Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Fire?

Jeremiah was at least a little peaved with God when he said in essence... 'You tricked me! You told me to say what You want me to say, I obeyed, and now I'm laughed at by everyone. Everyone is against me because I'm telling them what you tell me to tell them. Can't you tell me to tell them something nice for a change?' I know that's a very loose paraphrase of the situation, but read a few verses from Jeremiah 20 (try verse 7 or so). Before he curses the day he was born (verse 14), he praises God for rescuing the needy (verse 13), calls for God to take vengeance on his persecutors (verse 12), and makes this interesting statement in verse 9 "But if I say, 'I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."

No matter how tough it got for Jeremiah, he absolutely could not/would not waver from commitment of himself to God's message. He cried and complained to God, but never took the easy out of disobedience. He had a dangerous assignment - to live a life that warned of God's impending judgment. I wonder if he ever just prayed for safety like we do? Safe travel, safe games, safe sleep...

I think it was in An Unstoppable Force, Erwin McManus tells a story about his son asking him to pray that God would keep him safe. Instead, he prayed that God would make him dangerous. I wonder if that's what Jeremiah prayed? 'If you're going to send me out into the wolves, give me sharper teeth. If you're going to hang me out like a piece of meat, make me poison to the enemies who want to chew me up.'

As a pastor to students, I am a part of God shaping the future of our world. Should my primary focus be to show the students how to be safe? Is it even possible to be safe and be committed? Instead, I pray that God would make them dangerous. That the students I know would be made courageous by the working of God in their lives. I pray that the enemy would fear them as they go and make disciples.

Steve at BreatheFire has a cool video of his daughter and some thoughts/discussion about this as well. Check out the How to Raise Fearless Warriors post and make sure to read the comments.
I may post more on this later because a comment that Dakota made in church Sunday (you'll have to wait) really got me thinking about this. (Plus, I finally got to watch Batman Begins and it raises this whole what do we do with fear thing... which has a lot to do with seeking safety vs. being dangerous.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I got this in an e-mail from Gary Zustiak of CIY. Not sure of the original author, but maybe you'll agree with his perspective...

For My Conservative Friends:
Here's wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


For My Liberal Friends:
"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

Hey Kid, Want Some...Lead?

Check out this headline...

FDA moves to decrease lead in candy

Isn't that great of them to do?

Kind of makes you think twice about all those Christmas goodies, huh...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Updatus Rodentus

Despite 3 traps in my office - the church mouse remains at large. Not sure if he's still around or took off.

On the home front, however, we caught the one we knew we had. Then found another one dead on the stairs. Thought I heard some scratching last night, but that might have just been the woodpecker that decided to make a home in our wall...
It's not funny anymore Woody!!!

Monday, December 19, 2005


Tony, at Don't Call Me Veronica, got me thinking this morning. He asked about one word to focus attention on Christmas.

One of my favorite Christmas words is ‘Emptied’. I know it doesn’t look as good on a card or up in lights as ‘Joy’ or ‘Peace’, but it’s still one of my favorites. Here’s why: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

Those are Paul’s words in Philippians 2:5-7. A description of the selfless attitude that brought us the child we celebrate at Christmas. But more than a description of Jesus’ attitude, it is a prescription for our own.

What if we fully possessed that attitude in our lives? What if we were willing to lay aside all privileges we may have claim to in order to serve someone else? What if we completely emptied our lives of our selves and our ambitions and humbly obeyed in the work of God?

When Jesus emptied Himself to become a baby boy, He paved the road toward a tomb that He would also empty. I wonder what lies ahead for us as we empty our lives in order to follow Him…

Friday, December 16, 2005

Last Minute Shoppers...

If you're still wondering what you should get me for Christmas... this is NOT on my list.

but hey, you do get free shipping, so maybe it's not that bad of a deal!

No, despite the fact that you can name a set of 'couples stars' or even 'family stars', this idea is just a couple nuts short of a stuffed stocking.

But I guess it's not much worse than one of these...

<-special thanks to the old Holy Observer for these greats->

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Where's one of these when you need them??

I have a mouse in my house! And another in my office! The office mouse has been elusive - finally being spotted just today.

The house mouse on the other hand has been brazenly traipsing about in our house. He ran right across my mother-in-law's feet (bare - which I'm told she thoroughly enjoyed!). He licked peanut butter off a trap without setting it off, got himself unstuck from 2 different glue traps, got the cheese off a trap which did snap but somehow missed... very irritating!

Maybe D-con will do the trick.

Shh... don't tell Reepicheep... or PETA

Monday, December 12, 2005

Don't Be Stupid

"Reality TV is a great place to learn how stupid humanity really is..." I heard this comment on a podcast of last week's sermon by Eric Bryant, one of the lead-team at Mosaic in Los Angeles. I kind of lost the next few minutes of his message because my mind started to wander. Here is where it wandered...

Sometimes, the church exhibits that same propensity...

...a nationally known religious leader suggesting assassination as good foreign policy
..."church leaders" blaming New Orleans residents for Katrina
...emergent vs anti-emergent voices throwing around misused verses of Scripture in order to fight with each other on their respective blogs (don't bother listening to each other, just muster up as much venom as you can and spit in their general direction)
...the crazy ways we try to dress up the fact that our sin disgusts/angers/saddens God and the only way to get rid of it is His Son taking the punishment that we deserve
...the seventeen million various Jesus-gadgets that we can wear, eat, stick, carry, or play with to tell people we love Jesus without actually telling them that we love Jesus
...the explosion of bloggers like me putting thoughts into print, which others will read but hear whatever they want to (or whatever gives them the most fodder for their war) anyway

Yes, humanity, for all its advances, can be pretty stupid. The amazing thing, though, is that this stupidly-acting church is Jesus' idea. We're His humanity... His body. As screwed up as we might be, He calls us His own. And He calls us to get better. We're not there yet... as evidenced by so many imperfections. But as Paul before us, we keep pressing on toward the heavenly prize He has called us to.

Monday, December 05, 2005


This last week, I've encountered some very bitter people. I don't want to misrepresent their position, but it seems that they are angry at the church for what they see as apostasy. There are things being done 'in the name of Christ' that they do not feel should be done at all and which are leading the church astray. (Talking generally about the American church, not a particular congregation.) They see some of the leading voices in the church (Rick Warren, Rob Bell, Bill Hybels, as well as anything 'emergent', or Purpose Driven) as nothing less than false prophets who are taking the masses straight into the pit of hell with them.

Now, don't get me wrong here. If you see someone leading someone else to hell... do something about it! But I have a hard time understanding how that label fits with those men (or their churches/movements/conversations...

In Velvet Elvis, Bell has a great section at the end of this challenging and thought-provoking book that speaks to this situation.

"I am like you. I have seen plenty done in the name of God that I'm sure God doesn't want anything to do with. I have lots of reasons for bailing on the whole thing.

I am also like you because I have a choice. To become bitter, cynical, jaded, and hard. Anybody can do that. A lot have. Hatred is a powerful, unifying force. And there is a lot to be repulsed by.

Or, like you, I can choose to reclaim my innocence. We can choose to reclaim our
innocence together. We can insist that hope is real and that a group of people who love God and others really can change the world. We can reclaim our idealism and our belief and our confidence in the big ideas that stir us deep in our bones. We can commit all the more to being the kinds of people who are learning how to do what Jesus teaches us.”

I'm not sure I line up with everything emergent. But at least I can ask questions there without being branded a heretic. One thing that really stands out to me about the emerging church is that people are encouraged to use their minds and creativity in service to the One who made them with minds and creativity. Is there potential to misuse that freedom? Yes (just ask Adam and Eve). But there is also the capacity to become a church that even all of hell cannot stop.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I think I've just been banned...

Over the past couple days, I've been interacting with some people at a blog that seems to be all about bashing anything purpose-driven, emergent, or other-than-reformed. I like to engage in these kinds of conversations sometimes because is forces me to think critically about what I believe and why and how that affects the way I live.

There's a list of rules for posting that I have tried to follow, thought I had done so... but the last several comments I've posted have not been shown. It's their website, and they can do what they want with it, but I can't help feeling like my comments aren't posted because I don't agree and they don't want to hear about it.

I'm not totally sold on everything Purpose Driven. And I don't think everything labeled Emergent is a direct gift from God to His languishing church. (PD and emergent are two different things, by the way.) But I don't think it's right to label these lines of thinking as evil plots of Satan and write them off as heresy.

Let's listen. Try to understand the heart of the people on 'the other side' (whatever side you may be on).

Here's a decent description of the emergent church from Tony Myles.
Here's a decent (and hopeful if cautious) critique of emergent from D.A. Carson.
Take a look at them and see what you think.
And on a completely unrelated note::: check out these Christmas lights!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed little man...


"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." -C.S. Lewis

I saw this quote this morning and just thought it was a great thing to keep in mind. All the Christmas stuff that's coming up tends to get people all excited about what they're going to get. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas - and I really like getting stuff. But too many people put their hope in the stuff of this world, not realizing they're not made for this world. Be sure to put your hope in the One who made you for His World.

Monday, November 21, 2005


My daughter's been irritated lately. She's only 6, but she's caught a whiff of something in the world that offends her senses. As we drive through the freshly decorated downtown area... as she does her kindergarten craft projects at school... as we wander the overstocked mazes that have been constructed just for our "shopping pleasure"... She's irritated.

And I like it.

"But it's not even December yet... Halloween was just last week..."

She's irritated that the world she sees is taking little notice (or at least not enough notice) to Thanksgiving. She wonders why. Why do we jump from the "candy holiday" to the "presents holiday"?

It really, genuinely bothers her that so many people have passed through the last weeks with no big Thanksgiving build-up. People are neglecting the celebration of her God's provision for them and she doesn't like it. The hand-print turkey placemat is just not enough. She wants to see more gratitude to God for the stuff of life.

I'm so thankful to have a reminder like her to be thankful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Young Travelers

I am a youth pastor. It's not just what I do - it's who I am, or more accurately, it's who Christ is in me. I love students. The 'breath of fresh air', the passion, the youthful desire to see things better than they are, the potential to make them better... there is just so much ahead of them to look forward to.

But sometimes, there is so much stacked against them, that they give up. Their optimism is jaded and shaded and altogether quenched. Many students seem to hold a hostility toward anyone outside their tribe. But often, if we look past the hostile veneer, we will find hurt and broken souls in need of the love of someone who can help them to the Healer.

Not the mock-concern that "puts up with them" until they "grow out of it", but real love that will work to see behind the hollow glares. Many students just need someone to give them a chance.

For some reason, I keep thinking of Jesus as a 12 year old. His family leaving Jerusalem. Left behind, unnoticed for quite some time. Only after several days of searching, did his parents find him. (Check out the end of Luke 2 for the whole story.) I'm afraid that spiritually speaking, many students today are being left by the church to fend for themselves, with no one taking notice of their spiritual abscence. But they can't defend themselves from Satan's craftiness the way Jesus did.

So, who will go look for them? Who will walk alongside them as they discover the One True God, Who loves them deeply? Who will bend in prayer against the hardening of their hearts that is slowly taking life from an entire generation?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Construction Progress

Check out the new site development at NCC (click on Construction Pictures)!

I'm really excited to see what God does there next.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Mommy Would Be So Proud...

My brother can fix about anything. When he was in 6th Grade he built a motorcycle from parts of two junked ones. But, I'm the one in my family who's known as being 'mechanically challenged'. I've never burned up an engine by running a car out of oil or tried to drive off while the car's still on the jack or anything really stupid like that, but I haven't really done a whole lot of auto-work outside of changing oil occasionally. I did puncture an oil pan once (with a little 'guidance' from my brother Dan), and actually, in the process of rotating tires once, I popped a hole in the gas tank, right at the lip of the fuel intake. I got to learn how to install a new fuel tank that fun day.

My lack of mechanic acumen presented itself very early in life, when I was 'helping' my dad in the garage and decided pliers would work well for removing an oily clump of dirt from my stomach. I still have a scar to attest to the fact that squeezing pliers harder does not make them release whatever they're holding - even if that happens to be skin. (Stop laughing, I was only 4.)

But today, I have actually diagnosed a problem with my car (with a little help from the nice people at Autozone with the cool little computers), and fixed it. The engine light was on because a cylinder was misfiring (and when you only have 4 cylinders like my little Dodge Avenger that's a big reduction), so I took out the plug wire for that cylinder and found some corrosion on the terminal of the ignition coil. So I got a new coil and installed it.

Realizing that if a little fix is good, a little more might be even better, I changed the spark plugs (which I properly gapped), and replaced all the plug wires. In the process of all this, I ripped out a hose that was so brittle it broke in my hands, so I replaced that as well as the little PCV valve attached to it. And for good measure, I'm changing the air filter tonight.

Fun, fun, fun...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Weekend travels...

Had a great weekend , traveling back to NCC for Turning Point. It's kind of a 'wide-open' kind of drive across the middle of Nebraska... (you interpret that however you want)

It was great to see so many friends from the past 10 years or so. I saw a few kids from my first foray into ministry as a volunteer for a 5th/6th Grade class. They're all finishing college now! Also, saw Jackie and the crew from Huron, where I did a year of weekend ministry while I was a student @ NCC. Lots of friends from school and the college staff... other ministers from that area... current NCC students who were involved in my ministry in Auburn... and of course, the current Auburn HS group. It was really nice to see them.

I am so priveleged and honored to look back and see how God has used me to touch the lives of students. Last night, I practiced for the first time with the student praise band here at WestWay. Seems like a great group of students here with a genuine desire to serve and follow Christ. I'm excited to see what the next 10 years will bring...

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I've noticed that things 'fall through the cracks' more often when we're too busy. No deep revelation, there, I know, but here's a humorous(?) story to illustrate...

It was my last full week in the minsitry in Auburn. I still needed to pack my office, help pack up the house, close accounts, notify utilities, fill out change of adress forms... Lots of stuff to get done.

Merle had been gone for a leadership conference at Southeast the week before, so the week started with me leading our two morning services and preaching for my last Sunday. (Also, it was Pastor Appreciation Day and the day of our Annual Congregational Meeting.) Sunday night, we had the Slingshot57 concert and Mike got home late feeling very tired and a little scratchy in the throat.

I woke up Monday with my throat swollen nearly shut. I went to the Dr. and he prescribed some antibiotics and a cortizone-steroid that helped out a lot over the next few days. But Monday, which was supposed to be office packing day, was spent in bed.

On Tuesday I woke up feeling mostly better physically, but not looking forward to the day emotionally at all. This was the day I did the funeral for a young man who'd died in a 'suspicious' fire. He'd been involved in our Jr. High ministry several years ago, didn't always make the best choices, but seemed to be gaining his bearings lately. The funeral was difficult to say the least.

And so, my last Wednesday with my kids in Auburn came. On the last night some of the students had planned a farewell party - that was awesome. But we had our 'regular' time together first. My plan was to have a game night and just relax with the kids and play ps2 & xbox games... (We actually ended up with a great spontaneous time of worship and music.)

But first... Shayne was to be baptized to begin the evening. And that's where the cracks show up. Not in Shayne... Not in the baptism... In the ceiling of the church basement!!! Some idiot who had too many marbles bouncing around inside his little pin head had turned the water on in the baptistry, went home to pack a few things, got distracted, ate dinner, and showed back up at the church to realize he'd left the water on! So with about 20 minutes before the children's ministry was to begin, we had a flood from an overfilled baptistry running into the place where the children meet. Oops.

I guess if you've gotta go, leave them with something to remember you by!

Monday, October 31, 2005

New School

As we passed through the gate, the panic flashed across her face like a runaway train, threatening to derail weeks of preparation and planning. The clutching of the leg – the filling of the eyes with tears – the quivering of the lip – these were the rumblings of the freight of fear that my daughter carried with her this morning. Just as her CareBears backpack was filled with supplies, her heart had been filled with anxiety… the first day at a new school…

She’s been doing great with this move to WestWay. I’ve been pretty proud to watch her cope with so much change all at once. But this morning was almost too much. You see, as we crossed into that overactive realm known as the playground, I realized, and Emily sensed that something wasn’t quite right. Today, on her first day in her new school, the one familiar face – the one beacon of comfort in this Kindergarten Sea of Adjustments – was noticeably absent. Her teacher (whom she met last week) was out for the day, and her class had a last minute substitute.

I watched Emily as the reality of her situation sunk in and she wanted more and more to be home. Home, where she knows she’s loved. Home, where she feels she’s safe. Home, where she understands that she is known. I took her in to class, where she was introduced, and stayed for a few minutes to reassure her (or maybe myself) that it would be ok. When I left, she was learning a new ‘good-morning song’ that her class sings. When I pick her up this afternoon, I’ll find out how it went after that.

Change is tough. It’s painful and scary. Isn’t it great to know that no matter how bad it gets, we’ve got a Father who’s willing to stoop down next to our little kindergarten chair and reassure us that things will be ok – He’ll be back to take us home.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

We made it.

Getting settled in here among the boxes - setting up utilities, post office, etc. The move could have gone more smoothly, but all in all the end result has been the same. The landlord here was really cool about us not getting in until really late. He had some chips and dip and frozen pizzas and Mt. Dew and stuff on the counter for us when we got in. He seems like a pretty nice guy.

Had a bit of a scare today regarding tomorrow, which will be my first Wed. night here with the youth. I had made arrangements for a concert here along with a couple other area youth groups coming. The band's van blew their engine and they got stranded so I was trying to discern a plan B... I had pretty much settled and called Ben to work out a spring concert. He had just gotten off the phone with a guy from some other band who is giving them a ride! So they'll be here as planned.

This morning, I had my first couple of 'official' meeting-type functions: 6:30 elders/staff prayer and 10:00 staff meeting. I had a migraine, so I was pretty out of it for the prayer time, but it seems to be a very strong team of ministry leaders.

I'm looking forward to the ministry God will do here, but the past 10 days has been a long month!

... oh yeah, remind me to tell you the story of Shayne's baptism sometime...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Running on Empty

We have boxes all over the house getting packed. (still have to pack my office, too, before Thursday)

My last Sunday went well. I made it through both services and lunch and the annual meeting without melting into a blubbering mess. (The song of invitation was "Let the River Flow" - had to stipulate 'the river' is not our tears!) I baptized one of my guys, too so that was awesome. It's been great to see God pulling him out of his shell and closer to Him.

The concert last night went great. Then, I kind of 'crashed'. Started feeling terrible right after everyone was gone. (Even passed over the post concert Sonic visit with the band that we did last time, so you know I was out of it.)

Haven't slept enough the last couple weeks, so now I'm sick. Woke up this morning breathing through the pin-hole of space that is left open in my swollen throat. Went to the Dr. right away, cuz I guess that's a good thing to do when you can't take a breath without gagging.

Hopefully, it gets better soon, becase I am doing a funeral tomorrow afternoon for an 18 year old who was caught in a fire last week and the family deserves better than I can give today.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Slingshot 57

If any of you are in the Auburn, NE area this weekend, come check out Slingshot 57 at this free concert we're hosting. They've just returned from working in the Gulf Coast area and are kicking off this fall tour. Check out their site for other dates as well. These guys are great... come see their show.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


You love them.
You treat them right.
You do everything you can to raise them well.
You care for them.
You let them hang out with you at the office.
Let them bang on the drums and the piano.
You take them downtown to the bank.

And it's there, right at the teller's window, that they puke all over you.

Gotta love 'em!

Monday, October 10, 2005


Got a townhouse rented today. 3 little bedrooms, solid walls, and a roof that doesn't leak...

It's wierd thinking of packing up everything and storing it until we have a house big enough to unpack. Why do we have so much stuff we don't need? Some moments I see the contrast in having so much and those who have so little... or have just lost the little they did have to a hurricane or earthquake or war. Kind of makes you (me) feel a little guilty. I mean it's not like I've set out to accumulate the stuff of American life... but it's found me anyway. And at the same time, I don't want to be ungrateful for the opportunity and privilege that has come just because I was born in this time and place. Just pray I'll be responsible and faithful with it all.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

"Just do it yourself!"

Easy for them to say. I've been to about every move-it-yourself and you-pack-we-drive website you can imagine the last couple days, getting quotes, or waiting for quotes, picking trailers and truck sizes (yes I'd like to super-size that, thank you very much). Moving is so much fun!

One company won't let me get a truck because the move is in-state. Never mind that it's on the opposite side of one of the longest states in the Union. If I was moving from DC to Maryland, there'd be no problem. But since every single one of the 485 miles that I'll be passing through at the suggested 45-mph-cuz-that's-what-the-sticker-on-the-trailer-says-in-your-mirror (right) is in one state -- no truck for you! Oh well.

Another company no longer does one-ways! Byproduct of fuel prices...

I guess it's not so bad... we don't have a place to unload yet anyway!

But I'll choose to look at the bright side - at least our house sold really, really fast and we still have 2 whole weeks before we have to leave! (umm... that is the bright side, I think.)

Friday, September 30, 2005


Tonight, I'm going to the HS football game, then locking myself in at Laser Quest with about 45 kids and sponsors for all night laser tag. If I'm not back by Tuesday, please notify the authorities!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Blueprint for Maturity???

I get an e-mail newsletter that goes out to thousands of people each week from Rick Warren of Saddleback. This week included an article entitled Demystify Spiritual Growth. After reading the article, I saw several valid points, but the overall application seems off.

While correctly stating that there is "no magic bullet" that will ensure instant spiritual maturity and acknowledging that "spiritual growth is a gradual process of development", I think Warren misses with this statement:
We need to take the mystery out of spiritual growth by breaking the components down into practical, everyday habits.
If there is no "magic bullet", is there then a step by step formula? Can we not have practicality and mystery?

Ephesians 3 speaks to the issue of maturity. There, Paul describes the glorious riches of God strengthening the believer with power through his Spirit in our inner being. He mentions the capacity of God to do immeasurably more than we can dream. He prays that the believers would know the love that is beyond knowledge. Knowing the unknowable...

That just doesn't sound all that cut-and-dried-practical to me. Don't get me wrong, there's far more to Christ following spirituality than incense and candle wax. But I'm just not sure that if we get into the habit of doing A, B, and C - then we'll become spiritually mature. Maybe we'll just become pretty habitual.

[Last weekend at the Priority 22 that I blogged about a couple days ago, I sat in on a workshop from Dan Cravatt of NCC that dealt with Spiritual Maturity. We focused on the Ephesians passage and talked about how Maturity is a process, not just a destination where we can one day say we've arrived.]

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Thoughts from 'Around'

A couple other bloggers that I read have recently directed my attention to a couple interesting places. You can read about one in today's entry at Ancient Quest, the group blog that I'm contributing to once a week.

The other is an Relevant Magazine article that Paul pointed out at his blog. It's an interview with Erwin McManus, who always has challenging things to say. Here's a quote:
I somehow learned the rhythms and movements of what was going on, and I absorbed it into my being more than I even knew.

He was talking about water-skiing and learning to hear God. What do you think?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Third time's a...

My computer's frozen up 3 times this morning trying to post this so this'll be the brief version.

This weekend, I went with several volunteer leaders to CIY's Priority 22 led by Gary Zustiak (from whom I also took a course at seminary).
NCC continues to move closer to relocation to the Omaha site (clearing ground, putting in road, and very importantly... leveling the soccer field). There are some construction pictures on their site.
I recently had an article called What Youth Ministers Really Want published in the Christian Standard. I hope it doesn't come across with too negative a tone. I didn't mean it to, but in the editing process, I'm afraid they may have colored it a little more bleakly than I intended.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Turn in the Journey

Alright... the reason this blog has been mostly silent lately...

I just haven't been able to post this (until the people who needed to know had already heard) and I didn't want to just post junk so I was posting 'something':

After almost 7 years in youth ministry in Auburn, my family and I are moving to Scottsbluff to become the pastor of student ministries with Westway Christian Church. This has been the most difficult decision I have ever faced, as we've wrestled with God and conscience and fear and emotion and guilt and...

As our time here closes, it is my prayer that people realize that I was only a vessel, just as they are, and that nothing has been accomplished in this ministry except what was accomplished by God. He has built this work and will continue to do so. There are a great bunch of people here following Christ and loving students. It has been an honor to be a part of them. They have been family for LuAnn and I and those three awesome kids in the last post. I could have asked for no better people than these, with which to begin my ministry life. Auburn Christian Church, you should know that whatever I become, whatever ministry I am involved in, you have had a huge part in the shaping of my life. I will thank God continually for my time here with you.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Yeah, yeah, yeah...

I keep getting told that I need to post something new. Enjoy.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Ancient Quest

I just started blogging with a group of people at Ancient Quest. There will be some thought on the Christian journey from several different bloggers. This week is the official launch of the group, so be sure to check in once in a while and see what we're thinking.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What If?

I found this post on another blog that really struck a chord. I've often found myself in similar situations with strangers. I know that I could be (and have been) taken advantage of, maybe even in danger and not known about it. But I always wonder, "What if I don't help? What if I'm the last straw for this person? What if the roles were reversed?"

I'm glad to see someone else thinks that way too. Check out the post at reflections of me.

Friday, September 02, 2005

You've Done it Unto Me...

Seeing the devastation in the wake of the hurricane... I feel so sheltered. So privileged to live in this country where we can take so much for granted. And so obliged to NOT take anything for granted.

As I watch the news, I want to help in some way. There are so many options. Red Cross is taking donations... pretty much everywhere. Our local volunteer firemen have been standing at the main intersection in town taking donations. A church planting group called Stadia which has recently helped to birth a church in New Orleans (Journey Christian Church) is taking donations to help. (They have also produced a short video that can be downloaded from their site and used in your church's services.) Our church just set up a hurricane relief fund that will be used to funnel relief money to IDES (International Disaster Emergency Service).

I know that throwing money at this is not the end-game solution to this problem. But it is something that we all can do. Now. Find a way to help. Make a sacrifice so that you can help. As we hear news reports of frustration at the slow turning wheels of government, let's make stories of the Body of Christ swiftly rising up to assist the orphans and widows.

God, let the people who've suffered most in this devastation see Your love as Your people help them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


"I know what I would obtain; it is ease from my heavy burden."

"But why wilt thou seek for ease this way, seeing so many dangers attend it? Especially since (hadst thou but patience to hear me) I could direct thee to the obtaining of what thou desirest, without the dangers that thou in this way wilt run thyself into? Yea, and the rememdy is at hand. Besides, I will add that instead of those dangers, thou shalt meet with much safety, friendship, and content."

Doesn't that sound great? To be rid of our burden... And the answer is found in a promise. This traveller, Christian (of Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress") is carrying a burden he can hardly bear, when he is offered this promise by Mr. Worldy Wiseman. And he, too, is wooed by the promise. He listened to the man's directions and followed them into the town of Morality to see a man and his son called Legality and Civility. Fortunately, he was rescued by a messenger of the King and placed back on the right path before Legality and Civility were able to enslave him. Legality, you see, is a cheat, and his son, Civility is nothing but a hypocrite - they can't deliver what is promised.

As I read this portion of Bunyan's classic, I couldn't help but hear a 300 year echo in Erwin McManus' "Barbarian Way". The church is too often turned aside by what seems Wise. We are content in our Legality and Civility - the only problem is, they cannot save us! All that can save us is to take up our burden, our cross, and barbarically follow the Christ. He alone can lead us to the Eternal. But the path is full of dangers - not comforts. Harsh stone pillows and bitter cold, not padded pews and climate control.

I heard a quote today from C.S. Lewis where he said many preachers seem like "mild-mannered people exhorting mild-mannered people to be more mild-mannered." That doesn't sound like Jesus to me. It sounds like Worldly Wiseman.

May we heed the Truth of God's Word - and follow Him passionately and foolishly enough to resist the wisdom found in the village of Morality. It's just not enough...

Friday, August 26, 2005

Silly quiz. Books are for... rabbits!???

Haven't really gotten into a lot of online quizzes, but just messing around and did this one...

You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Dang! I haven't even read that book! I feel like I need to go jump in a hole 'til I know myself... Oh, and sorry if I've told you where to build your house!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

College Football

OK, just for fun...

A friend of mine started a little bantering on his blog about favorite college football teams. I made a statement of my loyalties there, and now have been called out to the field, so to speak! So here it is...

Living in Nebraska, a certain level of caution is prudent, so I will say first that, yes, I do like the Huskers. However - I will not paint my house red or fly big N's from my car antannae or dress my kids up as Herbie Husker or wear a giant corn cob on my head or anything else like that. I like them, but they're not my favorite.

That distinction goes to my homeland university. The University of Wyoming Cowboys. Coming of the best season they've had in... a really long time (which included a bowl game crackdown on UCLA) they were ranked 25 in Sports Illustrated's pre-season rankings. SI may be offering a very "optomistic" projection there, but we'll take it.

Joe Glenn has done a good job turning around the program, and it'll be great to watch him continue to win with Wyoming...

ok, let the bashing begin... but be nice!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Back To School

Back to School time is always a shift in youth ministry, but this year is different for me. Not only are my kids no longer hanging out at the church building a lot of afternoons because they've now got homework to do - my oldest daughter started Kindergarten this year.

She was really excited when we dropped her off this morning. She'll do great, I'm sure. She's too smart for her own good sometimes, and chatters maybe a little too much, but she'll adjust and do great. She's got a couple kids from our church and from pre-school in her class and she's excited to make new friends.

I just hope I don't forget to pick her up after school!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Sweet bites are offered
by God and man
and some by Satan's hand. They land
upon this plate of mine
and I must choose
on which to dine.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Are You A Minister?

Larry's a great guy. He has a pony tail, bad knees, and a Honda Gold Wing (that's not what makes him a great guy - just some interesting stuff). He works hard and would do just about anything to help someone else. He's got a good sense of humor and enjoys life. He's also an elder in our church. He recently had just been through a week where he'd had a number of opportunities to show the love of Christ by helping somebody else - and as usual, he took those opportunities.

One guy he was helping stopped and asked him, "Are you a minister?" Larry said at that moment, the light went on deep inside and the reality of ministry in the body of Christ sunk in more deeply than it ever had before. "Yes, I am. I'm not ordained as clergy, but yes, I am a minister of Christ." In the light of service, he'd come to a deeper understanding of ministry.

Now I know for many of you who read this blog, the reality that every follower of Christ has a ministry is evident in your communities. Every believer is truly seen as a part of the priesthood of the Body of Christ. It's part of your ethos. (I love the way Mosaic people talk about 'coming on staff' as opposed to getting your name on the membership list.)

But that is not the case in many churches. And it's not always the case where I live. But I see that block of our spiritual genetics changing. I see more and more individuals coming to the realization that they are ministers of Christ. I see increasing numbers of students realizing the service they do in the name of Christ is ministry.

The heart of Christ beats within His people, and ministry is the cadence of its rhythm.

So, are you a minister?

Thursday, July 28, 2005


I love books. I'm a little odd about it. I really like to read - I think it's my dad's fault! I remember as a kid sitting in stacks and boxes full of Louis L'Amour western paperbacks. I always liked sneaking my dad's books into my room to read - I couldn't let him know that I liked the same books, so I was sneaky (or maybe I just liked thinking I was being sneaky).

Just thought I'd post a list of some really good books I've read lately that might interest you.

Barbarian Way and An Unstoppable Force - both by Erwin McManus. Both of these books are really a challenge to the church to lay aside the conventional in order to take hold of whatever Christ is calling us toward. Awesome books.

Hurt by Chap Clark takes a look at the pain of youth culture - feelings of abondonment that pervade young people today. This book raises an issue that is really huge for me... the separation of old from young in the church. There is so much damage being done...

Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What from Donald Miller. Everyone talks about his edgy way of writing... I guess I can really appreciate his stripping off all the complications of "Christianity" and just splashing around in the simple truth that we are made to be loved by God.

The Relevent Church from Relevant Books has some really interesting stories of various faith communities. God is doing some awesome stuff through creative efforts of His people to follow Him.

The Radical Reformission from Mark Driscoll. I really liked how this book drives home the insanity of some of the church's typical responses to the world and offers real hope for the future of the church. Some of the stories shared are just hilarious - until you realize the painful truth that he's pointing out.

Hosea from the Bible. You do remember the prophet who married a whore to make a point don't you. (I'll just preach a sermon or post something in a blog, thanks!) This whole story of how God and Hosea love their unfaithful brides just makes me so grateful in so many ways. The faithfulness of my wife - and the undying love of God that is offered to the least worthy people...people like you and me.

Whatever Happened to Worship from A.W. Tozer. A really strong reminder of just what worship is all about, and an urging to pay close attention to avoid worshipping anything other than our creator (like our selves, our favorite kind of music or instruments, our comfortable orders of services...)

The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci ... Hey, I told you I'm a little odd.

Umm... I just realized this post got pretty long, and there are no nice little pictures to distract you, so I think I better shut up! If you read this far, you apparently like to read, too, so check out these books - they're good. If you don't like to read, you probably haven't made it this far, so you won't mind when I say, "Expand you brain, already. Read something!"

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


I just got some awesome news from my best friend that I thought I'd share with you all...

Then I remembered... I can't share it.



Monday, July 25, 2005

CAUTION: God at Work

Yesterday went really well. During the worship service, we had the students and adults who went on the CIY and mission trips a couple weeks ago talk about our experience. It was awesome to see and hear again descriptions of what God did in everyone's lives. 2nd service we had a great time with the music and started off the service with Pam getting baptized... the look on Jeni and Joni's faces was priceless! Pam's on the left here with her new friend Emily... it was really an honor to be able to watch God working in her life and recreating her right in front of our eyes!

After services, LuAnn and I took the boys up to Omaha for lunch at Carlos O'Kelly's and really hot afternoon outside. We went to the groundbreaking ceremony for Nebraska Christian College. It was great to see old friends from the college family...and tons of people in the family that I don't know at all. I was really struck with the diversity within the group. People from so many places and generations, all pulling together because of this one educational body in God's Kingdom. I'll miss the visits to Norfolk, but I love NCC and can't wait to see things really get going in the new location.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"a little boy that I don't even know..."

"I feel a love for a little boy that I don't even know." That phrase from the letter I shared a few days ago keeps bouncing around in my head.

It's just awesome to have God loving someone through you. I'm so glad to be able to watch Him do that in kids I also didn't even know, but have grown to love.

His love keeps spreading...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

No Excuses...

I just ran across this quote on the blog of a guy named Octavio that I thought is a great one for our situation here: "The Devil says: “keep on posing problems and you will escape the necessity of obedience” (Bonhoeffer – The Cost of Discipleship)."

How often Satan uses our questions and lack of trust to keep us from walking forward in faith! "We don't have all the answers, so let's just wait and see... How will we pay for that... Let's get all our t's crossed and i's dotted, then we can... You'll make someone mad... You'll split the church... So-and-so will stop giving..."

What if we stopped being so concerned with HOW we will do something, and figure out WHAT God wants us to be and WHY He's placed us right here, right now in the midst of the particular needs that surround us? What if we stopped listenning to the lie of Satan that tells us to keep bringing up problems that will let us off the hook? What would simple obedience really look like?

Saturday, July 16, 2005


According to an article in Time Magazine back in March, over 20,000 people die every single day due to extreme poverty. With natural disasters and terrorist strikes and wars, we always have headlining accounts of the dozens or hundreds or thousands who've died in those tragedies. But can you imagine waking up to your morning news show or paper to this headline: "LACK OF BASIC NECESSITIES LEAVES TWENTY THOUSAND DEAD"? We could wake up to that every day...

As this reality was shared with our students at CIY a couple weeks ago, they were given the opportunity to respond by sponsoring a child through the ministry of Compassion. The ministry of Compassion is "releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name."

In the past, our students have sponsored children as a group, but that takes little real commitment and develops very little connection, so I told our kids if they wanted to do this, it was up to them individually. Instead of our group supporting one child, about half a dozen students each are now sacrificing $32 a month from their part-time jobs or allowances to sponsor children.

Here are some comments from one of the girls, who now sponsors a little boy in Bangladesh (she wrote this for our gruop devotions one of the nights of our trip in AZ)... spiritually moving story is about the boy I decided to sponsor. Out of the few I scanned on the table, he was the only one I felt I needed to sponsor. I felt a connection with him, as in a special bond. I feel I need to support him. I feel a love for a little boy that I don’t even know.

I don’t want this boy to grow up in poverty and without food. I can’t give him everything. I can only give him what he needs and tell him about God.

We can’t be tempted into thinking we can do it all. God will show us what to do, how to do it, and when it needs to be done. God wants us to follow Him.

That is why I do what I do. Students loving outside of themselves becuase the love of God compels them to do so... The "love for a little boy that I don't even know"... The desire to do something, anything, to help someone else...

She's right. We can't do everything. My sponsorship of a child or two is not going to end world hunger. But it'll make a difference to a few.

Go make a difference.
(the link to Compassion might be a good place for you to start)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Back from the Desert...

Well, we have been back from Arizona for a few days, and I've almost unpiled everything to be caught up on. The trip went very well. The week of CIY was awesome and the week of work with ARM topped it off!

God really worked in our hearts and is definitely moving in his body. This is one of my favorite pictures so far that Tory took. These kids are so hungry to be cared for. It was awesome to see our students reaching out to them with a love that can only be motivated by God.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Working Hard

We had our first experience yesterday with the bus ministry here at ARM. We went to one of the neighborhoods with the bus and Kirby. We got to see some of the Apache kids and get a better feel for the ministry of ARM. It was great to see our kids interacting with the Apache kids and just trying to show the love of Jesus to them.

This morning, we went to a worksite and did what you do at work sites...we worked. ARM is building a house for a Apache minister and his family who pretty much turned his own house into a church building. His story is amazing, but the short version is that He came to follow God in prison, went home after his sentence and became a pastor to his people, with a willingness to sacrifice anything in service. Dustin headed up a crew that put up walls, which will soon be two stories of Sunday school classes. Dave and Emily's crew hauled out enough brush and debri from the area behind the house to fill several truckloads...big truckloads. And they did it one wheelbarrow at a time. Several of the girls were working inside the house, spraying texture and sanding. Tomorrow, we'll paint.

They all stink and they're back at the hotel cleaning up a bit... and Suzie's trying really hard to make me take a ride in her Mustang, so I better go.

Keep praying for the Apache people.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Lazarus was dead and Mary and Martha wanted to know where Jesus had been. "Why didn't you stop this from happening? Where were you?" In the midst of their anguish, they wondered why He didn't do something to ease their pain.

But Jesus knew that life is not about comfort. He knew His Father had something better in mind. So he wept with them, then called their brother back from the dead!

CIY today is about His presence - even in our struggles. His work, through even the most painful experiences, to strengthen our faith and increase our capacity to bring glory to Him with our lives. I can't help but thinking of Steve as we've discussed this today. His story of his son Max... Check out the link to his blog (Breath Fire) for a picture of finding God's presence in the midst of struggle.

Whatever may be falling apart in our lives, God would say to us, "I am here."


Last night's main session went great. Dusty Frizzell talked about how life gets messy, and we fail, and God pours out His grace. He made a comment about Jesus messing up the way we think our lives should be and then we just don't know what to do. Like he did with the disciples. Just when they think he's gained enough attention to take over town, he goes and gets himself crucified! "Now what, Peter!?"

"I don't know, you guys wanna go fishin'?"

Check out John 21 to see how Jesus led them beyond normal because of his grace (especially Peter).

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I AM grace...

Finally got to a point of time and availability where I can send out an update (i.e. I'm not currently piloting a 15 passenger silver bullet).

I'm in Durango this week with the CIY group. The drive out was pretty long, but we're here. We stopped yesterday at Royal Gorge - the world's highest suspension bridge. It was awesome. The river below is, well.... it's WAY below. Shaun and Dan and Cady and I all did the Skycoaster. 1200 feet above the canyon floor suspended in a harness on a cable, "swooping" by at about 50 mph! It was quite a swing... After that, the drive over the pass and through the canyon was incredible. I love being back in the mountains.


The theme for the week of conference is "This is me" - God revealing Himself to us. Today we've gazed into the depth of His grace. He truly is grace and love, which was the focus of last night's first session.

I've really been hit with how I strive for perfection in so many things. I don't want to show any holes, I don't want to not know something that I should, I don't want to need... Often that ambition for perfection is a pathetic attempt to earn God's love - or at least to make myself worth loving. What a stupid way to live. He has already made me worth loving and nothing I do can change that.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Heading Out Soon...

I'll be leaving Sunday for a couple weeks, so I'm not sure I'll have a chance to post for a while. When I can get access to a computer, I'll try to keep things updated.

I'll be taking a group of high school students to Durango, CO for a week long CIY conference. Christ in Youth is a great organization that's shaping the future and the present by impacting youth and youth ministries is some awesome ways. (I'll be teaching an elective class this summer 3 times at conference, so pray that goes well.)
let the children come...
Following the week of conference, our group will head down to Globe, AZ for a week working with some good friends of mine at Arizona Reservation Ministries on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. I'm looking forward to seeing Tory & Kara and Duane & Susie again, but mostly I'm really anticipating God working in our students and bringing them to new levels of love for people.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Take Up Your Cross

Many have already heard the popular quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that says, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

Indeed, Jesus calls us to 'take up our cross' if we are to follow him. Can you imagine being lost out in the desert alone? No water. No food. No hope for survival. Suddenly a man steps from behind a rock and tells you to follow. So you follow. As you talk, you discover that he's been here in this desert for quite some time. He must know how to survive!

Then he hits you with the truth. He's survived the desert because he died there. What? He knows the secret to living where no man can live - you have to die!

That scenario just doesn't make sense does it? You can't live if you've already died.

But that's exactly what Jesus did and exactly what he is doing and exactly what he calls us to do. Where we may say "You can't be alive if you're dead." He says "You can't really live until you've died."

What do you think?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Father's Day

I had a nice, relaxing Father's Day yesterday. I love being a dad. Our youngest son climbed out/fell out of his crib after nap time, so we pulled out the old toddler bed. Our 3 yr. old son fell in the toilet while playing in the sink, so I threw him in the tub - he hadn't flushed yet! Our daughter actually had a fairly benign day with no major melt-downs.

My wife and I wondered what we did before we had kids. I said homework and quick trips to Estes Park... But I understand a little more fully, the love of God for His children - now that I have my own.

I love the kids in my youth ministry. I pray for them and would do just about anything to see them loving God more completely. But nothing compares to the way I feel about my own kids. There is nothing I wouldn't do for them. To see them passionately pursuing their God given ministry will be more joy to me than anything I can imagine.

I thank God for the Godly father he provided for me. I pray I'll follow the example he has been for my brothers and me, of a man pursuing His Father as he leads his family through the unknown.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


A friend of mine just e-mailed me this link to an awesome soccer video. It takes a while to load, but check it out...

Ball control!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I had a kidney stone Sunday. I woke up about 5:00 with a little pain that kept getting worse. Finally at about noon, I went to the ER where Dave hooked me up with some wonderful pain medication and a ton of fluids to try to push the stone through my system.

The stone passed on Monday morning and I spent the rest of the day recovering. Kind of had a morphine-hangover headache, so Monday wasn't too pleasant either. I feel much better today, though, but still kind of 'off'.

This is the second time I've had this - and from what most of what I've read, I'm guessing it won't be the last. The first time I was in about 6th Grade, much too young for kidney stones, but...

Just some advice...DRINK A LOT OF WATER>>>

Friday, June 10, 2005

Where are we going, Daddy?

Ok, so I've been dialoging with a bunch of people from everywhere over the past couple days about some stuff that is bouncing off the inner walls of my cranium like a bunch of subatomic particles in a bathtub. (I have no idea what that would really look like but at this point...who cares!)

We've been talking about the emergence of technology and how the fusion of personality/humanity/technology has created a new kind of person. This person lives in cyberspace as much as he lives 'here'. How do we use technology like blogs and msn and whatever else is coming down the pipeline to be Jesus in that world?

The question that I asked a couple days ago on this blog is rolling around in all of this too... What defines the church? I've wondered what a church without walls would/should look like for a long time - I'm now seeing one possibility. The self imposed boundaries (masks) that exist in face to face interaction (even in the church) are often (though not always) set aside upon entrance into the 'blogosphere'.

I know, I know, there are definite dangers present in the anonymity of cyberspace, but can you imagine how deeply we could connect with each other when we lay aside all pretense? And in drawing near to each other with intent to draw nearer to God, how we could strengthen the community of the Kingdom?

This stuff may make absolutely no sense to you, but I hope you'll consider this: the world is plugged in as never before. If we are going to be "Jesus with skin on" in this world, we'll have to be "Jesus in binary...or html...or java...or get the picture.


It's been said by well intentioned people that students are the future of the church.

But if that's so, what are they now? pre-church disciples? not-quite-ready-for-primetime parishioners?

No. A bunch of kids following Jesus through life, shining his light in the dark corners of their the church - now.

Where did we get the idea that only a "mature believer" is a part of the church, and immature ones have to live in a holding pattern until adulthood?

On the other hand...

Were the leadership of a local community of believers entirely in the hands of 16 year olds....whoah! Can you imagine the passionate, disastrous course of that church? Yikes! They might go down in flames, but what a way to go! (A much more attractive alternative than the grey pre-death rigormortis that many churches have chosen.) And what Phoenix could God raise up from the ashes of the young church's plight?

I know, I know...this argument is way oversimplified. But the church has segregated itself by age far too long. Young and old are not diametrical opposites. Young and old are part of the same Body. What if leadership teams did include some youthful perspective? What if the enthusiasm of youth was directed toward building the Kingdom - not the youth group? What if the wisdom of age tempered the steel of young passion?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Defining Moments

What defines the church?

Not (Who) what SHOULD define the church, but what really does determine how we are known and how we know ourselves? How do we decide what we do (ministry-wise)?

I just came out of a meeting of elders and architects discussing the future of a congregation. This is part of an ongoing discussion for the past 5 years about needed building and facilities updates. We looked at plans for a completely new facility and compared to plans for extensive remodeling/adding to the existing building. Cost is similar, so that's really not going to be the deciding factor on what is done.

What will determine our course of action is how we choose to be defined. Will the buildings that we have (or don't have) define us? Will the ministry that we want to do define us? Or will we truly find our identity solely in the heart of God?

As I think back, I can think of so many examples of churches which are defined by their buildings. I know that the world in large part will always define us that way, but I'm thinking more of how we in the Kingdom define ourselves. It is so easy to lock ourselves into thinking we are where we meet. Or even that we are the meeting itself.

But what happens when the Body of Christ thinks of itself as... the body of Jesus... His shoulders (with His head on top) and chest (with His heart beating within)? What happens when we really live and move and have our being in Jesus? What happens when the local community of faith is joined together in order to proclaim the Kingdom and awaken the spiritually dead all around us?

I intend to find out.

Bubble Ministry...

It seems like too much youth ministry is happening in a bubble. Observing the way many churches do youth ministry, the consistent picture is one of young students involved in activity with each other, but not necessarily with the rest of the church body. I definitely would not be one to say that there is no place for age-based ministry, but wouldn't it make more sense if it was done in the context of an ageless church ministry?

I hear people lament the fact that students "leave the church" after graduation and entry into young adulthood (some may come back, some may not), but is it possible that they're not really leaving the church - because they've never really been a part of the church? Is physical presence at a majority of youth functions enough to make a student a part of the church? What if they're also regular attenders of Sunday morning services? What is it then that transforms a student from being a participant of the 'youth group' to an integral body part in the Body of Christ?

It is not youth ministry in a bubble. As long as youth ministry is primarily done 'on the side' of the church's overall ministry, kids will 'graduate' from church attendance. When youth ministry is a fusion of young people and the ministry of the church, then students who are following Christ will become involved in the work of His Body. Students need to seek opportunities to participate in the service of the larger church body (outside the youth group). And congregations need to find ways to engage the energetic service that is available to them in the sea of young humanity surrounding them (beyond setting up tables for the upcoming dinner, please).

It is time for churches to burst the youth ministry bubble, and to embrace and work alongside the young followers of Christ they will find inside.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Success - A Crown That Will Last

I found this great definition of Success from Impact Ministries/Deeper DTI, and though it may be unconventional, I think it is essential because all else that is truly successful will be born out of intimacy with God.

"Success is developing intimacy with God."

  • An individual who is developing intimacy with God will make an impact on the Kingdom of God.
  • A team of individuals who make an impact on the Kingdom of God will have a fruitful ministry
  • We do not aim for 'making an impact' and we do not aim for 'fruitful ministries.' These two situations supernaturally occur when an individual develops intimacy with God.

We can't control 'making an impact' and we can't control 'fruitful ministries', but we do have control over whether we are doing anything to develop intimacy with God. It is a matter of our heart and priorities. We can't allow anything, including ministry for God, to crowd intimacy with God out of our lives.

I know that’s not the stuff the American Dream is made of, but I think that is the highest hope any of us can have: to know the unknowable God!

The 19th Century Scottish author, Thomas Carlyle, wrote “Every noble crown is, and on earth will forever be, a crown of thorns.” When we think about success, we need to keep this in mind. Whatever success is, it must be of eternal significance. We want the best for the people we love. Jesus himself asked “Who would give his kid a rock when asked for bread?” We want those we care about to enjoy what we’ve missed, to experience what we’ve only dreamed of, to have what we’ve always wanted.

But we must remember that our dreams should focus on the eternal. Nothing we gain or achieve on this earth will last, except what we do to make an impact for the Kingdom of God. We want to succeed in life, but we need to remember that success doesn’t mean having more than the next guy. That's why I love the definition from DTI.

There is nothing that we can have or do or feel or accomplish, that means more than knowing God. Intimacy with God is our ultimate aim, and we don’t lose out on anything in life by putting God first. He knows how to give good gifts. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you.”

Put God first. Get to know Him. Gain a crown that will last.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Grape Juice on the Carpet...

I just read an article that mentioned a church in England that doesn't meet for worship. Ok, well they do meet, but only once a month! How can they even call themselves a church when they don't even meet together on Sundays? How can they afford a staff or buildings when they don't even get to pass the offering plate once a week? It sounds like all they do is meet in little groups and clusters at each other's houses and coffee shops. They get together to talk and laugh and play and grow. These people seem to really care about each other and are genuinely trying to follow Jesus together and make a difference in the world. But they only have a worship service once a month... how can they call that a church?

On the other hand...

I know tons of people who "go to church" every Sunday. Most of them don't have anything to do with each other on Monday through Saturday, but every Sunday they're in the same building at the same time, singing the same songs. I'm not sure most of them even know each other, but they at least recognize each other's faces. Because they see each other faithfully, once a week singing along (or at least moving their lips a little), listenning to the sermon (or at least propping their eyelids open and feigning interest together), and putting checks in the offering. And they call that church.

But how can we call it church when it only happens for two hours a week? How can we have fellowship when we see each other next to never? How can we call it worship, when most of us pass through 6 out of 7 days without a single thought of God? How can we call ourselves the Body of Christ, when we aren't even remotely attached to each other 85.7% of the time?

God I hope we can become the church You want us to be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Get It?

I sometimes wonder if people get me. My wife says (and I freely admit) that when I preach I sometimes repeat myself too much. I'll say the same thing several times in a row. I'll say something, then say it again, just in case. When I make a statement, I'll invariably make it several times in several different ways.... ok, that's enough being dumb...

When I look into the gazes on the crowd of faces surrounding me, if they're glazed over, I'll say it again. But I still wonder sometimes if I'm communicating in ways that people understand. Do they get it?

I wonder if the substance of the message that I share is something that will change the hearts and actions of the people I share it with. I wonder if the people I share it with absorb any of it. I think if I'm true to the Word of God, then that will definitely shape the hearts that allow it to soak in.

I guess that's God's business then, and mine is just to be what He wants me to be and deliver the news He asks me to deliver.

Friday, May 20, 2005

No Fear...

Several years ago we all thought it was cool to wear stuff that said "No Fear". (I know, I know, I'm getting old...) As if screaming our claim to courage made it more real. The truth is we were all full of fear. Afraid to fail, afraid to fall, afraid to be shunned or ignored or forgotten...

I was reading Psalm 23 today and noticed something I've never noticed before. (I kind of feel dumb that I didn't see it there one of the hundreds of times I've heard this verse before.) Maybe it's the way the verses are broken up by numbers, or the way the verse is usually reserved for funerals and memorials, but for whatever reason I never noticed this before: (now forget about verse numbers & funerals for a second and read this)

"He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me..."

I've kind of always known this (counter to what some people think of their Christian religion), but I've never noticed it in this Psalm before - if I follow God, He may lead me to and through dark places. Sometimes church people live as if God is always making them "lie down in green pastures" next to still waters. But don't ever forget that the path of righteousness leads us on a rescue mission right through the middle of the valley of the shadow of death! (Picture Frodo & Sam approaching Mordor.)

Two Things
:: Real Courage isn't wearing a No Fear t-shirt as you soar over a fun box; it's following your creator into the depths of your "Mordor" knowing that He's there with You.
:: If your life is all about still waters and green pastures, you may need to stop grazing and figure out where the Shepherd went.

Monday, May 16, 2005

"The Caracas Kid"

This is one of the kids I stayed with last year in Venezuela. His smile was about the only thing I could understand sometimes, but he was a great kid to be around. He's got a tough road ahead of him. I pray God will put someone in his life to show him the way to be the man God is calling him to be.

Looking thoughful...

"Hey guys, have you ever tried this!" - oh the memories...


The church always talks about faith, but I think a lot of well intentioned people have missed the point. There's a huge difference between what most poeple call living 'by faith' and what they do to 'keep the faith'. It's the often the difference between following Jesus and following the rules.

Jesus came to establish a new covenant between God and people that would bring the dead to life, but 2000 years later, the church (or at least what is called the church) too often seems more interested in maintaining its' own existence than in bringing spiritual life to the sick, dying, and dead. We've become more concerned with 'keeping the faith' than proclaiming the Gospel.

But religious dedication to a system of services and rites is not what faith is all about. Faith is about listenning for the heartbeat of God and dancing to His rhythm. Faith is about following Jesus through the fires of life, even if you're not sure you'll come out on the other side. Faith is about being His Body, working to show people His Kingdom.

God, I hope the people called Christians will become a tribe of followers who step in faith where You lead - even if it is where others have never stepped.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


I hope this works.... I hope I don't get dumped... I hope we win... I hope someone actually reads this...

We hope for a lot of different things at different times in life. Often, our fears drive our hopes. We hope that what we fear is going to happen is somehow stopped from happening. But what if we lived that backwards? What if we lived our lives with a hope based in something other than fear? What if our hearts beat with such hope that all fear was driven out of our lives?

I think we can.

The Bible is full of talk about hope and examples of people who lived with it... and without it. Go to sometime and do a keyword search for "hope". God has a lot to say about hope because He is the one thing that we can always put our hope in. We can trust Him. That doesn't mean he's going to make life easy for us. It means that He will keep every promise He's ever made... including the gift of life.

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