfire in our meeting room/'s a different feel, but a good one, intimate and close. *We had no choice really-the rain came down and it was coming down good!
Well, I'm signing off, I'm off to bed!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


We are back at the Y-Camp and we've finished up small groups...small groups are done after we get back from our work sites-we got back a little early. The youth worked at the Victim's Advocacy Center and nailed out a page worth of 'work projects'/jobs. Everyone pitched in-in fact, Tony, our bus driver helped out too.

Here are some of the work projects the youth did:
-sanded hand rails (used wood putty to fill in any major chunks that would cause slivers)
-stained hand rails
-stained the walkway of handicap ramp
-stained the fence surrounding the center
-pulled weeds
-hauled mulch and dirt
-window washed
-smoothed out unevened rock in the drive way

All in all, the youth did a lot of our estimate they worked 140 hours-which is huge when you consider the Advocacy Center only has two full time employees and three very part time employees. We talked about it in small groups-imagine one person staining the whole handicap ramp or the the surrounding long would that have taken one person? The youth are proud of what they've already accomplished-even if they didn't get to meet the people who are currently staying there.

Well, don't be a stranger parents, friends, and family members...leave comments so that we all know that you've been keeping tabs on your youth.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


After a long drive we finally arrived at the YMCA Camp...many of us tired, but eager-anticipating a great week that only God knows will unfold. Parents prayed for rain and we got some...the sad news though-the fire has spread. At tonight's camp fire we closed with a special prayer for the fire fighters-giving thanks for their work, but also praying for their safety, that they might return home to their families.
Speaking of camp fire...I just got back from a great conversation with one of our youth. It would seem we're off to a grreat start as there are already hearts eager to make a change. Knowing there's a willingness on the part of the youth brings a smile to my face-because it means they're not just going through the motions.
Now, please realize and note that not every blog I write during out time in Estes will be this long, but I will do my best to give you the meat of what was talked about/mentioned at camp fire and some of the overall impressions I was given. I also promise to add something about the work that was done too-be sure to follow twitter and facebook (when there's cell service, I try to write/leave messages-some w/ pictures even).
Tonight, we (Chris and I) spoke about Micah 6:8 and how God has already told us and shown us what is needed-what we're to do. We both suggested that sometimes doing what is right isn't what is always easiest for us to actually do-like sticking up for someone, it sometimes means we need to do something unpopular and uncomfortable.
During the week, we will be taking it a step further...our hope is that they learn that there are no limits on what we can do or accomplish-only limits that we put upon/give ourselves. We encouraged them to pray more and be open to God's calling in their dig deep and search for that passion that is deep within-they all feel that they should be doing something and that there is more to this teenage life. Let us all pray they find their way this week...or at least take the first step in believing God can provide that which we cannot already see (Phil. 4:13 and Hebrews Hebrews 11:1).

Friday, June 25, 2010


Greetings! This is my pre-mission trip blog/note. Something has come to our attention worth sharing. Please go check out Chris' blog-he's already completed his note, so I'm sharing.

CLICK HERE for his blog article

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers during this wonderful time of exploration and discernment for these young people.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


'Jesus said pick up your cross...not your matress'.
-Perry Noble

'...can I not do with you as this potter does?'
-God (Jeremiah 18:1-10)

Control. Perhaps the one thing we struggle the most for and with. When things don't go our way, we usually voice our opinion or make it known that we're unhappy with this new arrangement. Ironically enough, when we're not in control of our lives or a situation, we tend to lose control of our basic functions-we sometimes end up saying or doing some things that we later regret. Maybe not all the time, but just so I'm clear...there are times when something happens and we're no longer in control-there's nothing we can say or do to change it-a great example of that would be a car accident, it wasn't planned, but what was planned-your destination or goal has now been changed.
In such situations we have a tendancy to get frustrated and angry-which alters our sense of 'control' and in turn lets loose a whole mess of things...again, some times we say and do things we don't really mean. Oh sure, we mean them right there and then, but if you ever want to make the worst speech of your life-say something out of anger or frustration.
So lets take a step back...unpack that thought. When was the last time something happened to you that altered your plans for the day, week, or month? What was the situation? Were you driving in your vehicle, was it a car accident? Or was it a phone call-some bad news about a loved one? Can you look back on it and say that you handled it well? If so, good for you, if have some work to do. Honestly though, I can say I too have some work to do.
I would venture that we all have some work to do in the department of control-or the lack there of. We all struggle with the internal and external pulls of our daily lives. We sometimes give in, but we also resist. We find strength and manage to see things through-even when it's hard and we don't like it. Change is something many of us don't like too much because it means giving up aspect of your life that you enjoy being in control of.
In Luke 9:22-26 we are told to 'pick up our cross daily' and it's hard to accept the fact that we have to 'toe-the-line' sometimes. Sometimes we have to do things in order to move on or get along, but whatever the case or situation, it's an opportunity for growth. Again, I'm sure at the time you're unable to see it, I know I don't, but in the end, it's a time where you either picked up your cross or left it there.
I don't want to lose you, but I think it's important to note that we're all a work in progress. We haven't stopped growing or learning from each other or God and we need to have confidence in ourselves and our God to finish what was started...even if it means doing hard things.
Lets finish with a passage from the Apostle Paul: Philippians 1:6
I think you'll find it has something to say about what the Prophet Jeremiah learned from the potter in our old testament scripture and what God continues to do throughout the new testament and today.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I thought this would be a great spot to put this.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


“To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation.”
-Chinese Proverb

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires...don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says...If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless."
-James 1:19-27

You know, I think that we have a tough time listening these days. Too often while someone is talking we're formulating a rebuttal or something of substance to say...and even then, we have a nasty tendency to interject-interrupting the person who is talking. I know I've done it and I catch myself doing it too. The sad thing is, I know it isn't just me and that it's something we all have been struggling with and against-the ever changing culture.
We live in a do as I say, not as I do type of world. And in a previous blog article I mentioned how we're good at judging others on their behavior and ourselves by those good intentions deep within. The winds have changed! When I was growing up...children or youth didn't speak unless they were spoken to or asked their opinion...but's hard to get a teenager or pre-teen to keep their thoughts and opinions to themselves.
It's not that they don't have a 'shut-up' filter, it's just that they don't know how to use it.
In today's culture, the reason we're so geared or wired to firing back a line or two-whether it's of substance or not, isn't because we forgot how to listen, but because of what we've been taught or have learned-whether intentionally or unintentionally from family, friends, or the media (tv or movies). It's perception vs. reality really...I mean somehow it has become-if you're unable to speak your mind, you don't have a mind or anything to contribute.
Now I realize that I'm generalizing here...I mean, we all know that we're not trying to think of consoling words for our friends and family members who are spilling their guts about cheating, self-esteem issues, break-ups with so and so, or the loss of someone close. I mean come on...we listen 100% of the time! We've all heard this before: 'God gave you one mouth and two ears'...and I wonder which we should use less of.
There are two types of listening really: Active and Passive Listening. Passive Listening is listening without reacting:  Allowing someone to speak, without interrupting and not doing anything else at the same time. Active listening is reacting or doing something that demonstrates you are listening and have understood.

Giving non-verbal cues to demonstrate you are paying attention (nodding, making eye contact, making facial expressions appropriate to what is being said) or eflecting back the main points and summarising what has been said. Now, here's the kicker: Non-verbal cues happen naturally, providing you really are listening. If you concentrate on making the non-verbal cues, then you probably aren't listening.
The fundamental question we have to ask here is this: are we really listening?
Of course we have to take it a step further...not just when it comes to our friends and family members, but to God's will for our lives. I believe God speaks to us through those around us-including our friends and family members. Part of discerning God's will is listening to what others have to say concerning their observations of God's work in your life...can you see His hand in your life? Or have you done it all on your own? Remember, 'if you claim to be righteous and don't tame your own tongue you're only fooling yourself and your religion is worthless.'
The challenge is to re-read the above quote and marinade on the scripture passage. Start to think and reflect on how well you listen to others and to God. How is your marriage? How is your relationship with God? If it's suffering and there's too much 'reaction' taking's time to take a step back and hold that tongue.
How can you better your current situation? Are you praying?
I pray that you might stop fooling I know I have fooled myself too many times. Pray for me as well.