Courage (to recognize) (Originally posted 04/28/2011)


So we’re two weeks into the Courage series w/ Francis Chan… 

Aside from sharing the same haircut, he and I share a lot of the same convictions regarding discipleship and what it means and takes to follow Christ. 

But beyond that…

There is a lot that I am picking up in watching and going through this series, and not just the content… I am learning how to be a better teacher.  Francis has a way of putting things that is so soft, yet so forceful.   I’ve been told I teach with a sledgehammer and I can’t really dispute that claim… it’s true.  Francis Chan also teaches with a sledgehammer.. but he wields it like a paintbrush.

He sculpts what is there whereas I level to create anew.

Neither is right or wrong, but there is more compassion *in his words* than in mine. Both of us teach from our hearts, but he is, oh, just a tad bit more refined, I suppose.

I know that I have a very forceful personality.  I know that I can, at times *seem* unapproachable.  I know that I am a work in progress.  I know that I am trying to soften the edges of who I am (but without altering who He has made me into – it gets tricky here)

– In short, I’m aware of my flaws – 

What it all comes down to is this.. we ALL need someone who we can relate to. 

However; Some of us choose to relate DOWN so that we don’t have to do any work to fit in or so that we don’t have to do any work on who we are.  It’s just so much easier to drift than it is to swim.

I hear a lot of people say “Jesus is my role model” and that’s FANTASTIC!  We should all aspire to live a Christ like life.  We should absolutely put all of our eggs (eggs being hopes, dreams, faith and life) into that basket… but… take it back a step.

Going from You to Jesus is a (narrow) highway.. it’s a long trip, not a drive down the block.

How are you going to gauge your progress?  What are your mile markers?

We all NEED role models.  Positive influences in our lives that help us attain our goals.  It is OK to have people whom we look up to.  It is OK to model aspects of our behavior on PEOPLE who are LIVING their faith.  (It’s not OK to try to BE that person though, so be careful – you are YOU, not THEM)

These people can be people we know, or people we don’t.  Relationships don’t impact what we can learn from people if we’re merely taking notes on parts of them…

For instance:  

-I want to soften my delivery… I can shape my delivery in the style of someone like Francis Chan

-I want to be more process driven… I can model my going about of daily tasks after my Senior Pastor, Greg Freeze.  (I just bought another year of work w/ that one)

-I want to be more approachable… I can change pieces of my demeanor to be more like Matt Reeve.

We all know or know of people who have qualities that we admire and that we KNOW would be pretty cool to be able to emulate…  We all have areas in our life where we need improvement.  It’s OK to take a bit from OTHERS to help create a better YOU.

-Make a list of 10 people of faith who have qualities you admire.  
-Make another list of areas in your life that you KNOW you need to work on.

See what matches up and slowly try to shape who you want to become.  (Ask them for help, if they’re accessible)

It’s like any plan you otherwise might have.  It’s a 5 year/10 year/25 year goal list.  You have to have steps along the way to ensure your success.. you need benchmarks to see what you’ve achieved.  You need a road map to get to your final destination (Jesus).

And while the Bible is far and away the best map.. sometimes you don’t know how to read it or even what direction you’re headed…

And that’s where the mile markers come in.




Phew, that’s over.. now we can get back to our lives. (Originally posted 04/25/2011)


Is that how you think about Easter?  Maybe not those words specifically…  but does your attitude suggest that?  Do you even get the full gravity of Easter?

Let’s start with that.  Easter is the holiest day of the year, it is the day of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in him, eternal life in Christ Jesus.  It’s the day that our faith hinges on.  Are you hearing me?  It doesn’t get bigger than Easter.  

Maybe we, in ministry, have done a poor job in accentuating the importance of Easter.  We allow the stores, candy and card companies to allow a stupid little bunny to overshadow our King.  If you can’t tell me what Easter is all about… I have failed you, and I apologize.  I will never let that happen again.  Ever.

But I digress.. 

How do you typically act on Easter Sunday?  You probably get dressed up in your “really nice” clothes and head to church with your family.  Your WHOLE family…  Then you go have a nice dinner, thanking Jesus for what He did and then you probably go and watch some basketball.  See, it’s already slipping away from you.. it being the meaning and depth of this day.

It’s now Monday, how many of you thanked Him, again, for drinking in your sin so that you may have eternal life?  By tomorrow, that number will drop even further.  See where I’m going with this?

It’s awesome that so many people come to church on Easter.  It’s awesome that so many people are reminded ON THAT DAY of what Jesus did when he was nailed to that cross.  It’d be more awesome if we didn’t have to be reminded.

Daily, we need to thank Christ for what He did for us.  Daily we need to recognize how woefully far we are from God without Jesus.  Daily we need to account for our sins to Him.  

Let’s put this in more basic terms.  If you were about to be hit by a car and someone pulled you out of the way just as you were about to be run down.. you would NEVER stop thanking that person.  You’d call them, e-mail them, tell everyone you know about them, you’d probably make a facebook fan page for them…  

What Jesus did upon that cross was SO MUCH MORE important.  How often do you thank Him?  Where’s His fan page?  And have you thought of Him at all today?



Living the Giving (Originally posted 04/21/2011)


So I had to stop at the store last night on the way home for the usual mid-week “we’re out of WHAT?!” run.  My store of choice at 10:30PM is, of course,  Wal-Mart and you know what goes down at that place in the evenings.  

So I armed myself with excuses and an angry face and made my way from my car to the store.  Surprisingly, I didn’t have to dodge anyone or sidestep and bodies and/or slimy things on my way in.

So it’s a good trip to shankville so far, I’m thinking.. 

I got my various things (bananas, oatmeal, almond milk – you know, things every dad of 3 little squids runs out of by Wednesday) and was taken by three things.. 
1) the lack of people in the store
2) the QUALITY of those that were there. (we’ve all seen people of walmart, right?)
3) the vast amount of snacky foods that were being purchased by the small amount of people. (check todays date, subtract 1 and come up with your own reason)

So I was cruising the aisles, unaccosted and happy.. i checked out rather quickly and was met with wonderful customer service at the register.  

As I was leaving the store, I saw a rough looking guy approaching a few people walking towards the entrance.  

One dude had a cross tattoo on his arm.. he quickly brushed the guy aside.
A girl, with a cross on a necklace shrunk away from the guy and couldn’t move fast enough to get clear of him.
Another guy made his way to the far entrance, so as not to have to deal with it…

“So here we go” i thought..

Then.. I surprised myself.  As the guy noticed me and his eyes met mine, I greeted him with “What’s up, man.. whatcha need?”

He didn’t know what to say…  So I repeated myself.. “How can I help?  What’s up?”

He just kind of looked at me, and told me he was homeless.. he had a car, but no gas and he and his wife were just trying to get downtown, to go to the shelter.  He said he hadn’t showered in 3 days, that he just wanted to lay down and not worry about anything for a night.

I told him it was his lucky day, he stumbled upon a Christian.  I said “Let’s play a game… I have no idea how much money I have in my wallet, but whatever is in there is yours”

This could have gone any one of a number of ways.. I truly had no idea if i had zero or 40 bucks in there..

I opened my wallet and lo and behold, there was three dollars.  I handed it to him and said “It’s not much, but it’s all I have, and it’s all you need to get to the shelter”

He thanked me, still kind of unsure of what had just happened… and I asked him if he knew Jesus Christ.. He said he didn’t know much about him so I encouraged him to learn.  (I wish I had an extra bible in my car to give him, but for the first time in a while, I didn’t.)

When I was well on my way home, I realized I still had a dollar in my wallet.  I DIDN’T give him everything I had.. and I feel pretty bad about that.  

When you grow close to Christ, sin HURTS.  but even more than that, it weighs on you very heavily when you don’t give everything you have for His purpose.

Granted, i didn’t give it all due to a genuine ignorance of how much I carried in my wallet… but that’s not an excuse.  All of us, at all times, need to do a personal inventory to see how much we truly have to give.  And when the opportunity arrives, we need to give it all in His honor.. in His name. 

We don’t always have the opportunity to put God’s word in people’s hands.. but we can CREATE the opportunities to put God’s Son in their minds and hearts.

We are Christ’s hands and feet on Earth.. let’s start building and walking.

Romans 12:1
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.



What can you give? (Originally posted 04/18/2011)

Mark 10:23
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

This verse was the core of my message last night.  It’s amazing how so much can be gained from 1 simple quote.We’re all filthy stinking rich if you think about it.. the average global salary is $5,500 per year… that’s about three times less than what somebody making minimum wage earns if they work a 40 hour week.  

Beyond finances though, we’re all rich with talents as well as time.But how do we use them?   Take a snapshot of your three T’s (Time, Treasure, Talents) and next to each, write down how you’re using them for God.  After all, He’s the one who gave them to you, right?  Why wouldn’t you give back to Him in thanks?

If you have treasure, do you tithe?   If you have a talent, do you use it for Him?  If you have time, do you use it to glorify Him?

If not, then WHY not?  Have you ever even thought of it like this before?

The reason it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God has NOTHING to do with money.. it has EVERYTHING to do with your heart.  Is it set on God, or what you have?

It’s not what you have, but what you give.  It’s not what you give, but how and why you give it.

Right now, make a list.. write down:
1 thing you can do to honor God with your treasure.  
1 thing you can do to honor God with your time.
1 thing you can do to honor God with your talents.

Once you shift your mind into recognizing that it’s all FROM Him, you can start to realize that’s it all FOR Him.  And once you realize it’s all FOR Him, you start to realize it’s all His anyways.

Give it back.



Sermon Sundays (Originally posted 04/17/2011)

I ALWAYS have a talk lined up for Sunday night…  Sometimes, though, I just don’t quite roll with the one I have planned.  On the way into church this morning, I gave “the message” to my steering wheel.. it came from my heart, i was just talking.. and it blew away what i had previously written.  I’m going to go with that talk tonight… I just pray I can remember it all.

A lot of the time, we try to put the Holy Spirit in a box, to be taken out when we feel like we need it, instead of letting it flow freely though us and our surroundings.  By putting limits on what we will do, we’re constricting God’s power and our own success.

This is one of the toughest things to wrap my daily life around, as i am a control freak.  I love having the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed.  My talk tonight is on Mark 10:23, a verse that, when broken down and dug into, revolves around trusting God for everything… because everything comes form and belongs to Him anyways.

I’d say it’s a coincidence that I am giving this talk, like this, on tonight’s subject.. but I don’t believe in coincidence.  



What good is the Bible, anyways? (originally posted 04/15/2011)

I hear that a lot from people, actually..  If not in words, then certainly through their actions.

2 Timothy 3:16-17   
16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

If we use the Bible not only for the purpose of knowing our Savior but also for DAILY rules on living, we tend to live much more positive, upbeat and drama-free lives.When confronted with something that could be viewed as unpopular, if you use His Word to guide your decisions and actions, you will be justified in your final solution.  Sometimes, not by those who the decision may affect, but certainly in the eyes of God.

What we wrestle with, from that point on, is “Who do I want to please?”  Do I want to be the popular youth leader who is everybody’s friend… or do i want to be the youth leader who does what is best for the group according to the Word of God?

It’s a tougher call than you think it might be.  

Innately, I want to be liked by everybody.  I’m a people person… I’m in ministry to SERVE.  Often that can be equated, falsely, to being a people pleaser.

By serving, I am here to guide, to lead, to counsel, to correct, to teach and to love.  I can’t have any selfish desires, at all, if I am to serve Jesus Christ.

What I want to do is not always what I am called to do and what I am called to do is not always what I want to do  I think you get the point.

Being the guy in the office means you have to make tough decisions daily, decisions that frequently can cause people to get upset.  The beauty of it though, is that with The Bible, you never have to make those decisions alone.  No matter what situation you’re facing, a precedent has been set… it’s just up to us to follow it.



Series hangover (originally posted 04/11/2011)


Where do I go from here?

After finishing up a tough 3 week series on Mark 8:34-38 and what it takes to start being a true disciple of Christ, and having one of the young adults give an equally tough talk on the subtlety of sin I wanted to keep it light with a talk on Mark 9:24 (Lord I believe, help me with my unbelief).. After trying to put my thoughts in order I realized I had gone about it all the wrong way… I neglected to pray before beginning my work.  

I wasn’t meant to make it light…

Mark 9:42-50 is where I was led.. another tough passage.  It’s popular and comfortable to think that all you need to do to get into heaven is believe that Jesus Christ is the risen son of God.  If it were that simple, it would be wonderful.. but that’s not the case. 

Christianity is a VERB.  It’s not just what you are, but what you DO.  While it’s true that we are saved by grace and grace alone.. how can one claim to be saved.. to be full of grace, if you will.. and willfully sin?

you tell me…